Happy birthday, Hubble!
To celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 29th anniversary, we've picked our favorite images from the iconic deep-space observatory. From colorful nebulas to interacting galaxies, Hubble has imaged so many gorgeous things in space that it was hard to choose our favorites!
The Hubble Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990. Every year for this anniversary, the Hubble team releases a new special anniversary image. Above is the latest anniversary image of the Southern Crab Nebula.
Click through this gallery to see more amazing Hubble views!
Hubble Ultra Deep Field
Some of Hubble's most famous images are from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, which has peered at the most distant galaxies ever observed. This image zooms in on a patch of the sky that contains about 10,000 galaxies that lie up to 10 billion light-years away from Earth. Astronomers use these deep-space images to look back in time and study the universe's origins and evolution.
This version of the composite, released in 2014, is an improved version of the original one that was released in 2003. It incorporates even more observations with more wavelengths of light. Hubble acquired the data for these images using its Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3.
The Veil Nebula
The Veil Nebula is a large supernova remnant located 2,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. It's also one of the most massive and brilliant X-ray sources in the sky and measures about 110 light-years wide. Astronomers believe the Veil Nebula was created when a star 20 times the mass of the sun exploded around 8,000 years ago, and stellar wind from the explosion gave the cloud its shape. The Hubble team released this image on Sept. 24, 2015.
The Butterfly Nebula
Hubble spotted this bipolar nebula fluttering through the Scorpius constellation using its brand-new Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009. NASA astronauts installed the new camera during a servicing mission that year, and this was among the first deep-space images Hubble took with the new instrument.
The Monkey Head Nebula
This glittering deep-space view from the Hubble Space Telescope features a tangled mess of dust, gas and stars known as the Monkey Head Nebula (aka NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252). The Monkey Head is a region rich with new star formation. It's located about 6,400 light-years away from Earth in the Orion constellation. This 24th-anniversary image was released on April 3, 2015.
The Spirograph Nebula
This cosmic jewel is the planetary nebula IC 418, also known as the Spirograph Nebula. Located about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lepus, the Spirograph Nebula displays some interesting textures in its purple-and-orange glow. The Hubble science team released this image of the nebula on Sept. 7, 2000.
A Galactic Duo
In this Hubble image, the Whirlpool Galaxy (NGC 5194) looks like it's wrapping one of its long, spiral arms around its smaller galactic companion, NGC 5195. That small, yellowish galaxy to the right is a dwarf galaxy. While it may look like NGC 5195 is tugging on the tail of its larger companion, it's only passing through the background. This was Hubble's 15th-anniversary photo, released on April 25, 2005.
The Crab Nebula
This colorful mosaic of the Crab Nebula (NGC 1952) is one of the largest images the Hubble Space Telescope has ever taken. The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant that spans about 6 light-years across. It lies about 6,500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus and is bright enough to see from Earth with binoculars.
The Sombrero Galaxy
An edge-on view of the galaxy NGC 4594, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy, reveals a brilliant white core encircled by thick dust lanes.
The Pillars of Creation
One of the most famous Hubble photos features three enormous trunks of cosmic dust and gas called the "Pillars of Creation." Officially designated Messier 16 (M16), this formation is part of the larger Eagle Nebula. Hubble took the original image in 1995, and 20 years later the telescope photographed it again with a new camera. This version of the image was released for Hubble's 25th anniversary in 2015.
The Lagoon Nebula
To celebrate its 28th anniversary in space, the Hubble Space Telescope took this image of the Lagoon Nebula. The nebula, about 4,000 light-years away, is 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall. This image shows only a small part of this turbulent star-formation region, about 4 light-years across. The observations were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 between Feb. 12 and Feb 18, 2018.
The Bubble Nebula
Floating in the Cassiopeia constellation some 8,000 light-years away from Earth is the big, round emission nebula NGC 7635 — suitably nicknamed the Bubble Nebula. The Hubble team released this image of the Bubble Nebula to celebrate the telescope's 26th anniversary in 2016.