Happy birthday, Hubble! Celestial 'fireworks' for space telescope's 25th
MANILA, Philippines – Celestial fireworks – just in time for the 25th anniversary of Earth's best eye in the sky.
On the eve of the silver anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA released a photo that best captures the telescope's main job for the past quarter century: revealing to us the magnificence of our universe.
The image is a "vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas," an image of 3,000 stars in the cluster called Westerlund 2, part of the Gum 29 area of the constellation Carina, NASA said Thursday, April 23.
The image captures an area between 6 and 13 light years across, and is around 2 million years old.
It is a galactic breeding ground of stars, NASA noted: "The nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys. The pillars, composed of dense gas and thought to be incubators for new stars, are a few light-years tall and point to the central star cluster. Other dense regions surround the pillars, including reddish-brown filaments of gas and dust."
NASA's "anniversary fireworks" photo was taken using the Hubble's near-infrared Wide Field Camera 3, the space agency said.
Hubble, an international project led by NASA and the European Space Agency, was launched on April 24, 1990, with the help of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It is currently orbiting 559 kilometers above our home planet, taking photo after incredible photo of the cosmos.
It has been hailed not just for its spectacular photographs of nebulae and galaxies, but also for helping gather data about galactic phenomena, from the age of the universe to black holes to the moons of our neighbors in the solar system.
"Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos,” John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
“This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science," Grunsfeld added.
The full-resolution image can be viewed at the Hubble Site. – Rappler.com