On April 24, the prolific Hubble space telescope will celebrate 28 years since its launch in 1990. To mark the anniversary, Hubble took a snap of a stunning interstellar gas in the Lagoon Nebula.
The nebula is a very active stellar nursery where new stars are born. The space telescope directed its infrared and optical tools to take a closer look at the nebula. One of the images is so breathtaking that the space agencies running the telescope decided to use it to celebrate Hubble’s legacy after nearly three decades in orbit.
Hubble is one of the telescopes that have changed the face of astronomy. It has analyzed most of the visible Universe and exceeded all expectations since its launch.
- NASA and ESA, the two space agencies that launched Hubble, release a spectacular photo to celebrate the space observatory’s birthday each year.
- This year, the image will feature a tiny but spectacular section of the Lagoon Nebula.
The nebula is located 4,000 light-years form our planet, and, when it is observed in the sky, it is three times bigger than the Moon. In clear skies some astronomers can observe it with the naked eye.
Since the stellar nursery is very large, space telescopes can only capture a fraction at a time. The anniversary image shows an object that is 4 light-years wide from a nebula that is 55 light-years across.
The nebula’s name echoes its lagoon shape in a wider view. The recently unveiled image shows the core of the nebula.
The stunning colors in the picture are the result of the hot stars’ radiation of the surrounding gases. The nascent stars ionize gas particles, lightning up the gases and giving them eerie shapes. The hot stars in the center of the photo surrounded by dark clouds of dust is called Herschel 36.
Image Source: 1, 2