To celebrate Hubble’s legacy and the long international partnership that makes it possible, each year ESA and NASA celebrate the telescope’s birthday with a spectacular new image.
This year’s anniversary image features an object that has already been observed several times in the past: the Lagoon Nebula, a colossal object 55 light-year wide and 20 light-years tall.
Even though it is about 4000 light-years away from Earth, it is three times larger in the sky than the full Moon. It is even visible to the naked eye in clear, dark skies. Since it is relatively huge on the night sky, Hubble is only able to capture a small fraction of the total nebula. This image is only about four light-years across, but it shows stunning details.
This nebula is a region full of intense activity, with fierce winds from hot stars, swirling chimneys of gas, and energetic star formation all embedded within a hazy labyrinth of gas and dust. Hubble used both its optical and infrared instruments to study the nebula.
Since its launch on 24 April 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized almost every area of observational astronomy. It has offered a new view of the Universe and has reached and surpassed all expectations for a remarkable 28 years.