Happy birthday Hubble! To celebrate the telescope’s three decades in space, the team of researchers behind Hubble released an amazing new image of two nebulae in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a smaller galaxy about 163,000 light-years from our Milky Way.
The larger red nebula is NGC 2014 and the bright, newly formed stars in the heart are 10-20 times the size of the sun, according to NASA. The blue nebula, NGC 2020, was formed when a star 200,000 times larger than our Sun emitted a tremendous amount of gas.
Researchers thought the statue looked a lot like a coral reef and called the resulting image “Cosmic Reef.”
“It is Hubble’s excellent vision from orbit above the Earth’s atmosphere that allows us to get a clear picture of this kind of incredible beauty and activity.” Jennifer Wiseman, Hubble Senior Project Scientist said in a video taken when the image was released.
But 30 years ago, when it was launched, the telescope was not in top shape. “A minor imperfection in the mirror meant that all the pictures taken were blurry and out of focus, and it took five separate repair missions to get the car in the excellent condition it looks in now.” Sean O’Kane wrote for the 25th anniversary of Hubble.
“It was revolutionary to launch such a large telescope 30 years ago, and this astronomical powerhouse still delivers revolutionary science.” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA said in a statement. “The spectacular images appeal to the imagination for decades and will continue to inspire humanity in the years to come.”