Friday marked 30 years since the Hubble Space Telescope launched into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.
To mark the occasion, NASA released a new portrait showing what is described as “a firestorm of starbirth in a neighboring galaxy.”
Hubble, orbiting above the atmosphere, provides crystal-clear images of the cosmos to researchers, scientists, enthusiasts, and the general public alike.
Besides the images, Hubble has also measured the expansion and acceleration rate of the universe, discovered black holes are common in galaxies, studied the atmospheres of planets around other stars, monitored weather on other planets in the solar system, and has looked back in time across 97% of the universe to chronicle the birth and evolution of galaxies and stars.
Its 1.4 million observations have led to 17,000 research publications and will continue to fuel astronomy for generations to come.
The James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2021, will spend its first few years operating and observing alongside Hubble.
Friday’s image shows a group of bright stars in one nebula, each 10-20 times more massive than the Sun, pushing gas away to form bubble-like structures. In a separate nebula, a single star 200,000 times more massive than the Sun has ejected gas in a series of events which caused it to lose part of its outer “shell.”