Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990, about the space shuttle Discovery. Every year since, scientists at NASA, together with the European Space Agency (ESA), release spectacular images from it to recognize its “birthday.”
The Lagoon Nebula is a hub of stars being born, and it’s 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall.
NASA and ESA officials wrote an apt message about the nebula being imaged. ”Even though it is about 4,000 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.”
For its part, the aging telescope has undergone five repairs and upgrades in space, the last in 2009. It’s expected to last until at least 2020, and likely longer.
The successor to Hubble, the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch in Spring of 2020.
Here are two images and a tantalizing video released in honor of Hubble’s 28th year in space. Happy birthday, old friend!
NASA/ESA caption: “To celebrate its 28th anniversary in space the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took this amazing and colourful image of the Lagoon Nebula. The whole nebula, about 4000 light-years away, is an incredible 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall. This image shows only a small part of this turbulent star-formation region, about four light-years across. The observations were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 between 12 February and 18 February 2018. Credit:NASA, ESA, STScI.
NASA/ESA caption: To celebrate its 28th anniversary in space the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took this amazing and colourful image of the Lagoon Nebula. Using its infrared capabilities, the telescope was able to peer through the thick clouds of dust and gas. The most obvious difference between Hubble’s infrared and visible images of this region is the abundance of stars that fill the field of view in the infrared. Most of them are more distant, background stars located behind the nebula. However, some of them are young stars within the Lagoon Nebula itself. Credit:NASA, ESA, STScI
The video is also quite captivating; there are more located here.