Hubble Space Telescope sees:
Beautiful Views Across the Universe

Hubble image of Lagoon Nebula
Stormy weather in the Lagoon Nebula
Extraordinary. Stunning. Fabulous. Dramatic. Amazing. Unprecedented. Exciting. Magnificent. Phenomenal. Awesome. Electrifying. Breathtaking.

Pick a superlative and it has been used by people around the world to describe the beautiful images of objects in deep space recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble rode space shuttle Discovery up to space some 400 miles above Earth in 1990. From there, it has sent down extraordinary views of faraway places to excited astronomers on the ground. The stunning images have revealed the birth, death, and misfortunes of stars as well as a treasure trove of details about our planet neighbors in the Solar System.

Through Hubble's eye we have watched vast sand dunes appear as the Martian polar ice cap melts away through summer. We've observed Neptune swept by giant hurricanes and Saturn twirling inside its delicate girdle of rings.

Hubble has allowed scientists to calculate the ages of star clusters far beyond our own galaxy and even an age for the entire Universe itself – 12 to 16 billion years. Awesome Hubble images of nebulae, emerging stars, and other celestial phenomena have shown us the magical wonder of deep space. Hubble has allowed us to look in on star formation in the Keyhole Nebula and the Eagle Nebula, which has been called the cradle of creation for new stars. And then there is the breathtaking view of millions of stars at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Below are some of the best among the Hubble beauties:

"The Hubble has contributed monumental finds to the scientific world... Our world has been changed by its amazing capabilities."

--Devin Wilmot in the Hubble Project guestbook, March 28, 2004

Lagoon Nebula »
Temperature differences in clouds of interstellar gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula pumps up structures reminiscent of Earth's tornadoes. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Hourglas Nebula MyCn18 »
The hourglass-shaped nebula with a star at its center looks like a green eye staring from two intersecting rings. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Herbig-Haro object HH 32 »
Beautiful places like Herbig-Haro object HH 32 come about when jets of material ejected from young stars plow into the surrounding nebula, ringing it with strong shock waves, and heating its gas until it glows in different colors. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Helix Nebula »
The "tadpoles" at upper right are "cometary knots" to astronomers who see comets in their glowing heads and gossamer tails arising where two gases are colliding near a star dying in the Helix Nebula. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Eta Carinae »
Some 150 years ago, people on Earth looked up and saw a giant outburst become one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Two billowing clouds of gas and dust ballooned up around the super-massive star Eta Carinae, which survived the explosion. Eta Carinae, more than 8,000 lightyears from Earth, is one of the most massive stars in our galaxy, 100 times more massive than our Sun. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Cygnus Loop Nebula »
Cygnus Loop nebula is a blast wave expanding from a supernova. Crashing into a dense interstellar cloud has heated the gas to a glow. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Cartwheel Galaxy »
Reminding us of a wild west wagon wheel, the center of the Cartwheel Galaxy has bright, comet-like clouds circling at 700,000 mph. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Eagle Nebula »
Newborn stars look like tiny bubbles in the dark pillars of cool hydrogen gas in the Eagle Nebula. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Spiral Galaxy NGC 7742 »
The core of small spiral galaxy NGC 7742 looks like the yolk in the center of a fried egg. There probably is a black hole in there. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Nebula NGC 604 »
The gas walls of nebula NGC 604 are sprinkled with hot stars looking like lanterns in a cavern. NGC 604 is a hotbed of starbirth in an arm of the spiral galaxy known as Triangulum galaxy or M33. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

"For the scientist, the images from the HST are revelations; for the public, these images create awe and wonder; for our children, the HST is part of their heritage and future."

--Frank Horine in the Hubble Project guestbook, January 31, 2004

Cat's Eye Nebula »
The extraordinarily beautiful, 1,000-year-old Cat's Eye Nebula is a visible fossil of what may be a dying pair of stars. Such a planetary nebula is created when a star uses up its nuclear fuel and begins puffing away layers of its atmosphere. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Stingray Nebula »
The Stingray nebula has two important distinctions. It's big and it's the youngest planetary nebula astronomers have found. The Stingray is as large as 130 of our Solar System, although it appears quite small because it is 18,000 lightyears from Earth. There are two stars – one in the middle of the green gas ring and the companion above it to the left. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Bipolar Planetary Nebula M2-9 »
The gravity of one star is pulling gas from the surface of the other nearby star into a thin, dense disk that surrounds both in the bipolar planetary nebula M2-9 located 2,100 lightyears from Earth. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Supernova NGC 6826 »
Looking like an eye with two bloodshot streams, the white of supernova NGC 6826's eye is a faint green gas that is almost half of the star's mass. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Turtle Nebula NGC 6210 »
Jets of hot gas stream through holes in an older, cooler shell of gas 6,500 lightyears away from Earth in the constellation Hercules. NGC 6210 reminds some viewers of a giant turtle. The star that started the planetary nebula is in the center of the inset provided by the Hubble team. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Ring Nebula »
A dying star is floating in a blue haze of hot gas that is the famous Ring Nebula. After the star spewed the gas out thousands of years ago, long dark clumps of material became embedded in it at the edge of the nebula. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Butterfly Nebula »
Heat generated by fast stellar winds in the nebula expanded the butterfly's two wings, like a pair of balloons with internal heaters. The nebula is 2,200 lightyears away from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Pinwheel Nebula NGC 5307 »
NGC 5307 nebula in the constellation Centaurus spins like a pinwheel as blobs of gas are ejected from each side of the central star. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Supernova NGC 7027 »
NGC 7027 was a medium-mass star like our Sun before it began casting off clouds of gas and glowing material in spectacular death throes. The white region is the hottest area. Red wisps are cool molecular hydrogen gas. The blue glow is even cooler gas and dust. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

"I am greatful to the man who thought this up, the astronauts who put it up there, the team of people and researchers who keep us looking at the stars...I wish there were words to tell you all how much I am thankful for what you are doing."

--A signer in the Hubble Project guestbook, July 20, 2003

Eight-Burst or Southern Ring Nebula NGC 3132 »
A bright white star and its fainter companion are near the center of the Southern Ring nebula, NGC 3132, also known as the Eight-Burst. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Edge of the Universe »
To record this infrared image of galaxies 12 billion lightyears away at the edge of the observable Universe, Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer were focused on a small area of sky above the handle of the Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Hickson Compact Group 87 Galaxies »
In a slow dance over hundreds of millions of years, four galaxies, the Hickson Compact Group 87, move about in an intricate choreography directed by their gravitational forces. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Hubble Deep Field South »
Astronomers were able to estimate from this Hubble Deep Field South image in visible and infrared light that there are 125 billion galaxies above and beyond Earth's southern sky. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4603 »
Pulsating stars referred to as Cepheid variables are found in the spiral galaxy NGC 4603 in the Centaurus cluster. It is the most distant galaxy in which that class of star has been found. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Matter Flows Between NGC 1410 and NGC 1409 »
An intergalactic pipeline of dark matter flows between two battered galaxies that bumped into each other 100 million years ago. The string of matter stretches 20,000 lightyears between NGC 1410, left, and NGC 1409, right. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Black Hole in Circinus Dwarf Galaxy »
The center of the starburst rings in this active galaxy is what astronomers refer to as a Seyfert nucleus. That means a supermassive black hole probably is swallowing the surrounding gas and dust. The Circinus Dwarf Galaxy is 13 million lightyears away from Earth. Because the galaxy is partly hidden from view by intervening dust of our own Milky Way galaxy, it went unnoticed until 1977. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512 »
The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1512 is seen in the southern constellation of Horologium. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

Whirlpool Galaxy M51 NGC 5194 »
The Whirlpool Galaxy is in a close encounter with nearby galaxy NGC 5195. The companion's gravity is firing off star formation in the Whirlpool, as seen in the numerous clusters of massive, luminous young red stars in the spiral arms and dust clouds. Also known as M51 and NGC 5194, Whirlpool galaxy is 31 million lightyears from Earth. NGC 5195 is beyond the upper edge of this image. Credit: NASA/AURA/STSCI

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