NASA has marked the silver anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope with fireworks launched from the orbiting observatory in outer space.
To commemorate Hubble’s launch on 24 April 1990, NASA has released images of the Westerlund 2 cluster of stars, located about 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.
The Hubble telescope sits 547 kilometres above earth. It’s sharp eye can see individual stars in the cluster, which is packed with about 3000 newborn stars.
With its infrared vision, Hubble also can see inside cocoons of dust and gas where even more stars are forming.
Learning about the lifecycle of stars was one of the reasons Hubble was built.
By operating far above Earth and removing the effects of Earth’s atmosphere, astronomers hoped to look farther back in time. They observed generations of stars and galaxies that formed closer to the Big Bang, some 13.7 billion years ago.
The Hubble telescope has hugely changed our human understanding of our universe.
NASA hopes to keep Hubble operating through 2020 to overlap with its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope which is due to launch in October 2018.