Hubble Marks 30 Years in Space With Tapestry of Blazing Starbirth
This colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope's 30 years of viewing the wonders of space. In this Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef," because NGC 2014 resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars. Some of the stars in NGC 2014 are monsters. The nebula's sparkling centerpiece is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material.
Thirty years ago, on April 24, 1990, Hubble was carried aloft from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Hubble continues to revolutionize modern astronomy, not only for scientists, but also by taking the public on a wondrous journey of exploration and discovery. Hubble's never-ending, breathtaking celestial snapshots provide a visual shorthand for Hubble's top scientific achievements. Unlike any space telescope before it, Hubble made astronomy relevant, engaging, and accessible for people of all ages.
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NASA, ESA, and STScI