The Hubble telescope celebrates its 30th anniversary with a spectacular 'cosmic reef'

The Hubble telescope celebrates its 30th anniversary with a spectacular 'cosmic reef'

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This month is celebrated 30th anniversary of the Hubble telescope, that NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the April 24, 1990. The spectacular photography and scientific innovations he made have redefined our image of theuniverse.

To commemorate their three decades of discoveries, those responsible for the project have offered one of the most photogenic examples of the many stellar incubators that the telescope has observed during all this time.

The photograph shows the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor, NGC 2020, which are integrated into a vast region of star formation in theLarge Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way some 163,000 light-years away.

The image is nicknamed "Cosmic Reef”Because of its resemblance to the underwater world.

NGC 2014 is a group of massive, bright stars near the center of the image that have pushed away the envelope of hydrogen gas (in red) and dust in which they formed. A torrent of ultraviolet radiation coming from the star cluster illuminates the landscape around it.

These massive stars also cause strong winds that erode the gas cloud above and to the right of them. The gas in these areas is less dense, making it easier for stellar winds to pass through them, creating bubble-like structures reminiscent of corals and which have earned the nebula the nickname "Brain Coral."

Instead, the bluish nebula under NGC 2014 owes its shape to a colossal star, some 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. It is an example of a rare class of stars called stars ofWolf-Rayet. These stars, which are believed to be descended from the most massive stars in existence, are very luminous and have a high mass loss due to powerful winds.

30 years of Hubble telescope discoveries

So far, the mission has carried out 14 million observations and has provided data that have enabled astronomers around the world to write more than 17,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles, so it constitutes one of the most prolific space observatories in history.

Its vast archive of data alone will be enough to power astronomical research for generations.

Each year, Hubble spends a small portion of its valuable observing time taking a special anniversary picture reflecting especially beautiful or significant objects, and this year, on the Hubble telescope's 30th anniversary, the image couldn't be more striking.


Video: Hubbles 30th Year in Orbit