The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 20th birthday, having been launched on 24 April 1990.
The following is from the Hubble website at:
NASA's best-recognised, longest-lived, and most prolific space observatory zooms past a threshold of 20 years of operation this month. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle and crew of STS-31 were launched to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into a low Earth orbit. What followed was one of the most remarkable sagas of the space age. Hubble's unprecedented capabilities made it one of the most powerful science instruments ever conceived by humans, and certainly the one most embraced by the public. Hubble discoveries revolutionised nearly all areas of current astronomical research, from planetary science to cosmology. And, its pictures were unmistakably out of this world. This brand new Hubble photo is of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble's classic "Pillars of Creation" photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away is by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.
This is the photograph, called “Mystic Mountain”, referred to in the above item:
This is the “Pillars of Creation” photograph:
The Pillars are gaseous nurseries for newborn stars. The largest of the three pillars is about 4.5 light years from base to tip.
Take the time to look at a Hubble gallery at
(click on the link) and then click on each image to enlarge. If you have trouble taking a photo with your mobile phone, marvel that these pics are not Star Wars CGI or special effects but the real thing, photographed in space and sent back to Earth.