I feel honored to make a pick of Hubble’s impressive archive of images, on its 30th birthday. Hubble definitely was a contributing factor to my love for astronomy. And I believe I’m not the only one who’s horizons have been enlarged by the Hubble telescope. Long story short, happy celebration!
Note: Picking out of Hubble’s best images feels like picking the best music albums of all time. It is very hard, but my choices are as much important and influential, as of great personal value for me. I hope you will enjoy my list.
Hubble Deep Field
Such an image to start with, as every single aspect of Hubble’s wonderful story. It just means so much to us. It shows us so clearly, the incredible vastness of the Universe. I love it. I love it. I love it. One of the most inspiring Hubble images ever.
What do we see? Hubble Deep Field is an image of a region in Ursa Major. The image was made from 342 separate exposures, taken over 10 days, from December 18 to December 28, 1995. Almost all of the 3000 objects in the image are galaxies, some of which are the farthest we know about.
It’s one of the fans’ favorites. You’ve seen it. It is also one of my favorites too. The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant, which is the remnant of a star that ended its life in a supernova explosion about 1,000 years ago. The Hubble image of the Crab Nebula shows incredible detail in the structure of the nebular filaments.
Since these filaments are the remnants of a star that exploded in a supernova, we are really looking directly at the insides of a star. And since all the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are created at the cores of stars through nuclear fusion, we are really looking at the star stuff from which the Earth and everything on it is made.
We are all stardust. It’s true. And so we come to the next important image of Hubble, maybe its most famous image.
The Pillars of Creation
So beautiful. So, so beautiful. Although most of the people are familiar with the 1995 shot, my personal favorite is the one from 2014, when it was revisited by NASA and shown in infrared. Why is that my favorite? For absolutely no good reason, honestly. But that’s really not what this is all about.
“The Pillars of Creation” are actually the Eagle Nebula. Why was the image named “The Pillars of Creation”? Well, almost every nebula in the Universe could have been named like that actually, because that’s what nebulae do. They give birth to new stars. They are a star factory. Which is so incredible and awe-inspiring. So what we see in “The Pillars of Creation” really, is real stars, real stars being born right there.
The image has been everywhere. Coffee mugs, t-shirts etc. Also, Space.com made it one of the Top 10 images of Hubble.
This was imaged by Hubble on December 17, 2002. It shows a red star in the constellation Monoceros. On January 6, 2002, there was an outburst recorded, coming from it. Originally, it was thought that the outburst was a typical nova eruption, but then, in time, it was found out to be something completely different. It has remained unknown until today what was the nature of the outburst, but there have been several theories.
The Whirlpool Galaxy
Incredible. M51a (larger of the two) is a spiral galaxy currently interacting with a small galaxy NGC 5195. As a result of the tidal force, a dust lane can be seen extending out from the Whirlpool Galaxy. How many times can you see such an event happening? Honestly, there is no need for other words. Definitely one of the most incredible shots of Hubble.
The Veil Nebula
The Veil Nebula is a large supernova remnant located 2,100 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus. It’s also one of the most massive and brilliant X-ray sources in the sky. Astronomers believe the Veil Nebula was created when a star 20 times the mass of the sun exploded around 8,000 years ago, and stellar wind from the explosion gave the cloud its shape. NASA revealed this image on September 24, 2015.
The Sombrero Galaxy
This brilliant image gives an edge view of the galaxy NGC 4594, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy. In my opinion, it is one of the best close images of galaxies. The way the center comes in contrast to the thick dust layers surrounding it is just awesome. Also, I particularly enjoy the way the galaxy looks when looking at the bigger picture, with the stars around it. It just looks somewhat grand. It is a perfect example of an edge on galaxy observable from Earth,
The Lagoon Nebula
This image was taken to celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary. The nebula, about 4,000 light-years away, is 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall. This image shows only a small part of this turbulent star-formation region, about 4 light-years across.
In my opinion, this is one of the most colorful images of Hubble. The imaging team of NASA did an amazing job working on this.
The Ring Nebula
One of my favorite nebula images. The image was released on May 23rd, 2013. This close-up, visible-light view by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals such great details of the Ring Nebula. The object is tilted towards Earth so that we can see the ring face-on. It looks like a doughnut, but it’s amazing
This is one of the coolest cluster images I’ve seen coming from Hubble. I choose to end with it, for no particular reason actually. It’s my desktop wallpaper. Every morning I start working, I spend around 5-10 minutes looking at it. And it’s wonderful. It’s the best possible way to start a morning.
Westerlund 2 is an obscured compact young star cluster in our galaxy, with an estimated age of about one or two million years. It contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars are known. That is the long story short. Happy celebration, dear readers. And happy birthday, Hubble!