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A gorgeous “Cosmic Reef” image released for the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30th anniversary shows off some of the instrument’s amazing capabilities.
Three decades ago, Hubble launched into space on a mission to open humanity’s eyes to the wonders of the cosmos.
The new Hubble image shows two neighboring clouds of dust in all their glory: the giant red nebula NGC 2014 and a smaller blue nebula nearby called NGC 2020.
“This image is amazing, it’s really showing how powerful Hubble is,” Elena Sabbi, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, told Space.com. “Today, it has the sharpest eyes it’s ever had.”
Hubble took this image, titled “Cosmic Reef,” released April 24 to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
These brilliant star birthplaces are part of the much larger star-forming region known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way about 163,000 light-years away from Earth.
According to NASA, NGC 2014 is made up of many bright stars that are much more massive than our sun, and NGC 2020 is made up of a single, gigantic star that is about 200,000 times brighter than our sun.
“The Hubble Space Telescope has shaped the imagination of truly a whole generation, inspiring not only scientists but almost everybody,” Günther Hasinger, director of science for the European Space Agency (ESA), said in a statement. “It is paramount for the excellent and long-lasting cooperation between NASA and ESA.”