These new images from Hubble Telescope will blow your tiny mind
After 28 years in space, you'd think the Hubble Telescope would have exhausted its ability to completely blindside us with stunning photographs. And then bam, you get this picture.
Hubble hitched a ride into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. Now, every April, scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency (who work together on Hubble missions) release staggeringly gorgeous photos to mark its anniversary. This year, Hubble snapped the above image of the Lagoon Nebula, as well as an infrared version.
The Lagoon Nebula is impossibly huge: 55 light-years wide, 20 light-years tall, and visible to the naked eye from Earth despite being about 4,000 light-years away. Hubble's photo, which showed about four light-years across, couldn't even come close to capturing the whole of it. And at the center of this glowing star nursery is a "monster young star" 32 times more massive than our own sun and 200,000 times brighter.
In other words, our solar system is looking pretty puny.
This infrared version allows NASA and ESA to see through all the dust and gas held within the nebula to more intricate structures and hidden stars.
And for all those space nerds out there who want to feel within arm's reach of our expanding universe—but don't want to, you know, leave the couch—legendary astronaut Chris Hadfield is teaching an online MasterClass course on space exploration right now. Never hurts to be prepared.