Backyard Observatory

NASA Just Released a Gorgeous New Image for Hubble Telescope's 30th Anniversary

The space agency is celebrating the telescope's major milestone by adding to its impressive repertoire of dazzling space photos.

New Hubble image
NASA, ESA, and STScI; CC BY 4.0

Friday, April 24, is the 30th anniversary of the launch of what is probably the world's most famous space telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope has provided stunning, inspiring, jaw-dropping images for three decades. NASA is celebrating the major milestone by adding to the repertoire. 

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) released a new photo from Hubble to mark the anniversary on Friday. The announcement refers to the image as a "tapestry of blazing starbirth" and calls it "Cosmic Reef," and both are apt titles for the almost psychedelic swirl shown above. 

"The portrait features the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020 which together form part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud," the announcement says, "a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, approximately 163,000 light-years away."

NGC 2014 and NGC 2020, despite the apparent distance between them, are part of the same massive "star formation complex." The stars glowing in the larger NGC 2014 are at least 10 times larger than our sun. The blue-colored nebula is dominated by one single star that is absolutely gigantic. The rare Wolf-Rayet class star is about 200,000 times brighter and 15 times larger than our sun.

It's an appropriate image to celebrate the anniversary because it's gorgeous, endlessly fascinating, and everything that Hubble has done for a surprisingly long time.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.