Hubble Space Telescope Anniversary Celebrated With Picture of the Southern Crab Nebula

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The Hubble Space Telescope’s hitched a ride on the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, thus beginning its stellar journey. The 11-tonne telescope was placed into a 570 km high orbit. It is named after one of the great pioneers of modern astronomy, Edward Hubble.
Ever since then, the telescope provided insight into the universe and an array of images that have awed and inspired the public.

Every year, Hubble dedicates a small portion of its observing time to take a special anniversary picture, focused on capturing particularly beautiful and meaningful objects.

In celebration of the telescope’s 29th anniversary, NASA and the European Space Agency published a picture of an hourglass-shaped wild nebula, “The Southern Crab.” It has been described as “peculiar,” and it is appearing to be the creation of a binary star system consisting of a red giant and a white dwarf.

Hubble Space Telescope Anniversary Celebrated With Picture of the Southern Crab Nebula

According to ESA, “The red giant is shedding its outer layers in the last phase of its life before it too lives out its final years as a white dwarf.”
Pieces of the red giant seem to be pulled to the white dwarf, which in turn ejects it outward, feeding the spectacular nebula formation.
“The bubbles of gas and dust appear brightest at the edges, giving the illusion of crab leg structures,” NASA said.

The images used in this composite view were gathered by Hubble in March. The types of gasses in the nebula are indicated by the colors: red is sulfur, green is hydrogen, orange is nitrogen and blue is oxygen. During its eventful life, the space telescope overcame many technical glitches, orbiting Earth more than 169,000 times.

Hubble data has proven to be extremely helpful for astronomers in their research, and it has been used to publish over 16,000 scientific papers, which is a remarkable achievement for its 29 years of activity.


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