NASA is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope by opening its vault of space photography and giving anyone the chance to see what the orbiting optical telescope saw on their birthday.
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Since its launch April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has explored the universe 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sending more than 1 million images of planets, stars and galaxies back to Earth.
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#Hubble30 (2000) The Hubble Space Telescope obtained this image of the strikingly unusual planetary nebula NGC 6751. Glowing in the constellation Aquila like a giant eye, the nebula is a cloud of gas ejected several thousand years ago from the hot star visible in its center. Planetary nebulas are named after their round shapes as seen visually in small telescopes, and have nothing else to do with planets. They are shells of gas thrown off by stars of masses similar to that of our own Sun, when the stars are nearing the ends of their lives. The loss of the outer layers of the star into space exposes the hot stellar core, whose strong ultraviolet radiation then causes the ejected gas to fluoresce as the planetary nebula. Our own Sun is predicted to create a planetary nebula some 6 billion years from now. The nebula shows several remarkable features. Blue regions mark the hottest glowing gas, which forms a roughly circular ring around the central stellar remnant. Orange and red show the locations of cooler gas. The cool gas tends to lie in long streamers pointing away from the central star, and in a surrounding, tattered-looking ring at the outer edge of the nebula. The origin of these cooler clouds within the nebula is still uncertain, but the streamers are clear evidence that their shapes are affected by radiation and stellar winds from the hot star at the center. The star's surface temperature is estimated at a scorching 140,000 degrees Celsius (250,000 degrees Fahrenheit). For more information, follow the link in our bio. Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
As part of the celebration, NASA developed an online tool to search its database of images by date. Select your birth month and day, and the generator will show an image taken by the telescope on that date.
The solar-powered Hubble Space Telescope is named for American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, whose discoveries in the early 1900s helped show that the universe is expanding.
Through its images, scientists have been able to estimate the age of the universe (14 billion years old) and understand how planets and galaxies form.
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