Last Sunday marked the Hubble Space Telescope's 26th anniversary, and its official celebratory image, captured just in time for the big party, is this neuron-busting image of the beautiful Bubble Nebula. This heavenly, balloon-like bubble of interstellar gas is being expanded into space by a super-hot, massive star 45 times larger than our sun. First discovered in 1787 by noted British astronomer William Herschel, the Bubble Nebula, AKA NGC 7635, is 7 light-years across and located 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera-3 imaged the striking nebula in visible light with mind-blowing clarity in February 2016, with colors corresponding to blue for oxygen, green for hydrogen, and red for nitrogen.
Astronomers chose the mesmerizing image as the official anniversary photo to mark the Hubble's historic launch into Earth orbit by the STS-31 space shuttle crew on April 24, 1990.
“As Hubble makes its 26th revolution around our home star, the sun, we celebrate the event with a spectacular image of a dynamic and exciting interaction of a young star with its environment. The view of the Bubble Nebula, crafted from WFC-3 images, reminds us that Hubble gives us a front row seat to the awe inspiring universe we live in,” said John Grunsfeld, Hubble astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C.