It’s been a big day for space fans. Not only did SpaceX’s Starship rocket successfully launch—before exploding in a fireball much to CEO Elon Musk’s chagrin—but the Hubble Space Telescope is also celebrating its 33rd anniversary.
To help ring in the occasion, NASA released a brand new image captured by the orbital telescope… and it’s absolutely astounding. Take a look:
The pic is of a dark nebula called NGC 1333 located roughly 960 lightyears away from Earth in the Perseus molecular cloud. These areas are also known as “star cradles” since the region contains plenty of cosmic dust and ionized hydrogen for stars to form.
Hubble used its ultraviolet and near-infrared light sensing capabilities to capture the luminescent gasses and dark dust clouds being blown around by new stars. The clouds actually obscure a churning cauldron of star birth behind the dust and hydrogen clouds and dust swirl together to create new stellar “life.” It’s a great example of the often chaotic nature of the universe.
At the very bottom of the image, you can also spot an opening in the clouds revealing the bright and fiery looking nebula behind it. The reddish explosion is actually caused by the star formations, and might even indicate that it will eventually create new planetary systems as well.
Overall, the image is a good glimpse at what it was like in the early days of our very own solar system. Earth, the rest of the planets, and the sun all formed in similar fashion to what’s occurring with NGC 1333.
NASA has a lot to celebrate today. Hubble was launched into orbit on April 25, 1990 by the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery. This latest image adds to the roughly 1.6 million stunning pics that the telescope has snapped over more than three decades.
Even though Hubble might be on its last legs and hot newcomer spacecraft like the James Webb Space Telescope have crashed the scene, it’s still churning out eye candy for us to enjoy. Hopefully, it has plenty more birthdays left in it.