Gigglebit: A 3D spaceflight in star cluster Westerlund 2

27 Apr 2015

The Hubble Space Telescope continues to fascinate us, and as it celebrates its 25th year of operation, NASA has created a 3D trip that is truly exceptional to watch.

While images like the ‘pillars of creation’ have astounded people for a quarter of a century, regardless of their expertise in the science of space, Hubble’s journey will soon be coming to an end, with plans to replace it with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), packing it with even more advanced optical technology to see further into space.

Until 2018, however, Hubble will power on, providing us with answers to questions we wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise and, with that in mind, NASA has released an incredible video taking us on a 3D space flight through the star cluster Westerlund 2.

The flight traverses the foreground stars and approaches the lower left rim of the nebula Gum 29 before passing through the wispy darker clouds on the near side, revealing bright gas illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed stars of Westerlund 2.

Within the nebula, several pillars of dark, dense gas are being shaped by the energetic light and strong stellar winds from the brilliant cluster of thousands of stars.

Now all we need is a pair of virtual reality glasses and we have space travel on the cheap.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic