Hubble has been monitoring space for 27 years now, and its latest anniversary is celebrated with an image of two close friends.
A joint mission between ESA and NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope’s birthday is marked each year with one particularly spectacular image.
Launched aboard Discovery in April 1990 and deployed into low-Earth orbit, Hubble’s positioning outside of our planet’s atmosphere allows for stunning views.
Over the past 27 years, the space telescope’s breakthrough discoveries have revolutionised the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.
This year’s anniversary image features a pair of spiral galaxies known as NGC 4302 and NGC 4298, each located 55m light years away.
Situated in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenices’ Hair), the pair were first discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1784.
Despite appearing markedly different, they are actually quite similarly laid out – it’s our perspective that portrays a difference.
According to NASA, in NGC 4298, the tell-tale, pinwheel-like structure is visible, but it’s not as prominent as in some other spiral galaxies.
In NGC 4302, dust in the disc is silhouetted against rich lanes of stars. Absorption by dust makes the galaxy appear darker and redder than its companion. A large blue patch appears to be a giant region of recent star formation.
Hubble’s impact on science has proved overwhelming since its birth. In 2011, Hubble became the first Earth-based telescope to snap an image of the Uranus auroras, with two subsequent studies, led by an astronomer from Paris Observatory, revealing just how spectacular an event they are.
Earlier this year, Hubble checked out the Calabash Nebula, otherwise known as the Rotten Egg Nebula. According to NASA, the image shows a “spectacular example” of the death of a low-mass star.
Last year, Siliconrepublic.com celebrated Hubble’s 26th birthday by looking through some of the mission’s best images.