Images from space don’t get any prettier than this. A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope was released today to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the Solar System and beyond since the launch of the telescope on April 24, 1990. It shows a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina. NASA describes the new image as a “brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display.”
The Hubble Teams are giving away a few “gifts” to everyone to celebrate this silver anniversary — see below!
“Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science.”
The cluster is named after Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund who discovered the grouping in the 1960s.
There are anniversary events occurring around the US and the world. Here is a listing of at the Hubble anniversary site, where people can also find science articles, educational resources, downloadable presentations, and more:
See a stunning gallery of all the ‘anniversary’ images that have been released by the Hubble teams over the last 25 years at this Flickr gallery.
And finally, here’s an excellent visualization of a flight to the star cluster Westerlund 2:
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.