Iconic images from Hubble Space Telescope

Launched on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope remains a major symbol for NASA more than 30 years later. Here’s a look at some stellar images from the Hubble.

Pillars of Creation

After the Hubble’s 30 years in space, this image remains one of its most iconic. The Pillars of Creation depicts a jet-like feature that astronomers say has grown by about 96.5 billion kilometres, based on comparisons of pictures taken between 1995 and 2014. 

(Hubble Heritage Team/NASA/ESA/Reuters)

Cosmic Reef

Marking the telescope’s three decades in space, NASA unveiled a new image taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. It shows how young, energetic, massive stars illuminate and sculpt their birthplace with powerful winds and searing ultraviolet radiation. The image, nicknamed the Cosmic Reef because it resembles an undersea world, shows a giant red nebula and a smaller blue one that create a huge star-forming region. 

(Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA/ESA)

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

In this 2012 image of hundreds of galaxies, the Hubble provides a display of a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.

The telescope captured a region six billion light-years away containing the galaxy cluster Abell 370, one of the first galaxy clusters in which astronomers observed gravitational lensing, the warping of space-time by the cluster’s gravitational field that distorts the light from galaxies far behind it.

Arcs and streaks in the picture are the stretched images of background galaxies.

(Hubble, HST Frontier F/NASA/ESA)

Westerlund 2

This 2015 photo features a stellar nursery of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, located about 20,000 light-years from the planet Earth in the constellation Carina.


Antennae galaxies

In 2006, this Hubble-captured image of the merging Antennae galaxies offered one of the first high-resolution glimpses of the birth of billions of stars. The brightest and most dense areas of the image show super star clusters representing some of the newest material in space.

 (Hubble/B. Whitmore Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA/Reuters 

Eta Carinae

Images of Eta Carinae, a dying star in our Milky Way galaxy, led scientists to conclude in a 2007 article in the journal Nature that a similarly sized star went supernova some 78 million light-years from Earth and wiped out a star 100 times the size of our sun.


U Camelopardalis

U Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life located in the Giraffe constellation near the celestial North Pole. As it begins to run low on fuel, instability within the star’s core creates coughs of helium gas every few thousand years. This image was captured by Hubble in 2012.

(Hubble/NASA and H. Olofsson/ESA/Reuters)

Jupiter’s polar light

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colourful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot. Using the ultraviolet capabilities of Hubble, astronomers have focused on another feature of the planet: auroras — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system.


Orion Nebula

This NASA illustration from 2013 shows a closeup of cosmic clouds and stellar winds in the Orion Nebula.

(Hubble Heritage Team/NASA/ESA/Reuters)

Menzel 3

From ground-based telescopes, this cosmic object — the glowing remains of a dying, sun-like star — resembles the head and thorax of an ant.

This image, released in 2003, shows the so-called ant nebula, otherwise known as Menzel 3, and reveals a pair of fiery lobes protruding from the dying star.


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