The iconic images and scientific discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope have revised our view of the Universe. To mark 30 years of his scientific discoveries, we made a selection of the latest videos and photos of two giant nebulae that resemble jellyfish. This image is one of the most photogenic examples of many turbulent star nurseries that the telescope observed over its 30-year life. Video and photo taken from Space Telescope.
The photo depicts the giant nebula NGC 2014 and neighboring NGC 2020, which together form part of the vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, at a distance of about 163,000 light-years. The image is called the “Cosmic Reef” because it resembles the underwater world.
On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the Discovery space shuttle, along with a crew of five astronauts. Deployed into low Earth orbit a day later, the telescope opened a new view of space.
Hubble is revolutionizing modern astronomy not only for astronomers but also in order to attract the public to an amazing journey in the field of research and discovery. Hubble’s seemingly endless, breathtaking heavenly images provide a visual shorthand for his exemplary scientific achievements.
Unlike any other telescope before, Hubble has made astronomy relevant, exciting, and accessible to people of all ages. To date, the mission has brought 1.4 million observations and provided data that astronomers around the world have used to write more than 17,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications, making it one of the most prolific space observatories in history. Its rich data archive alone will facilitate future astronomical research for future generations.
Each year, the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope devotes a small portion of its precious time to observe a special anniversary image showing particularly beautiful and significant objects. These images continue to challenge scientists with new exciting surprises and captivate the public with more memorable observations.
A new milestone in its history was marked by a portrait of two colorful nebulae that show how energetic, massive stars sculpt their homes from gas and dust. Although NGC 2014 and NGC 2020 appear separate in this image in visible light, they are actually part of one gigantic star formation complex. In the regions of star formation observed here, the luminosity of stars prevails, at least 10 times more massive than our Sun. These stars have a short life — only a few million years, compared to 10 billion years of our Sun’s life.
The sparkling centerpiece of NGC 2014 is a group of bright, hefty stars near the center of the image that blew off a cocoon of gaseous hydrogen (red) and the dust in which it was born. A stream of ultraviolet radiation from a star cluster illuminates the landscape around it. These massive stars also release strong winds that destroy the gas cloud above and to their right. The gas in these areas is less dense, therefore it is easier for stellar winds to break through them, creating bubble-like structures resembling brain corals, which gave the name of the nebula in the form of “brain coral”.
In contrast, the blue nebula below NGC 2014 was formed by one giant star, which is about 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. This is an example of a rare class of stars called Wolf-Rayet stars. It is believed that they are the descendants of the most massive stars. Wolf-Rayet stars are very luminous and have a high mass-loss rate in strong winds. The star in the Hubble image is 15 times more massive than the Sun and releases powerful winds that cleared the area around it. He threw away his outer layers of gas, sweeping them in the shape of a cone and exposing his burning hot core. It looks offset from the center because the telescope is looking at the cone at a slightly slanted angle. In a few million years, a star may become a supernova.
Stars, large and small, are born when clouds of dust and gas collapse due to gravity. As more and more material falls on the forming star, it finally becomes hot enough and dense in its center to cause nuclear fusion reactions that cause the stars, including our Sun, to shine. Massive stars make up only a few percent of the billions of stars in our universe. However, they play a crucial role in shaping our universe through stellar winds, supernova explosions, and the production of heavy elements.