Hubble celebrates 26 years with a bubbly view

Image: Bubble Nebula
The Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7653, is an emission nebula located 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. (Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team)

It’s been 26 years since the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit, but the Bubble Nebula picture unveiled to mark its birthday would make the great observatory feel like a kid again.

Anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is usually a bad idea: They hate that. But every April, the telescope’s science team releases an eye-opening picture as a birthday present. It’s not really for Hubble. It’s for its fans.

The telescope went into space aboard the shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, went through a mission-saving series of optical repairs in 1993, had its final servicing mission in 2009, and is continuing to send back jaw-dropping pictures of the universe.

Hubble has previously captured views of the Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635. But this time, the science team knit together four images from the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 to show off the bubble in its entirety.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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