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These Real-Life Photos Of The Hubble Telescope Look Too Strange To Be True

The Hubble Telescope has helped us understand the universe, black holes, and supernovas, as well as bringing us "local" knowledge of the solar system and the Milky Way.

Last updated on April 24, 2021, at 6:24 p.m. ET

Posted on April 24, 2021, at 2:23 p.m. ET

In 1990, outer space got a lot closer — or at least easier to see— when the Hubble Telescope launched by the Space Telescope Science Institute. For the past three decades, the institute has shared amazing photographs of outer space captured by the telescope, and in the process has explained a little bit more of the universe around us. The Hubble Telescope has helped us understand the age and expansion of the universe, black holes, and supernovas, as well as bringing us "local" knowledge of the solar system and the Milky Way.

These photographs, which seem almost too strange to be true, are some of the most beautiful from the Hubble Telescope. For more photographs from Earth and beyond, sign up for our weekly photo newsletter.

The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

A Hubble Space Telescope image of dense clumps and tendrils of interstellar hydrogen that cradle newborn stars at tips, eventually forming stars after evaporation

Courtesy of NASA

This Hubble image captures Caldwell 78 (or NGC 6541), a globular star cluster roughly 22,000 light-years from Earth. The cluster is bright enough that backyard stargazers in the Southern Hemisphere can easily spot it with binoculars.

Courtesy of NASA

When observers look directly at Caldwell 15 through a small telescope, they typically see only the nebula’s sparkling white central star. However, by averting one’s gaze, glancing away from the central star, the nebula's bulbous dust clouds come into view. This optical trickery earned this planetary nebula the name the "Blinking Planetary.”

Courtesy of NASA

The Veil Nebula with new processing techniques applied, bringing out fine details of the nebula’s delicate threads and filaments of ionized gas.

Courtesy of NASA

This image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, depicts a special class of star-forming nursery known as free-floating evaporating gaseous globules, or frEGGs for short.

The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The Hubble Space Telescope, still in the grasp of space shuttle Discovery's remote manipulator system, about to be launched, with Earth in the background.

The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Astronaut Kathryn Thornton working with equipment associated with servicing chores on the Hubble Space Telescope during a spacewalk on the 11-day Endeavour mission to service the telescope in 1993.

NASA / Getty Images

In this tightly cropped handout image, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit, on May 12, 2009, from Florida.

NASA / Getty Images

This image of Saturn obtained Sept. 14, 2003, shows the planet's rings when they were at a maximum tilt of 26 degrees toward Earth.

NASA / Getty Images

One of the deepest views of the visible universe ever achieved is seen in a Hubble Telescope composite photograph released March 9, 2004.

Courtesy of NASA

Researchers rewind the clock to calculate the age and site of a supernova blast.

Courtesy of NASA

Lying inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way, this Herbig–Haro object is a turbulent birthing ground for new stars in a region known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away.

Courtesy of NASA

This Hubble Space Telescope image depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, the result of the "death" of a star 20 times more massive than our Sun 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Light from this supernova takes around 2,400 years to reach Earth.

Courtesy of NASA

A spotlight-hogging galaxy, seen set against a backdrop of more distant galaxies of all shapes and sizes, is known as PGC 29388.

Courtesy of NASA

Hubble was recently retrained on NGC 6302, known as the "Butterfly Nebula," to observe it across a more complete spectrum of light, from near-ultraviolet to near-infrared, helping researchers better understand the mechanics at work in its technicolor "wings" of gas.

NASA / Getty Images

This mosaic image, one of the largest ever taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the Crab Nebula, shows a 6-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion as released Dec. 2, 2005.

Correction: The Hubble Telescope was launched in 1990. A previous version of this post said the telescope was launched in 1981, which is when the Space Telescope Science Institute was founded.



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