National Geographic

Celebrate Hubble’s 24th With Giant Galaxies, Dying Stars and Cosmic Chaos

Twenty-four years and two days ago, on a Tuesday morning, the space shuttle Discovery hitched a ride to low Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Aboard the shuttle? NASA’s newest eye in the sky, the Hubble Space Telescope, an instrument capable of peering deep into the cosmos and capturing the universe’s inhabitants in exquisite detail. It had taken decades of design and planning to get the telescope ready for work. The next day, on April 25, astronauts delivered the telescope to space.

Then, scientists eagerly waited for Hubble to start revealing cosmic secrets.

We all know what happened next. A flaw in the telescope’s primary mirror meant the images weren’t sharp. Observing incredibly faint objects, such as very distant galaxies, wasn’t possible. It would be three years before the first of five servicing missions let astronauts correct the defect and upgrade Hubble’s vision to what it should have been.

Since then, though, the Hubble space telescope has continually delighted Earthlings with its breathtaking views of stars, galaxies, and our planetary neighbors. Its impact on science has been no less important. Among other discoveries, Hubble helped scientists determine that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. This discovery, which happened in the late 1990s, is something we still can’t fully explain.

Every day, tales of life and death in the universe are told through faraway supernovas, galactic collisions and clusters, and violent stellar nurseries. These stories are often accompanied by profoundly beautiful images. Some of these, like the million-second-long exposure that produced the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, need to be viewed full-size for the appropriate amounts of cosmic oomph. Others, like the Pillars of Creation, have become extremely well-known — looking at these photos can be like seeing the smiling face of an old friend.

Here, in honor of Hubble’s 24th launchiversary, are 25 images that might be slightly less familiar…and I’ve added one to grow on, just for good measure.

There are 42 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. amahl
    April 26, 2014

    Happy Anniversary, Hubble. These images are stunningly beautiful, and loaded with ‘cosmic oomph.’ They challenge the meaning of the word “favorite” — impossible not to favor all of them. Thank you, Nadia, for this post.
    amahl

  2. Miss Cellania
    April 27, 2014

    I can’t see the images. It appears that your “more” button is mixed up with your “share” button.

    • Nadia Drake
      April 27, 2014

      The images are in the gallery running atop the post — first pic is of a big, beautiful galaxy. Use the right and left arrows to navigate through them. Enjoy!

  3. Simon Atkins
    April 28, 2014

    Stunning images, makes you really ponder as to what the universe is all about.

  4. Patrick McDonald
    April 28, 2014

    Who would have thought that an “empty” part of space hid the Hubble Deep Field? That was a real game changer in our concept of the size of the Universe. We came close to never doing it.

  5. jorge
    April 29, 2014

    …,…

  6. Liz Bolaños Cárdenas
    April 29, 2014

    I am … the Universe is…

  7. Jahangir Baig
    April 30, 2014

    Amazing photographs!

    Happy Launchiversary Hubble!

  8. Jahangir Baig
    April 30, 2014

    Thank you Nadia

  9. April
    April 30, 2014

    GOD IS SUPERNOVA

  10. pawan
    May 1, 2014

    The imagination/mind fails me to think of such distances, and to get to know or even imagine what is going on there is stunning, Salute to those who made these possible !!

  11. Steve Roman
    May 1, 2014

    ” The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars…but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.”
    ~ Andre Malraux

  12. Chris B
    May 1, 2014

    Nature paints amazing pictures!

  13. Lynn
    May 1, 2014

    You missed my fav .. Pillars of Creation! The whole gallery is stunning, and it’s a lovely tribute to NASA and Hubble :)

  14. Ferdi Mansya Hasibuan
    May 1, 2014

    The images is absolutely stunning i really amaze with all the universe appears though seen it many times but still they all are amazing..thank you an happy birthday Hubble

  15. Bob
    May 1, 2014

    I would like to see a link to the RAW photo without the color enhancements..

  16. Vinicius Fonseca
    May 1, 2014

    INCREBELIEVEBLE, MARAVIWONDERFUL!

  17. Beau Femme
    May 1, 2014

    Pic #13 brought tears to my eyes… Absolutely beautiful photos. Thank you, Nadia Drake for this article.

  18. Денка Симеонова
    May 1, 2014

    Поздравления!
    Аз съм такава малка прашинка пред Космоса, който разкривате! Прекланям се пред могъщата ръка, която движи цялата Вселена!
    От всяко кътче на Земята следим Вашите постижения и искаме да успявате все повече и повече! Бъдете всички живи и здрави, с мир в сърцето!

  19. Krissy
    May 1, 2014

    Absolutely amazing, I can’t wait to see what the future will bring with out technology and our thurst for the unknown to be known!

  20. sreelima
    May 1, 2014

    I thankful for the most valuable information..

  21. quartz
    May 1, 2014

    excellent. i can live forever watching the beauty of those space objects. :)

  22. JD Adams
    May 1, 2014

    Across a starry ocean we travel to shores of distant worlds… Thx for wind in my sails Hubble

  23. Antonio B. Nafarrate
    May 2, 2014

    A few weeks before its launch, a friend sneak me into a Lockheed building near Moffett Field. There was Hubble wrapped in Al foil like a turkey ready for the oven. At that time it did not crossed my mind the coming revolution in knowledge that was to be generated by Hubble besides the beautiful views.

  24. ted
    May 2, 2014

    it is amazing. I would sell my kidneys to take a trip round the universe. is it possible

  25. Abhijnan Dutta
    May 2, 2014

    Hubble telescope & I both are in same age this year

  26. Khayal
    May 2, 2014

    SUBHANALLAH! What a perfect creation.

  27. clerc
    May 2, 2014

    bon anniversaire a vous sujet que j appreçie qui me pationne beaucoup merçi bien gentillement a vous

  28. Loutfi Abou – Zeid
    May 2, 2014

    This is a very GREAT space objects with very rich valuable informations ..RESPECT..

  29. Yv
    May 2, 2014

    Absolutely breathtakingly magic :-)))

  30. ron
    May 2, 2014

    Thanks to all the men and women that have ever had anything to do with Hubble. The most profound man made object in the history of history.

  31. Rashid Mukoon
    May 2, 2014

    simply fantastic

  32. Lester Bruscha
    May 2, 2014

    Hubble was well worth the investment!!

  33. Shine
    May 2, 2014

    Scientific revaluations jillion creations ,,,,,,

  34. Lynn DuPree
    May 2, 2014

    How lucky we are to have seen through the eye of Hubble. Looking at these photos always convinces me that we are indeed not alone in the universe. Happy Birthday Hubble!

  35. Cyndie Ellenberger
    May 3, 2014

    Simply stunning… So grateful to Hubble for the opportunity to see our vast and amazing universe…

  36. andra
    May 5, 2014

    Could we also see the RAW images, without color enhancements? Thanks.

  37. Adrian
    May 11, 2014

    Wawesome. We are so lucky to be able to see these images. My ego inflated troubles don’t seem so large after all, just like my little blue dot lol. Keep up the incredible visions of where we are headed. And rock on silver surfer tell the Big G hello. :).

  38. Juan Turcios
    May 13, 2014

    Very nice!!

  39. Bernard Curtin
    May 22, 2014

    Hubble has put our little planet and our little problems in perspective. No longer our we a universe but a multi-verse thanks to Hubble observations. What a remarkable 25 years, happy birthday Hubble telescope.

  40. carl parrish
    May 22, 2014

    Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

  41. pravallika
    June 25, 2014

    It is amazing.the images are beautiful.we can able to see what’s happening in the universe.by using the lenses of more reflective power we can see hem elaborately.
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARAY TO HUBBLE.
    i request nadia i.e.,some images of different stges in black holes and especially about supernova.
    thanks.

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