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The Most Beautiful Space Images!

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A reflection nebula in Orion

 

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Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula in the constellation Orion. The Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain this colour image.

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Monkey Head Nebula

 

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To celebrate its 24th year in orbit, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has released this beautiful new image of part of NGC 2174, also known as the Monkey Head Nebula.

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Mystic Mountain

 

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This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a pillar of gas and dust, three light-years tall, which is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Whirlpool Galaxy

 

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The graceful, winding arms of the majestic spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) appear like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust. This sharpest-ever image, taken in January 2005 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, illustrates a spiral galaxy’s grand design, from its curving spiral arms, where young stars reside, to its yellowish central core, a home of older stars. The galaxy is nicknamed the Whirlpool because of its swirling structure.

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Orion Nebula

 

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This dramatic image offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light. These stars reside in a dramatic dust-and-gas landscape of plateaus, mountains, and valleys that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Butterfly Nebula

 

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This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.

What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to nearly 20 000 degrees Celsius. The gas is tearing across space at more than 950 000 kilometres per hour — fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes!

©NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Next page: even more unbelievable space images!

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