Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has captivated scientists and everyday stargazers with jaw-dropping images of the outer reaches of our universe.

Sunday marked 26 years since the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, carrying the $1.5-billion telescope. Since then, Hubble has shot hundreds of thousands of detailed pictures and relayed them to scientists on Earth.

Considered one of NASA’s biggest success stories, Hubble has helped scientists narrow down the age of the universe, sparked new theories in astronomy and captured the deepest-ever look into outer space.

In honour of the telescope’s birthday, here’s a glimpse of five of Hubble’s most stunning photos.

Hubble Bubble

hubble bubble

NASA released this image of the Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, last week to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Hubble’s launch. The image shows a massive star (about 45 times larger than the sun) forming a gaseous bubble due to fast-moving “stellar wind” flowing from the star.

‘The Heart of the Milky Way’

Milky Way Hubble

This image, pieced together from nine different pictures, shows more than half a million stars grouped around a supermassive black hole. The entire photograph depicts a sweeping expanse of outer space totalling about 50 light-years.

Deep Space


In 2012, scientists released this image – dubbed the eXtreme Deep Field – that captured that farthest-ever glimpse into outer space. The picture was compiled from a decade’s worth of Hubble images and shows thousands of other galaxies located millions of light years away from Earth.

Psychedelic gas


No, this isn’t an oil painting or a still from “The NeverEnding Story.” This image, released in 2010, shows a pillar of gas being devoured by light from nearby stars. The blue in the image indicates oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen show up as green and sulphur appears red.

‘Pillars of Creation’


This Hubble photo shows the effect that intense radiation from young stars has on pillars of dust and gas floating in outer space’s Eagle Nebula. NASA has dubbed the formation the “Pillars of Creation.”