April 24th marks the 26th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope which was launched aboard the shuttle discovery in 1990.
Every anniversary astronomers point Hubble at a specific spot of interest to commemorate the event. This year the choice was the Bubble Nebula.
Also known as NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula rest 8,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The nebula is over 10 light-years in diameter and was created by intense stellar radiation generated by it’s star within.
It’s star is named SAO 20575 and is between 10 and 20 solar masses.
A strange feature of the bubble nebula is it’s odd symmetry. It’s main star SAO 20575 is not located near the center of the bubble which has puzzled astronomers for some time. Another unique feature of SAO 20575 is it’s cosmic environment; it’s surrounded by “cometary knots”, dense molecular clumps that form large tails. These knots are larger than the Solar System and contain roughly the mass of our Earth.
Originally discovered by William Herschel in 1787, it has since been observed by hubble numerous times in the past. This image is a combination of photographs taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 – giving us one of the highest resolution photos of the bubble nebula to date.
Below you can watch a video produced by Hubble and ESA to commemorate the event and breathtaking image: