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Hubble delivers dazzling Lagoon Nebula for 28th anniversary

NASA and the European Space Agency celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope with a look at the dreamlike Lagoon Nebula.

The Hubble Space Telescope knows how to celebrate its anniversary in style. Each year, the telescope team releases a new, mind-blowing image of something gorgeous. The Lagoon Nebula is the winner for 2018. 

NASA also released a fly-through video of the nebula that takes you soaring through the Hubble view.  

Hubble, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), launched on April 24, 1990. The ESA's Hubble site describes the Lagoon Nebula as a "colossal object" that's 55 light-years in width and 20 light-years in height. Even though it is about 4,000 light-years away from Earth, it is three times larger in the sky than the full Moon."

Here is the new image in all its glory:

lagoonnebulahubble

Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna first cataloged the Lagoon Nebula in 1654.

NASA, ESA, STScI

The Lagoon Nebula is so big that this image represents just a small portion showing the heart of the stellar nursery. 

If you look closely, you can see a sparkling young star near the center. This is Herschel 36. "Its radiation sculpts the surrounding cloud by blowing some of the gas away, creating dense and less dense regions," said the Hubble team.

The Hubble site dropped some impressive anniversary trivia on us for this year. Since its launch, the space telescope has made over 163,500 trips around Earth, more than 1.5 million observations of over 43,500 celestial objects and generated 153 terabytes of data.

The nebula is quite the looker and is in good company with previous anniversary images, which have included a pair of spiral galaxies and the charming Bubble Nebula.