Hubble's new "Cosmic Reef" image shows two nebulae, the big red NGC 2014 and the little blue NGC 2020. They live in the Large Magellanic Cloud, an orbiting satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way. At 163,000 light-years away, we won't be visiting anytime soon, but Hubble was able to capture a lovely view of the ethereal, cloudlike areas of active star formation.
"The image is nicknamed the 'Cosmic Reef' because it resembles an undersea world," ESA said in a Friday release. ESA pointed out a group of bright stars near the center of the red nebula "that has blown away its cocoon of hydrogen gas (colored red) and dust in which it was born." NGC 2014's shape gives it its nickname of the Brain Coral nebula.
Hubble has been a resilient machine, but it's needed some human help along the way. Five space shuttle servicing missions kept it in operation. NASA expects it to continue its science mission through the 2020s. It'll eventually be joined in space by its not-yet-launched successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.
"It was revolutionary to launch such a large telescope 30 years ago, and this astronomy powerhouse is still delivering revolutionary science today," said NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen in a release on Friday. "Its spectacular images have captured the imagination for decades, and will continue to inspire humanity for years to come."
NASA's Hubble telescope delivers stunning new space pictures