Hubble marks 30th anniversary with spectacular peek into the Large Magellanic Cloud

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch on 24 April 1990, NASA and the European Space Agency released a spectacular photo of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud some 163,000 light years from Earth. The centrepiece of the upper, reddish nebula (NGC 2014) is a group of massive stars that generate powerful solar winds sculpting the surrounding material while intense ultraviolet radiation heats dense clouds of gas. The blue nebula (NGC 2020) was formed by a single star 200,000 times brighter than the Sun as it blew off its outer atmosphere in a series of eruptions. The space telescope has been on its own since NASA’s fifth and final servicing mission in 2009, but mission managers say the observatory continues to operate in near flawless fashion.

A Hubble look at colourful nebulosity, dubbed the “cosmic reef,” inside the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image was captured to mark the space telescope’s 30th year in space. Image: NASA, ESA, STScI

Our May issue is now available to order in print or digital versions and includes part 2 of our special coverage to mark the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.