Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured some breathtaking images of the universe, giving us glimpses into worlds many of us can’t even imagine. From capturing stunning galaxies hundreds of light-years away to noticing the quiet, uninspired passing of planets by Earth, Hubble has always been our eyes in space. To celebrate its achievement, NASA regularly shares some of the images the telescope has captured so far as part of its “Flashback Friday” series.
The first image shows a massive disk of cool gas and dust fueling a black hole at the center of an elliptical galaxy called NGC 4261, located about 100 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo, according to the Hubble website.
Astronomers estimate the disk to be about 300 light-years across, and it’s tilted about 60 degrees, giving a clear view of its bright core, where the black hole resides. The dust disk has a cold outer region that sends matter into the black hole. Gravity there then compresses and heats the material. This image was taken at visible wavelengths with a Wide Field /Planetary Camera in PC mode and was released in November 1992.
Launched in 1990, the Hubble Telescope is the most powerful observatory in space to date. Since then, it has captured more than 1.3 million images. “Hubble and other NASA missions continue to teach us more about these fascinating cosmic objects,” NASA said in the post.
Still, Hubble is now in his 30s and needs a good rest. NASA has sent the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope into space to ease Hubble’s workload. It is currently being deployed and is expected to begin science operations this summer.