Time to add another gorgeous space photo to the Hubble Space Telescope’s list of greatest hits. For the orbiting observatory’s 26th anniversary in space, astronomers snapped a picture of the Bubble Nebula, a seven-light-year-wide pocket of gas being blown away by a blazing massive star about 7,100 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia.
The star responsible for the bubble is young, just 4 million years old, and about 45 times as massive as our sun. It is so hot and bright that it launches its own gas into space at more than 6 million kilometers per hour. The vibrant colors in the nebula represent the elements oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen.
Hubble launched April 24, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. A series of visits by astronauts have kept the aging telescope’s suite of cameras, spectrometers and ancillary equipment up-to-date and operating well into its third decade.