NASA just released a treasure trove of cosmic imagery.
The images include exploded stars, extremely dense clusters of stars, vivid singular galaxies, and beyond. Hubble achieves profound clarity because it orbits above Earth’s atmosphere, so its images aren’t muddied by our planet’s gases and weather. The telescope has also been improved five times by spacewalking astronauts.
“Hubble is today, at 30 years old, even better than when it was launched and continues to make groundbreaking discoveries that challenge and advance our fundamental understanding of the cosmos,” NASA wrote.
The images below are known as “Caldwell Catalogue objects,” which are celestial bodies that can also be viewed through telescopes (in lesser detail, of course) by amateur astronomers.
Per NASA: “This image features the nearly spherical globular star cluster Caldwell 84. It is a composite of observations taken in visible and ultraviolet light by two of Hubble’s science instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3. These observations helped astronomers better understand the motions and chemical abundances of stars within the cluster. A relatively bright star, likely closer to us than the cluster is, appears to the upper left of the cluster’s center in Hubble’s image.”
Per NASA: “Caldwell 18 is a dwarf galaxy and a satellite of the Andromeda galaxy. Also known as NGC 185, it is a member of the Local Group of galaxies. Caldwell 18 is notable for its active galactic nucleus, a region at the center of the galaxy that emits extreme radiation over part of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Per NASA: “Galaxies consist of a number of different structures, and the particulars of these structures drive the evolution of a given galaxy. One such structure in spiral galaxies like Caldwell 40 (or NGC 3626) is the galactic bulge. This structure is a densely packed region of stars that encompasses the heart of a spiral galaxy. Most galactic bulges host supermassive black holes, with the masses of the black hole and the bulge typically linked (bigger bulges harbor more monstrous black holes).”
Per NASA: “Lacking spiral arms but boasting a galactic bulge and prominent disk, lenticular galaxies like Caldwell 53 (NGC 3115) are intermediates between the more familiar spiral and elliptical galaxies. This galaxy, like most of its kind, hosts an elderly stellar population and has used up nearly all of its star-forming material.”
Per NASA: “This serene view captures a portion of the planetary nebula NGC 246, also known as Caldwell 56. Planetary nebulae are named such because when they were first observed through early telescopes, they resembled planets. However, a planetary nebula is actually the final stage in the evolution of a star that is similar to our Sun. As the star reaches the end of its life, pulsations and strong stellar winds eject the star’s envelopes of gas. The hot, compact core of the star emits intense radiation, causing the gas to glow for a few tens of thousands of years before the nebula dissolves, leaving behind a white dwarf like the one at the center of Caldwell 56.”
Per NASA: “This open star cluster, Caldwell 82 (or NGC 6193), is host to about 30 stars. It includes two O-type stars, the most massive and luminous stars known. O-type stars are very rare and very hot, exceeding 30,000 Kelvin. (For reference, our Sun has a temperature around 5,800 Kelvin.) Only about 1 in every 3 million stars in our stellar neighborhood is an O-type star.”
Per NASA: “This shining collection of stars captured in infrared light by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 is part of Caldwell 89, also known as NGC 6087. This open cluster consists of approximately 40 stars.”
Per NASA: “This stunning image captures a small region on the edge of the inky Coalsack Nebula, or Caldwell 99. Caldwell 99 is a dark nebula — a dense cloud of interstellar dust that completely blocks out visible wavelengths of light from objects behind it.”
Per NASA: “For many years, all of the stars in globular clusters were believed to form in the same stellar nursery and grow old together. The most massive stars exhaust their fuel supply in less than a million years and end their lives in spectacular supernova explosions. This process should have left globular clusters like Caldwell 108 (or NGC 4372) with only old, low-mass stars. However, young, blue stars have been spotted amongst the ancient stars in Caldwell 108 and many other clusters like it. Astronomers think that these stars, called blue stragglers, are a result of collisions between stars or other stellar interactions.”