Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Hubble's Best Images: A Top 10

A look back at Hubbles best Images

Written By on in Astrophotography 2

Hubble's Best Images: A Top 10

829 words, estimated reading time 4 minutes.

On Monday, May 11th, Space Shuttle Atlantis with its seven-member crew launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. In this article, we will look at some of the best images that Hubble has produced since it's launch in 1990 and what they mean for astronomers.

Please click on any image to see a full-size version.

The Pillars of Creation

Image Credit: NASA
The 'Pillars of Creation' from the Eagle Nebula imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope

The Spectacular "Pillars of Creation" are a portion of the much larger Eagle Nebula (Messier Object M16). This stunning image was taken in 1995 and subsequent analysis and X-ray imaging show that the pillars consist of star-forming gas and dust within the nebula where new stars are created.

Cat's Eye Nebula

Image Credit: NASA/ESA
The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC6543) is an example of a planetary nebula.

The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC6543) is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Draco. Structurally, it is one of the most complex nebulae known, with high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope images revealing remarkable structures such as knots, jets and sinewy arc-like features. NGC6543 was originally discovered by William Herschel in 1786 and later imaged by Hubble in 2004.

The Cone Nebula

Image Credit: NASA/ESA
In 2002, Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys captured this image of the Cone Nebula, a craggy-looking "mountaintop" of cold gas and dust 2,500 light-years away.

The Cone Nebula is a famous nebula in the Orion Arm surrounding the NGC 2264 star cluster. The 'cone' is a triangular dark structure near the bottom of the nebula. The shape is probably caused by gas flowing outwards from young stars located near to the apex of the cone.

The Crab Nebula

Image Credit: NASA/ESA
The Crab Nebula is an example of a supernova remnant

The Crab Nebula is a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion. Japanese and Chinese astronomers recorded this violent event nearly 1,000 years ago in 1054, as did, almost certainly, Native Americans. This composite image was assembled from 24 individual exposures taken with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in October 1999, January 2000, and December 2000. It is one of the largest images taken by Hubble and is the highest resolution image ever made of the entire Crab Nebula.

You can view the highest resolution image in a zoomable format on HubbleSite.

The "Evil Eye" Galaxy M64

Image Credit: NASA/ESA
A collision of two galaxies has left a merged star system with an unusual appearance as well as bizarre internal motions. Messier 64 (M64) has a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy's bright nucleus, giving rise to its nickn

Fine details of the dark band are revealed in this image of the central portion of M64 obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. M64 is well known among amateur astronomers because of its appearance in small telescopes. It was first catalogued in the 18th century by the French astronomer Messier. Located in the northern constellation Coma Berenices, M64 resides roughly 17 million light-years from Earth.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Image Credit: NASA
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small region of space in the constellation Fornax which includes 10,000 galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colours.

The famous Ultra Deep Field consists of over 800, 1200 second exposures totalling just under 1 million seconds. The images were taken over a period of 11 days between September 24th, 2003 and January 16th, 2004. The resulting image reveals the first galaxies to emerge from the so-called "dark ages," the time shortly after the big bang when the first stars reheated the cold, dark universe. The image reveals over 10,000 galaxies within an area just 11 arcminutes in diameter with is 1/10th the size of the Moon and equivalent to a 1mm by 1mm square of paper held 1 meter away.


Image Credit: Cassini/NASA

Hubble doesn't just look out at the deep space, it also images the planets within our own solar system. This image of Saturn was taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 during October 1996.

Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 2218

Image Credit: Wikipedia
This image shows the full overview of the galaxy cluster Abell 2218 and its gravitational lenses.

Abell 2218 is a spectacular example of gravitational lensing. The arc-like pattern spread across the picture like a spider web is an illusion caused by the huge gravitational field of the cluster. This provides a powerful "zoom lens" for viewing galaxies that are so far away they could not normally be observed with the largest available telescopes.

Hubble's Sharpest View of the Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colors, to make this picture.
Image Credit: NASA
The Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colors, to make this picture.

This dramatic image offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light. These stars reside in a dramatic dust-and-gas landscape of plateaus, mountains, and valleys that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.


Hubble Space Telescope in High Orbit
Image Credit: NASA
Hubble Space Telescope in High Orbit

Last updated on: Tuesday 20th June 2017

Did you Like this Post? Why not Like us on Facebook?


Further Reading
  1. Josh

    Very nice collection. These are so pretty. I searched these on the Hubble Site to download the highest resolution versions :)

  2. Anonymous

    So are the pillars in the first photograph stationary? Or was that just a snapshot of the gases in motion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.