To celebrate yesterday's 17th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, astronomers released a stunning view of the Carina Nebula, an energetic star-forming region. The image of a 50-light-year swath of nebulosity reveals numerous bubbles of gas and dust among the debris left from long dead stars.
The vista was created using 48 images taken by Hubble's now-defunct Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) during March and July 2005. The ACS captured the glow of hydrogen gas, but the imagery was colored with observations from Cerro-Tololo Interamerican Observatory's 4-meter telescope in Chile. The colors in the image correspond to emission from sulfur (red), hydrogen (green), and oxygen (blue).
To probe deeper into the image, visit HubbleSite.org for higher-resolution views (the largest is more than 500 MB in size) and a zoomable version.
According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, Hubble has orbited Earth 100,000 times, for a total of 3.8 billion kilometers (2.4 billion miles), and has taken nearly 500,000 images.