From Wired Magazine:
Fifteen years ago Monday, at 12:38 p.m. Pacific Time, astronaut Steven Hawley directed the space shuttle’s robotic arm to release the Hubble Space Telescope 381 miles above the Earth, launching an era of unprecedented scientific discoveries.
Since that day in 1990, the bus-sized telescope has taken more than 700,000 photos of planets, stars and other celestial bodies. The images have helped astronomers see deeper into space than ever before — a feat that has allowed them to prove the existence of super-massive black holes and even calculate the age of the universe, among other things.
In honor of the 15th anniversary of Hubble’s delivery into space, NASA and the European Space Agency have released new photos of two of the telescope’s most popular targets: the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy and the Eagle Nebula. The photos are among the largest and sharpest Hubble has ever taken and could be enlarged to the size of a billboard without losing clarity, according to the ESA.
In the first photo, long arms of stars and gas swirl around the glowing center of the M51 galaxy, 31 million light-years from Earth. One arm appears to touch a smaller, yellow galaxy, though the galaxy is actually passing behind M51. Some astronomers believe gravitational waves from the smaller galaxy are responsible for the prominence of M51′s arms.
For more Pics, visit here.
Happy Birthday, Hubble! You have done us proud in your service to our country. Your images will be normal to my children, and a wonder to myself.