NASA Hubble: Taking the best shots for 25 years

From the 'Pillars of Creation' to the Andromeda galaxy, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured amazing images in the last 25 years

010814 hubble 1
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Happy 25th birthday

NASA this week began celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th birthday a little early by releasing an update of one of the telescope's most iconic images, that of the “Pillars of Creation” which are part of the Eagle Enbula. NASA said that this particular image is so popular that it has appeared in movies and television shows, on T-shirts and pillows, and even on a postage stamp. The updated image is just one of many newly minted Hubble masterpieces, which by the way celebrates its 25th birthday in April. Here we take a look at some of the more recent items.

Related: Fabulous space photos from NASA’s Hubble telescope

010814 hubble 2
Credit: NASA
Andromeda galaxy

The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping bird’s-eye view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble Space Telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disk. It's like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And there are lots of stars in this sweeping view -- over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk, NASA said.

010814 hubble 3
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Eagle Nebula's 'Pillars of Creation'

A bigger and sharper Hubble telescope photograph of the iconic Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation" is seen next to the original 1995 Hubble picture. By comparing the 1995 and 2014 pictures, astronomers noticed a lengthening of a narrow jet-like feature that may have been ejected from a newly forming star. Over the intervening 19 years, this jet has stretched farther into space, across an additional 60 billion miles, at an estimated speed of about 450,000 miles per hour. The Eagle Nebula is 6,500 light-years away, according to NASA.

010814 hubble 4
Credit: NASA
Fermi Bubbles

These giant lobes, dubbed Fermi Bubbles, initially were spotted using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The detection of high-energy gamma rays suggested that a violent event in the galaxy's core fiercely launched energized gas into space at over 2 million miles per hour.

010814 hubble 5
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Tarantula Nebula

A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), is seen in an undated NASA image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The LMC is a small nearby galaxy that orbits our galaxy, the Milky Way, and appears as a blurred blob in our skies, according to NASA.

010814 hubble 6

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt -- the strip of solar system real estate between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres may have a rocky inner core, an icy mantle, and a thin, dusty outer crust inferred from its density and rotation rate of 9 hours. Ceres is approximately 590 miles (950 kilometers) across, according to NASA. On March 6, 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft will arrive and begin exploring Ceres.

010814 hubble 7
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
NGC 1433

A spiral galaxy known as NGC 1433 is about 32 million light-years from Earth. It is a type of very active galaxy known as a Seyfert galaxy, a classification that accounts for 10% of all galaxies, according to a NASA.

010814 hubble 8
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
NGC 4258

The spiral galaxy NGC 4258, also known as M106, has two extra spiral arms as seen in this undated composite image X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, radio data from the NSF’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array, optical data from the Hubble, and infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

010814 hubble 9
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
NGC 1566

A new undated Hubble image shows NGC 1566, a galaxy located about 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish). According to NASA, the NGC 1566 is an intermediate spiral galaxy. That means while the NGC 1566 does not have a well defined bar-shaped region of stars at its center, like barred spirals, it is not quite an unbarred spiral either (heic9902o). The small but extremely bright nucleus of the NGC 1566 is clearly visible in this image, a telltale sign of its membership of the Seyfert class of galaxies. The centers of such galaxies are very active and luminous, emitting strong bursts of radiation and potentially harboring supermassive black holes that are many millions of times the mass of the Sun. NGC 1566 is the second brightest Seyfert galaxy known.

010814 hubble 10
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Messier 5

A globular star cluster called Messier 5 (M5) containing 100,000 stars or more and packed into a region around 165 light-years in diameter is seen in an undated image taken by Hubble. Messier 5 lies some 25,000 light-years away and its stars are estimated to be nearly 13 billion years old, according to NASA.

010814 hubble 11
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
NGC 5793

The spiral galaxy NGC 5793, more than 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Libra is pictured here. NGC 5793 is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have incredibly luminous centers that are thought to be caused by hungry supermassive black holes that can be billions of times the size of the Sun that pull in and devour gas and dust from their surroundings.

010814 hubble 12
Credit: REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Distant quasar

Multiple images of a distant quasar are visible in this undated combined view from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. For the first time, scientists have measured the spin of a distant supermassive black hole and found that its rate of rotation is about 3.5 trillion mph -- roughly half the speed of light. The finding provides insights into how the black hole and its host galaxy formed.

010814 hubble 13
Credit: NASA
NGC 6535

This image captures the stunning NGC 6535, a globular cluster 22,000 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens (The Serpent) that measures one light-year across.

010814 hubble 14
Credit: NASA
NGC 4102

NASA says NGC 4102 lies in the northern constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). It contains what is known as a LINER, or low-ionization nuclear emission-line region, meaning that its nucleus emits particular types of radiation. Many LINER galaxies also contain intense regions of star formation. This is thought to be intrinsically linked to their centers but just why, is still a mystery for astronomers -- either the starbursts pour fuel inwards to fuel the LINERs, or this active central region triggers the starbursts, NASA said. NGC 4102 does indeed contain a starburst region towards its center, where stars are being created at a rate much more furious than in a normal galaxy. This star formation is taking place within a small rotating disk, around 1,000 light-years in diameter and with a mass some 3 billion times the mass of the Sun.

010814 hubble 15
Credit: NASA

The galaxy cutting dramatically across the frame of this Hubble image is a slightly warped dwarf galaxy known as UGC1281. Seen here from an edge-on perspective, this galaxy lies roughly 18 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle). The bright companion to the lower left of UGC 1281 is the small galaxy PGC 6700, officially known as 2MASX J01493473+3234464. Other prominent stars belonging to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and more distant galaxies can be seen scattered throughout the sky, NASA says.