A new Hubble Space Telescope image of a specially chosen astronomical object, the Bubble Nebula, has been released just in time for the telescope’s 26th birthday on April 24.
The Bubble Nebula was first discovered in 1787 but due to its large size, was never captured in an image in its entirety. Now, a mosaic of four images from the Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 released by NASA/ESA shows its full form, including the shape of the shell that gives the nebula its name.
“This shell is the result of a powerful flow of gas — known as a stellar wind — from the bright star visible just to the left of centre in this image,” NASA writes. “The star, SAO 20575, is between ten and twenty times the mass of the Sun and the pressure created by its stellar wind forces the surrounding interstellar material outwards into this bubble-like form.”
Mysteriously, the star of this nebula is not located at the center of the molecular cloud, making it an object of study for astronomers.