Pillars of Creation
Pillars of Creation: Originally taken on April 1, 1995, this image has become one of the most iconic to come from the Hubble Telescope. This version, released in 2015, shows a higher resolution image of the region. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth. Image released in Jan. 2015NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Pillars of Creation
Cat's Eye Nebula
Horsehead Nebula
Galaxy M106
The Crab Nebula
Hubble's Sharpest View of the Orion Nebula
The Hourglass Nebula
The Butterfly Nebula
New Hubble image of NGC 2174
Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda Galaxy
Jupiter's Eye
The Sombrero Galaxy
Interacting Galaxies Arp 273
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300
The Ring Nebula
Carina Nebula
V838 Monocerotis
Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841
Planetary Nebula NGC 5189
The Carina Nebula: Star Birth in the Extreme
The Most Colorful View of the Universe
Spectacular Hubble view of Centaurus A
spiral galaxy M100
SNR 0509
Southern Pinwheel, M83
Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri
NGC 3603
Hubble Observes Infant Stars in Nearby Galaxy
Sharpless 2-106 Hubble
A Reflection Nebula in Orion
Comet Ison
Pismis 24 Hubble
Nucleus of Galaxy Centaurus A
The Whirlpool Hubble
Abell 370
Double Cluster NGC 1850
Cone Nebula
Pleiades Hubble
Turquoise-tinted plumes in the Large Magellanic Cloud
30 Doradus Hubble
Hubble's First Observation Of Jupiter
Mars Hubble
NGC 4603
The Eskimo Nebula NGC 2392 Hubble
The Signature of a Supermassive Black Hole M84 Hubble
The Tadpole Hubble
Pillars of Creation: Originally taken on April 1, 1995, this image has become one of the most iconic to come from the Hu

NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
1 of 50

See the 50 Best Images Taken by Hubble

Apr 22, 2015

The best space machines reveal their purpose with a single glance. The gangly, leggy lunar module could only have been a crude contraption designed to land on another world. A rocket, any rocket, could only be a machine designed to fly—fast, high and violently.

And so it is with the Hubble Space Telescope—a bright silver, 43 ft. (13 m) long, 14 ft. (4.2 m) diameter cylinder, with a wide open eye at one end and a flap-like eyelid that, for practical purposes never, ever closes. Since shortly after its launch on April 24, 1990, that eye has stared and stared and stared into the deep, and in the 25 years it’s been on watch, it has revealed that deep to be richer, lovelier and more complex than science ever imagined.

Hubble started off sickly, a long-awaited, breathlessly touted, $1.5 billion machine that was supposed to change astronomy forever from almost the moment it went into space, and might have too if its celebrated 94.5 in. (2.4 m) primary mirror that had been polished to tolerances of just 10 nanometers—or 10 one-billionths of a meter—hadn’t turned out to be nearsighted, warped by the equivalent of 1/50th the thickness of a sheet of paper. It would be three and a half years before a fix could be devised and built and flown to orbit and shuttle astronauts could set the myopic mirror right. And then, on January 13, 1994, the newly sharpened eye blinked open, the cosmos appeared before it and the first of one million observations the telescope has made since then began pouring back to Earth.

Some of Hubble’s images have become cultural icons—Pillars of Creation, the Horsehead Nebula. Some have thrilled only scientists. All have been mile-markers in the always-maturing field of astronomy. The fifty images that follow are just a sampling of the telescope’s vast body of work. Hubble still has close to a decade of life left to it. That means a great deal more work and a great many more images—before the metal eyelid closes forever.

PHOTOS: 20 Breathtaking Images of Earth From Space

Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo, Syria, May 26, 2013 – The Citadel of Aleppo – medieval fortified palaceDigitalGlobe—Getty Images
Aleppo, Syria
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Colorado River
Cuanza River, Angola
Doha, Qatar
Dunalley, Australia
Great Barrier Reef
Gwadar coast, Pakistan
Hong Kong, China
Manam Volcano
Namib Desert, Namibia
Mount Vesuvius
Schooner Cays, Bahamas
Sochi, Russia
Near the city of Sur, Oman
Valencia, Spain
Versailles, France
Xi'an, China
Aleppo, Syria, May 26, 2013 – The Citadel of Aleppo – medieval fortified palace
DigitalGlobe—Getty Images
1 of 20
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.