The agency released a Hubble snapshot of the Lagoon Nebula, which sits 4,000 light-years away and is visible "as merely a smudge of light with a bright core" to viewers with binoculars on Earth. The image shows Herschel 36, a star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun, as it emits "powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds" that form a dazzling panorama of celestial gas and dust.
These Hubble images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary in space: https://t.co/UwC20K0c6R pic.twitter.com/IblF6ZbGx3— Hubble (@NASAHubble) April 19, 2018
While Herschel 36 is relatively young (only 1 million years old), it's nearly nine times the diameter of our Sun, according to NASA, and is expected to thrive for another 5 million years based on its mass.
NASA also released an accompanying three-dimensional visualization showing a flight across the nebula's core, which you can watch in the player above.
Hubble, built by NASA with help from the European Space Agency, is about to celebrate its 28th anniversary. It was launched on April 24, 1990, from the space shuttle Discovery and officially deployed the following day. It sent back its first image (a glimpse at star cluster NGC 3532) on May 20, 1990.
The 43.5-foot telescope has remained in low-Earth orbit, whizzing around the planet at 17,000 miles per hour at an altitude of 340 miles. It's made more than 1 million observations in its nearly three decades of service, and its data has been used in more than 15,000 scientific papers.