Astronauts from the United States and the European Space Agency, along with engineers and scientists on the ground around the world, are capturing some amazing images from outer space. Many were released in celebration of the Hubble Telescope's 30th anniversary. Here are some of the recent highlights.
Northrup Grumman's Cygnus resupply ship, with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays, is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm moments before its release ending its 83-day stay at the International Space Station on May 11. Photo courtesy of NASA
NASA's Juno mission captured this look at Jupiter's tumultuous northern regions during the spacecraft's close approach to the planet on February 17. Notable features in this view are the long, thin bands that run through the center of the image from top to bottom, observed since Juno's first close pass by Jupiter in 2016. The streaks are layers of haze particles that float above the underlying cloud features. Scientists don't yet know precisely what these hazes are made of or how they form. NASA/UPI
This image is one of the most photogenic examples of the many turbulent stellar nurseries the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed during its 30-year lifetime. The portrait features the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020, which together form part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, about 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef" because it resembles an undersea world. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
This Hubble image shows a globular cluster known as NGC 104, or, more commonly, 47 Tucanae, since it is part of the constellation of Tucana (The Toucan) in the southern sky. Scientists using Hubble observed the white dwarfs in the cluster. These dying stars migrate from the crowded center of the cluster to its outskirts. While astronomers knew about this process, they had never seen it in action until the detailed study of 47 Tucanae. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
MyCn18, a young planetary nebula located about 8,000 light-years away, was imaged with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 aboard Hubble. This image reveals the true shape of MyCn18 to be an hourglass with an intricate pattern of "etchings" in its walls. This picture has been composed from three separate images taken in the light of ionized nitrogen (represented by red), hydrogen (green), and doubly ionized oxygen (blue). Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
The Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation, one of Hubble's most iconic images, shows the pillars as seen in visible light, capturing the multi-colored glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-colored elephants' trunks of the nebula's famous pillars. With these new images comes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study how the structure of the pillars is changing over time. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
This image from Hubble shows the dramatic shape and color of the Ring Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 57. From Earth's perspective, the nebula looks like a simple elliptical shape with a shaggy boundary. However, observations combining existing ground-based data with new Hubble data show that the nebula is shaped like a distorted doughnut. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA