Celestial tapestry represents Hubble telescope at 25

Washington: A spectacular tapestry studded with young stars is the official image chosen by NASA to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science.”

NASA chose the Newseum in Washington for the central celebration of the anniversary and to unveil the much anticipated official image honoring the images the telescope has been relaying since its launch on April 24, 1990.

The telescope, which orbits the Earth at a distance of roughly 550 kms, observes the universe in the near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectra.

The image chosen for the anniversary is a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, named for Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund, who discovered the grouping in the 1960s. The cluster resides in a stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Carina.

The giant star cluster is about two million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest and most massive stars, the space agency said.

Because the cluster is very young – in astronomical terms – it has not had time to disperse its stars deep into interstellar space, providing astronomers with an opportunity to gather information on how the cluster formed by studying it within its native environment.