NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has once again delighted scientists by its ability to capture stunning images of the cosmos.
Just a few days before it turns 22, the iconic space science observatory has delivered an image of one of the largest mosaics of several million young stars in the heart of the Tarantula nebula.
The new images were taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, and released by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore Tuesday.
Hubble, with its astounding ability to capture ground-breaking images, has allowed scientists to unravel the mysteries of how stars are born. The telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, aboard space shuttle's Discovery's STS-31 mission. Hubble's discoveries have revolutionized nearly all areas of astronomical research from planetary science to cosmology. It has captured nebulae of different shapes and astonished scientists with images of galaxies thousands of light years away.
The latest images by Hubble shows stellar formations in 30 Doradus, which is the brightest star-forming region near the Milky Way galaxy and home to stars that are times more massive than the sun.
In recognition of Hubble's 22nd birthday, the new image of the 30 Doradus region, the birth place for new stars, is more than a fitting anniversary image, John Grunsfeld, a three-time Hubble repair astronaut, said in a statement.
Hubble's images also reveal the fastest rotating stars and the highest velocity stars yet observed by astronomers.
The image reveals the stages of star birth, from embryonic stars a few thousand years old and still wrapped in cocoons of dark gas, to behemoths that die young in supernova explosions. Hubble shows star clusters of various ages, from about 2 million to 25 million years old.
According to NASA and HubbleSite.org, the observatory has collected more than 50 terabytes of data, which is equivalent to about 50 million books or five times the printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress.
Watch a slideshow of one of the largest mosaic of young stars yet captured by Hubble photos as well as some of the most phenomenal astronomical images captured by the telescope over the past 22 years.