This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly, but it's far from serene: what resemble the dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour -- fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes.
These two images of a huge pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and in infrared light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object.
Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina.
The Hubble Telescope snapped this panoramic view of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster.
The image reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way galaxy. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth.
A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars.
This portrait of Stephan's Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Stephan's Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group.
The Hubble Space Telescope's newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has peered nearly 5 billion light-years away to resolve intricate details in the galaxy cluster Abell 370.
Abell 370 is one of the very first galaxy clusters where astronomers observed the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, where the warping of space by the cluster's gravitational field distorts the light from galaxies lying far behind it. This is manifested as arcs and streaks in the picture, which are the stretched images of background galaxies.
This image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 is the first image of a celestial object taken with the newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The camera was restored to operation during the STS-125 servicing mission in May to upgrade Hubble.
The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble's ACS. The galaxy lies 6 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major.
The signature balloon-shaped clouds of gas blown from a pair of massive stars called Eta Carinae have tantalized astronomers for decades. Eta Carinae has a volatile temperament, prone to violent outbursts over the past 200 years.
Observations by the newly repaired Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal some of the chemical elements that were ejected in the eruption seen in the middle of the 19th century.
The wispy, glowing, magenta structures in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image are the remains of a star 10 to 15 times the mass of the Sun that we would have seen exploding as a supernova 3,000 years ago.
The remnant's fast-moving gas is plowing into the surrounding gas of the galaxy, creating a supersonic shock wave in the surrounding medium and making the material glow.
Rings of brilliant blue stars encircle the bright, active core of this spiral galaxy, whose monster black hole is blasting material into space at 9 million miles an hour.
Viewed nearly face-on, the galaxy, called Markarian 817, shows intense star-forming regions and dark bands of interstellar dust along its spiral arms.
Using a distant quasar as a cosmic flashlight, a new instrument aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has begun probing the invisible, skeletal structure of the universe.
Called the cosmic web, it is the diffuse, faint gas located in the space between galaxies. More than half of all normal matter resides outside of galaxies. By observing the cosmic web, astronomers can probe the raw materials from which galaxies form, and determine how this gas was assembled into the complex structures of the present-day universe.
The Hubble Space Telescope is back in action following a much-needed upgrade after astronauts repaired its intricate machinery from space in a daring mission in May. An array of marvelous images show off the scope's new capabilities.