When you're drifting through space on your birthday, you have to find a way to celebrate as best you can.
The Hubble Space Telescope spent the 28th anniversary of its launch focused on the stunning Lagoon Nebula, sending us images that seem to say, "Wish you were here!"
Hubble, which was launched into space on April 24, 1990, snapped two new photos of this well-known nebula. The image above, snapped by Hubble's Wide Field Camera, shows only a small portion of this massive nebula that is 400 light-years from Earth.
The second image Hubble sent back was taken with the telescope's infrared capabilities. Here, stripped of its cosmic wrap, the nebula shows off an array of stars. Most of the stars are background stars, located behind the nebula itself, but some are young stars in the nebula itself.
Having both views of the nebula gives astronomers an understanding of what's happening inside it, and getting different views of the same object is something Hubble does pretty well.
Here's to another 28 years among the stars, Hubble!
The Lagoon Nebula was first cataloged in 1654 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna. And in case you were wondering why we call it the Lagoon Nebula, this image from 2015 shows why: it does look a little something like a celestial body of water surrounded by a cloudy "sandbank."