Hubble photo serves as reminder that outer space is amazing

Outer space is vast and full of darkness. But beauty is everywhere, as Hubble constantly reminds us.
Check out this new image of NGC 972, a spiral galaxy discovered by German-British astronomer William Herschel in 1784. It is not our nearest neighbor, as it is located about 70 million light-years from Earth), but it sure makes a great photo.
The image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and those orange-pink flashes of color scattered throughout the image are the product of hydrogen gas, a key building block for star formation, reacting to the light emitted by newborn stars. The darker patches of black in the image are cosmic dust.
NASA constantly shares such photos, and they never get old. Hubble is a frequent source of the stellar imagery, but remember: it was launched almost 30 years ago, in 1990. It has been serviced and upgraded over time, but it is still an old technology.
While Hubble is expected to continue sending images back to Earth for another 10 to 20 years, its successor — the James Webb Space Telescope — will be launched into orbit in early 2021 and will be able to see further into space.


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