25 Spectacular Space Photos to Celebrate 25 Years of the Hubble Space Telescope

On Friday, NASA's Hubble space telescope will turn 25 years old. To honor the event, the space agency released this unbelievable photo:

NASA

The image shows a cluster of roughly 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The dazzling array is located in the Carina constellation, and, like most of NASA's most unforgettable images, it's not too likely anyone looking at now it will ever get to visit. Though the image is inviting, the cluster it shows is approximately 20,000 light-years away from Earth.

Mic/NASA

Hubble was launched into space in 1990, and since then its breathtaking photos have helped transform our understanding of the universe. Thanks to Hubble, scientists were able to calculate the age of the universe, at roughly 13 to 14 billions years and learn more about astronomical phenomena like quasars and dark energy. 

Earth-bound telescopes, hobbled by the atmosphere, cannot capture the universe in all its psychedelic splendor. By allowing humans to look at space from space, Hubble has brought the majesty of the universe into sharper focus than ever before.

So, without further ado, here are 25 of Hubble's greatest hits from 25 years of memorable service.

1. The Cat's Eye Nebula — September 2004 

Uncredited/AP

2. Messier 66, Largest of the Leo Triplet Galaxies — April 2010

Uncredited/AP

3. The Crab Nebula — December 2005

NASA/ESA/Flickr

4. Butterfly Nebula — August 2009 

Uncredited/AP

5. Carina Nebula — February 2010

Uncredited/AP

6. IRAS 20324+4057, the "Cosmic Caterpillar" — August 2013

NASA/ESA/Flickr

7. Eagle Nebula — January 2015

Uncredited/AP

8. Supernova Remnant Bubble — October 2006

NASA/ESA/Flickr

9. Overlapping Galaxies 2MASX J00482185-2507365 — September 2006

NASA/ESA/Flickr

10. Lenticular Galaxy NGC 5866 — June 2006

NASA/ESA/Flickr

11. Retina Nebula — June 2001

NASA/ESA/Flickr

12. Hoag's Object Galaxy — September 2002

NASA/ESA/Flickr

13. Ant Nebula — July 1997

NASA/ESA/Flickr

14. Sombrero Galaxy — May-June 2003

NASA/ESA/Flickr

15. The "Black Eye" Galaxy — February 2004

NASA/ESA/Flickr

16. Mars — June 2003

Getty Images/Getty Images

17. Supernova Remnant LMC N 49 — July 2003

NASA/ESA/Flickr

18. Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A — January 2002

NASA/ESA/Flickr

19. Ring Galaxy AM 0644-741 — January 2004

NASA/ESA/Flickr

20. Galaxy M82 — March 2006

NASA/ESA/Flickr

21. Orion Nebula — 2004-2005

NASA/ESA/Flickr

22. Eskimo Nebula — January 2000

NASA/ESA/Flickr

23. Star Camelopardalis near the end of its life — July 2012 

NASA/ESA/Flickr

24. Jupiter — 2014

NASA/ESA/Flickr

25. Horsehead Nebula — April 2013

NASA/ESA/Flickr