Come Tuesday, and the Hubble Space Telescope would have spent 28 years in its place, hovering over Earth and observing distant space like no other telescope has done before or since. To celebrate the upcoming anniversary, the telescope’s operators — NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) — turned Hubble toward the Lagoon Nebula and shared the stunning images captured.
Hubble peered deep inside the massive Lagoon Nebula, which is located 4,000 light-years away and measures 55 light-years across by 20 light-years tall, using instruments to capture it in both visible and infrared light. The nebula is so large, it can be seen with the naked eye on clear, dark nights, and appears three times bigger than the moon. So what you see in the Hubble images is only a small part of the nebula, its very heart that is about four light-years across.