Hubble celebrates 24th birthday with new picture

It's hard to imagine that the Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit for 24 years. Hubble still offers some of the coolest images of the cosmos that we will ever see. To celebrate its 24th birthday, a new image has been released that shows an incredibly beautiful shot of the Monkey Head Nebula.

I don't see a monkey head shape in there myself. The official name for the nebula is NGC 2174 and it is an area of space that is filled with young stars surrounded by cosmic gas and dust. The nebula is about 6400 light years from Earth.

It never ceases to amaze that an image with this much detail can be taken of something that is so far from the Earth. You can clearly see young white and pink stars n the nebula cloud in the image.

The portion of the Monkey Head nebula in this photo was taken in infrared using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the telescope. The key ingredient in this nebula is hydrogen gas. That gas is ionized by ultra violet radiation emitted by the young stars. Hubble's birthday image last year was of the Horsehead Nebula.