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Make These Stunning Space Photos Your Desktop Wallpaper

May 28 2015 - 12:15pm

The most incredible imagery of space isn't necessarily the latest video [1] to come from astronauts aboard the International Space Station, though that is also mesmerizing. To celebrate the recent 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope [2], NASA took a look back at one of its most breathtaking photos, the "Pillars of Creation." The photo was first captured in 1995 and shows three massive cold gas columns taking on incredible colors thanks to the ultraviolet light of young stars in the Eagle Nebula. (The Hubble is actually revisiting the spot to capture a sharper and wider view than ever before.)

Does the scene look familiar? This space setting has appeared everywhere from postage stamps to movies. Of course, we think the beautiful picture would make the perfect desktop wallpaper [3]. It's not the only mind-blowing photo from the Hubble Telescope (which first went into orbit in 1990 and still operates today) that you can download right this second. These 12 pictures may look like they're straight from a movie, but the glorious part is that they're 100 percent real. See the stunners now, and don't be surprised when you feel like a teeny, tiny human.

Source: NASA/ESA [4]

The Most Colorful View of the Universe

This photo from the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most comprehensive pictures ever compiled [5] of the universe — and one that's being called the most colorful. Using new ultraviolet light data, the image shows 10,000 galaxies, extending back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. Jaw = dropped.

Source: NASA/ESA [6]

Horsehead Nebula

It does look like a horsehead, doesn't it? This cold, dark cloud of gas and dust [7] is silhouetted against another nebula. That bright area at the top left edge? It's a young star still embedded in a nursery of gas and dust.

Source: NASA/K. Noll [8]

Carina Nebula Gas

No big deal. You're just looking at a pillar of gas in the Carina Nebula [9] that's covered by the light of hot, massive stars. The radiation and fast winds from those stars sculpt the pillar and cause new star formation within it.

Source: NASA/ESA [10]

Helix Nebula

What a show-off. This detailed picture of the Helix Nebula [11] shows a web of threads that are embedded in a colorful red and blue gas ring around the dying star. Did you know? The Helix is one of the nearest nebulae to Earth.

Source: NASA/ESA [12]

Cat's Eye Nebula

How cool! This Cat's Eye Nebula [13] — one of the first planetary nebulae discovered — has a very complex form. Essentially it gets its shape from its 11 rings of gas.

Source: NASA/ESA [14]


It may take Saturn 29 years to journey around the sun, but its tilt [15] lets us see its rings from different angles. The lowest image on the left shows its northern hemisphere's Fall season, while the top right image shows its Winter.

Source: NASA/The Hubble Heritage Team [16]

Carina Nebula

This was Hubble's 20th anniversary picture [17], and it shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. A lot is going on: the top of a pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, and the stars within the pillar are unleashing jets of gas that stream from the peaks.

Source: NASA/M. Livio [18]

Whirlpool Galaxy

It didn't get its name for nothing. Here, the red spots of the Whirlpool Galaxy [19] are bright star clusters that are shedding light emitted by hydrogen atoms, and "dust spurs" are branching out around the spiral arms.

Source: NASA/The Hubble Heritage Team [20]

Celestial Butterfly

This nebula may be known as the Bug Nebula [21], but when its gas races across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour, it forms the shape of a celestial butterfly. Beautiful!

Source: NASA/ESA [22]

Eight-Burst Nebula

Whoa! Known as Eight Burst because it looks like a figure-eight shape through amateur telescopes, this planetary nebula [23] is visible in the southern hemisphere. Here, gases are moving away from the dying star at its center at a speed of nine miles per second.

Source: NASA/The Hubble Heritage Team [24]

Double Cluster

This so-called double cluster [25] is made from a large cluster of stars located near a smaller cluster. The large one is 50 million years old, and the other is only four million years old. They're surrounded by gas believed to have been created by the explosion of massive stars.

Source: NASA/ESA [26]

Orion Stars

Oh this? It's just 3,000 stars of different sizes [27] forming in the Orion Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust. Fun fact: some of the stars have never been seen in visible light.

Source: NASA/M. Robberto [28]

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