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Hubble turns 30: Take a look back at some of the space telescope’s best images

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By Luke Hurst  with AP
Hubble released this image of two nebulas for its 30th birthday
Hubble released this image of two nebulas for its 30th birthday   -   Copyright  ESA/Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope turned 30 on Friday, and to mark the occasion Hubble released a fittingly awesome image.

Showing two nebulas, NGC 2020 and NGC 2014, some 163,000 light years from Earth, the image reveals part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

Since its launch on the shuttle Discovery on 24 April 1990, the telescope has revealed some of the great wonders of the universe to mankind.

NASA wanted to gather images of the cosmos free of the interference of the atmosphere’s distortion and man-made light, so a mission to launch a telescope into orbit around Earth was established.

NASA, ESA/Hubble
The Eagle Nebula's 'Pillars of Creation' - one of Hubble's iconic imagesNASA, ESA/Hubble

Shuttle astronauts have sunsequently visited Hubble five times to make improvements and repairs to the 43-foot-long observatory.

Early on, Hubble proved the existence of supermassive black holes and found they're located at the centre of most galaxies.

NASA, ESA/Hubble
A pair of interacting galaxies called ARP273NASA, ESA/Hubble

It also helped pinpoint the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years old, by determining the current rate of expansion of the universe with an uncertainty of just three percent.

It’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is due to be launched next year, and will specialize in the infrared wavelength, allowing it to peer into some of the faintest, most distant recesses of the universe.