While the powerful James Webb Space Telescope was stealing the spotlight this year by beginning its journey into deep space to take extremely detailed photos, its predecessor was still going strong.
The Hubble Space Telescope produced some jaw-dropping images of swirling galaxies, shining star clusters, and nebulae that channel the spirit of Thor’s colorful bifrost bridge this year. The James Webb Space Telescope is set to take spectacular images, but there are still so many Hubble photos from this year to gawk over.
Astronomers plan to study images from both the James Webb and Hubble telescopes even after the former is fully in place 1.5 million km from Earth. Since the James Webb Space Telescope is further away — Hubble orbits Earth at around 570 km — it will be able to peer further into the past, capturing sights from approximately 13 billion years ago, including the birth of the universe’s first stars and galaxies.
Here is just a small, and subjectively curated, collection of Hubble photos shared by NASA and ESA in 2021.
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If all goes to plan, we can expect to see the first shots from the James Webb Space Telescope next summer. But before then — and even after — we’ll have more wonders from Hubble to study and adore.