European Space Agency (ESA) presented a number of institutions around the world with stunning images of a giant 3,000-star cluster of Westerlund 2 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hubble Space Telescope. One of the photographs will also be delivered to the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory of the VU Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy. The giant star cluster captured in the picture is only about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars.
During its 25 years in service, Hubble has captured some remarkable images of space, including galaxies so far away that the view we get of them comes from a period when the universe had just been created, thus allowing scientist to effectively look back in time.
Among these objects, Hubble has discovered planets orbiting distant stars. The high-precision telescope has given astronomers the ability to see changing weather on these planets and even detect elements like sodium in their atmosphere. Data from the telescope has also allowed scientists to better measure distances between objects in space.
It is hoped the telescope will continue to function until 2020. Its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, equipped with a still more powerful array of detectors, is due to launch in 2018.
Hubble Space Telescope is a result of an international cooperation between ESA and NASA. The telescope was launched into orbit by the shuttle Discovery on 24 April, 1990.