With Christmas just around the corner, here are a handful of shimmering and shiny images to spread some seasonal cheer.
NASA just shared dozens of dazzling new images captured by its Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated its 30th year in operation. The 30 images feature glowing galaxies, sparkling star clusters, and dreamy nebulae.
What's even more impressive about these jaw-dropping photos is that they're visible from most anyone's home telescope. Not in this amount of detail, but still, it's something spectacular.
Before now, NASA hadn't released the newly-processed images from its Hubble Telescope for the public to see. We're extremely grateful these are now available for all to enjoy.
Orbiting above Earth's atmosphere, Hubble is nicely placed to capture these clear images without any of our planet's gases and the weather getting in the way. Moreover, the incredible telescope has been spruced up five times thanks to spacewalking astronauts.
The 30 images are known to amateur astronomers as Caldwell Catalog objects.
Without further ado, dream away as you go through a few of these stunning images:
1. Caldwell 6
Caldwell 6, commonly known as the Cat's Eye Nebula, is a planetary nebula located 3,000 light-years away, which NASA describes as "clouds of expanding gas given off by an aging star during its slow death."
Caldwell 6 is one of the first planetary nebulae ever discovered and the first to be captured spectroscopically. It's also one of the most complex nebulae ever observed, as it displays concentric gas shells, jets of high-speed gas, and unusual shock-induced knots of gas.
2. Caldwell 14
Caldwell 14 is also known as the Double Cluster in Perseus. The two bright clusters are found side by side, and are located about 7,500 light-years away.
These two clusters contain hundreds of stars, and are most visible from the Northern Hemisphere during autumn or winter.
3. Caldwell 29
Caldwell 29 is also known as NGC 5005, a somewhat less exciting name than it looks like. It's a spiral galaxy and astronomers believe it most likely has a black hole in its center.
Caldwell 29 was first discovered by British astronomer William Herschel in 1785.
4. Caldwell 78
Caldwell 78 is a globular star cluster also less poetically known as NGC 6541, and it sits 22,000 light-years away from Earth. It was first seen in 1826 by two astronomers, just months apart.
The cluster is located in the constellation Corona Australis, and is best observed from equatorial latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer, and in winter from the Southern Hemisphere.
5. Caldwell 99
Caldwell 99, or Coalsack Nebula, looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. Caldwell 99 is a dark nebula that NASA describes as "a dense cloud of interstellar dust that completely blocks out visible wavelengths of light from objects behind it."
A very prominent object in the southern night sky, Caldwell 99 can be spotted by the naked eye as a dark spot next to the Southern Cross in the constellation Crux. It's best observed in autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.