On April 24, 1990 — 25 years ago tomorrow — the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit. Ever since, it's been sending back some of the most captivating images of outer space ever taken. The Hubble's images have become a staple of science textbooks, and a core enabler of modern astrophysics research — without them, we wouldn't know nearly as much as we do about how the universe works.
Hubble has had some setbacks over the years — it's been repaired five times — but it's been a trooper, sending back high-resolution image after high-resolution image for many more years than originally expected. It's now in old age — NASA believes it will operate until perhaps the year 2020, and will fall back to Earth sometime between 2030 and 2040. But it's accomplished a lot in its first quarter-century.
Here are 10 of the Hubble Space Telescope's most enduring photos. (All images courtesy of NASA.)
1. The Horsehead Nebula, an interstellar cloud approximately 1,500 light years from Earth