Flickr/NASA
Flickr/NASA

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.

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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.)

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1. The Horsehead Nebula, an interstellar cloud approximately 1,500 light years from Earth

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2. The Lagoon Nebula, a giant cloud inside the constellation Sagittarius

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3. The Antennae galaxies, which are shown colliding with each other (the collision started 100 MILLION YEARS AGO and is still happening)

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4. The Carina Nebula, 7,500 light years away

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5. NGC 4911, a gorgeous-looking galaxy 320 million years away from Earth

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6. NGC 2467, an enormous gas cloud known as the "Skull and Crossbones Nebula" that was first discovered in the 19th century

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7. 30 Doradus, a.k.a. the "Tarantula Nebula," is roughly 170,000 light years from Earth and is thought to contain some of the biggest stars in the universe

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8. Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who was caught by the HST's camera on a 2009 maintenance mission

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9. A pillar of gas and dust nicknamed "Mystic Mountain," located inside the Carina Nebula, 7,500 light years away

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10. The Cassiopeia A supernova, a giant, brilliant explosion of radiation caused by a star's collapse

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