Top Space Pictures of the Week, From a Hubble Icon to Hungry Black Holes

Ghostly pillars, a dark nebula and a galaxy herd starred in some of the best image-driven stories released at a recent astronomy meeting

Hubble snapped this incredibly detailed view of the "Pillars of Creation" to help mark its 25th anniversary. (NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team)
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What do the "Pillars of Creation" look like on the inside? How can you tell when a black hole is hungry? What's the best route to take from Saturn to Titan? This week, astronomy had all the answers. From solar system mysteries to cosmic wonders, these were some of the best image-driven stories released during the 225th gathering of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle:

Pillars of Creation Redux

The Hubble Space Telescope got off to a rocky start when it launched in 1990—a flaw in its main mirror was causing the telescope to send back frustratingly blurry images. But with some corrective surgery thanks to an astronaut-helmed servicing mission, the observatory soon awed the world with stunning images of star clusters, galaxies, nebulas and other colorful objects across the cosmos. No image is perhaps more iconic than Hubble's 1995 shot of a star-forming region in the Eagle Nebula that was given the grandiose nickname the "Pillars of Creation".

Now, for the 25th anniversary of Hubble's launch, the team has released an even sharper image of the pillars (left), taken with an updated camera that was installed in 2009. The telescope team also unveiled a ghostly infrared image of the famous structures (right) that allows astronomers to peer though the thick dust of the nebula and see the newborn stars inside.

About Victoria Jaggard

Victoria Jaggard is the science editor for Smithsonian.com. Her writing has appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, National Geographic, New Scientist and elsewhere.

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