I love space. Space is the shit. It is the end all be all of everything. If you think creatures in the deep-blue are crazy, think back to your basic math and statistics, apply it to the galaxy (and then universe), and well...you get my drift. Folks, it is mathematically impossible that space is empty. Period. End of debate. In case you missed my earlier on post, "A Map of Your Galaxy"...the numbers involved here are enormous. Our minds can not even comprehend the vastness that is "space". The numbers are too large, it is literally meaningless to our feeble brains. Does not compute...
Perhaps one of the coolest pieces of hardware man has ever created is the Hubble Space Telescope, or HST for short. It has given us some of the most amazing and mind-blowing images humanity ever seen. (high res: closeup shot and the hardware in orbit!)
This post is dedicated to that lovely piece of hardware, and it will show my Top 5 images fit for desktop wallpapers. I will then follow this post up with another Top 5...for a whopping total of 10! Yes, I will try to encapsulate all of the many wonderous images HST has brought us into two posts of ten images...sad, when you consider my earlier statement about numbers...
Where possible, I will link directly to the official source (ESA/NASA/Hubble). We all love wallpapers, and that will be a goal here - badass wallpapers that knock your socks off. The small versions of the pictures just don't cut it, so make sure you click on all the images, and visit the links for the real view! Links will be provided for each image so that you can get ultra-high-res to suit your desktop needs. All credit for the images go to NASA/ESA/Hubble teams.
If you like what you see here, then I encourage you to support space exploration. I won't get into the debate of how, when, costs, or schedules. I just want you to support it. Don't talk shit, support it. Space exploration and space travel is the most difficult challenge humankind can attempt. I do not foresee that changing anytime soon. RESPECT that challenge, whether you support the agency, it's goals, or it's hardware choices - I ask you only to pay homage to those men and women who have worked so hard for so long, to bring space into your home, for your very own eyes.
Orion Nebula - Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula's energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view - providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution. This detailed image of the Orion Nebula is the sharpest ever, constructed using data from the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys and the European Southern Observatory's La Silla 2.2 meter telescope. The mosaic contains a billion pixels at full resolution and reveals about 3,000 stars.
"Mystic Mountain" - This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a pillar of gas and dust, three light-years tall, which is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around the Earth.
Spire in Eagle Nebula - Appearing like a winged fairy-tale creature poised on a pedestal, this object is actually a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula. The soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometres high, about twice the distance from our Sun to the next nearest star. Stars in the Eagle Nebula are born in clouds of cold hydrogen gas that reside in chaotic neighbourhoods, where energy from young stars sculpts fantasy-like landscapes in the gas. The tower may be a giant incubator for those newborn stars. A torrent of ultraviolet light from a band of massive, hot, young stars [off the top of the image] is eroding the pillar. Since this one is verticla, it probably doesn't make a great wallpaper, but if you rotate - it works quite well! (due to the vertical nature of this image, it does not scale well for the site, please make sure to visit the link!)
Pinwheel Galaxy (HD!) - This new Hubble image reveals the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of "grand design spirals", and its supergiant star-forming regions in unprecedented detail. The image is the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever taken with Hubble. The Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457) is a face-on spiral galaxy distanced 25 million light-years (eight megaparsecs) away in the constellation Ursa Major, first discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 27, 1781, and communicated to Charles Messier who verified its position for inclusion in the Messier Catalogue as one of its final entries. On February 28, 2006, NASA and the ESA released a very detailed image of Pinwheel Galaxy, which was the largest and most detailed image of a galaxy by Hubble Space Telescope at the time. The image was composed from 51 individual exposures, plus some extra ground-based photos.
Witchhead Nebula (IC2118) - Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble -- maybe Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula. This suggestively shaped reflection nebula is associated with the bright star Rigel in the constellation Orion. More formally known as IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula glows primarily by light reflected from bright star Rigel, located just off the upper right edge of the full image. Fine dust in the nebula reflects the light. The blue color is caused not only by Rigel's blue color but because the dust grains reflect blue light more efficiently than red. The same physical process causes Earth's daytime sky to appear blue, although the scatterers in Earth's atmosphere are molecules of nitrogen and oxygen. The nebula lies about 1000 light-years away. (you can find a cropped version here)
Ok, so there are the first 5 images, I hope that you have enjoyed them and at least saved one or two. Please do browse around spacetelescope.org or hubblesite.org for more wonderful images from Hubble. Don't forget to check out the 2 high res shots of the hardware as well!
I will be following this post up with another 5 images soon. In the meantime, please feel free to tell me which are your favorite images, either from this list, or perhaps something I have missed. Maybe it will make my next 5!