It’s the time of year when even the normally staid scientists at NASA get into the holiday spirit. Last year, the space agency’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer imaged a cosmic christmas wreath for the holiday season. Not be outdone, the venerable Hubble Space Telescope is getting in on the action this year, offering up a dose of holiday cheer in the form of this image of NGC 5189, a nebula that — if you’re brimming over with holiday cheer or just squinting a little — resembles a very merry Christmas ornament wrapped in a festive ribbon. You can take a trip through the cosmos to zoom in on the nebula just like the Hubble did in the short video below.
Is the ‘ornament’ interpretation meeting astronomers — and we suspect NASA’s PR wonks — more than halfway? Yeah, probably a little more than half, but come on — ’tis the season. You can afford to be that generous, right? And even if you can’t, we hope you’ll agree that the beauty of the image on its own is enough to make even the smallest heart grow… two sizes? One and a half?
- Here is Hubble’s portrait of a galaxy at middle age
- And its snapshot of the most distant object in the universe
- Here is Hubble’s first direct observation of the accretion disc around a black hole
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