This cloud of gas and dust is a large portion of the Eagle Nebula, a dense star-forming region. Released in 2005, this photo from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a spire that is approximately 57 trillion miles high — about twice the distance from our Sun to the next nearest star. (Click here to enlarge)

“The Pillars of Creation” shows a detail of the larger Eagle Nebula. This view, released in 1995, is one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most iconic images: NASA directly compared the formation to “buttes in the desert.” This photo is composed of three layers, each showing reflected light from a separate element: sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen.

In 2014, NASA released a new version of “The Pillars of Creation” that includes a wider view of the formation and a sharper image taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. This is also a composite image showing light reflected from oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen.

In January 2015, NASA released yet another new view of “The Pillars of Creation,” this time measuring the nebula’s near-infrared light. While previous views of the area measured visible light, this view shows stars hidden within and behind the pillar’s clouds of dust.

This Hubble image shows a structure within the Carina Nebula popularly known as the “Keyhole Nebula.” NASA calls the Carina Nebula “one of the outstanding features of the Southern-Hemisphere portion of the Milky Way.”

Hubble’s view of the Orion Nebula includes more than 3,000 stars. Art historian Elizabeth Kessler says the image is notable because NASA directly compares the nebula to the composition of a traditional landscape, writing “these stars reside in a dramatic dust-and-gas landscape of plateaus, mountains, and valleys that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.”

For this image of Planetary Nebula NGC 3132, the colors were selected to show the temperature of the formation’s gases. The hottest gases at the center are blue, and the cooler outer edges fade to red. Kessler suggests that by creating a “temperature map,” this image mirrors a hot spring one might find in Yellowstone National Park.

This is the first of Hubble’s Deep Field images,exposed over ten days in 1995. Scientists pointed Hubble at a dark patch of sky — the area was selected because it allowed the telescope to collect light through a “deep,” or long, exposure. The results astonished scientists, revealing previously unknown galaxies and offering a glimpse of a much younger universe. The results were deemed so important that Hubble has since made four more Deep Field exposures.

Captured in an image from 2002, the Tadpole Galaxy is a series of young blue stars and clusters. The color blue was chosen to reflect the discernibly high heat of these stars, which are 1 million times brighter and ten times hotter than our sun. Hubble’s image of the Tadpole Galaxy is notable in that it combines the depth of the Deep Field images with the more aesthetically striking galaxy that lies in its foreground.

How Hubble Brought Color to the Universe

Stunning images of nebulae and galaxies from the Hubble Space Telescope have conditioned the way we think space should look.