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NASA updates iconic Hubble Space Telescope 'Pillars of Creation' photo

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Jan 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-07 10:22:45-05

How far we’ve come.

NASA updated one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most famous photos – the “Pillars of Creation” Monday. The photo shows just how far Hubble has advanced since it was launched nearly 25 years ago:

The pillars show the birth of young stars in the Eagle Nebula, a cloud of gas about 6,500 light-years away. Some of those gas jets are moving at 450,000 miles per hour.

“The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars is material getting heated up and evaporating away into space,” said Paul Scowen of Arizona State University, in a press release. “We have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution.”

Hubble, launched in 1990, has been upgraded and patched up over five high-risk servicing missions. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, there's no way to re-fuel or fix Hubble.

It's due to be replaced by the $8 billion James Webb Telescope in 2018 after nearly 30 years of service.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern.