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Hubble Telescope Marks 22nd Anniversary Of Launch Into Space (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post  |  Posted: 04/30/2012 12:44 pm Updated: 05/ 1/2012 10:47 am

The Hubble Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990, ushering in a new era in space exploration.

From its low-earth orbit, the telescope can take pictures without interference from the planet's atmosphere, snapping photographs in visible light, ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths.

Scroll Down For Images From The Hubble Space Telescope

Named for astronomer Dr. Edwin Hubble, who established the notion that the universe is expanding, the images the telescope has produced over the past 20 years have similarly changed the course of astronomy, "[turning] astronomical conjectures into concrete certainties," according to the Hubble Space Telescope website.

Its landmark discoveries include more accurately gauging the age of the universe--13 to 14 billion years--and unveiling the existence of dark energy, "a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate."

The Hubble has also detected gamma ray bursts from giant, collapsed stars, found protoplanetary disks where new planets are forming, and captured images of galaxies in different stages of evolution.

Most recently, the telescope documented the first-ever auroras above Uranus.

In celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the telescope, the Hubble science team released a mosaic image of stars forming in the Tarantula nebula.

In 1929 Dr. Edwin Hubble determined that "the farther a galaxy is from Earth, the faster it appears to move away." This formed the basis of the Big Bang theory, the prevailing cosmological model of the development of the universe.

While the telescope was launched in 1990, scientists soon discovered an imperfection in its main mirror that compromised its performance. This was fixed by astronauts in 1993.

Check out more awesome Hubble photos in the slideshow below.

LOOK: Some Of HuffPost Science's Favorite Hubble Space Telescope Images

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  • An Infrared View Of Saturn

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • A Galactic Spectacle

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Turbulent Gases In The Omega-Swan Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • The Cone Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Remnants Of Supernova Cassiopeia A

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Galaxy Triplet Arp 274

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • A View Of 'Mystic Mountain'

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Light And Shadow In The Carina Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Mosaic Of Stars Forming In The Tarantula Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Light Echo Illuminates Dust Around Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • New Red Spot Appears On Jupiter

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Nucleus Of Galaxy Centaurus A

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Combined X-Ray And Optical Images Of The Crab Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Visible-Light Image Of Jupiter

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Clouds In The Carina Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Dust Band Around Nucleus Of Black Eye Galaxy M64

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Dark Matter Ring In Galaxy Cluster

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Color Mosaic Of The Galactic Center

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Eagle Nebula (Detail)

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Orion Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Interacting Spiral Galaxies NGC 2207 And IC 2163

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Spectacular 'Landscape' In The Carina Nebula

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • The Colorful Demise Of A Sun-Like Star

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

  • Young Stars In The Small Magellanic Cloud

    (NASA/STScI;hubblesite.org)

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