(from Xeni at BoingBoing)
Earlier this year, NPR ran a neat narrated slideshow of astronomers discussing their favorite images of space taken through the Hubble Telescope. It's worth a second look, now that the device is back in action, following a final round of repairs. Above, holy wow, right? This image was one of the earlier images retreived after Hubble launched nearly 20 years ago. Astronomer Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson explains that it's a Hubble Space Telescope image of part of the Eagle Nebula, a giant cloud of gas and dust about six thousand light years from earth. These pillars are areas of strong concentrations of gas and dust, in which stars are eroded away, like sandcastles on a beach are blown away by waves. Inside this cloud, new stars are being formed.
Hubble's Prying Eyes (NPR News, via Jesse Dylan)
And, with that prelude out of the way -- go have a look at the new images NASA released today from the now-upgraded Hubble Telescope. Below, "Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302."