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The best Space photos of all time, from Aldrin’s historic first steps to galaxies billion of years old

The bright star at the centre of the Southern Nebula Ring (NGC 3132), viewed by the James Webb Space Telescope in near-infrared light (Nasa/AFP via Getty Images)
The bright star at the centre of the Southern Nebula Ring (NGC 3132), viewed by the James Webb Space Telescope in near-infrared light (Nasa/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the late 1960s, there has been a steady stream of beautiful cosmic pictures, thanks to technological development.

New telescopes have peered deeper into the cosmos. They have shown us images never seen before, like the first-ever image of a black hole, which was just declared to be science’s “breakthrough of the year”.

Here are a collection of some of our favorite images captured.

Milky Way’s black hole

The Event Horizon Telescope team first revealed this picture of the Milky Way’s black hole in May 202 (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration via AP)
The Event Horizon Telescope team first revealed this picture of the Milky Way’s black hole in May 202 (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration via AP)

The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our galaxy - known as Sagittarius A*.

Though the black hole itself is invisible to humans due to its total darkness, luminous gas around it shows a distinctive signature: a dark centre area (referred to as a “shadow”) surrounded by a light ring-like structure. The new image shows light being distorted by the black hole’s immensely strong gravity.

The image was created by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, an international research team, using data from a global network of radio telescopes.

Pillars of Creation

Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light, above left (Nasa)
Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light, above left (Nasa)

Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light.

The Pillars of Creation, one of the most famous celestial formations, are a lush, intricate environment that Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope has photographed.

This photo was taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and features newly formed stars as the main attraction. These are the bright red orbs that are usually outside one of the dusty pillars and contain diffraction spikes.

JWST’s close-up of Neptune

Neptune and its rings glow in infrared light in this image from the James Webb Space Telescope (Nasa, ESA, CSA, STScl)
Neptune and its rings glow in infrared light in this image from the James Webb Space Telescope (Nasa, ESA, CSA, STScl)

Neptune and its rings glow in infrared light in this image from the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) images objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns, so Neptune does not appear blue. In fact, the methane so strongly absorbs red and infrared light that the planet is quite dark at these near-infrared wavelengths, except where high-altitude clouds are present. Such methane-ice clouds are prominent as bright streaks and spots, which reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by the gas.

Taken in 2022, it’s the first direct look at Neptune’s rings in more than 30 years.

Apollo 8 Earthrise

The Apollo 8 crew captured this picture of Earth in late December 1968 while on one of their 10 lunar orbits (Nasa)
The Apollo 8 crew captured this picture of Earth in late December 1968 while on one of their 10 lunar orbits (Nasa)

Bill Anders captured this classic image aboard Apollo 8 when the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell on board. The image shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface.

Buzz Aldrin on the moon

Buzz Aldrin is pictured during the Apollo 11 landing on the moon (Nasa)
Buzz Aldrin is pictured during the Apollo 11 landing on the moon (Nasa)

The photo was taken during Apollo’s first manned mission to land on the Moon in 1969.

It shows lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin standing on the lunar surface, with commander Neil Armstrong, who took the photo, seen reflected in Aldrin’s visor.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm that is the largest in the Solar System (Nasa)
The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm that is the largest in the Solar System (Nasa)

Voyagers 1 and 2 both photographed Jupiter during flybys in 1979.

The Great Red Spot, an ancient storm so large that three Earths could fit inside it, had been photographed from Earth before, but never in such detail.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies, some dating back one billion years, is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colours (Nasa)
This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies, some dating back one billion years, is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colours (Nasa)

The night sky as seen in visible wavelengths at its lowest (most sensitive) point. More than 10,000 galaxies are visible in the million-second exposure captured by the Hubble Space Telescope over the course of 400 orbits.