25 of the most spectacular pictures ever taken by Hubble, which is 25 today

It's been 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit by the Space Shuttle.

On April 24, 1990, the shuttle carried Hubble up into space, making it the first telescope of its kind.

To celebrate, here are some of the best pictures it has taken in 25 years.

A Hubble image of a pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the light from nearby stars in the Carina nebula, located 7,500 light years away
A group of five galaxies known as Stephan's Quintet captured by Hubble. Three of the galaxies have distorted shapes, elongated spiral arms, and long, gaseous tidal tails containing myriad star clusters, proof of their close encounters
Westerlund 2 is a giant star cluster which is approximately 2 million-years-old
Hubble Space Telescope shows Messier 57, the Ring Nebula
NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula captured by the Hubble Telescope. A planetary nebula forms when Sun-like stars gently eject their outer gaseous layers that form bright nebulae
Siding Spring captured on Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope
The NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, known as the Antennae Galaxies

The tendrils of a dark interstellar cloud being destroyed by the passage of one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster

An infrared image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a protostellar object LRLL 54361 and its rich cosmic neighbourhood, a region called IC 348
The Hubble Mosaic of the Majestic Sombrero Galaxy

Illuminating: the 'Whirlpool Galaxy'

The Cone Nebula, an innocuous pillar of gas and dust

The Hubble Space Telescope shows the Eagle Nebula's 'Pillars of Creation'. The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars

The Hubble Space Telescope shows the tattered remains of a supernova explosion known as Cassiopeia A. It is the youngest known remnant from a supernova explosion in the Milky Way

Kepler's supernova remnant produced by combining data from NASA's three Great Observatories the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory

Image of the Butterfly Nebula, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009

The sharpest view of the Orion Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, 2004–05This picture taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion, released in 2005

The star HD 184738, also known as Campbell’s hydrogen star, surrounded by plumes of reddish gas — the fiery red and orange hues are caused by glowing gases, including hydrogen and nitrogen

This Hubble image of the Antennae galaxies is the sharpest yet of this merging pair of galaxies. As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. The brightest and most compact of these are called super star clusters
The tip of the three-light-year-long pillar in a stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7500 light-years away from the Earth

The Carina Nebula. Outflowing winds and intense ultraviolet radiation from the large stars shape the material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born

The barred spiral galaxy M83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel. The Hubble photograph captures thousands of star clusters, hundreds of thousands of individual stars, and 'ghosts' of dead stars called supernova remnants

A nebula named Knockout 4-55 (or K 4-55) photographed by Hubble in 2009

This stunning image of NGC 1275 was taken using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys in July and August 2006

More: Everything looks better from space