May 11, 2009—In its final "pretty picture," the longest-running Hubble Space Telescope camera has snapped the remains of a giant red star (above), NASA announced on Monday.
The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which NASA hailed as a Supercamera in a statement released today, will be decommissioned during the final space shuttle Hubble-repair mission set to launch today.
The May 4, 2009, parting shot captured a planetary nebula known as Kohoutek 4-55, which contains the outer layers of a red giant star. The layers were ejected into interstellar space during the star's dying throes.
The nebula's glow comes from ultraviolet radiation emanating from the remaining hot core of the star.
The colors seen in the image represent different gases emitted by the star—red shows nitrogen, green shows hydrogen, and blue shows oxygen.
During Camera 2's "amazing" 16-year run, it took unprecedented images of the Eagle Nebula pillars and the Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9's impacts on Jupiter's atmosphere, according to NASA.
(See Hubble pictures of the space telescope's hottest discoveries.)
More spectacular shots will undoubtedly follow with the camera's predecessor Wide Field Camera 3, to be installed in coming days.
The next-generation technology will build on Camera 2 with its ability to span the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet light to visible light that can be seen with the naked eye.
Video: Space Shuttle's Final Mission to Hubble —Christine Dell'Amore