Wonders of Space in Photos: Mars Sand Dunes, Galaxies Colliding, Stars Exploding
Wonders of Space in Photos: Mars Sand Dunes, Galaxies Colliding, Stars Exploding

Antennae Galaxies
Two galaxies collide in this image released by NASA’s Great Observatories. The Antennae galaxies, located about 62 million light years from Earth, are shown in this composite image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), the Hubble Space Telescope (gold and brown), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (red). The Antennae galaxies take their name from the long antenna-like “arms,” seen in wide-angle views of the system. These features were produced by tidal forces generated in the collision. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Stars like the Sun can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their life. A good example is NGC 2392, which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. NGC 2392, (nicknamed the "Eskimo Nebula") is what astronomers call a planetary nebula. This designation, however, is deceiving because planetary nebulas actually have nothing to do with planets. The term is simply a historic relic since these objects looked like planetary disks to astronomers in earlier times looking through small optical telescopes. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAA-CSIC/N.Ruiz et al, Optical: NASA/STScI)
Stars like the Sun can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their life. A good example is NGC 2392, which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. NGC 2392, (nicknamed the “Eskimo Nebula”) is what astronomers call a planetary nebula. This designation, however, is deceiving because planetary nebulas actually have nothing to do with planets. The term is simply a historic relic since these objects looked like planetary disks to astronomers in earlier times looking through small optical telescopes. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAA-CSIC/N.Ruiz et al, Optical: NASA/STScI)

The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan's Quintet is featured in this remarkable image constructed with data drawn from Hubble Legacy Archive and the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. The galaxies of the quintet are gathered near the center of the field, but really only four of the five are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters taking place some 300 million light-years away. (Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive, R. Gendler; Image Assembly & Processing: Robert Gendler and Judy Schmidt)
The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan’s Quintet is featured in this remarkable image constructed with data drawn from Hubble Legacy Archive and the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. The galaxies of the quintet are gathered near the center of the field, but really only four of the five are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters taking place some 300 million light-years away. (Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive, R. Gendler; Image Assembly & Processing: Robert Gendler and Judy Schmidt)

Jupiter
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot viewed by Voyager I. At about 89,000 miles in diameter, Jupiter could swallow 1,000 Earths. It is the largest planet in the solar system and perhaps the most majestic. Vibrant bands of clouds carried by winds that can exceed 400 mph continuously circle the planet’s atmosphere. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

The Ant Nebula, technical name of which is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. This Hubble image shows the "ant's" body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun- like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma. (NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute)
The Ant Nebula, technical name of which is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. This Hubble image shows the “ant’s” body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun- like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma. (NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute)

Mars
This image of a sand dune field on Mars in a Southern highlands crater was acquired when the Sun was just 5 degrees above the horizon. As a result, the image is mostly shadows, with sharply-delineated dune crests sticking up into the sunlight. The especially bright patches — bluish in enhanced color — are due to seasonal frost that is accumulating as this hemisphere approaches winter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Lightning on Earth viewed from the International Space Station. (NASA)
Lightning on Earth viewed from the International Space Station. (NASA)

By spying on a neighboring galaxy, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of a young, globular-like star cluster—a type of object unknown in our Milky Way Galaxy. NASA, ESA, and Martino Romaniello (European Southern Observatory, Germany)
By spying on a neighboring galaxy, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of a young, globular-like star cluster—a type of object unknown in our Milky Way Galaxy. NASA, ESA, and Martino Romaniello (European Southern Observatory, Germany)

This image from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the nearby galaxy Messier 83, or M83 for short. This is a spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. Sometimes referred to as the southern Pinwheel galaxy, M83 has a similar appearance to M101, the Pinwheel galaxy, but it is located in the southern sky. At about 55,500 light-years across, M83 is a bit more than half the size of our Milky Way galaxy, with a similar overall structure. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)
This image from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the nearby galaxy Messier 83, or M83 for short. This is a spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. Sometimes referred to as the southern Pinwheel galaxy, M83 has a similar appearance to M101, the Pinwheel galaxy, but it is located in the southern sky. At about 55,500 light-years across, M83 is a bit more than half the size of our Milky Way galaxy, with a similar overall structure. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

This image shows a composite view of the Crab nebula, an iconic supernova remnant in our Milky Way galaxy, as viewed by the Herschel Space Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. (ESA/Herschel/PACS/MESS Key Programme Supernova Remnant Team; NASA, ESA and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester, Arizona State University)
This image shows a composite view of the Crab nebula, an iconic supernova remnant in our Milky Way galaxy, as viewed by the Herschel Space Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. (ESA/Herschel/PACS/MESS Key Programme Supernova Remnant Team; NASA, ESA and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester, Arizona State University)

Unicorns and roses are usually the stuff of fairy tales, but this cosmic image taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) shows the Rosette nebula located within the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn. This flower-shaped nebula, also known by the less romantic name NGC 2237, is a huge star-forming cloud of dust and gas in our Milky Way galaxy. Estimates of the nebula's distance vary from 4,500 to 5,000 light-years away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)
Unicorns and roses are usually the stuff of fairy tales, but this cosmic image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) shows the Rosette nebula located within the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn. This flower-shaped nebula, also known by the less romantic name NGC 2237, is a huge star-forming cloud of dust and gas in our Milky Way galaxy. Estimates of the nebula’s distance vary from 4,500 to 5,000 light-years away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

Mars
On the surface of Mars: this mosaic of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a series of sedimentary deposits in the Glenelg area of Gale Crater, from a perspective in Yellowknife Bay looking toward west-northwest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. When seen in visible light, it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust. However, in this infrared image taken with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, a completely different view emerges. Zeta Ophiuchi is actually a very massive, hot, bright blue star plowing its way through a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas. The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)
The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. When seen in visible light, it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust. However, in this infrared image taken with NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, a completely different view emerges. Zeta Ophiuchi is actually a very massive, hot, bright blue star plowing its way through a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas. The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

An enormous cloud of hot gas enveloping two large, colliding galaxies. This unusually large reservoir of gas contains as much mass as 10 billion Suns, spans about 300,000 light years, and radiates at a temperature of more than 7 million degrees Kelvin. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Nardini et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)
An enormous cloud of hot gas enveloping two large, colliding galaxies. This unusually large reservoir of gas contains as much mass as 10 billion Suns, spans about 300,000 light years, and radiates at a temperature of more than 7 million degrees Kelvin. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Nardini et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Newborn stars peek out from beneath their natal blanket of dust in this dynamic image of the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Called "Rho Oph" by astronomers, it's one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system. Located near the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the nebula is about 407 light years away from Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)
Newborn stars peek out from beneath their natal blanket of dust in this dynamic image of the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Called “Rho Oph” by astronomers, it’s one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system. Located near the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the nebula is about 407 light years away from Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

The highly distorted supernova remnant shown in this image may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The image combines X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue and green, radio data from the NSF's Very Large Array in pink, and infrared data from Caltech's Palomar Observatory in yellow. The remnant, called W49B, is about a thousand years old, as seen from Earth, and is at a distance of about 26,000 light years away. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al.; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA)
The highly distorted supernova remnant shown in this image may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue and green, radio data from the NSF’s Very Large Array in pink, and infrared data from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in yellow. The remnant, called W49B, is about a thousand years old, as seen from Earth, and is at a distance of about 26,000 light years away. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al.; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA)

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