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Peculiar Galaxies of Arp 273

Copyright: Jason Guenzel The spiky stars in the foreground of this backyard telescopic frame are well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. But the two eye-catching galaxies lie far beyond the Milky Way, at a distance of over 300 million light-years. Their distorted appearance is due to gravitational tides as the pair engage in close […]

Three Clusters in Puppis

Copyright: Dave Doctor Galactic or open star clusters are young. The swarms of stars are born together near the plane of the Milky Way, but their numbers steadily dwindle as cluster members are ejected by galactic tides and gravitational interactions. Caught in this telescopic frame over three degrees across are three good examples of galactic […]

Chamaeleon I Molecular Cloud

Copyright: Robert Eder Dark markings and bright nebulae in this telescopic southern sky view are telltale signs of young stars and active star formation. They lie a mere 650 light-years away, at the boundary of the local bubble and the Chamaeleon molecular cloud complex. Regions with young stars identified as dusty reflection nebulae from the […]

Eiffel Tower Prominence on the Sun

Copyright: Hawk Wolinski What’s that on the Sun? Although it may look like a flowing version of the Eiffel Tower, it is a solar prominence that is actually much bigger — about the height of Jupiter. The huge prominence emerged about ten days ago, hovered over the Sun’s surface for about two days, and then […]

Terminator Moon

Copyright: What’s different about this Moon? It’s the terminators. In the featured image, you can’t directly see any terminator — the line that divides the light of day from the dark of night. That’s because the image is a digital composite of 29 near-terminator lunar strips. Terminator regions show the longest and most prominent shadows […]

In the Heart of the Heart Nebula

Copyright: Adam Jensen What excites the Heart Nebula? First, the large emission nebula dubbed IC 1805 looks, in whole, like a human heart. Its shape perhaps fitting of the Valentine’s Day, this heart glows brightly in red light emitted by its most prominent element: excited hydrogen. The red glow and the larger shape are all […]

Earth at Night

Copyright: This is what the Earth looks like at night. Can you find your favorite country or city? Surprisingly, city lights make this task quite possible. Human-made lights highlight particularly developed or populated areas of the Earth’s surface, including the seaboards of Europe, the eastern United States, and Japan. Many large cities are located near […]

Aurora by Moonlight

Copyright: Clear Skies The ice was singing as light from a bright gibbous Moon cast shadows across this frozen lake, about 20 kilometers north of Stockholm, Sweden, planet Earth. In the alluring night skyscape captured on February 10, shimmering auroral curtains of light dance in the evening sky. On that northern night nature’s performance included […]

IC 342: The Hidden Galaxy in Camelopardalis

Copyright: Daniel Feller Similar in size to large, bright spiral galaxies in our neighborhood, IC 342 is a mere 10 million light-years distant in the long-necked, northern constellation Camelopardalis. A sprawling island universe, IC 342 would otherwise be a prominent galaxy in our night sky, but it is hidden from clear view and only glimpsed […]

T Tauri and Hind’s Variable Nebula

Copyright: Dawn Lowry The star with an orange tint near top center in this dusty telescopic frame is T Tauri, prototype of the class of T Tauri variable stars. Next to it (right) is a yellow cosmic cloud historically known as Hind’s Variable Nebula (NGC 1555). About 650 light-years away, at the boundary of the […]

Eta Car: 3D Model of the Most Dangerous Star Known

Copyright: What’s the most dangerous star near earth? Many believe it’s Eta Carinae, a binary star system about 100 times the mass of the Sun, just 10,000 light years from earth. Eta Carinae is a ticking time bomb, set to explode as a supernova in only a few million years, when it may bathe the […]

Aurora and Light Pillars over Norway

Copyright: Alexandre Correia Which half of this sky is your favorite? On the left, the night sky is lit up by particles expelled from the Sun that later collided with Earth’s upper atmosphere — creating bright auroras. On the right, the night glows with ground lights reflected by millions of tiny ice crystals falling from […]

NGC 4651: The Umbrella Galaxy

Copyright: CFHT It’s raining stars. What appears to be a giant cosmic umbrella is now known to be a tidal stream of stars stripped from a small satellite galaxy. The main galaxy, spiral galaxy NGC 4651, is about the size of our Milky Way, while its stellar parasol appears to extend some 100 thousand light-years […]

Blue Marble Earth

Copyright: Welcome to planet Earth, the third planet from a star named the Sun. The Earth is shaped like a sphere and composed mostly of rock. Over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is water. The planet has a relatively thin atmosphere composed mostly of nitrogen and oxygen. The featured picture of Earth, dubbed The […]

Symbiotic R Aquarii

Copyright: Variable star R Aquarii is actually an interacting binary star system, two stars that seem to have a close symbiotic relationship. Centered in this space-based optical/x-ray composite image it lies about 710 light years away. The intriguing system consists of a cool red giant star and hot, dense white dwarf star in mutual orbit […]