Trippy Galaxies, Misty Stars, Spooky Moon, most beautiful pictures of space life, if I may say so!!
Marmalade Skies Composite photograph courtesy NASA
Astronaut Don Pettit recently created this psychedelic scene using a stationary camera aboard the International Space Station, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) above Earth.
The digital composite includes 18 images stacked together to show star trails wheeling through Earth's "airglow"—light spawned by various chemical interactions in the upper atmosphere.
Ghostly Eye Image courtesy Caltech/NASA
A newly released image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) shows the ultraviolet glow of the Helix nebula, also called NGC 7293.
The object is what's known as a planetary nebula, which is made from the gas and dust left over after a sunlike star dies. The dense core of the star, called a white dwarf, sits at the center of this eerie cosmic "eye."
Glacial Tapestry Image courtesy Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, USGS/NASA
Seen in a false-color NASA satellite picture snapped in 2011, the Columbia glacier (deep blue) flows into a narrow inlet, which leads into Prince William Sound in southeastern Alaska. The region is rimmed by vegetation (green) and exposed bedrock (brown).
The glacier has been rapidly retreating since 1980, according to NASA. Satellite images of the region—including this one—show that between 1986 and 2011, the extent of the ice shrunk by more than 12 miles (20 kilometers).
Rings of Andromeda Image courtesy Caltech/NASA
Blue-white rings create a cosmic bull's eye in this new ultraviolet picture of the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way's largest galactic neighbor, which sits about 2.5 million light-years away.
Although the galaxy appears like a familiar spiral in visible light, the ultraviolet view—from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX)—shows the ring-like shapes also seen in infrared images.
Astronomers think the rings are evidence that Andromeda collided with another neighbor, the galaxy M32, more than 200 million years ago.
Lifting the Veil Photograph by Erick Montero, Your Shot
Dark clouds drift across a waning gibbous moon on May 10, as seen in a picture snapped from San Jose, California and submitted to National Geographic's Your Shot.
According to photographer Erick Montero, the region was too cloudy for people to see the previous week's supermoon—when the full moon coincided with the lunar orb's closest approach to Earth. But later views of the partially full moon were still "mysterious and surreal," he wrote with his submission.
Aurora Falls Photograph by Fan Meng, My Shot
A "waterfall" of soft green light drops from the heavens, as seen in a picture taken from the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko, Sweden, that was recently submitted to National Geographic's My Shot.
Asteroid Slices Image courtesy University of Tennessee/NASA
Seen under a polarizing microscope, different minerals appear in a variety of hues in three slices from meteorites—all of which were recently confirmed as parts of the giant asteroid Vesta.
Two of the three space rocks fell to Earth in Antarctica, while the third landed in North Carolina. Their origins were determined based on new data from NASA's Dawn mission, which has been orbiting Vesta since July 2011.
The dusty golden glow of the planetary nebula known as Sharpless 2-71 is seen in a newly released picture from the Gemini North observatory in Hawaii.
Although the nebula was discovered in 1946, astronomers are still debating which star created the complex cloud of dust and gas. Some hold that the bright star at the center of the object is the one that shed shells of material as it swelled and died, forming the nebula.
But the central star doesn't appear to radiate the right amounts of high-energy light to cause the surrounding gas to glow as intensely as we see today. This led other experts to suspect that a dimmer, bluer star—which does pump out enough high-energy radiation—might be the nebula's true parent.
Seven Sisters Photograph by Greg Parker, My Shot
Also known as the Seven Sisters, the star cluster M45—seen in a picture submitted May 7 to National Geographic's My Shot—contains more than 3,000 stars and is one of the brightest clusters known, according to NASA. At about 400 light-years away, M45 is also one of the closest star clusters to Earth.
Supermoon Over New York Photograph by Gale VerHague, My Shot
A "supermoon" glows over Arkwright, New York, on May 5.
Due to the moon's egg-shaped orbit, there are times when the moon is at perigee—its closest approach to Earth—and at apogee, its farthest. The term "supermoon" was coined in 1979 to describe a full moon that coincides with perigee, a confluence that occurs about once a year, on average.
Eruption From Above Image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS/NASA
A plume arises from a volcano on Zavodoski—one of the U.K.'s South Sandwich Islands (map), located off Argentina—in a false-color satellite image taken on April 27.
A false-color image is a combination of non-visible (such as infrared) light and visible light. Here the technique is used to distinguish clouds from snow and ice, according to NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) website.
In the above picture, ice-covered islands appear bright turquoise, clouds appear light turquoise, and the ocean appears black.
Night-Shining Clouds Photograph by Chris Martin, Your Shot
Noctilucent clouds glow over Alberta, Canada, in a picture submitted May 4 to National Geographic's Your Shot. The so-called night-shining clouds, shimmer even after dark, because they're so high in the atmosphere that sunlight reaches them even after the sun has dipped below the horizon.
The rare clouds are showing up at ever more southerly latitudes, and astronomers aren't sure why, according to NASA. Scientists suspect the increase may be due to climate change: Even as surface temperatures rise, the upper atmosphere is getting colder due to the buildup of carbon dioxide, creating perfect conditions for cloud formation, experts say.
Solar Hiccup Image courtesy SDO/NASA
A solar flare explodes on May 9 in an image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The phenomenon was short-lived and didn't spark any coronal mass ejections, huge clouds of charged solar particles that erupt from the sun's upper atmosphere.
The flare is shown in the 131 Angstrom wavelength of light—typically colored teal—which gave scientists the most detailed picture of the flare.
Coming Home Photograph courtesy NASA
The Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft departs the International Space Station on April 27.
Four hours later the Russian craft landed outside Arkalyk, Kazakhstan—carrying NASA astronaut Dan Burbank as well as Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who had spent more than five months on the space station.
Pinball Wizard Photograph courtesy NASA
NASA astronaut Don Pettit is reflected in a metal sphere on the International Space Station in an image released May 4.
Pettit has taught more than 500,000 Internet users how microgravity works via everyday objects aboard the space station.
Stars Are Born Image courtesy ESA/PACS/SPIRE, CEA/CNRS/INSU
The Cygnus-X stellar nursery stars in a "stunning" infrared picture released May 10 by the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory.
The chaotic jumble of dust and gas is an extremely active region of giant-star birth in the Cygnus constellation, some 4,500 light-years from Earth.
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