A colorful, craggy column of dust and gas dubbed the Mystic Mountain stars in the newest picture from the Hubble Space Telescope. Released April 23 as part of celebrations for Hubble's 20th anniversary, the picture highlights the results of star birth in the Carina nebula. (See astronomers' picks of some of the best Hubble pictures.)
Image courtesy NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)
Oil Slick Aerial
Sunlight glinting off an oil slick creates a silvery patch on the ocean's surface as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite on April 25, days after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused the structure to sink into the Gulf of Mexico. The objects to the lower left are ships potentially involved in cleanup and control operations, according to NASA.
An estimated 42,000 gallons (about 159,000 liters) of oil a day have been leaking into the Gulf since the accident, according to NASA, and cleanup workers are scrambling to contain the slick before it reaches wildlife refuges and beaches along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts. (See "Oil Spill From Sunken Rig Site May Be Serious.")
The objects seen at the left edge of the spill are ships potentially involved in cleanup and control operations, according to NASA.
Image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA
The space shuttle Discovery flies with its open payload bay facing Earth after the craft undocked from the International Space Station on April 17. The picture, taken by ISS astronaut Soichi Noguchi, also shows the southern end of Colombian-administered Isla de Providencia in the Caribbean, as it appears below the shuttle.
Discovery returned home on April 20 after successfully completing a 13-day mission to deliver new supplies and equipment to the ISS. This particular craft will return to flight once more in November, when NASA plans to retire its remaining three shuttles. (See more pictures from Discovery's penultimate mission.)
Photograph courtesy NASA
Something Old, Something New
Two star clusters caught in a single image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission are providing astronomers with a study in contrasts. Released April 23, the picture features the Coronet cluster, a small grouping of about a dozen young stars, nestled in a wispy cloud of dust about 420 light-years from Earth.
To the left of center lies a concentration of blue dots that represents a globular star cluster, which lies some 29,000 light-years from Earth. Such clusters contain hundred of thousands of some of the oldest stars in the universe.
Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Martian Ice Exposed
Exposed ice glints inside a recent impact crater in a newly released picture from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The HiRISE camera aboard the orbiter caught sight of the roughly 66-foot-wide (20-meter-wide) crater inside a dark, half-mile-wide (800-meter-wide) blast zone in March.
This crater, caused by an unknown body, is one of only seven discovered by the HiRISE team that shows the planet's subsurface ice. Even though about half of Mars is thought to have buried ice, such craters are hard to find. That's because the camera most easily spots craters in dusty regions, where the impact blows out a wide swath of dark material that stands out against the bright surface.