A tower of water vapor makes a cumulonimbus cloud over Colombia look like a cotton-candy mountain in a picture taken last week by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.
Seen from 220 miles (354 kilometers) above Earth, the cloud might appear serene. But tall, dense cumulonimbus clouds are most often associated with thunderstorms and other severe weather events. (See more cloud pictures.)
Photograph courtesy NASA
Starbirth Near the Void
Reddish puffs mark the spots where stars were recently born in a new Hubble Space Telescope picture of the dwarf spiral galaxy NGC 6503 released Monday.
The galaxy, a smaller version of our own Milky Way, sits 17 million light-years from Earth at the edge of a sparsely populated region of space called the Local Void.
Image courtesy ESA/NASA
Saturn Moon's Jets
Seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, jets of water ice spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus seem to graze the bright edge of the planet in a shot released Tuesday. In reality, Enceladus orbits about 112,000 miles (180,000 kilometers) away from the top of Saturn's atmosphere.
Discovered in 2005, the moon's icy geysers shoot from fractures in the southern hemisphere and are thought to be driven by a subsurface layer of liquid water. (See more pictures of Enceladus's geysers.)
Image courtesy NASA
Spain's Circular Crops
Fields of wheat, barley, and various fruits and vegetables create a geometric patchwork over the autonomous regions of Aragon and Catalonia in Spain, as seen by the Korea Multi-purpose Satellite. The picture was recently released by the European Space Agency, in partnership with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
Circular fields show where farmers are using central-pivot irrigation, a system in which a well drilled in the center of a field supplies water to a rotating series of sprinklers.
Image courtesy ESA/KARI
A European Southern Observatory telescope in Chile captured two spiral galaxies in the middle of a slow merger, seen in this picture released Monday.
Collectively known as NGC 520, the cosmic bodies started colliding about 300 million years ago. Astronomers estimate the merger is now about halfway complete, as the cores of the two galaxies have not yet met.
Image courtesy ESO
Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (center) waves to the camera from inside a Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft in a picture taken just after the capsule landed in northern Kazakhstan last week.
Yurchikhin and U.S. astronauts Doug Wheelock (left) and Shannon Walker returned safely to Earth after spending five months as members of the Expedition 24 and 25 crews aboard the International Space Station.