Stars wheeling across the sky seem to cut through a fiery aurora in a recently released long-exposure picture taken in western Sweden.
Auroras can appear in different colors depending on the types of gases in the atmosphere and where these gases are. Auroras happen when energized particles form the sun interact with air molecules and give them extra charge. These "excited" molecules then emit light. Oxygen, for example, can create auroras in yellow-green to red, while nitrogen emits light in blues and purples.
The craft caught the sun producing two events at once: At the same time the filament erupted, a coronal mass ejection on the opposite side of the solar disk (not pictured) blasted a huge spray of particles into space.
Image courtesy SDO/NASA
Have a Nice Day?
People with coulrophobia might want to avoid the south pole of Mars: Seasonal carbon dioxide frost has given rise to a pit that bears an eerie resemblance to a deranged clown face.
Scientists compared this newly released picture from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter with another taken in 2007 to see how the pit has changed over time. The team saw signs of growth inside the "happy face," which they think is caused by frost that sublimates—turns directly from solid to gas—from the pit walls and then recondenses on its surfaces.
Image courtesy NASA/University of Arizona
Bright white snow and dark vegetation create a crystalline patchwork over the urban landscape of Berlin in a recently released satellite image of the German capital. Home to 3.4 million people, Berlin has the second largest population, within city limits, of any city in the European Union after London.
The picture was taken by the Japanese ALOS satellite and processed by the European Space Agency. ALOS was designed to chart land cover in visible and near-infrared light.
Image courtesy JAXA/ESA
After a year of mapping the sky in infrared, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, space telescope discovered 20 comets, seen above in a mosaic of false-color pictures. The backgrounds appear fuzzy because WISE also captured the faint heat signatures of dust in our solar system.
In addition to comets, WISE discovered more than 33,000 asteroids in the main belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and 134 near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets that come within 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) of Earth's orbit around the sun.