Like a page torn from The Little Prince, the French island of Réunion becomes a small planet amid a starry sky in a composite picture taken last week by astrophotographer Luc Perrot.
The picture is what's called a stereographic projection, a form of digital processing that shows a 360-degree spherical panorama as a flat image. This view stitches together several long-exposure shots of the night sky—including the arc of the Milky Way—as seen from the tiny volcanic island, east of Madagascar.
Panoramic photograph courtesy Luc Perrot
Thin Blue Line
The tiny dot of the moon seems to graze Earth's atmosphere as seen by an Expedition 26 astronaut aboard the International Space Station on March 6.
Expedition 26 will come to a close March 16, when three of the six crew members return to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule. The remaining crew will start Expedition 27 and will welcome three new astronauts due to arrive at the station on March 31.
Unlike some of its slower neighbors, this "runaway" star is zipping through space at between 1.5 and 9.4 million miles (2.4 and 15.1 million kilometers) an hour. At such speeds, radiation from Alpha Cam is slamming into and compressing interstellar gas and dust, creating a bow shock, seen in red.
Image courtesy NASA/Caltech/UCLA
The space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station streak across the sky over Hungary on March 8 in a picture taken as the shuttle separated from the ISS for the last time. Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 9, bringing the orbiter's distinguished career to a close.
The Westbrook Nebula is a so-called protoplanetary nebula being formed by the death of a sunlike star. This newly released picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope combines visible and near-infrared light to reveal the jets of toxic gases, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, spewing from the hidden star.
When stars like the sun die, they don't explode. Instead they puff up and expand, eventually shedding their outer gas layers. The stellar cores become white dwarfs, which heat up the expelled material to create bright planetary nebulae. A protoplanetary nebula represents such a brief stage in this process that only a few hundred are known in the Milky Way.
On March 2 NASA's Terra satellite snapped this false-color picture of the scene, which shows the pieces of the iceberg congregated at the far end of the lake, near the terminal moraine—a mound of rock that marks the retreating glacier's former extent.
The galaxy's central region has been dubbed the Eye of Sauron, due to its striking resemblance to the supernatural peeper in the Lord of the Rings movies. In the above composite picture released March 10, Chandra captures x-rays (blue) being emitted by the actively feeding black hole.
Visible light (yellow) and radio data (red) complete the illusion of a fiery, lidless eye around the black hole "pupil."