A black hole two billion times as massive as the sun spits out jets of radiation in an artist's impression of ULAS J1120 0641, the most distant quasar yet discovered. The object was described in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
Quasars are very bright, distant galaxies that are believed to have actively feeding supermassive black holes at their hearts. Because of the time it takes light to travel over such vast reaches of space, astronomers at the European Southern Observatory calculate that they're seeing this quasar as it existed just 770 million years after the big bang, which is thought to have occurred about 13.7 billion years ago.
Illustration courtesy M. Kornmesser, ESO
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter angled its path to the west during a June 10 sunrise, allowing the craft to capture the long shadow of the central peak inside the moon's Tycho crater.
The 51-mile-wide (82-kilometer-wide) impact basin is visible from Earth with the naked eye and is a popular target for amateur astronomers.
Photograph courtesy ASU/LRO/NASA
Volcanic ash glows red in a false-color NASA satellite picture of an eruption at Eritrea's Nabro volcano, seen on June 24. Red in the image represents heat, while the plume most likely appears bluish due to a high concentration of water vapor and sulfur dioxide.
Nabro sits in a remote region near the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Still, the massive ash plume from the eruption has spurred evacuations and caused local flight disruptions, according to NASA.
Image courtesy EO-1/NASA
Seen in visible light, the nebula known as M78 is partially obscured by dark tendrils of dense dust. But the infrared eye of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope can penetrate this dust, revealing the glowing clouds of star-forming material inside.
In a newly released picture, M78 is shown to contain two round, greenish "eyes"—cavities in the clouds that are being carved by radiation from newborn stars.
Image courtesy Caltech/NASA
A Cut Above
Saturn's thin rings seem to slice through the planet's largest moon Titan in a picture snapped by NASA's Cassini orbiter June 27.
Unlike Earth's moon, Titan is enveloped in a dense atmosphere made mostly of nitrogen, with traces of methane and other organics. The Cassini picture shows dark features in Titan's cloud cover, as well as a distinct layer of high-level haze over the moon's north pole.