Five Saturn moons seem to gather near the gas giant's rings for a group portrait in a new picture from NASA's Cassini orbiter released September 12.
Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea, is closest to the spacecraft and is bisected by the right edge of the frame. Just beyond, from right to left, are the smaller moons Mimas, Enceladus, Pandora, and Janus.
Swirls of glowing dust seem to flow around bright newborn stars in a new infrared picture of the Lagoon nebula taken with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and released September 14.
Also known as NGC 6523, the nebula has been known since the 1700s. It's one of just two star-forming nebulae that can be seen with the naked eye from northern latitudes. (See a colorful closeup of the Lagoon nebula.)
Photograph courtesy JPL-Caltech/NASA
A recently released false-color picture shows a small white plume rising from the erupting Kizimen volcano (center), which is surrounded by vegetation (red) on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. The image was taken September 5 by NASA's Terra satellite.
When compared with previous satellite pictures of the region, this image can help illustrate the geologic changes driven by the growth of a stratovolcano, as layers of lava flows alternate with layers of volcanic ash, cinders, and rocks.
By staring at large patches of sky, Herschel was able to capture light from galaxies so distant that we see them now as they existed billions of years ago.
After examining these early galaxies, scientists concluded that high rates of star formation can also occur as a lone galaxy slowly consumes streamers of cold gas drifting through space, pictured in an illustration.
Image courtesy ESA
Turquoise plumes stain the waters of the Barents Sea (map), north of Scandinavia, in a satellite picture of a plankton bloom taken September 10. The bloom first appeared in summer months and had persisted for weeks when it was photographed by NASA's Aqua satellite.
Feeding off plentiful nutrients, phytoplankton can thrive in the cool waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. The milky blue hues of this bloom might come from coccolithophores—plankton with white calcite shells that appear blue in the ocean.
Image courtesy NASA
A new picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the globular cluster NGC 7006, a grouping of hundreds of thousands of stars tightly bound by gravity.
The cluster lies in the outskirts of the Milky Way, about 135,000 light-years from Earth, or five times the distance between the sun and the center of the galaxy. Because of its eccentric orbit, astronomers think NGC 7006 might have formed in a smaller galaxy that was then captured by the Milky Way.