An artist's conception shows stars spinning around a supermassive black hole that's ten billion times as massive as our sun.
Scientists recently used the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to track the motion of stars in nearby galaxies. In two elliptical galaxies, the stars' orbits revealed that the stellar bodies are being affected by the gravitational pull of otherwise hidden central black holes.
The two newfound black holes are now considered to be the most massive such objects yet found in our nearby cosmological neighborhood.
Illustration courtesy Lynette Cook, AURA/Gemini
The full moon appears to sink into Earth's atmosphere in a newly released picture taken in November from the International Space Station.
The bottom of the moon seems distorted because its light is being refracted by Earth's atmospheric layers.
Bright rays of material ejected by an impact contrast with the darker surface around Mena Crater in a new picture from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, currently in orbit around Mercury.
A gap in the rays to the southwest may be due to the object that formed the crater coming in at an angle. Or the gap could exist because Mena formed on the edge of a larger, preexisting crater, as seen in this frame.
Image courtesy JHUAPL/CIW/NASA
Seen under a microscope, minerals in a meteorite look like laundry scattered across black velvet in a newly released picture.
The sample is from a so-called HED—howardite, eucrite, and diogenite—meteorite found in Antarctica. HED meteorites are believed to originate from the asteroid Vesta. The texture of this rock is what would be expected from the crystallization of molten magma.
NASA hopes to compare such samples to data from the Dawn spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Vesta in the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.