A cosmic angel seems to spread its shimmering wings in a newly released Hubble Space Telescope picture of the star-forming region called Sh 2-106.
The cloud of dust and gas is being shaped by a young star called S106 IR. On the cusp of adulthood, the growing star is "rebelling" against its parent cloud, ejecting material at high speed and creating glowing lobes of hot, turbulent hydrogen gas.
About 3,700 years ago people on Earth would have seen the light from the star's explosive death as a new "star" in the sky. Today the gassy remains of Puppis A are being heated by expanding shockwaves, giving the ghostly object a rosy glow in infrared.
Image courtesy UCLA/Caltech/NASA
A spiral of glowing gas shows the sloshing motion of material in the galaxy cluster Abell 2052, as seen in a new picture from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The spiral surrounds a giant elliptical galaxy at the center of the cluster, seen in gold thanks to visible-light data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Astronomers think Abell 2052 got sloshed when a smaller group of galaxies smashed into the larger cluster, pulling the cluster's gas along for the ride. After the small cluster passed the large cluster's central core, the gas was drawn back toward the cluster's middle, resulting in back-and-forth motion.
Image courtesy E. Blanton, BU/CXC/NASA
Like a bright white arrow, the comet known as Lovejoy takes aim at the sun in a picture from NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) taken December 15. Lovejoy is part of a group known as the Kreutz sungrazers, which are thought to be the remnant pieces of a larger, ancient comet that broke apart.
A host of sun-watching satellites tracked the unusually bright comet as it zoomed closer to the sun, apparently on a death dive. But to the astonishment of many, Lovejoy later emerged from the other side of the sun, proving that the comet survived its solar swing—although missing its tail.
Two bright "eyes" likely made of newly forming stars peer out from the face of the Dragonfish, a nebula that's home to some of the brightest stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
As seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, infrared light in this region comes from gas and dust being heated by a hidden central cluster of massive stars.
Image courtesy Caltech/U. Toronto/NASA
A newly released picture from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the 360-foot-wide (110-meter-wide) impact basin known as Shorty Crater. On December 11, 1972, astronauts with the Apollo 17 mission landed near this crater, with a mission goal of finding out whether Shorty was actually a volcanic vent.
The astronauts did find orange and black layers of glass—signs of volcanic activity. But analyses of the samples later indicated that the glass was from an ancient pyroclastic flow, and that the impact that formed Shorty had churned up buried volcanic material.