The bulbous lobes of the Homunculus Nebula surround the binary star system known as Eta Carinae in a newly released picture from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Eta Carinae increased in brightness in the 19th century in an event that became known as the Great Eruption. Astronomers now know that the larger star in the system is very massive and highly unstable. The outburst in the 1800s—which released the material that formed the dumbbell-shaped nebula—was likely a precursor to the star's imminent death in a powerful supernova.
The image was taken when it was late fall in the red planet's southern hemisphere, and carbon dioxide frost was just beginning to accumulate on the pole-facing slopes. The dunes are now being monitored for changes such as gullies as Mars experiences southern winter.
A star-gazer in Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania, stops in his tracks to look at the zodiacal light—a faint cone of light that rises from the horizon along the ecliptic. This imaginary line—the plane of our solar system—is the path the sun and planets appear to travel in the sky.
Venus and Jupiter are also visible along the ecliptic in this frame.
Zodiacal light is caused by sunlight reflecting and scattering off dust grains that lie between the inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov are seen during a spacewalk on February 16 as they work on maintenance and upgrades for the International Space Station.
During the six-hour, 15-minute spacewalk, the pair worked on a telescoping boom—used to move massive components outside the station—that's being prepared for replacement next year.
The cosmonauts also installed a new science experiment on the outside of the station and collected a sample from the insulation on the Zvezda service module to check for any biological contamination.
Photograph courtesy NASA
A long-exposure picture taken from Finland shows the wispy filaments of Simeis 147, a large supernova remnant in the constellation Taurus, the Bull.
The expanding cloud of gas and dust lies about 3,000 light years away and spans roughly 150 light-years. Astronomers think light from the stellar explosion that created Simeis 147 first reached Earth about a hundred thousand years ago.
The Mars rover Opportunity appears camouflaged thanks to a coating of dust on its solar panels in a newly released "self-portrait" taken last December. The shot is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's panoramic camera as the robot was being readied to weather its fifth Martian winter.
The dusty panels further reduce the rover's power supply at a time when sunlight is at a premium, which means Opportunity's mobility will be limited until winter is over or wind cleans off the panels.
Image courtesy Cornell/Caltech/NASA
On Tuesday NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory watched as part of the moon crossed in front of the sun, creating a partial solar eclipse that was visible only from space.
During the eclipse the moon briefly blocked an active region on the sun that had been spewing strong ultraviolet radiation into space. The resulting dip in the sun's extreme ultraviolet emissions could help scientists figure out exactly how much of the energy output can be attributed to the active region.