Ready for its closeup but all alone on Mars, NASA's rover Curiosity created this self-portrait on Halloween. The image was stitched together from 55 high-resolution shots snapped by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), perched on the end of Curiosity's robotic arm.
The pictures were taken at "Rocknest," the location in Gale Crater where the mission first scoop-sampled Martian soil. Four scoop scars remain visible in the soil in front the rover, while the base of three-mile-high (five-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp rises to the right of Curiosity.
Like a set of cosmic lips, the pink Wolf-Rayet star HD 50896, 5,000 light-years from Earth, has blown an enormous space bubble (seen in a recent picture) that stretches a staggering 60 light-years across. This feature in the constellation Canis Major has been said to resemble a dog, with a protruding "ear" (upper left), and a "snout" below a pair of piercing "eyes" that includes the pink star (left) and a yellow counterpart.
Bubbles like S 308 are somehow produced when hot, huge Wolf-Rayet stars—each about 40 times more massive than the sun—emit a shock wave of materials and strong stellar winds. In the future the bubble will pop, and the star will end its days with a supernova bang.
According to Accuweather statistics, the storm produced over a foot (30 centimeters) of rainfall in some locations and wind gusts that topped 90 miles (145 kilometers) an hour. Waves more than 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall were recorded at sea, while the storm surge at Kings Point, New York, reached 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) tall.
Older ice appears bright white, thanks to snow cover, and bears many visible cracks, ridges, and rubble fields from the ice pack's perpetual motion. Open water appears dark black, covered by a thin coating of "grease ice"—thin, smooth sea ice that can resemble an oil slick. Thick stands of sea ice appear as gray slabs.
Over ten billion years, tens of thousands of yellowish stars have burned through most of their life spans here, becoming red giants in the process.
But such clusters are also home to some stellar oddities—including blue stragglers. Though all of a cluster's stars formed at about the same time, the massive, fuel-consuming blue stars, which should have burned out long ago, continue to burn brightly—leaving their eternally youthful appearance a mystery. (See "'Blue Straggler' Stars Cannibalize to Stay Young.")
Volcano From Above
An International Space Station astronaut took this snapshot of Santiago in the Galápagos Islands when the station passed about 250 miles (400 kilometers) overhead on October 28. The bird's-eye view shows some of the geologic processes that created the islands over a volcanic mantle plume, or hot spot.
Santiago was formed by a shield volcano, whose low, flat summit ridge is seen below the green vegetation that covers the volcano's south-facing slopes (top left). Shield volcanoes produce extensive lava flows—here lava is visible as dark patches along some coastlines.
Tuff cones, seen as small circles at upper right, are created when hot lava turns the water below to steam, which then explodes up through the lava and scatters it.