The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), one of the Milky Way’s closest neighbors, appears as a technicolor swirl in this composite image released by NASA on April 4.
The SMC is technically a dwarf galaxy, but it’s so bright it can be seen by the unaided eye from the Southern Hemisphere and areas near the equator.
New observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory—a space telescope launched by NASA in 1999—of the SMC’s “Wing” region are our first glimpse of x-ray emissions from young stars similar to our sun outside the Milky Way.
Image courtesy L. Oskinova et al., Caltech/U.Potsdam/CXC/STScI/NASA
Cleared for Takeoff
A spaceship carrying a Russian crew blasts off in a cloud of smoke on March 29, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). The three astronauts aboard the ship took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
When they reach the ISS—where they’ll stay for five months before returning to Earth—they’ll double the number of crew members now aboard the orbiting ISS.
Photograph by Dmitry Lovetsky, AP
Photographer Görand Strand captured the faux meeting of the comet PanSTARRS (right) and M31 (also known as the Andromeda Galaxy) on April 4 by seeking out a site with no light pollution—43 miles (70 kilometers) north of Östersund, Sweden—and shooting this 30-minute exposure.
Strand says that the two objects in this image may appear close in size, but they differ in distance. At more than 2 billion light-years away, Andromeda is the Milky Way’s nearest neighbor; it can be seen with the unaided eye when conditions are right. PanSTARRS, however, clocks in at 1.3 astronomical units—and one AU is the distance between Earth and the sun.
As it passed over the Gulf of Mexico on March 29, the NASA/NOAA satellite Suomi NPP took the sea’s temperature using an infrared camera.
In satellite images, water appears brighter when warmer and darker when colder. The Loop Current, seen here in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, is large and warm. Water draining from the Mississippi watershed—chilled by the winter—envelops the bayous and bays in Louisiana, causing the area to appear much darker.
Sea ice in the Arctic may look like it’s a single floating piece. But the extensive fracturing seen here hints at the truth: It’s actually a collection of smaller pieces that shift and grind against each other depending on wind and ocean currents.