The Large Magellanic Cloud is quite small compared to our Milky Way, with less than one tenth as much mass and spanning only 14,000 light-years, whereas the Milky Way stretches 100,000 light-years. Its irregular shape is likely a consequence of gravitational push and pull with the Milky Way and the Small Magellanic Cloud.
Image courtesy ESO
Sparks of lightning embedded within a giant storm system light up the night over southern California in this snapshot taken by the crew aboard the International Space Station.
The yellow patchwork across the middle of the frame, are the city lights of Los Angeles and San Diego beneath the grey clouds.
Photograph courtesy NASA
An active lava lake at the summit of Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is producing a thick plume of steam and gases in this image snapped by Earth Observing-1 satellite on August 4.
Residents of the nearby city of Goma were touched by catastrophe in 1977 when lava raced down the mountain, killing hundreds. In 2002, lava from Nyiragongo flowed into the center of town, destroying thousands of homes and displacing more than a quarter million people.
Image courtesy Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, EO-1/NASA
A mysterious hexagon-shaped cloud larger than Earth blankets Saturn's north polar region in this image taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 14.
First seen by the Voyager probe during its flyby in the early 1980s, the bizarre six-sided weather system stretches 15,000-miles (25,000-kilometers) across and contains storms of various sizes, including a distinct vortex that appears to sit directly over the planet's north pole.
Image courtesy SSI/Caltech/NASA
Death of a Star
This astronomical artwork depicts the violent death of a massive star in one of the most powerful type of explosions known in the universe—a gamma-ray burst (GRB).
In this illustration, a GRB illuminates clouds of interstellar gas in its host galaxy 12.7 billion light-years from Earth—in the so called dark ages of the early Universe.
The flash of gamma rays—dubbed GRB 130606A—was detected by NASA's Swift spacecraft on June 6 and lasted for more than four minutes.
By analyzing the titanic blast and its high energy emissions, researchers have learned about the chemistry of the surrounding galaxy as it was only a billion years after the Big Bang, revealing that it contained only one-tenth of the heavy metals found in our solar system.