Photograph by Leif Smith, National Geographic Your Shot
Meteorite collector Arlene Schlazer shows off her artistic side in this image of hundreds of meteoric iron spheroids in a magnetically induced pattern and a letter 'A' made from an iron meteorite.
When a giant iron meteor slammed into the desert floor in northern Arizona thousands of years ago, the impact—at a site known today as Meteor Crater—vaporized a large portion of the space rock in the process.
A hot cloud of iron vapor was created, scattering countless numbers of these tiny spheroids onto the surrounding landscape.
This near-infrared image of a small portion of the famed Orion nebula was snapped by the Gemini South Observatory in Chile in January. It showcases the spectacular aftermath of an explosion associated with the birth of massive stars.
Astronomers analyze the blobs of hydrogen gas, which are being expelled like cosmic bullets in all directions, to help determine the intensity of the stellar blast that created them.
Located some 1,500 light-years from Earth, the Orion nebula is one of the largest and closest star factories. It is filled with dozens of newborn stars still embedded in the giant cloud of gas and dust.
Image courtesy John Bally, Adam Ginsberg, and Travis Rector, U.Colorado/UAA
The Chandra x-ray space observatory spies the remnants of a dwarf galaxy ramming into a much larger spiral galaxy 60 million light-years from Earth.
The cosmic pileup created a multimillion-degree cloud of gas within the pinwheel-shaped galaxy—seen here in purple—which is estimated to weigh up to three million times more than the mass of our own sun.
Image courtesy G. Garmire and ESO/VLT/HIXA/CXC/NASA
Xombie Test Flight
A private suborbital rocket blasts off its pad for a test flight on August 12 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Dubbed the Xombie, this experimental rocket from Masten Space Systems demonstrates vertical takeoffs and landings using new control software that will help future planetary spacecraft attain pinpoint landing accuracy.
Photograph courtesy NASA/Masten Space Systems
Blooming Celestial Flower
Like a flower in full bloom, this colorful portrait of the Rosette nebula was taken through a backyard telescope in Alabama on August 13.
Located some 5,000 light-years from Earth, this stellar nursery measures 130 light-years across and is a hotbed of star formation.
Massive newborn stars emit intense radiation that has hollowed out the central core of the nebula, blowing the gas and dust into an expanding shell that glows like a neon sign.
In this breathtaking picture taken on August 11, the heart of the Milky Way galaxy appears to lap the seaside landscape at Tulka, South Australia.
"While out looking for the Perseid meteor shower, I was shooting close to the waves in the darkness, only I couldn't see the size of the waves coming and got very wet feet during this shot," commented photographer Greg Norman.
Photograph by G. Norman, National Geographic Your Shot