Spanning some 40 light-years, the infrared image of the nebula is filled with these early "protostars." Astronomers study these youngsters to see how stars such as our own sun were born. (See more nebula pictures.)
One of the red dots along the filaments streaming to the left of the nebula's heart, for example, is a recently discovered protostar, HOPS 68. It is surrounded by sandy dust, future planet-making materials to build worlds around the star.
Some 25,646 feet (7,817 meters) tall, the mountain is famed in Hindu lore, and is home to rare animals such as the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, and blue sheep.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AJAY TALWAR, TWAN
A gathering of galaxies, the Coma Cluster gleams in this Hubble Space Telescope image released January 13. The misty halos in the foreground are elliptical galaxies that are home to millions of stars. (See also: "Unknown Structures Tug at Our Universe.")
Even farther away than the 350 million light-years to the Coma Cluster, more distant spiral galaxies surround the scene, as revealed by Hubble's high-resolution view of deep space.
PHOTOGRAPH BY D. CARTER, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY/HUBBLE/NASA
PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JET PROPULSION LAB/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Largest Chasm in Solar System
Sunlight dances across a branch of the largest chasm in the solar system in a picture released January 9 by HiRISE. (See also: "Sightseeing on Mars.")
Tithonium Chasma is just one branch of Valles Marineris, which stretches some 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) across the face of Mars. Seen from overheard, light and dark strips of sediment are shown lining the chasm.
Astronomers suspect the fine lines etched across those sandy layers may date to a change in the tilt of the red planet hundreds of millions of years ago. An ancient shift from a 50° planetary tilt to today's more modest 25° one may have melted ice and released the water that etched the channels.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA?JPL/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Dunes of Mars
Desert dunes seem to creep slowly across the Martian plain in this HiRISE camera image published January 15.
Such "barchan" dunes form when winds blow in one direction, like this one on the Hellas impact basin region of Mars. There, these dunes form downwind of mesas covering the basin.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JET PROPULSION LAB/UNIVERISTY OF ARIZONA