National Geographic News
Photo of Spitzer's Orion Nebula.

Photograph by NASA, JPL-Caltech, T. Megeath (Univ. Toledo, Ohio)

Jane J. Lee

National Geographic

Published February 21, 2014

Young, hot stars light up the Orion nebula in the above false-color image, released February 20, based on infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

This nebula—located 1,500 light-years away from Earth—is a stellar nursery. It contains newly formed massive stars (bright white, center) in an area called the Trapezium Cluster. The nebula is also full of stars in the making (red).

Luminous

Picture of a galaxy called MCG-03-04-014 which is incredibly bright in the infrared
Photograph by ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

This galaxy's name—MCG-03-04-014—doesn't roll off the tongue, but it's quite a sight in this Hubble image released on February 17.

MCG-03-04-014 belongs to a category of galaxies known as luminous infrared galaxies, so called because they shine brightly in the infrared spectrum. The reason for this particular galaxy's glow is still a mystery.

Some astronomers contend that a recent spate of star formations is the culprit, while others argue that a powerful black hole in the galaxy's center powers its glow. (See "Are We Living In a Black Hole?")

Great Frozen Lakes

Picture of ice covering the U.S. Great Lakes
PHOTOGRAPH BY NOAA

Ice covers about 85.2 percent of the Great Lakes this winter, close to the record 94.7 percent coverage mark set in 1979. A geostationary satellite parked over the eastern U.S., and run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, took this image on February 19.

Last year's ice coverage on the Great Lakes topped out at 38.4 percent. (See "Down the Drain: The Incredible Shrinking Great Lakes.")

Celestial Slime Trail

Picture of a jet trailing behind a runaway pulsar as seen through x-ray and radio data from Chandra and ACTA.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/ISDC/L.Pavan et al, Radio: CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA Optical: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

Like a celestial slug leaving a sparkling slime trail, a runaway pulsar (lower right) smears a jet of star stuff in its wake as it breaks away from a supernova remnant (upper left), seen in this image released on February 18.

The pulsar's trailing tail is 37 light-years long, making it the longest x-ray jet ever seen from an object in the Milky Way galaxy. Based on x-ray (purple) and radio (green) data from NASA's Chandra telescope and the Australia Compact Telescope Array, the pulsar is moving between 2.5 and 5 million miles per hour.

Road Map

Picture of the route taken by the rover Curiosity as it explores Mars
Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

In a "You Are Here" moment, the point labeled "547" was the rover Curiosity's position on Mars on February 18.

The yellow line leading up to that point from the Kimberley site is the route that NASA's rover has covered on its recent travels. Up next, the gray line leading away from 547 is the robotic explorer's planned track.

Researchers are shooting for Dingo Gap, which is the next scientific waypoint for the intrepid rover.

Complex Crater

Picture of the moon's Hayn crater as taken by cameras aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/GSFC/ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

The sun casts dramatic shadows across the moon's Hayn crater in this image released on February 19. Taken by cameras onboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the crater is considered "complex," with fields of boulders littering its excavated floor.

Happy Anniversary

Picture of John Glenn in front of the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA

On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7) spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission for the U.S.

This picture was taken in front of the spacecraft during preflight activities. Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Glenn orbited the Earth three times before coming back home.

31 comments
Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite

What more can you add to this   Wonderful Job Hubble and the scientists very enjoyable

Rodolfo Alonzo
Rodolfo Alonzo

If I found God I would put him back. Real cool photos. The less light pollution the more awe inspiring. Can not wait for the new telescope to start up. Kudos to National Geographic. Constant as the sun. Really enjoyed the live From ISS. Science.

Tiny Hankerson
Tiny Hankerson

What an awesome God. He is our Creator, maker of Heaven, and Earth. 

Alfred Tosto
Alfred Tosto

I grew up when the Mercury 7 Team was formed and watched every launch. I have always wanted to be there with them but missed the opportunity. With NG I can get close to a life-long dream.

Salsablp F
Salsablp F

Wow, that's amazing. Subhanallah..

Noorah Ahmed
Noorah Ahmed

Every picture of the outer space makes my heart beats from amazement. We are really small, but we are the only creatures who can think, talk and explore the universe, which is a bless. I think if people remembered how small they are then  a lot of problems in the earth would be solved.

Thanks for the pictures, we are really lucky to be able to explore the outer space from down here^^ 

Claire Plowman
Claire Plowman

I am so grateful for the immense amount of information that National Geographic makes available for us. It is mind boggling how far we have come in terms of relating to outer space and the cosmos as a whole. Why are we humans not able to make that kind of  advancement in our relationships to one another? It should be one of our top priorities, if not the first!

THOMAS OCONNOR
THOMAS OCONNOR

How incredible. even at 5 million MPH,  it would still  take about 4,962 years to travel the length of that pulsar's trail. To me, that is mind blowing!

Dave Blevins
Dave Blevins

Thank you Lord God for these beautiful things.

Douglas Saunders
Douglas Saunders

What a future to look forward to.   Much more than science fiction.

Robert Flagel
Robert Flagel

The universe is just so "awesome!". I am sooooo fascinated by any photo of any part of it.

matt k
matt k

Great photos bet they look better in person though too bad.......hurry up technology catch up with our dreams!!!!

Joe lydiate
Joe lydiate

Great pics.  would love to be out there.

Vladimir Palm
Vladimir Palm

Awesome pictures! We are so small, and space.....

MSG Jim West Ret
MSG Jim West Ret

Great photographs!  I am a 'student' of the Universe and love looking at great photographs.

Dianna Arnold
Dianna Arnold

These images take my breath away!  I could spend all day just gazing at them. 

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