Week in Space: Galaxies Whirl, Stars Spin, and Rockets Race

Take a trip across the skies, from Chilean deserts to distant galaxies.

A galaxy cluster rips stars from a spiral galaxy.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures a cosmic clash in this March 4 image, showing stars spilling from a spiral galaxy.

Some 200 million light-years away, the spiral galaxy ESO 137-007 suffers from coming too close to a much more massive cluster of galaxies. The gravitational pull of the galaxy cluster rips the stars away from one side of the spiral galaxy.

On a rendezvous with an aurora, a NASA sounding rocket races into the Alaskan sky on March 3. The Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics-Electron Correlative Experiment (GREECE) mission aims to unravel how curls and eddies form in the northern lights.

Shining in all its glory, the Milky Way glistens above the Chilean desert in this Your Shot image taken on March 4.

This mosaic of seven nighttime images from the Atacama Desert captures the wonder of the clear, dark sky.

An odd couple stares back at Earth, the Whirlpool Galaxy and its satellite galaxy seen in this Your Shot image made on March 6.

Perhaps 30 million light-years away, the Whirlpool Galaxy is often seen as a laboratory for astronomers studying the gravitational pull the two galaxies exert on each other.

Breaking up is hard to do ... unless you're an asteroid. Here, the Hubble Space Telescope spots Asteroid P/2013 R3 whirling apart, a first in astronomy.

In this series of images taken from October to January, the asteroid breaks into ten pieces, some trailing tails of cometary debris.

Astronomers suspect that solar winds had slowly spun the asteroid until it reached a breaking point and split apart. The four largest pieces of the asteroid measured more than 650 feet (roughly 200 meters) across.

A rocket carrying a global rain- and snow-watching satellite lifted off from Japan on February 28. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory will keep an eye on precipitation patterns from orbit.

Developed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA, the successful launch of the satellite was greeted with celebration by climate scientists around the globe.

A starry night spins over a steeple, seen in this March 4 Your Shot picture of the skies above Iowa.

A Perseid meteor flashes across the circling stars, just to the left of the steeple of St. Donatus Church. (Some 65 photos exposed for 30 seconds each make up the mosaic.)

Contribute your photos of space by participating in our Your Shot hashtag challenge. Use #cosmos when you upload your images for a chance for your photo to appear in our next Week in Space gallery.