National Geographic News
Photo of the sun during a flare eruption.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captures a mid-level solar flare on April 2.

Photograph by NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

Jane J. Lee

National Geographic

Published April 4, 2014

The sun ejects a mid-level flare, rated M6.5, on April 2. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light.

M-class flares are a tenth as powerful as X-class events, the most intense flares our sun spits out. The flare also created a coronal mass ejection, which occurs when the sun belches a plume of superheated gas. A flare aimed directly at Earth can cause significant damage to electrical systems and satellites. (See "Solar Flare: What if Biggest Known Sun Storm Hit Today?")

Scar Trek

Photo of 2 galaxies.
Photograph by European Southern Observatory

Released on April 2 by the La Silla Observatory in Chile, this composite image of two galaxies reveals two very different life histories. The small spiral galaxy on the right, NGC 1317, has led a relatively peaceful life.

But its larger companion on the left, NGC 1316, bears scars from a violent past. Dust lanes embedded in a matrix of stars suggest that it gobbled up a spiral galaxy about three billion years ago. It has also ripped stars from their moorings and flung them into interstellar space, as evidenced by faint tidal tails—wisps of star matter that trail or precede a galaxy. (Get a closer look at NGC 1316's dust lanes.)

The View From on High

Photo of the Milky Way over ALMA radio telescopes.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BABAK TAFRESHI, ESO/TWAN

The Milky Way galaxy lights up the night above two ALMA radio telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert. The altitude—16,400 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level—allows for exceptional visibility. The image was submitted to "The World at Night" by photographer Babak Tafreshi on April 1.

The Southern Cross constellation is visible to the left of the radio telescope in the foreground; Saturn is the brightest orb of light halfway down the image to the right.

Lunar Pockmarks

Photo of a sliver of the moon.
Photograph by Daniel J. H. McDonald, National Geographic Your Shot

The surface of the moon is pockmarked with craters, punched by ancient collisions with asteroids or comets, in this image submitted to YourShot by Daniel McDonald on April 3.

The Fat One

Photo of El Gordo galaxy cluster.
Photograph by NASA, ESA, J. Jee (Univ. of California, Davis), J. Hughes (Rutgers Univ.), F. Menanteau (Rutgers Univ. & Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), C. Sifon (Leiden Obs.), R. Mandelbum (Carnegie Mellon Univ.), L. Barrientos (Univ. Catolica de Chile), and K. Ng (Univ. of California, Davis)

A composite image released on April 3 combines x-ray data from the Chandra Observatory and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope to form this brightly colored image of the galaxy cluster El Gordo—"the fat one" in Spanish. Information gathered from Hubble observations indicates El Gordo may be three million billion times the mass of our sun, or about 43 percent larger than researchers had thought.

The galaxy cluster, first discovered in 2012, is about seven billion light-years from Earth and is the most massive known galaxy cluster at that distance or beyond. Researchers think most of its mass is tied up as dark matter, colored blue in the image above.

Glittery Night

Night photo of a starry sky and the Northern Lights over a lake.
PHOTOGRAPH BY P-M Hedén, TWAN

Stargazers observe the night sky reflected in Lake Erken, 43.5 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Stockholm, Sweden, near the end of March. The Andromeda galaxy is visible on the left.

32 comments
Glory Dey
Glory Dey

Space is truly magnificent.. what mystery lies in it is still to be unraveled by us!!

Constable Plod
Constable Plod

Spectacular photos!

I agree with Dr Diksha Sirohi, it would be helpful to beginner photographers to hear what cameras, what settings and what exposures were used.

mokhtar m.
mokhtar m.

Une autre façon de dire comme nous somme petits

Ramiro Yabar
Ramiro Yabar

Out there everything is mysterious and beautiful ,but is violent too. We the humans are so lucky because we are in the right position in the cosmos no to close and no to far from our star (sun).      

Nelly W.
Nelly W.

These pictures are incredible!


F. Liu
F. Liu

I got a heartquake when I first saw the picture!

Dr Diksha Sirohi
Dr Diksha Sirohi

Beautiful images..!! Makes one plan a visit to Chile & Sweden.. Can anyone also throw light on what sort of camera should be used to capture pictures like the one in Stockholm Sweden ?

Sandy Wilt
Sandy Wilt

I love all of them. Just finished watching the new Cosmo and this is what life is all about! Thanks for the great work!

jerry block
jerry block

Chile's ALMA telescopes puts our KIt observatory to shame. 

Manoj Neelakantan
Manoj Neelakantan

Looking at these wonderful images in and around our universe just want to make me grow a pair of super wings, fly across and visit them before my time is done... !!! 

Kyungjung Hwang
Kyungjung Hwang

These are beautiful, especially, the last one is never seen in modern city life.

I have never seen such kind of photos which is a lot of stars in the sky.

David Churilla
David Churilla

 Love this images, especially the solar one - being an avid amateur astronomy who enjoys watching the sun in his scope.

Anastasia G.
Anastasia G.

Very beautiful! Especially the last shot. The Glittery Night. 

Daniel J. H. McDonald
Daniel J. H. McDonald

Thank you for including my photo amongst all of these other photos which are, in my opinion, more than amazing.

Bonni B.
Bonni B.

@Daniel J. H. McDonald  Daniel, your photo is every bit as amazing as the others.  It is a unique, harsh and brilliant portrait of our Moon. Thank you.

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