Best Space Pictures: Cosmic Dust Bunnies, Hidden Black Holes, and Starry Everest Skies

Supermassive black holes cluster together while dust bunnies gain weight.

The lights on a motorcycle in China compete with the night sky near Mount Everest.


A lone motorcycle wends its way to Mount Everest's base camp from the Chinese side of the border with Nepal in a photograph submitted to Your Shot on May 17.

The 2014 Everest climbing season got off to a tragic start on April 18 when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas. The disaster closed the climbing season on the Nepali side of the mountain, but expeditions heading out from the Chinese side continued. (See "Climbers Continue Up North Side of Everest.")

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope caught the densest cosmic clumps ever recorded in an image posted May 21. The conglomerations of dust and gas throw off incredibly deep shadows, which astronomers are using to study how some of the universe's brightest stars form.

The densest dust bunnies, inside the black smudge in the center of the image above, will likely turn into O-type stars—the biggest, most powerful stars, with surface temperatures between 53,540 and 107,540°F (30,000 and 60,000 kelvin).

A camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spit out more than its weekly weather report when astronomers spotted an impact scar (center spot of the rectangle) in the middle of one of the photographs.

Posted on May 22, researchers scoured archived camera images to see if they could narrow down when the space rock smacked into Mars. They determined that something hit the red planet between March 27 and March 28, 2012. (See "Strange Lights in Mars Photos Are Not Alien Bonfires.")

Birds of a feather flock together: Such is the case with supermassive black holes obscured by their home galaxies, which tend to cluster together.

An enhanced image posted May 22 by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows the Fornax cluster—a collection of galaxies some 60 million light-years away from Earth—drawn together by gravity.

This large impact crater on Mars—posted May 22—resulted from the impact of an asteroid on the red planet sometime between March 27 and March 28, 2012. The image was taken by cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The smaller craters surrounding the giant one in the center signal that the asteroid may have exploded before impact, with the resulting fragments smacking into the planet. Another possibility is that the ejected material from the initial big impact rained back down and dug out the craters