Best Space Pictures: Whirlpools Churn, Volcanos Burn, and Astronauts Learn

An ancient supernova blossoms, astronauts train for a moon landing, and the stars align for a father and daughter.

The Whirlpool galaxy glints with x-ray lights from the neutron stars and black holes blanketing its far-flung arms.


Neutron stars and black hole jets swirl in the spirals of the Whirlpool galaxy, seen in this June 3 image from NASA's Chandra space telescope.

Some 30 million light-years away, the galaxy resembles our own Milky Way with its far-flung arms. The image, a composite from Chandra and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, combines an x-ray view with red and green glints from stars.

Astronauts from the Apollo 14 moon landing trained on the Big Island of Hawaii, seen in this historical image from 1970 released this week by NASA.

Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, and Stuart Roost rehearsed their exploration skills on the volcanic fields and rode around in a practice moon buggy.

The Hawaiian excursion was a warm-up for their February 5, 1971, lunar landing. Shepard famously hit two golf balls on the moon during that mission.

A volcanic plume billows above Indonesia in this May 31 view from space captured by NASA's Terra satellite.

The island volcano of Sangeang Api had erupted a day earlier, shutting down airports in Indonesia and Australia. The plume reached as high as nine miles (14 kilometers) into the atmosphere.

The island is farmed but uninhabited. Authorities evacuated nearby islands, with no injuries reported.

Dust streaks across Mars are traces of meteor impacts on the red planet, seen in this June 4 view from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The dark streak seen in the crater indicates a recent impact. The meteor has blasted away dust inside the crater, which is 1.55 miles wide (2.5 kilometers). The orbiter regularly scans the red planet in search of these space potholes.

A rare supernova explosion occurred when a remnant star fed off an aging companion and triggered a cosmic blast. The image was taken from NASA's Chandra space telescope on June 4.

Called N103B, the supernova remnant is embedded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a smaller companion galaxy of our own Milky Way, 160,000 light-years away.

Shown in the picture are remnants from roughly a thousand years after the supernova's explosion. The blast was triggered by a white dwarf, the cinder of a dead star, which fed off a red giant companion until the explosion occurred.

A father and daughter contemplate a starry conjunction, the meeting of Jupiter and the moon, over Balaton, a lake in Hungary, in this June photo from Ladanyi Tamas.

The lake, also known as the Hungarian Sea, makes a beautiful setting for sky-watching.