Photograph by Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, NASA/CXC/SAO
From On High
The sea gleams in the golden light of the setting sun as the International Space Station (ISS) zips overhead. Astronauts aboard the ISS took this panorama—released July 22—of Sweden (center), Norway (near the horizon), and Russia (bottom of the image), capturing a view of the southern Baltic Sea.
Photograph by ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center
The Hubble Space Telescope spies galaxy cluster MCS J0416.1-2403 in an image released July 24. This cluster is one of six that Hubble astronomers rely on to peer ever deeper into the universe, thanks to a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.
Gravitational lenses can occur when a massive galaxy, or a galaxy cluster, sits between Earth and a more distant object, such as a star. Gravity from the galaxy cluster bends the light from the more distant star, producing multiple, stretched images for researchers on Earth to observe. Astronomers use these offset images to study galaxies too far away to be seen by any other means.
The elliptical galaxy Centaurus A is backlit by a halo of stars in this image released July 22. Hubble Space Telescope astronomers are studying this fuzzy halo, which stretches eight times the width of Earth's moon.
Centaurus A—located 12 million light-years away—is the fifth brightest galaxy in the sky. It sports a jet of material blasting out from the supermassive black hole at its core.