Saturday, November 28, 2009


Crab Nebula reloaded
A star's spectacular death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth as the supernova of the year 1054. Now, almost a millennium later, a super-dense neutron star left behind by the explosion is seen spewing out a blizzard of high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula. This composite view, released Nov. 23, combines imagery from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (shown in blue) with visible-light data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red and yellow) and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (purple).

A galaxy's leftovers
This near-infrared image from the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope in Chile, released Nov. 20, shows the giant cannibal galaxy Centaurus A eating a smaller spiral galaxy. The dark brown, parallelogram-shaped band of material represents "leftovers" from the galaxy that was gulped down 200 to 700 millon years earlier. Centaurus A is an elliptical galaxy 11 million light-years from Earth in the southern sky.

Martian lessons in the layers
Different layers of rock stand out in this color-coded picture of the Martian region known as Arabia Terra, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and released Nov. 18. Scientists think the picture may show how different beds of sediment were laid down during climatic cycles on Mars.

Power-packed Pinwheel
This Hubble Space Telescope image, released Nov. 11, shows a detailed view of starbirth in the spiral galaxy M83, 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. The image reveals in unprecedented detail the current rapid rate of starbirth in this famous "grand design" spiral galaxy, known as the "Southern Pinwheel.

Milky Way Marathon
A new panoramic image of the full night sky — with the Milky Way as its centerpiece — has been made by piecing together 3,000 individual photographs.

Dark dunes
Martian sand dunes seem to glow a deep violet in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The picture, acquired Aug. 24 and released Oct. 28, is actually color-coded to reflect subtle variations in surface composition.

Red Planet blobs
A close-up from the high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released Oct. 28, provides a rare look at different layers in the carbon dioxide ice near Mars' south pole.

Chaos on Mars
This mosaic of images from Europe's Mars Express orbiter, released Nov. 6, provides a spectacular view of the chaotic terrain at the boundary between Kasei Valles and Sacra Fossae. The area shown is roughly half the size of the Netherlands. The rim of the crater seen at far right was likely eroded in ancient times by flowing water.

Polar patterns
Carbon dioxide ice makes weird patterns in Mars' south polar region, as seen in this picture from the high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released Nov. 18. High-standing smooth material is broken up by semicircular depressions and linear, branching troughs that look like fingerprints.

Milky Way: Some like it hot...
This spectacular image uses different colors to chart the Milky Way's central region in visible light (yellow) as well as infrared (shown in red) and X-ray light (blue and violet). The Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes all contributed to the picture, which was released Nov. 10. Telescopes that detect infrared and X-ray wavelengths can see through obscuring dust and reveal the intense activity near the galactic core.

Sunny day in space
The sun greets the International Space Station on Nov. 22, as seen from the Russian section of the orbital outpost. The photo was taken by a visiting member of the shutltle Atlantis' crew.

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