Monday, 28 July 2014


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Week's Best Space Pictures: A Cosmic Cluster, a Heavenly Halo, and a Supernova's Ashes
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 25 July 2014.

A halo of stars highlights a galaxy and a supernova image is spiffed up in this week's best space pictures.

1. Shiny Supernova

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Located some 20,000 light-years away from Earth, supernova remnant G292.0+1.8 shines in a multi-coloured cloud of oxygen (yellow and orange), magnesium (green), and silicon and sulphur (blue).

This newly processed image, released July 22, commemorates the 15th anniversary of NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory. Researchers rely on Chandra to study high-energy events throughout the universe, including the violent death of stars known as supernovae. (See: "Astronomers Solve Mystery of Superbright Supernova.")

2. From On High

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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 (centre), Norway (near the horizon), and Russia (bottom of the image), capturing a view of the southern Baltic Sea.

3. Cosmic Cluster

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Photograph by  ESA/Hubble, NASA, Digitized Sky Survey, MPG/ESO

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.

4. Making Tracks

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Photograph by Anthony Ayiomamitis, TWAN

Stars wheel above a Byzantine-era castle on the Greek island of Euboea, in an image taken the night of July 20. The North Star, Polaris, anchors the star trail to the left.

5. Halo

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Photograph by ESA/Hubble, NASA, Digitized Sky Survey, MPG/ESO

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.

Top image: Centaurus A. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Rolf Olsen; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited.]

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