Saturday, 18 July 2015


Week's Best Space Pictures: Pluto In Focus, Black Hole Jets
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 17 July 2015.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, nearly a decade of patience pays off, Saturn's moon Titan shows its true size, and Jupiter gets a twin.

1. Pluto Through Time

Picture of a GIF of Pluto
Animation via NASA.

Our solar system's icy sentinel finally came into focus this week thanks to NASA's New Horizons. The spacecraft came within 8,000 miles of Pluto on July 14, and the dwarf planet went from blurry blob to stunning snapshot.

2. Victory


New Horizons scientist Fran Bagenal (right) reacts with joy after hearing confirmation that the spacecraft's flyby of Pluto was successful.

3. Twins


This artist's illustration shows a newly discovered gas giant (right) orbiting the star HIP 11915. The new planet's mass is similar to Jupiter, and orbits its star at about the same distance as that gas giant orbits the sun.

4. Blaze of Light


Galaxy 3C 279 is powered by a supermassive black hole, which shoots two jets of material from the galaxy's centre. A gamma ray burst from one jet was so massive (centre) it shone four times brighter than the brightest gamma ray pulsar, Vela.

5. Eruption


The Mount Raung volcano in Indonesia erupted recently, spewing ash and lava into the air. The activity halted air traffic in and out of Bali. A NASA satellite captured the ash plume (left, centre) on July 12 on the island of Java.

6. Too Big


Nearly seven billion times our sun's mass, a recently discovered black hole is far larger than expected compared with the mass of its host galaxy. Galactic and black hole growth were thought to go hand in hand, but not anymore.

7. Cluster


The Quintuplet Cluster (pictured by Hubble in 1999 and here after a leap in Hubble's performance) is home to hundreds of stars, some of which are the brightest in the Milky Way galaxy. Several are on the verge of exploding as supernovae.

8. Tiny Titan


Despite an outsized name, Saturn's moon Titan (left) is actually fairly small when compared with the ringed planet. In fact, Saturn's diameter is 23 times that of Titan's, a common size disparity between planet and moon.

Top image: Pluto and its moon Charon viewed by NASA's New Horizons space probe on July 11, 2015. Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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