Friday, 22 January 2016


Week’s Best Space Pictures: Pluto’s Possible Ice Volcano
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 22 January 2016.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, tangled lines of glowing particles cover the sun’s surface, Pluto shows off its many-layered atmosphere, and one of the Milky Way’s brightest star clusters glitters.

1. Lofty Layers


NASA’s New Horizons probe sent back this high-resolution look at Pluto’s hazy atmosphere backlit by the sun. The multilayered blue smog is made from molecules formed when methane and nitrogen are irradiated by sunlight.

2. Dazzling Diamonds


This Hubble image features the star cluster Trumpler 14, one of the brightest groupings of hot, massive stars in the Milky Way. The stars are quite young, about one million years old.

3. Devastating Damage


NASA’s Terra satellite surveys the aftermath of massive bushfires on January 7, 2016. The fires burned 100,000 acres (seen here as dark blue) and razed Yarloop, a remote town about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Perth.

4. Fire and Ice


Mount Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano, looms over Antarctica’s Ross Island in this photo from NASA’s Terra satellite. Scientists have recorded continuous lava-lake activity since 1972.

5. Fiery Flirtations


When active regions on the sun’s surface jostle near and past one another, their magnetic fields connect in tangles of arched lines, seen here by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on January 8 and 9, 2016.

6. Salt, Sand, and Stone


A salt lake in central Iran flanks a large, eroded hill in this image taken from the International Space Station. Even though it was taken 400 kilometres from Earth’s surface, the photo shows individual layers in the hill’s sedimentary rock.

7. Getting Into Shape


Saturn’s moon, Tethys (left), is so massive that it collapses into a sphere under its own gravity. Smaller objects like the moon Janus (right), however, cannot gravitationally sculpt themselves, and they remain lumpy.

8. Beautiful Mess


About a quarter of galaxies share the disheveled look of NGC 5408, which lies about 16 million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus. The galaxy contains an extremely bright X-ray source that may be a black hole.

9. Frigid Flare


NASA’s New Horizons probe released a color image of Wright Mons, a four-kilometre-high mountain on Pluto that might be an ultracold volcano. Its relatively crater-free surface suggests recent geological activity.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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