This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows what astronomers are referring to as a 'snake' (upper left) and its surrounding stormy environment. The sinuous object is actually the core of a thick, sooty cloud large enough to swallow dozens of solar systems. In fact, astronomers say the 'snake's belly' may be harboring beastly stars in the process of forming. NASA
Astronomers have obtained an unprecedented look at the nearest example of galactic cannibalism. A massive black hole hidden at the center of a nearby giant galaxy that is feeding on a smaller galaxy in a spectacular collision. Such fireworks were common in the early universe, as galaxies formed and evolved, but are rare today. NASA
Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean holds a special environmental sample container filled with lunar soil collected during his sojourn on the lunar surface. A Hasselblad camera is mounted on the chest of his spacesuit. Pete Conrad, who took this image, is reflected in Bean's helmet visor, on Nov. 20, 1969. NASA
On December 3, 2002, people in Australia received a rare 32-second celestial show as the moon completely obscured the sun, creating a ring of light. Solar eclipses provide experts an opportunity to study the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona. This total eclipse was the first to cover Australian shores since 1976. NASA/ESA
An expended Saturn IVB stage was being used as a target for simulated docking maneuvers over Sonora, Mexico, during Apollo 7's second revolution around Earth on Oct. 11, 1968. NASA
Expedition 20 flight engineer Nicole Stott participates in the STS-128 mission's first spacewalk as construction and maintenance continued on the International Space Station in September 2009. During the six-hour, 35-minute spacewalk, Stott and astronaut Danny Olivas (not shown) removed an empty ammonia tank from the station's truss and temporarily stowed it on the station's robotic arm. NASA
Jupiter's moon Europa has a crust made up of blocks, which are thought to have broken apart and 'rafted' into new positions, as shown in the image on the left. These features are the best geologic evidence to date that Europa may have had a subsurface ocean at some time in its past. Combined with the geologic data, the presence of a magnetic field leads scientists to believe an ocean is most likely present at Europa today. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
An image of the planet Uranus, taken in 2003 is seen. NASA/Erich Karkoschka/University of Arizona
This artist concept depicts a quadruple-star system called HD 98800. The system is approximately 10 million years old, and is located 150 light-years away in the constellation TW Hydrae. HD 98800 contains four stars, which are paired off into doublets, or binaries. The stars in the binary pairs orbit around each other, and the two pairs also circle each other like choreographed ballerinas. One of the stellar pairs, called HD 98800B, has a disk of dust around it, while the other pair does not. Although the four stars are gravitationally bound, the distance separating the two binary pairs is about 50 astronomical units (AU) - slightly more than the average distance between our sun and Pluto. NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
A Whirlpool Galaxy, about 31 million light-years away, is seen in this 2005 image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. NASA
The military has been working on cutting-edge stealth technology so drones can evade radar systems in a way that current UAVs cannot. Another development: an all-electric, fuel cell-powered UAV launched from a submerged submarine.
Anna Mulrine, Staff writer /
December 6, 2013
High above the skies of Area 51, the secret US military testing ground in the Nevada desert, the Air Force is readying a new generation of spy drones.