A new Hubble Space Telescope image of a celestial object called the Ant Nebula may shed new light on the future demise of our Sun. The Ant Nebula, whose technical name is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. The new Hubble image, with 10 times the resolution revealing 100 times more detail, shows the 'ant's' body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun-like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma. NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute
Astronauts Carl J. Meade and Mark C. Lee (red strip on suit) test the new Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system some 130 nautical miles above Earth. The pair was actually performing an in-space rehearsal or demonstration of a contingency rescue using never-before flown hardware. NASA
This beautiful image of the crescents of volcanic Io and more sedate Europa was snapped by New Horizons' color Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera, about two days after New Horizons made its closest approach to Jupiter. The picture was one of a handful of the Jupiter system that New Horizons took primarily for their artistic, rather than scientific value. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers is releasing one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's cameras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth — and death — is taking place. This image is a mosaic of the Carina Nebula assembled from 48 frames taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. NASA/ESA/P. Challis and R. Kirshner
A pair of interacting galaxies might be experiencing the galactic equivalent of a mid-life crisis. For some reason, the pair, called Arp 82, didn't make their stars early on as is typical of most galaxies. Instead, they got a second wind later in life, about 2 billion years ago, and started pumping out waves of new stars as if they were young again. Arp 82 is an interacting pair of galaxies with a strong bridge and a long tail. NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Hancock (E. Tenn. State Univ.)
Our solitary sunsets here on Earth might not be all that common in the grand scheme of things. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed that mature planetary systems -- dusty disks of asteroids, comets, and possibly planets -- are more frequent around close-knit twin, or binary, stars than single stars like our sun. That means sunsets like the one portrayed in this artist's photo concept, and more famously in the movie Star Wars, might be quite commonplace in the universe. NASA
This rare view shows two space shuttles on adjacent Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 pads with the Rotating Service Structures retracted. NASA
This ultraviolet image shows the interacting pair NGC 1097, a barred spiral galaxy, and the small elliptical companion galaxy NGC 1097A. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC
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. NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured these infrared images of the 'Whirlpool Galaxy,' revealing strange structures bridging the gaps between the dust-rich spiral arms, and tracing the dust, gas and stellar populations in both the bright spiral galaxy and its companion. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Kennicutt (Univ. of Arizona)/DSS
K. Kawata, University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research.
A hotspot of powerful, ultrahigh-energy particles streams toward Earth from beneath the handle of the Big Dipper constellation. This collection of cosmic rays may help scientists nail down the origin point of the powerful particles, a century-old mystery.