The NASA image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on Aug. 10, 2008 shows a small portion of the Tarantula nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074. The region is a frontier of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away from Earth and is one of the most active star-forming regions in our local group of galaxies. NASA/UPI/Newscom
In this computer simulation, violent tidal forces tear apart two galaxies, generating spectacular tidal tails, plumes, and prominent bridges of material connecting the two galaxies. The simulated nuclear disks have masses of approximately a billion solar masses and exhibit prominent non-axisymmetric features known to produce strong gas inflows. ZUMA Press/Newscom
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image released on July 26, 2001, shows a panorama of a vast, sculpted landscape of gas and dust where thousands of stars are being born. This fertile star-forming region, called the 30 Doradus Nebula, has a sparkling stellar centerpiece: the most spectacular cluster of massive stars in our cosmic neighborhood of about 25 galaxies. The mosaic picture show ultraviolet radiation and high-speed material being unleashed by the stars in the cluster, called R136 (the large blue blob left of center). NASA/AFP/Newscom
This image released by NASA on July 19, 2001, shows the central region of spiral galaxy NGC 4631 as seen edge-on from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. The Chandra data (shown in blue and purple) provide the first unambiguous evidence for a halo of hot gas surrounding a galaxy that is very similar to our Milky Way. NASA/AFP/Newscom
The Eskimo Nebula is a planetary nebula, discovered by William Herschel in 1787. In 2000, the Hubble telescope imaged the nebula, which displays complex gas clouds that are not yet fully understood. NASA/Newscom
The Antennae galaxies are a pair of colliding galaxies, about 62 million light years away and about 61,000 light years across. They are in the constellation Corvus. ZUMA Press/Newscom
Gamma-ray bursts are the universe's biggest explosions, capable of producing so much light that ground-based telescopes easily detect it billions of light-years away. Yet, for more than a decade, astronomers have puzzled over the nature of so-called dark bursts, which produce gamma rays and X-rays but little or no visible light. In this artist's concept, dense knots of dust in otherwise normal galaxies dim the light of a dark gamma-ray burst (center). NASA/Swift/Aurore Simonnet/MCT/Newscom
This NASA image obtained on Aug. 20, 2010 shows the eruption of a galactic 'super-volcano' in the massive galaxy M87, as witnessed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and NSF's Very Large Array (VLA). At a distance of about 50 million light years, M87 is relatively close to Earth and lies at the center of the Virgo cluster, which contains thousands of galaxies. AFP PHOTO/NASA/Newscom
This composite color infrared panorama of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years.This view combines the sharp imaging of the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) with color imagery from a previous Spitzer Space Telescope survey done with its Infrared Astronomy Camera. ZUMA Press/Newscom
This image of the open star cluster NGC 7380, also known as the Wizard Nebula, is a mosaic of images from the WISE mission spanning an area on the sky of about five times the apparent size of the full moon. NGC 7380 is located in the constellation Cepheus about 7,000 light-years from Earth. The star cluster is embedded in a nebula, which spans some 110 light-years. ZUMA Press/Newscom
Two galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centers collide in this computer simulation that shows how galactic gas inflows can fuel black holes. ZUMA Press/Newscom
The International Civil Aviation Organization has called only the second high-level safety meeting in its history after a disastrous year in aviation safety.
ByJoan Lowy, Associated Press
Government and aviation industry officials from dozens of countries are meeting in Montreal this week to try to find consensus on how to keep from losing airliners like the one that vanished without a trace in Asia and another shot down in Eastern Europe.