The Crab Nebula, filled with mysterious filaments, is the result of a star that was seen to explode in 1054 AD. This spectacular supernova explosion was recorded by Chinese and (quite probably) Anasazi Indian astronomers. The filaments are mysterious because they appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and higher speed than expected from a free explosion. In the above picture taken recently from a Very Large Telescope, the color indicates what is happening to the electrons in different parts of the Crab Nebula.
By the end of this month, astronomers expect to have found 500 planets beyond our solar system. The current count is 494, including one that may be inhabitable by humans.
Fire acts differently in space than on Earth. Sandra Olson, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center, demonstrates just how differently in her art. This artwork is comprised of multiple overlays of three separate microgravity flame images. Each image is of flame spread over cellulose paper in a spacecraft ventilation flow in microgravity. The different colors represent different chemical reactions within the flame.
Meteor Crater is one of the youngest and best-preserved impact craters on Earth. The crater formed roughly 50,000 years ago when a 30-meter-wide, iron-rich meteor weighing 100,000 tons struck the Arizona desert at an estimated 20 kilometers per second. The resulting explosion exceeded the combined force of today's nuclear arsenals and created a 1.1-kilometer-wide, 200-meter-deep crater. Meteor Crater is a simple crater since it has no central peak or rim terraces.
NASA's STS-32 crew took this view of the moon setting over the Earth's limb. Near the center is a semi-vortex in the clouds - a storm system in the early stages of formation. The moon's image is distorted due to refraction through the Earth's atmosphere.
In this x-ray photo provided by NASA, the sun is shown early in the morning of Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. The dark arc near the top right edge of the image is a filament of plasma blasting off the surface - part of the coronal mass ejection. The bright region is an unassociated solar flare.
In this enhanced false color view of Saturn, the northern region is marked by a multitude of bright, patchy clouds. The region south of the ring shadows contains the bright equatorial band seen in many monochrome Cassini spacecraft images taken at infrared wavelengths.
Photographers gather to cover space shuttle Discovery as it sits on launch pad 39A after making the trip from the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 21.
Thousands of sparkling young stars are nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603. This stellar "jewel box" is one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20,000 light-years away. This latest image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas.
This artist's concept shows a view across a mysterious disk of young, blue stars encircling a supermassive black hole at the core of the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. The region around the black hole is barely visible at the center of the disk. The background stars are the typical older, redder population of stars that inhabit the cores of most galaxies.