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Pictures in Space

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Cosmic speck: Earth as seen from Saturn. Astronomers May Have Just Taken the First Photo of a Black Hole. In new Cassini portraits, Saturn’s moon Pan looks like pasta. Saturn serves up the closest thing to space pasta, the latest round of images from NASA’s Cassini probe, released March 9, show.

In new Cassini portraits, Saturn’s moon Pan looks like pasta

On March 7, the spacecraft snapped a series of portraits of Pan, Saturn’s small moon that orbits within a 325-kilometer gap in one of the planet’s rings. Taken at a distance of 24,572 kilometers from the moon, these are the closest images of Pan to date. The close-ups could help refine astronomers’ understanding of the mini moon’s geology and shape.

Pan has a distinctive ridge along its equator, which in the past has prompted astronomers to liken the moon’s shape to that of a flying saucer. In the new images, Pan’s ridge isn’t uniform like that of a fictional alien spacecraft. Still, the ridge’s distinctness is “what is so spectacular and eye-opening in these images,” says imaging team leader Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. 10 Most Impressive Photos of our Universe (universe pic) Eskimo Nebula The Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392), also known as the Clownface Nebula, was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1787.

10 Most Impressive Photos of our Universe (universe pic)

From the ground, it resembles a person's head surrounded by a parka hood. In 2000, the Hubble Space Telescope produced this image of it. From space, the nebula displays gas clouds so complex that they are not fully understood. The magical Solar System discoveries we made in 2015. It has been a busy year for Solar System exploration – and particularly our galactic neighbourhood’s small icy bodies.

The magical Solar System discoveries we made in 2015

Comets, asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects and planetary satellites have all been in the news – from stunning images of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the start of the year, to the recent close-up of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, via Ceres and Pluto. Early January was a continuation of the stream of data from Rosetta, as comet 67P drew closer to the sun. Images were released of jets emanating from the sun-facing surface, from which it could be seen that sublimation of water-ice increased during the daytime, and died down at night. University student maps plasma tubes in the sky. Using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Western Australia desert, a Sydney University student, Cleo Loi, has discovered enormous plasma pipes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

University student maps plasma tubes in the sky

Thought to be responsible for possible radio interference with satellite navigation systems, the presence of these objects has been predicted for over 60 years, but never before seen. By imaginatively using the radio telescope to observe in 3D, Loi was able to image large areas of the sky using the fast photography capabilities of the MWA to produce a movie that shows the motions of the plasma in real-time.

The Earth is surrounded in space by the magnetosphere. Huge release of Rosetta images paints a spooky picture of comet's rugged landscape. Around seven months after the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe made history by deploying its Philae lander onto the surface 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an expansive catalogue of images has been released providing an up-close look at the comet's rugged landscape.

Huge release of Rosetta images paints a spooky picture of comet's rugged landscape

The photos were snapped by Rosetta's NavCam between September and November last year, as the spacecraft came as close as 8 km (5 mi) from the surface. The image library published online last week totals 1,776 photos. These were taken as the Philae lander plunged toward to comet's surface and in the days immediately after. This wouldn't be the Rosetta spacecraft's closest encounter with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with a flyby in February bringing it as close as 6 km (3.7 mi) to the surface, where it grabbed images of the Imhotep region, revealing huge rocks and jagged landscapes broken up by flatter areas covered in dust.

Rosetta departed from Earth in 2004 and entered orbit around 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August. Earth-sized virtual telescope to study supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way. In astronomy, much like many other other aspects of life, bigger is better.

Earth-sized virtual telescope to study supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

Hubble's deep field images of the early universe are postcards from billions of years ago. This insignificant patch of sky in the fairly obscure constellation of Fornax is the setting for one of the most remarkable images ever captured.

Hubble's deep field images of the early universe are postcards from billions of years ago

Although only a fraction of the full moon in size, this image traces thousands of distant galaxies to the edge of the observable universe. The Hubble Space Telescope began observing “deep fields” in 1995. The idea was not new – astronomers have always tried to take longer photographic captures that draw in more light to reveal ever more faint and distant objects. Observing more distant galaxies sheds light on how they form, and how their shapes and sizes change over time. Hubble’s key advantage is that, floating in orbit, it’s unaffected by the blurring effect of the atmosphere and so can provide images of far superior resolution than ground-based telescopes. Careful planning was required for the deep field images. Mysterious Space Globule Looks Undeniably Beautiful. Some astronomers call it "God’s Hand.

Mysterious Space Globule Looks Undeniably Beautiful

" Others say it looks like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature. Featured in a new image taken by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, a small cloud of gas and dust dubbed CG4 is nothing short of stunning. NASA Releases Stunning Space Photos To Kick Off The 'International Year Of Light' 3-D Map Of Universe Shows Positions Of Known Galaxies In Unprecedented Detail. NASA's Swift satellite reveals neighboring galaxies in unprecedented ultraviolet detail. Data from NASA's Swift satellite has been used to create the highest-ever resolution images of our two nearest galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds.

NASA's Swift satellite reveals neighboring galaxies in unprecedented ultraviolet detail

The detailed ultraviolet light surveys measure 160 and 55 megapixels, and cumulatively show some 1.25 million ultraviolet sources. The two images show ultraviolet light ranging from 1,600 to 3,300 angstroms, a range of light that is largely blocked by the Earth's atmosphere. The two images were taken using the Swift satellite’s Ultraviolet/Optical telescope (UVOT), and have a cumulative total exposure time of 7.2 days. New photos of beautiful nebula. Nebulas consist of dust and gas, and that is also the case for NGC 6559 on the picture above, which was recently captured by the Danish telescope in Chile.

New photos of beautiful nebula

The nebula is located some 5,000 light years away from Earth and forms part of the Sagittarius constellation. The NGC 6559 complex is frequently overlooked in favour of its much larger and more famous neighbour, the Lagoon Nebula, but in this image the little one takes the lead role. Fusion processes light up the stars The relatively small NGC nebula mostly consists of hydrogen, which is also one of the key building blocks for new stars. New stars are formed in nebulas when they collapse under their own gravity.

Phytoplankton from space: Algae bloom seen from satellite. One of the great ironies of space exploration is that by leaving the Earth, we sometimes get a better view of it. It shouldn’t be too surprising; a change of perspective is generally good for context, and since we live on the Earth we only see a small piece of it at any one time. Getting above the Earth and looking back provides perspective, context, and a large-scale picture that supplements both. It’s not just geology and geography that benefit from this, either; it’s also biology and microbiology. And, if I may, it can also be art. Black Hole Snacks on 'Super Jupiter' Planet. In a cosmic first, astronomers have discovered a black hole chowing down on what may be a giant rogue planet.

The supermassive black hole didn't finish off its meal, which scientists say was either a huge Jupiter-like planet wandering freely through space or a brown dwarf, a strange object that's larger than a planet yet still too small to trigger the internal fusion reactions required to become a full-fledged star. “This is the first time where we have seen the disruption of a substellar object by a black hole," study co-author Roland Walter, of the Observatory of Geneva in Switzerland, said in a statement.

Amazing Pencil Nebula Glows on Deep-Space Canvas (Photo) The thin, woven filaments in this beautiful image resemble an artist’s etching into a canvas of glowing gas. Martin Pugh took this image of the Pencil Nebula, or NGC 2736, from his home in Yass, New South Wales, Australia over the course of two weeks in March,2013. Pugh used a Takahashi FSQ106N telescope with a Paramount ME Software Bisque mount, SBIG STF8300/FW8300-8 Baader 36mm filters, and Maxim DL as well as CCDAutopilot software to capture the photo. He processed the image with Maxim DL/CCD, Photoshop CS, CCDStack and PixInsight. The total exposure time was 10 hours. Give Me Some Space 24"x36" Posters.

The Pencil Nebula is located 800 light-years away and is five light-years long. Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com. ESO's best images of 2013 – so far. Near-True Color Image of Snowman. About this Image. NASA releases GRAIL video. The best NASA images from 2012. Shock wave in space: A massive star plows through material between stars (photo). The Mouthpiece of the Pipe Nebula. Spectacular deep space images: 50 Years of the European Southern Observatory.

Spectacular Supernova Aftershock Photo Revealed. Stargazer Captures Striking Nebula View (Photo)