• How similar is exoplanet CoRoT-7b to Earth? The newly discovered extra-solar planet is the closest physical match yet, with a mass about five Earths and a radius of about 1.7 Earths. Also, the home star to CoRoT-7b, although 500 light years distant, is very similar to our Sun. Unfortunately, the similarities likely end there, as CoRoT-7b orbits its home star
    read more
  • Sometimes, after your eyes adapt to the dark, a spectacular sky appears. In this case, a picturesque lake lies in front of you, beautiful green auroras flap high above you, brilliant stars shine far in the distance, and a brilliant moon shines just ahead of you. This digitally fused panorama was captured earlier this month from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada,
    read more
  • What is that strange arc? While imaging the cluster of galaxies Abell 370, astronomers had noted an unusual arc to the right of many cluster galaxies. Although curious, one initial response was to avoid commenting on the arc because nothing like it had ever been noted before. In the mid-1980s, however, better images allowed astronomers to identify the arc as
    read more
  • What does the largest moon in the Solar System look like? Ganymede, larger than even Mercury and Pluto, has a surface speckled with bright young craters overlying a mixture of older, darker, more cratered terrain laced with grooves and ridges. Like Earth’s Moon, Ganymede keeps the same face towards its central planet, in this case Jupiter. In this historic and
    read more
  • Far beyond the local group of galaxies lies NGC 3621, some 22 million light-years away. Found in the multi-headed southern constellation Hydra, the winding spiral arms of this gorgeous island universe are loaded with luminous young star clusters and dark dust lanes. Still, for earthbound astronomers NGC 3621 is not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy. Some of its brighter
    read more
  • Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this close-up of spacesuited NASA astronaut John Olivas outside the International Space Station. Carefully constructed from two photographs (ISS020-E-038481, ISS02-0E-038482) taken during space shuttle orbiter Discovery’s latest visit to the orbiting outpost, the 3D anaglyph creates the compelling illusion that you can actually reach out and take his gloved hand. The photographer,
    read more
  • Taken by a telescope onboard NASA’s Swift satellite, this stunning vista represents the highest resolution image ever made of the Andromeda Galaxy (aka M31) – at ultraviolet wavelengths. The mosaic is composed of 330 individual images covering a region 200,000 light-years wide. It shows about 20,000 sources, dominated by hot, young stars and dense star clusters that radiate strongly in
    read more
  • The Tarantula Nebula is more than 1,000 light-years in diameter — a giant star forming region within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). That cosmic arachnid lies left of center in this sharp, colorful telescopic image taken through narrow-band filters. It covers a part of the LMC over 2,000 light-years across. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation,
    read more
  • NGC 6888, also known as the Crescent Nebula, is a cosmic bubble about 25 light-years across, blown by winds from its central, bright, massive star. This beautiful portrait of the nebula is from the Isaac Newton Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in the Canary Islands. It combines a composite color image with narrow band data that isolates light
    read more
  • What is left over after stars collide? To help answer this question, astronomers have been studying the center of the most massive ball of stars in our >Milky Way Galaxy. In the center of globular cluster Omega Centauri, stars are packed in 10,000 times more densely than near our Sun. >Pictured above, the newly upgraded Hubble Space Telescope has resolved
    read more
  • Is this picture worth a thousand words? According to the Holographic Principle, the most information you can get from this image is about 3 x 1065 bits for a normal sized computer monitor. The Holographic Principle, yet unproven, states that there is a maximum amount of information content held by regions adjacent to any surface. Therefore, counter-intuitively, the information content
    read more
  • This serene view records a late summer night sky over the rolling, green hills of planet Earth. It was taken near the rural village of Saadat Shahr, Fars province, in southern Iran. Saadat Shahr is also known as Astronomy Town, as the inhabitants have demonstrated a remarakble passion for sky gazing. Fittingly, this Astronomy Town sky view finds a lovely
    read more
  • The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan’s Quintet is featured in this stunning image from the newly upgraded Hubble Space Telescope. About 300 million light-years away, only four galaxies of the group are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters. The odd man out is easy to spot, though. The four interacting galaxies (NGC 7319, 7318A, 7318B,
    read more
  • The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth’s night sky are often named for flowers or insects, and NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the central star of this particular planetary nebula is exceptionally hot though — shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus
    read more
  • As the Earth spins on its axis, the sky seems to rotate around us. This motion, called diurnal motion, produces the beautiful concentric trails traced by stars during time exposures. Partial-circle star trails are pictured above over Grants Pass, Oregon, USA last month. Near the middle of the circles is the North Celestial Pole (NCP), easily identified as the point
    read more