• The center of our Milky Way Galaxy is hidden from the prying eyes of optical telescopes by clouds of obscuring dust and gas. But in this stunning vista, the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared cameras, penetrate much of the dust revealing the stars of the crowded galactic center region. A mosaic of many smaller snapshots, the detailed, false-color image shows older,
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  • Inspired by the night skies of planet Earth in the International Year of Astronomy, photographer Larry Landolfi created this tantalizing fantasy view. The composited image suggests a luminous Milky Way is the heavenly extension of a country road. Of course, the name for our galaxy, the Milky Way (in Latin, Via Lactea), does refer to its appearance as a milky
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  • SNR 0104 is a supernova remnant with an unusual shape. Found 190,000 light-years away in our neighboring galaxy the Small Magellanic Cloud, SNR 0104 is suspected of being the expanding debris cloud from a Type 1a supernova – the catastrophic thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf star. For example, like Type 1a supernova remnants within our galaxy, investigations show that
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  • A sea of clouds laps at rugged mountain peaks of the French Pyrenees in this serene view from Pic du Midi Observatory. The time exposure was recorded on June 4, with the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius shining in the starry night. At the top right lies a faint, but colorful moondog or paraselene. Analogous to a sundog or parhelion, the
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  • These clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and dutifully cataloged as NGC 7023, this is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers. Surrounding it, obscuring clouds of dust and cold molecular gas are also present
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  • Across the heart of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies lies a striking string of galaxies known as Markarian’s Chain. The chain, pictured above, is highlighted on the upper right with two large but featureless lenticular galaxies, M84 and M86. Prominent to their lower left is a pair of interacting galaxies known as The Eyes. The home Virgo Cluster is the
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  • Orbiting the Sun between Mars and Earth, asteroid 433 Eros was visited by the robot spacecraft NEAR-Shoemaker in 2000 February. High-resolution surface images and measurements made by NEAR’s Laser Rangefinder (NLR) have been combined into the above visualization based on the derived 3D model of the tumbling space rock. NEAR allowed scientists to discover that Eros is a single solid
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  • While most spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have two or more spiral arms, NGC 4725 seems to have only one. In this sharp color image, the solo spira mirabilis is tightly wound, traced by bluish, newborn star clusters. The odd galaxy also sports obscuring dust lanes, a prominent ring, and a yellowish central bar structure composed of an
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  • Cosmic dust clouds sprawl across a rich field of stars in this sweeping telescopic vista near the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Probably less than 500 light-years away and effectively blocking light from more distant, background stars in the Milky Way, the densest part of the dust cloud is about 8 light-years long. At its tip (upper
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  • On June 2nd, clouds over Stuttgart, Germany parted to reveal what has become a relatively rare sight, spots on the Sun. In fact, the roughly 11-year solar activity cycle is still in a surprisingly deep minimum and the years 2008 and 2009 have had the lowest sunspot counts since the 1950s. Even the latest prediction is that the new cycle,
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