Stunning images from space
NASA's telescopes and spacecraft have captured images from our own solar system to the far reaches of the universe. From the Hubble Space Telescope to the Voyager and New Horizons probes, here are some of the best.
Mercury on the move(Credit: Getty Images / NASA / Bill Ingalls)
The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black spot, bottom left, as it moves past the sun on Monday, May 9, 2016, as viewed from Boyertown, Pa. Mercury passes between Earth and the sun only about 13 times a century; the previous transit took place in 2006.
The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black spot, bottom left, as it moves past the sun on Monday, May 9, 2016, as seen from Boyertown, Pa.
In an image taken with special foil mounted to the front of a 700-mm telephoto lens, the planet Mercury appears as a tiny black spot, bottom center, as it moves past the sun on Monday, May 9, 2016, as seen from Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The silhouette of a plane trailed by its contrails is seen at top.
It's getting 'Hot in Herre' for Mercury(Credit: Getty Images)
The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black spot, bottom left, as it moves past the sun on Monday, May 9, 2016, as seen from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
This is Earth seen through infrared(Credit: Getty Images)
This NOAA/NASA image released Friday, April 22, 2016, shows planet Earth. The VIIRS sensor on the Suomi NPP satellite can see the world differently, with its 22 channels, each tuned to detect a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. This image uses near-infrared and shortwave infrared energy instead of the standard red, green, and blue light that the human eye has evolved to detect. By using infrared energy rather than visible light, the colors indicate differences in temperature rather than what they look like. For example, instead of appearing just white, clouds are shades of yellow, orange, and red depending on their elevation.
The southern lights(Credit: Getty Images / ESA)
The Aurora Australis, or southern lights, are shown in this image taken by European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station on Sunday, April 17, 2016. Peake is performing more than 30 scientific experiments and taking part in numerous others from ESA's international partners during his six-month mission, named Principia, after Isaac Newton's groundbreaking Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion and gravity.
These are solar flares(Credit: EPA / NASA)
This picture made available by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Thursday, April 21, 2016, shows a dramatic display of a round solar filament bursting out from the sun on March 13. Solar flares are powerful blasts of radiation from the sun when its magnetic fields burst and release energy.
Magnetic field lines over the sun(Credit: EPA / NASA)
This photo made available by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Thursday, April 21, 2016, shows arches of magnetic field lines towering over the surface of the sun as a pair of active regions began to rotate into view in space on April 5. Active regions are intense areas of competing magnetic forces that are embedded below the sun's surface.
The Large Magellanic Cloud(Credit: TNS / NASA)
A vast bubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud was formed by the explosive death of one or more of the cluster of massive stars inside the bubble. Cosmic rays reaching Earth are created and accelerated by similar explosions.
Eye of the storm(Credit: Getty Images / NASA)
The eye of Storm Katie is shown just off the southeast coast of Britain on Monday, March 28, 2016, after passing over southern England, bringing strong winds to the region and to northern France, in this composite satellite image retrieved from NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System.
The Arctic ice cap shrinks(Credit: AP)
This image provided by NASA shows Arctic sea ice at its maximum -- the lowest on record. The winter maximum level of Arctic sea ice shrank to the smallest on record, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures, federal scientists said. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says sea ice spread to a maximum of 5.607 million square miles in 2016. That's 5,000 square miles less than the old record set in 2015, a difference slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.
The center of the Milky Way(Credit: Getty Images)
This infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope released on Thursday, March 31, 2016, shows the center of the Milky Way, 27,000 light-years away from Earth.
Can you guess which continent this is?(Credit: EPA)
An image dated Tuesday, March 29, 2016, and issued by NASA on March 30 shows the terrain of the western Australian coast during an International Space Station flyover of Australia. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams captured the colorful image of the coast.
Arriving at a far-away destination(Credit: AP)
In this image made from video provided by NASA, Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship, top, approaches the International Space Station on Saturday, March 26, 2016. The cargo carrier was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., four days before.
An aurora captures the imagination(Credit: EPA / Tim Peake)
A glowing aurora is seen from the International Space Station in this stunning image shared by Expedition 46 flight engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency. It was taken Feb. 23, 2016, and released Feb. 24. The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views on the ground, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun.
London's lights seen from space(Credit: Getty Images / NASA)
This NASA image taken from the International Space Station Sept. 25, 2015, and released Feb. 22, 2016, shows much of London and its suburbs. Two of the characteristics that stand out at night are the progressively denser concentrations of lights and the change from yellower to whiter light toward the commercial center of the city.
NASA's Scott Kelly, while wrapping up his year in space, posted this throwback photo to Instagram on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, which he had captioned: "#MilkyWay. You're old, dusty, gassy and warped. But beautiful. Good night from @space_station! #YearInSpace."
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly posted this image to Instagram Tuesday, March 1, 2016, with the following caption: #Countdown We're down to a wakeup. #Earth. I'm coming for you tomorrow! #GoodNight from @iss! #YearInSpace
Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this image of what he described as water to Instagram on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, while nearing the end of his "Year in Space."
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo of Earth to Instagram on Jan. 25, 2016, Day 304 of his "Year in Space."
Sending trash back to Earth(Credit: AP)
This photo taken from NASA TV shows a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash that was released from the International Space Station on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. NASA supplier Orbital ATK launched the capsule, named Cygnus, to the space station in December, full of food, clothes and other goods. Astronauts removed the precious contents, then filled it with garbage for incineration. The spacecraft should re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Saturday.
Busy at work, outside the space station(Credit: AP)
Astronaut Terry Virts installs an antenna and boom during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station in this March 1, 2015, image from a NASA video. On Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, NASA announced it received a record number of applicants -- some 18,300 -- for its next astronaut class. That's more than double the previous record of 8,000 for the first space shuttle astronaut class in 1978.
Planetary nebula spreads its wings(Credit: EPA / NASA)
Spectacularly symmetrical wings of the planetary nebula Hen 2-437 appear in an icy blue hue in this undated image made available on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Hen 2-437 is one of around 3,000 such objects that have been discovered within the Milky Way.
Super Bowl 50 from the nosebleed seats(Credit: EPA / NASA)
Astronaut Scott Kelly took this picture Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, of Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, from the International Space Station, writing, "Got to see the #SuperBowl in person after all! But at 17,500MPH, it didn't last long. #YearInSpace"
The Mediterranean, from above(Credit: EPA / Tim Peake)
A space view of the Alps, Italy and the Mediterranean is seen in this image taken from the International Space Station on Jan. 25, 2016, and released by NASA the following day.
Curiosity Mars' self-portrait(Credit: Getty Images)
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is shown at "Namib Dune," where the rover's activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis, in a selfie obtained from NASA on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016.
A snowy D.C. from space(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this color image of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2016, a few days after a nor'easter dumped 18 to 40 inches of snow on the region.
A rare, massive galaxy cluster(Credit: EPA / NASA)
The galaxy cluster called IDCS J1426.5+3508, or IDCS 1426 for short, is shown -- with X-rays from the Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue, visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope in green, and infrared light from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red -- in this picture released by NASA on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. This rare galaxy cluster, which is 10 billion light years from Earth, weighs almost 500 trillion suns. The object has important implications for understanding how these mega-structures formed and evolved early in the universe. Astronomers have observed IDCS 1426 when the universe was less than a third of its current age. It is the most massive galaxy cluster detected at such an early age.
A rare find: A skinny black hole(Credit: AP)
This image provided by CU-Boulder shows the galaxy SDSS J1126+2944 taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, with an arrow placed by the source pointing to a black hole that lost most of its stars. The University of Colorado's Julie Comerford has discovered something even rarer than a double-black hole galaxy: a skinny black hole. Her findings were reported Tuesday, Jan 5, 2016, at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting.
Another view of terra firma(Credit: Getty Images / NASA)
A thick haze hovers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain, from northern India, left, hugging the Himalayan range and down into the Bay of Bengal at bottom right, in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, image from NASA's Terra satellite. Air quality in northern India traditionally worsens in winter as the cooler air and fog traps pollutants and people start lighting fires, coupled with year-round pollution causes such as vehicle traffic. NASA said the haze likely resulted from a "combination of urban and industrial pollution, agricultural and cooking fires, and a meteorological phenomenon known as a temperature inversion."
10 Jupiter exoplanets, as envisioned by an artist(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)
An image released by the European Space Agency and NASA on Dec. 9, 2015, shows an artist's impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets, from top left, clockwise, WASP-12b, WASP-6b, WASP-31b, WASP-39b, HD 189733b, HAT-P-12b, WASP-17b, WASP-19b, HAT-P-1b and HD 209458b, studied by David Sing and his colleagues. The images are to scale with each other. HAT-P-12b, the smallest of them, is approximately the size of Jupiter, while WASP-17b, the largest planet in the sample, is almost twice the size. The planets are also depicted with a variety of different cloud properties. There is almost no information about the colors of the planets available, with the exception of HD 189733b, which became known as the blue planet. The hottest planets within the sample are portrayed with a glowing night side. This effect is strongest on WASP-12b, the hottest exoplanet in the sample, but is also visible on WASP-19b and WASP-17b.
Our home, seen in orbit around the moon(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)
This NASA image released Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, shows what NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter recently captured in a view of Earth from the spacecraft's vantage point in orbit around the moon. In this composite image we see Earth appear to rise over the lunar horizon from the viewpoint of the spacecraft, with the center of the Earth just off the coast of Liberia. The large tan area in the upper right is the Sahara Desert, and just beyond is Saudi Arabia. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America are visible to the left. On the moon, we get a glimpse of the crater Compton, which is located just beyond the eastern limb of the moon, on the lunar farside. This image was composed from a series of images taken Oct. 12 when the orbiter was about 83 miles above the crater Compton.
Saturn's moon Enceladus(Credit: AP)
This Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, image provided by NASA shows Saturn's moon Enceladus, center, as the Cassini spacecraft prepared to make a close flyby of the icy moon. A portion of the planet's ring is at right.
Long, linear features on Enceladus(Credit: AP)
The moon Enceladus orbits the planet Saturn in this July 27, 2015, photo made by the Cassini spacecraft. To the north, top, the terrain is covered in impact craters, much like other icy moons, but to the south, the record of impact cratering is much more sparse, and instead the land is covered in fractures and long, linear features. The image was taken in visible green light at a distance of about 70,000 miles from Enceladus.
A full rotation of Charon(Credit: AP)
This photo taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft shows images of Charon, the largest of Pluto's five moons, representing one full rotation during an unprecedented flyby in July 2015. The space agency released the series of 10 close-ups on Nov. 20, 2015. Charon, like Pluto, rotates once every 6.4 Earth days.
Aurora over Earth(Credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured views of the aurora borealis over Earth while aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015.
New insights from Mars(Credit: Getty Images)
Recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water, scientists said on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015.
New Horizons over Pluto(Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured this image of Pluto's icy mountains and plains on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.
Nile River from space(Credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly photographed the Nile River during a nighttime flyover aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.
Veil Nebula(Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has unveiled part of the Veil Nebula, the remains of a massive star that exploded about 8,000 years ago.
Dwarfed by the sun(Credit: AP)
This July 15, 2015, image made available by NASA on Friday, July 24, 2015, shows the atmosphere of Pluto backlit by the sun when the New Horizons spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles away. The image, delivered to Earth on Thursday, is displayed with north at the top of the frame.
Historic, up-close look at Pluto(Credit: AP)
This Monday, July 13, 2015, image provided by NASA shows Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft. The United States is now the only nation to visit every planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons departed Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2006.
This artist's rendering released by NASA on Thursday, July 23, 2015, shows a comparison of the Earth, left, and the planet Kepler-452b. It is the first near-Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a sun-like star, found using data from NASA's Kepler mission. The illustration represents one possible appearance for the exoplanet -- scientists do not know whether the it has oceans and continents like Earth.
Sunlit Earth(Credit: EPA / NASA)
NASA on Monday, July 20, 2015, released this photo of the entire sunlit side of Earth as seen from 1 million miles away. The July 6 image was taken by a NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera combined three photos to generate this image of North and Central America.
The Rosetta mission(Credit: AP / European Space Agency)
This photo was taken by an instrument on Rosetta's Philae lander during its descent to the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, the European spacecraft made history Wednesday by successfully landing on the icy, dusty surface of a speeding comet.
Crab Nebula(Credit: AP)
This image made by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the entire Crab Nebula.
Horsehead Nebula(Credit: AP)
This image shows Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula, in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter).
Messier 57, the Ring Nebula(Credit: AP)
This image shows Messier 57, the Ring Nebula.
'Butterfly Nebula'(Credit: AP)
This image shows jets of gas heated to nearly 20,000 degrees Celsius traveling at more than 590,000 mph streaming from the dying star NGC 6302, the "Butterfly Nebula" in the Milky Way galaxy.
Monkey Head Nebula(Credit: AP)
This infrared image shows part of NGC 2174, the Monkey Head Nebula.