Stunning images from space

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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.

Wonders captured by Hubble

This photo released by the European Space Agency
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

This photo released by the European Space Agency on April 20, 2017, displays the galaxies NGC 4302, left, and NGC 4298, both located 55 million light years away.

They were observed by Hubble and shown to celebrate its 27th year in orbit. NGC 4298 is seen almost face-on, with its spiral arms and the blue patches of ongoing star formation and young stars. In the edge-on disc of NGC 4302, huge swathes of dust are responsible for the mottled brown patterns, but a burst of blue to the left side of the galaxy indicates a region of extremely vigorous star formation. The image is a mosaic of four separate captures from Hubble, taken between Jan. 2-22, 2017. Two different types of light emitted by the galaxies, visible and near-infrared, have also been combined to enhance the images.

Saturn's moon Mimas dwarfed by rings

This undated photo made available by NASA shows
(Credit: AP)

This undated photo made available by NASA shows one of Saturn's moons, Mimas, dwarfed by the planet's rings. Launched in 1997, Cassini reached Saturn in 2004 and has been exploring it from orbit ever since. Cassini's fuel tank is almost empty, so NASA has opted for a risky, but science-rich grand finale.

Passing view of Pan

This raw, unprocessed image released by NASA shows
(Credit: AFP Getty Images)

This raw, unprocessed image released by NASA shows Saturn's tiny moon, Pan, on March 7, 2017, and was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The closest approach of the flyby was 15,268 miles. The image is the closest one ever taken of Pan and will help to characterize its shape and geology.

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Mount Etna's smoke

In this aerial photo taken on March 3,
(Credit: AP / ESA / NASA / Thomas Pesquet)

In this aerial photo taken on March 3, 2017, and made available on March 8, smoke billows from the Mount Etna volcano near Catania, Sicily.

The remains of a supernova, as seen by Hubble

The supernova remnant, called SN 1987A, is shown
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

The supernova remnant, called SN 1987A, is shown in this photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in January 2017 and released by the European Space Agency and NASA on Feb. 24, 2017. Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has observed the expanding dust cloud of SN 1987A several times, helping astronomers create a better understanding of such cosmic explosions.

Incredible look at Mars' north polar ice cap

This view of Mars' north polar ice cap
(Credit: EPA)

This view of Mars' north polar ice cap and its distinctive dark troughs in a spiral pattern is in a photo released by the European Space Agency on Feb. 2, 2017. The view is based on undated images taken by the ESA's Mars Express and was generated using elevation data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on board NASA's Mars Global Surveyor mission.

Greenland glaciers flow into a fjord

The Brückner and Heim glaciers flow into Johan
(Credit: AFP Getty Images / Jeremy Harbeck)

The Brückner and Heim glaciers flow into Johan Petersen Fjord in southeast Greenland on Sept. 2, 2016. Greenland's ice sheet is melting more than 7 percent faster than previously thought, according to a new study. Scientists said a hot spot beneath the Earth's crust was distorting their calculations. The study in the journal Science Advances raises concerns about the increasing impact of melting ice on sea level, since Greenland has the second-largest ice sheet in the world, after the one in Antarctica.

This is Mercury

A NASA image obtained on Sept. 27, 2016,
(Credit: AFP Getty Images)

A NASA image obtained on Sept. 27, 2016, from NASA's Messenger spacecraft reveals previously undetected land forms, called small fault scarps that resemble stairsteps on the planet Mercury. The fault scarps are small enough that scientists believe they must be geologically young, which means Mercury could still be contracting, and that Earth may not be the only tectonically active planet in our solar system.

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Buongiorno, Italy

The southern tip of Italy is visible in
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

The southern tip of Italy is visible in this image taken by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2016. The NASA photo was obtained Sept. 21, 2016. The brightly lit city of Naples can be seen in the bottom section of the image.

Hello, Jupiter

Jupiter's Great Red Spot and three of its
(Credit: AP / Juno)

Jupiter's Great Red Spot and three of its four largest moons were captured in this July 10, 2016, image released by NASA that was taken by the Juno spacecraft five days after it arrived at Jupiter. Juno is on a 20-month mission to study Jupiter's poles, atmosphere and interior.

The heart of the Crab Nebula, in a time lapse

The very heart of the Crab Nebula, including
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

The very heart of the Crab Nebula, including its central neutron star, is shown in this image from NASA and the European Space Agency. It is the rightmost of the two bright stars near the center of this image. The rapid motion of the material nearest the central star is revealed by the subtle rainbow of colors in this time-lapse image. There's a rainbow effect due to the movement of material over the time between one image and another.

Two planets and their red dwarf star parent

This artist's illustration released by NASA on July
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

This artist's illustration released by NASA on July 20, 2016, shows two Earth-size planets, known as TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c, passing in front of their parent red dwarf star, which is much smaller and cooler than our sun.

Tracking Arctic sea ice

This NASA image released July 19, 2016, shows
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

This NASA image released July 19, 2016, shows sea ice of the Arctic Ocean shrinking to below-average levels. This large pool of melt water over sea ice was seen from a NASA Operation IceBridge flight on July 14 over the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest territories in Canada.

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Mercury on the move

The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black
(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
(Credit: EPA / 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 seen from Boyertown, Pa.

In an image taken with special foil mounted
(Credit: EPA / Patrick Pleul)

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 pretty hot here

The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black
(Credit: Getty Images)

The planet Mercury appears as a tiny black spot, bottom left, as it moves past the sun on May 9, 2016, as seen from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

This is Earth seen through infrared

This NOAA/NASA image released Friday, April 22, 2016,
(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

The aurora australis, or southern lights, are shown
(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 April 17, 2016. Peake was performing more than 30 scientific experiments and taking part in numerous others during his 6-month mission.

These are solar flares

This picture made available by NASA's Solar Dynamics
(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

This photo made available by NASA's Solar Dynamics
(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

A vast bubble in 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

The eye of Storm Katie is shown just
(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

This image provided by NASA shows Arctic sea
(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

This infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space
(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?

An image dated Tuesday, March 29, 2016, and
(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

In this image made from video provided by
(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

A glowing aurora is seen from the International
(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

This NASA image taken from the International 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
(Credit: Instagram user stationcdrkelly)

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
(Credit: Instagram user stationcdrkelly)

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
(Credit: Instagram user stationcdrkelly)

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
(Credit: Instagram user stationcdrkelly)

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

This photo taken from NASA TV shows a
(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

Astronaut Terry Virts installs an antenna and boom
(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

Spectacularly symmetrical wings of the planetary nebula Hen
(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

Astronaut Scott Kelly took this picture Sunday, Feb.
(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

A space view of the Alps, Italy and
(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

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is shown at
(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

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8
(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

The galaxy cluster called IDCS J1426.5+3508, or IDCS
(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

This image provided by CU-Boulder shows the galaxy
(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

A thick haze hovers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain,
(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

An image released by the European Space Agency
(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

This NASA image released Friday, Dec. 18, 2015,
(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

This Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, image provided by
(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

The moon Enceladus orbits the planet Saturn in
(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

This photo taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft
(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

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured views of the
(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

Recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are
(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.

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