This post is a collection of some of the most beautiful images captured by ground and space telescopes from around the world in recent years.
During the last 50 years we have amassed an incredible wealth of knowledge about the universe. The Hubble Space telescope, in particular, has showed the human race some of the incredible beauty, power, mystery, and majesty of the universe.
There are literally thousands of amazing images which NASA, ESA, and other organisations, have made available for us to marvel over. Here are some of my favourite images which I have carefully selected from links I have collected. The descriptions are mostly taken from the source, with a few edits here and there. All the source and author websites are listed underneath each image and you can click the images to see larger versions. Enjoy!
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Galaxies in the River
Nicely detailed in this sharp image, the NGC 1532/1531 pair is thought to be similar to the well-studied system of face-on spiral and small companion known as M51.
The Milquetoasty Way
NGC 2841 is about 45 million light years way. This type of galaxy is called flocculent: with lots of short arms instead of a two or three long, grand, majestic ones.
Thousands of New Stars Emerge in Glowing Nebula
The previously unseen stars were born around 1,800 light-years from Earth in a region called the North American Nebula.
Rosette Nebula by Nick Howes
The Rosette Nebula can be seen towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).
A Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of NGC 3372. The image is 50 light-years wide and a composite of 48 frames. The false colour image was created using the following formula: red for sulphur, green for hydrogen, and blue for oxygen emissions.
The California Nebula
Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy, this cosmic cloud by chance echoes the outline of California on the west coast of the United States.
Massive Young Star and Its Cradle
This star-forming region, captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is dominated by the bright, young star IRAS 13481-6124 (upper left), which is about twenty times the mass of our sun and five times its radius, and is surrounded by its pre-natal cocoon.
Lutetia and Saturn
At a distance of 36 000 km, the OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) took this image, of the Asteroid Lutetia, catching the planet Saturn in the background.
Moons, Rings, and Unexpected Colors on Saturn
The robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn has beamed back images showing that the northern hemisphere our Solar System’s most spectacularly ringed planet has changed noticeably since Cassini arrived in 2004, now sporting unusual and unexpected colours. No one is sure why.
Close-up of a Small Galaxy
This remarkable Hubble Space Telescope close-up of the well-studied galaxy NGC 4449 was reprocessed to highlight the tell tale reddish glow of hydrogen gas.
Milky Way Over Switzerland
A stunningly beautiful land, cloud, and skyscape was captured, in this amazing image by Stephane Vetter, over Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
The Rosette Nebula
The Rosette Nebula spans about 100 light-years across, lies about 5000 light-years away, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).
The Antennae Galaxies in Collision
When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. That’s because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In this clash of the titans, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars, some of which are gravitationally bound together in massive star clusters.
A detailed mosaic image of faint supernova remnant Simeis 147 shows it’s intricate filaments. This supernova remnant has an estimated age of about 40,000 years – meaning light from the massive stellar explosion first reached Earth 40,000 years ago.
Dark Filament of the Sun
Suspended by magnetic fields above a solar active region this dark filament stretches over 40 earth-diameters. The ominous structure appears to be frozen in time near the Sun’s edge, but solar filaments are unstable and often erupt.
A Milky Way Shadow at Loch Ard Gorge
In this image, taken in Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia, seven 15-second images of the ground and de-rotated sky were digitally added to bring up the needed light and detail. In the foreground lies Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship that tragically ran aground in 1878. The two rocks pictured are the remnants of a collapsed arch and are named Tom and Eva after the only two people who survived that Loch Ard ship wreck.
The Bubble Nebula
Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Catalogued as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 10 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and right of the Bubble’s center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and approximately 45 times more massive than the Sun.
Star Streams and the Sunflower Galaxy
A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, Messier 63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. Also catalogued as NGC 5055, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way. Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy, M63 sports a bright yellowish core and sweeping blue spiral arms, streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. This deep exposure also reveals an enormous but dim arc extending far into the halo above the brighter galactic plane.
Vela Supernova Remnant
The plane of our Milky Way Galaxy runs through this complex and beautiful skyscape. At the north western edge of the constellation Vela (the Sails) the four frame mosaic is over 10 degrees wide, centered on the glowing filaments of the Vela Supernova Remnant, the expanding debris cloud from the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the supernova explosion that created the Vela remnant reached Earth about 11,000 years ago. In addition to the shocked filaments of glowing gas, the cosmic catastrophe also left behind an incredibly dense, rotating stellar core, the Vela Pulsar.
Hidden Treasures of M78
M78 isn’t really hiding in planet Earth’s night sky. About 1,600 light-years away and nestled in the nebula rich constellation Orion, the large, bright, reflection nebula is well-known to telescopic skygazers.
Detached Prominence off the Limb of the Sun
A section of the solar disk recorded in 30mph winds at the Winter Star Party on West Summerland Key. The massive detached prominence was visible for hours. Skies were quite steady despite the wind.
Bonus Video: Star Size Comparison HD
This amazing short video shows you not only just how unimaginably large some of the planets and the sun are in comparison to the Earth, but also the immense size of some of the largest known stars. Mind blowing.
Want more space food? Check out this post Space & Cosmology Infographics
It’s hard to choose a favourite from these as I love them all, but I especially like the Bubble Nebula and the Sunflower Galaxy. Which ones are you feeling the most? why not drop us a quick comment below…
All images © their respective owners.