Top photos of 2013 for the year in space news and exploration.
In this rendition released by NASA on Aug.29th, 2013, thew artist illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. (Smaller black holes also exist throughout galaxies.) In this illustration, the supermassive black hole at the center is surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity...Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole's spin. The regions near black holes contain compact sources of high energy X-ray radiation thought, in some scenarios, to originate from the base of these jets. This high energy X-radiation lights up the disk, which reflects it, making the disk a source of X-rays. The reflected light enables astronomers to see how fast matter is swirling in the inner region of the disk, and ultimately to measure the black hole's spin rate. UPI
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The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that are visible in infrared light in this image released on April 21, 2013. Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory's launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. The iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago. UPI/ NASA/ESA
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Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed a massive cloud of multimillion-degree gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud is likely caused by a collision between a dwarf galaxy and a much larger galaxy called NGC 1232. If confirmed, this discovery would mark the first time such a collision has been detected only in X-rays, and could have implications for understanding how galaxies grow through similar collisions. An image combining X-rays and optical light shows the scene of this collision. The impact between the dwarf galaxy and the spiral galaxy caused a shock wave, akin to a sonic boom on Earth that generated hot gas with a temperature of about six million degrees. UPI/G. Garmire/NASA
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Photos released on October 16, 2013 by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) show how a black hole consumes hugh amounts of matter in studies released on galaxy PKS 1830-211 and NGC 1433. This photo shows NGC 1433 in a composite picture -- the dim blue background image showing the central dust lanes of this galaxy comes from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and the colored structures near the center are from recent ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) observations that have revealed a spiral shape, as well as an unexpected outflow, for the first time. This explains how the material is flowing in to fuel the black hole. ALMA is in Chile. UPI
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This composite image of a galaxy illustrates how the intense gravity of a supermassive black hole can be tapped to generate immense power. The image contains X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical light obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope (gold) and radio waves from the NSFÕs Very Large Array (pink).. This multi-wavelength view shows 4C+29.30, a galaxy located some 850 million light years from Earth. The radio emission comes from two jets of particles that are speeding at millions of miles per hour away from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The estimated mass of the black hole is about 100 million times the mass of our Sun. UPI/NASA
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Stars can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their life, like NGC 2392, the "eskimo nebula", which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. Planetary nebulas like NGC 2392, form when a star uses up all of the hydrogen in its core. When this happens, the star begins to cool and expand and the outer layers of the star are carried away by a thick 50,000 kilometer per hour wind, leaving behind a hot core with a surface temperature of about 50,000 degrees Celsius. The radiation from the hot star and the interaction of its fast wind with the slower wind creates the shell of a planetary nebula. Eventually the remnant star will collapse to form a white dwarf star. UPI/NASA
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This image taken recently by the Solar Dynamics Observatory's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument at 171 Angstrom shows the current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun.The Solar Dynamic Observatory was launched on February 11, 2010 with the mission to observe the sun for five years. UPI/ NASA
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