Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble
How did a star create the Helix nebula? The shapes of planetary nebula like the Helix are important because they likely hold clues to how stars like the Sun end their lives. Recent observations...
Tentacles of the Tarantula Nebula
The Tarantula Nebula is a giant emission nebula within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud. Inside this cosmic arachnid lies a huge central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136 and partially visible on the upper right.
The center of the Andromeda galaxy is beautiful but strange. Andromeda, indexed as M31, is so close to our own Milky Way Galaxy that it gives a unique perspective into galaxy composition by allowing us to see into its core.
GRO J165540: Evidence for a Spinning Black Hole
In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole. Studies of the bright light emitted by the swirling gas frequently indicate not only that a black hole is present, but also likely attributes.
Big Beautiful Saturn
As a present to APOD readers, digital imager Mattias Malmer offers a very high resolution view of big beautiful Saturn. A labor of love, his full mosaic, composite image is contained in a large 5 megabyte jpeg file (preview here, download here) and spans the gorgeous gas giant from ring tip to ring tip.
A forward-facing RocketCam (TM) mounted inside the payload fairing of a Delta II rocket captured these dramatic video frames on November 20th -- as the Swift satellite observatory journeyed to an orbit 600 kilometers above planet Earth. Some frames were interpolated to correct for transmission problems.
3C58: Pulsar Power
Light from a star that exploded some ten thousand light-years away first reached our fair planet in the year 1181. Now known as supernova remnant 3C58, the region seen in this false-color image glows in x-rays, powered by a rapidly spinning neutron star or pulsar - the dense remains of the collapsed stellar core.
Comet, Meteor, Nebula, Star
Several wonders of the late-year northern sky appeared together for a few fleeting moments on December 13. On the bottom left, just above the hill, is blue Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
Will the Huygens probe land or splash down? In the next few days, the Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn will release a probe that will descend toward Saturn's largest moon in mid-January. That moon, Titan, has a surface normally hidden from view by thick methane cloud decks.
What does the surface of Titan look like? Thick clouds have always made Saturn's largest moon so mysterious that seemingly farfetched hypotheses like methane rain and lakes have been seriously considered. Later this...