Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Unusual Mountain Ahuna Mons on Asteroid Ceres
What created this unusual mountain? Ahuna Mons is the largest mountain on the largest known asteroid in our Solar System, Ceres, which orbits our Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ahuna Mons, though, is like nothing that humanity has ever seen before.
Dark Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars.
We live in an era where total solar eclipses are possible because at times the apparent size of the Moon can just cover the disk of the Sun. But the Moon is slowly moving away from planet Earth. Its distance is measured to increase about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) per year due to tidal friction.
Global Aurora at Mars
A strong solar event last month triggered intense global aurora at Mars. Before (left) and during (right) the solar storm, these projections show the sudden increase in ultraviolet emission from martian aurora, more than 25 times brighter than auroral emission previously detected by the orbiting MAVEN spacecraft.
Pluto s Bladed Terrain
Imaged during the New Horizons spacecraft flyby in July 2015, Pluto's bladed terrain is captured in this close-up of the distant world. The bizarre texture belongs to fields of skyscraper-sized, jagged landforms made almost entirely of methane ice, found at extreme altitudes near Pluto's equator.
The Soul Nebula in Infrared from Herschel
Stars are forming in the Soul of the Queen of Aethopia. More specifically, a large star forming region called the Soul Nebula can be found in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia, who Greek mythology credits as the vain wife of a King who long ago ruled lands surrounding the upper Nile river.
Ice Ring around Nearby Star Fomalhaut
Why is there a large ice ring around Fomalhaut? This interesting star -- easily visible in the night sky -- lies only about 25 light-years away and is known to be orbited by at least one planet, Dagon, as well as several inner dust disks.
Two Comets and a Star Cluster
Two unusual spots are on the move near the famous Pleiades star cluster. Shifting only a small amount per night, these spots are actually comets in our nearby Solar System that by chance wandered into the field of the light-years distant stars.
Concept Plane: Supersonic Green Machine
What will passenger airplanes be like in the future? To help brainstorm desirable and workable attributes, NASA sponsors design competitions. Shown here is an artist's depiction of a concept plane that was suggested in 2010.
Portrait of NGC 281
Look through the cosmic cloud cataloged as NGC 281 and you might miss the stars of open cluster IC 1590. Still, formed within the nebula that cluster's young, massive stars ultimately power the pervasive nebular glow.