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A composite image from the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and other instrumentation shows the Cartwheel galaxy. The blue outer ring suggests that the Cartwheel is one of the most powerful UV-emitting galaxies
in the nearby universe. NASA provided the image April 2.
A telescope in Chile captured this spectacular image of the Helix planetary nebula, nicknamed the Eye of God. The object lies 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, scientists said Feb. 26.
The brilliant colors are created as a star releases gas and dust as it dies into a white dwarf.
Astronomers using the COROT space telescope detected a small, hot planet as it transited its parent star. The planet, described as "rocky" like Earth, appears as a black dot. "This discovery is a very important step
on the road to understanding the formation and evolution of our planet," one astronomer said.
NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft are beaming back images of the far side of the sun, the space agency said Jan. 23. "This is a perspective we've never had before," said one scientist. This STEREO photo shows
a prominence, or cooler cloud of gas, flaring from the sun on Sept. 29.
Resembling comets streaking across the sky, these four speedy stars are plowing through dense interstellar gas, creating brilliant arrowhead structures called bow shocks. "We think we have found a new class of bright,
high-velocity stellar interlopers," Raghvendra Sahai of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Jan. 7.
The Hubble Telescope has captured a glimpse of more than 100,000 stars moving about closely together in the M13 globular cluster some 25,000 light-years away, astronomers said in December. The ball of stars, which resembles
a sparkling snow globe, has some of the oldest stars in the universe.
After transmission problems on the Hubble Telescope weren fixed, NASA in October provided this undated photograph showing the aftermath of galaxies colliding. In the pair known as Arp 147, a reddish-colored galaxy has passed through an O-shaped galaxy glowing blue.
Comet Hale-Bopp passes over a rural Rice County, Kan., windmill, just north of Hutchinson, Kan., on Thurday, March 27, 1997.
This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows thousands of stars swirling around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
Feel like you are being watched? This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula, a cosmic starlet notable for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye.
This star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, forming a cocoon around the star's remaining core. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center.
Here, bright blue newly formed stars are blowing a cavity in the center of a star-forming region and eroding
the outer portions of the nebula, with numerous galaxies delivering a grand backdrop for the stellar newcomers.
This small open star cluster lies in the core of the large emission nebula in Sagittarius, about 8,000 light-years away
from Earth. Some of the stars in this cluster are extremely massive and emit intense ultraviolet radiation.
This is one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's cameras, a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of a star's birth and death is taking place.
These are views of an unusual phenomenon called a light echo. Light from an erupted star continues
outward through a cloud of dust surrounding the star. The light reflects or "echoes" off the dust and then travels to Earth.
This image of the Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the sharpest Hubble has ever produced. The telescope has orbited the Earth for 15 years and has taken more than 700,000 images of the cosmos.
This is one of the universe's most photogenic galaxies, the Sombrero Galaxy. Its hallmark is a brilliant white, bulbous core encircled by thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy.
This ghostly ring is strong evidence for the existence of dark matter. Although astronomers cannot see dark matter,
they can infer its existence by mapping the distorted shapes of the background galaxies.
This dramatic shot of the Orion Nebula offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where more than 3,000 stars are forming.
The Hubble Space Telescope "caught" the Boomerang Nebula, which is a reflecting cloud of dust and gas
with two nearly symmetric lobes of matter that are being ejected from a central star.
Astronomers have confirmed the presence of two new moons around the distant dwarf planet Pluto. Here, Pluto is in
the center and Charon is just below it. The moons are named, from far right, Hydra and Nix, respectively.
This nebula is the glowing remains of a dying, sun-like star. This stellar relic is called the Eskimo Nebula because,
when viewed through ground-based telescopes, it resembles a face surrounded by a fur parka.
A pair of huge interstellar "twisters" -- eerie funnels reminiscent of terrestrial tornadoes -- are seen in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula about 5,000 light-years from Earth.
The Red Square nebula -- not to be confused with the Red Rectangle nebula earlier in this gallery -- is among the most symmetrical objects ever observed in space. It was created by a dying star
called MWC 922 spewing its innards from opposite poles into space. (Sources: AP, NASA, Reuters, space.com)
Our solar system is in the middle of a cosmic dust storm, and some astronomers said they've zeroed in on the possible source: the Red Rectangle nebula, which is 2,300 light-years away in the
constellation Monoceros. A double star system there is spewing the dust, according to findings announced in February.
This photo was snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope after winning a public competition to determine what the next space portrait should be. It shows Arp 274, a system of three galaxies -- two larger ones
on the right, and a smaller and less intact one on the far left.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory captured this image of what looks like a massive hand in space. The ghostly structure is the result of high-energy X-rays emanting from the nebula around
the PSR B1509-58 pulsar -- a small, dying star whose super fast spinning lights up its surroundings.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of three galaxies playing a game of gravitational tug-of-war that could destroy one of them.
The galaxies -- NGC 7173, middle left, NGC 7174, middle right, and NGC 7176, lower right --
are about 100 million light-years away. The photo was released March 3.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of Eagle Nebula (M16, a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux in 1745-46. Its name derives from its shape which is resemblant of an eagle. It is the subject of a famous photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows pillars of star-forming gas and dust within the nebula.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of Cluster NGC 2074 in the Large Magellanic Cloud.