25 photos of space that could change the way you see our universe and make you feel very small




  • In Science
  • 2022-11-25 15:56:00Z
  • By Business Insider
tarantula nebula cosmic dust cloud orange white web with stars
tarantula nebula cosmic dust cloud orange white web with stars  
  • The universe is beautiful, strange, and vast across space and time - perhaps more than you realize.

  • NASA telescopes and space probes have imaged black holes, early galaxies, and star nurseries.

  • Here are 25 space photos that could change the way you see our solar system, galaxy, and universe.

Let's start close to home. Even here, you can see that space is huge - bigger than you probably realize. That's Earth on the right, and the moon is the tiny speck on the left.

black photo in space shows small faint earth on the right and somewhere hidden faint moon
black photo in space shows small faint earth on the right and somewhere hidden faint moon  

Jupiter is much, much further and much, much larger.

jupiter planet rising in the darkness with swirling bands of orange white purple brown
jupiter planet rising in the darkness with swirling bands of orange white purple brown  

Jupiter's most famous cyclone alone, the Great Red Spot, is larger than Earth.

jupiter great red spot spinning swirling animation gif
jupiter great red spot spinning swirling animation gif  

The sun dwarfs all the planets, though. In this photo of a small portion of the sun's surface, each cell of boiling plasma is about the size of Texas.

solar surface plasma inouye telescope
solar surface plasma inouye telescope  

The planets in our solar system are even more fascinating and complex than you may think. Saturn isn't the only one with rings. See Uranus's rings below?

uranus planet rings nasa PIA17306
uranus planet rings nasa PIA17306  

Neptune also has a set of rings.

Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image of Neptune and its rings. Neptune has 14 known satellites, and seven of them are visible in this image.
Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image of Neptune and its rings. Neptune has 14 known satellites, and seven of them are visible in this image.  

Other planets have auroras, too, just like the aurora borealis and aurora australis here on Earth.

saturn aurora
saturn aurora  

In this infrared image from the James Webb Space Telescope, you can see faint rings circling Jupiter and auroras glowing at its poles.

Wide-field view of Jupiter, captured by Webb. The fuzzy spots in the lower background are likely galaxies.
Wide-field view of Jupiter, captured by Webb. The fuzzy spots in the lower background are likely galaxies.  

Some of Saturn's and Jupiter's moons show clear signs of underground oceans, where scientists think alien life could lurk. On Enceladus, plumes of water visibly shoot through cracks in the surface ice.

dark moon enceladus horizon with white jets shooting into space
dark moon enceladus horizon with white jets shooting into space  

Those are just the worlds we know about. According to NASA, on average each star has at least one planet. You can see one orbiting the star in this image. The planet is a tiny dot on the right, within the disc of material surrounding the star.

image shows orange star surrounded by orange disc of material with a small dot planet
image shows orange star surrounded by orange disc of material with a small dot planet  

What's more, new stars are being born all the time in nurseries where dense clouds of gas and dust collapse into stars. The famous Pillars of Creation are one such nursery.

eagle nebula pillars of creation veils of dust and gas form stars against a blue purple green cosmic background
eagle nebula pillars of creation veils of dust and gas form stars against a blue purple green cosmic background  

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope recently imaged the Pillars in powerful infrared for the first time, revealing new stars hidden behind the dust.

The Pillars of Creation in near-infrared-light, imaged by NASA
The Pillars of Creation in near-infrared-light, imaged by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI).  

New stars also form when galaxies collide, slowly moving into each other and compressing the gas and dust that fills their interstellar space. Space telescopes have imaged many collisions like this, including the three merging galaxies below.

three galaxies entangled merging in black space
three galaxies entangled merging in black space  

Stars regularly explode and die, too, creating powerful, bright supernovas.

supernova remnant shiny pink bubble against starry background
supernova remnant shiny pink bubble against starry background  

The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured three phases of a supernova at once. A massive object was bending space-time and reflecting three different images of the explosion, at three different points in time.

hubble image shows multiple colors of supernova
hubble image shows multiple colors of supernova  

Supernovas often collapse into black holes. You've probably seen the first photo ever taken of a black hole...

first image of a black hole m87
first image of a black hole m87  

... but did you see the black hole at the center of our galaxy? Scientists think every galaxy has a black hole at its core.

black hole photo orange ring sagitarrius A*
black hole photo orange ring sagitarrius A*  

Sometimes black holes merge, too, creating supermassive monsters.

This image shows close-up (left) and wide (right) views of the two bright galactic nuclei, each housing a supermassive black hole, in NGC 7727, a galaxy located 89 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius.
This image shows close-up (left) and wide (right) views of the two bright galactic nuclei, each housing a supermassive black hole, in NGC 7727, a galaxy located 89 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius.  

There are a mind-bending number of galaxies out there - up to 200 billion, astronomers estimate. Each is filled with its own stars and planets.

A picture taken by the James Webb telescope shows the Stephan
A picture taken by the James Webb telescope shows the Stephan's Quintet.  

This long-exposure image from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope captures thousands of galaxies. If you held a grain of sand at arm's length, that would represent the speck of universe you see in this image.

galaxies stars in infrared jwst
galaxies stars in infrared jwst  

Webb has peered further into the universe than any prior telescope. This is basically looking back in time, since it takes billions of years for light to travel from these galaxies.

tarantula nebula cosmic dust cloud orange white web with stars
tarantula nebula cosmic dust cloud orange white web with stars  

In July, Webb spotted the earliest, most distant galaxy ever detected. Scientists believe it emerged 235 million years after the Big Bang. That means it's closer to the beginning of the universe than we've ever seen before.

Color image of CEERS-93316, a galaxy researchers believe emerged only 235 million years after the Big Bang.
Color image of CEERS-93316, a galaxy researchers believe emerged only 235 million years after the Big Bang.  

Astronomers only know of two visitors we've ever had from other star systems: A probable rock called 'Oumuamua, and a comet that zipped past the sun from interstellar space, in 2017 and 2019.

interstellar comet C 2019 Q4 skitch
interstellar comet C 2019 Q4 skitch  

Only two human spacecraft have ever left our solar system: NASA's Voyager probes. The first probe snapped this famous photo of Earth on its way out.

pale blue dot photo original
pale blue dot photo original  

Yes, Earth, right there. Carl Sagan called this the "pale blue dot," writing: "That's here. That's home. That's us." Most of us will only experience the rest of the universe through photos.

There
There's Earth!NASA/JPL-Caltech  
COMMENTS

More Related News

20 years after Columbia disaster, NASA remembers crew and lessons learned
20 years after Columbia disaster, NASA remembers crew and lessons learned

Columbia's destruction and the loss of its crew triggered a sharp change of course for America's space program.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Science