Aurora over Iceland


This image was taken on a dark and stormy night in 2013 at Hverir, a geothermally active area along the volcanic landscape in northeastern Iceland. Geomagnetic storms produced the auroral display in the starry night sky while towers of steam and gas venting from fumaroles danced against the eerie greenish light.

Aurora over Iceland

Hverir is an area with hot springs in the north of Iceland . Hverir means in Icelandic whatsoever hot springs . It is located just east of Lake Mývatn about 6 kilometers south of the Krafla area near the Námaskarð mountain pass. T

he pastel area is one of Iceland ‘s largest solfather fields . It is lined with steam plumes, solariums, fumaroles and boiling mud pots of various sizes. A climb to the sulfurpowdered peak of the Námafjall mountain (432 meters) provides a panoramic view. Each is located directly next to Iceland ‘s ring road and is therefore easily accessible.

Image Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Vetter (Nuits sacrées)

Dark Molecular Cloud Barnard 68


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 of the visible light emitted from background stars.

The dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68.

That no stars are visible in the center indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form.

In fact, Barnard 68 itself has been found likely to collapse and form a new star system. It is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light.

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Puppis A Supernova Remnant


Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away.

Supernova Remnant

At that distance, this colorful telescopic field based on broadband and narrowband optical image data is about 60 light-years across. As the supernova remnant (upper right) expands into its clumpy, non-uniform surroundings, shocked filaments of oxygen atoms glow in green-blue hues.

Hydrogen and nitrogen are in red. Light from the initial supernova itself, triggered by the collapse of the massive star’s core, would have reached Earth about 3,700 years ago.

The Puppis A remnant is actually seen through outlying emission from the closer but more ancient Vela supernova remnant, near the crowded plane of our Milky Way galaxy.

Still glowing across the electromagnetic spectrum Puppis A remains one of the brightest sources in the X-ray sky.

Image Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman

Europa and Jupiter viewed from Voyager 1

Europa and Jupiter viewed from Voyager 1


Those spots on Jupiter? Largest and furthest, just right of center, is the Great Red Spot — a huge storm system that has been raging on Jupiter possibly since Giovanni Cassini’s likely notation of it 352 years ago.

Europa and Jupiter viewed from Voyager 1

It is not yet known why this Great Spot is red. The spot toward the lower left is one of Jupiter’s largest moons: Europa.  Europa has an underground ocean and is therefore a good place to look for extraterrestrial life.

The dark spot on the upper right? That is a shadow of another of Jupiter’s large moons: Io. Voyager 1 discovered Io to be so volcanic that no impact craters could be found.

Sixteen frames from Voyager 1’s flyby of Jupiter in 1979 were recently reprocessed and merged to create the featured image seen above.

Image Credit: NASA, Voyager 1, JPL, Caltech; Processing & License: Alexis Tranchandon / Solaris