Credit: NASA / JPL / Emily Lakdawalla)
Neptune was the last planet Voyager 2 passed. As it departed the system in September 1989, it watched the crescent planet (along with its largest moon) diminish. This photo was taken on September 3, about 9 days after the flyby.
Messier 88Charles Messier described the 88th entry in his 18th century catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters as a spiral nebula without stars. Of course the gorgeous M88 is now understood to be a galaxy full of stars, gas, and dust, not unlike our own Milky Way. In fact, M88 is one of the brightest galaxies in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster some 50 million light-years away. M88’s beautiful spiral arms are easy to trace in this colorful cosmic portait. The arms are lined with young blue star clusters, pink star-forming regions, and obscuring dust lanes extending from a yellowish core dominated by an older population of stars. Spiral galaxy M88 spans over 100,000 light-years.
Image credit: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona
This is an artist’s concept of a craggy piece of solar system debris that belongs to a class of bodies called trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Astronomers culling the data archives of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have added new TNOs to the catalog. The newfound TNOs range from 25 to 60 miles (40-100 km) across. Their method promises to turn up hundreds more. In this illustration, the distant sun is reduced to a bright star at a distance of over 3 billion miles.
Image credit: NASA