Space Photos of the Week: Florence, From Way Way Up Above
Florence, due to be the largest and most powerful hurricane to hit the Southeastern US in history, is seen here from the International Space Station. Yes, this storm is big, but to give you an idea of just how large, consider: The ISS orbits 254 miles above Earth, and astronauts still had to deploy a wide angle lens to capture the entirety of the storm. The eye of the storm is calm, but the arms of Florence stretch around, looking almost like a white galaxy transplanted into home planet’s atmosphere.
There is a lot going on in this photo of black holes colliding, so let’s break it down. This dazzling image of galaxy AM 0644-741 is a combination of data sets from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (seen here in the purples), and the Hubble Space Telescope (reds, greens, and blues). The ring around the center glows in the x-ray spectrum and is made up of either black holes or dense neutron stars—scientists can’t say for sure.
Hubble recently captured Saturn when it was closest in its orbit to Earth. This composite image shows the planet and six of its 62 moons. Look very closely and you can spot, from left to right: Dione, Enceladus, Tethys, Janus, Epimetheus, and Mimas. The gaps in the rings are beautifully defined and you can even make out the bizarre hexagon storm at the north pole.
These mesmerizing hills are called falling dunes, and they are some of the rarer sorts of features on our neighboring red planet. This false-colored image taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2014 is meant to bring out the dunes’ shadows and details. Falling dunes are created not so much by wind, but by smaller grain particles being carried downhill by the force of gravity.
All is quiet out there in the great expanse and especially out at galaxy NGC 4036. This galaxy is known for its hazy cloud of dust that stretches far out into space, making it appear like some galactic night-light. The bright star to the right isn’t located in the galaxy, but lives between us and NGC 4036.