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Dec 31 2012

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Star Struck! Dazzling Collection of Hubble Telescope Photos Captures Countless Swirling Stars as They Sparkle in Space

By Helen PowPUBLISHED: 00:46 EST, 30 Dec 2012 | UPDATED: 06:51 EST, 30 Dec 2012

Gazing into the sky on a clear night is a favorite pastime of many. And a collection of dazzling photographs released this year by NASA makes it easy to see why. The stunning images, primarily captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope, show swirling palettes of colored gas, dust and countless stars as they sparkle in space.

Many of the visually spectacular formations are the result of cosmic collisions – where a smaller galaxy plunges right through the heart of a larger one, shooting out the other side. As the traveling galaxy passes through the center of its bigger neighbor, it sets up gravitational ripples that disrupt red and blue clouds of gas and dust and trigger the formation of new stars.

Bad millennium: This galaxy is having a bad millennium and its unlikely to improve any time soon. The upper left galaxy used to be a normal spiral galaxy, minding its own business, until the one toward its right, crashed into itCrash: This galaxy is having a bad millennium and its unlikely to improve any time soon. The upper left galaxy used to be a normal spiral galaxy, minding its own business, until the one toward its right, crashed into it
The great eruption: Astronomers are watching a delayed broadcast of a spectacular outburst from the unstable, behemoth double-star system Eta Carinae, dubbed the 'Great Eruption'The great eruption: Astronomers are watching a delayed broadcast of a spectacular outburst from the unstable, behemoth double-star system Eta Carinae, dubbed the ‘Great Eruption’

Hot stars: Peering deep inside the hub of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a large, rare population of around 8,000 hot, bright starsHot stars: Peering deep inside the hub of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a large, rare population of around 8,000 hot, bright stars.

The Crow: Antennae Galaxies are a pair of distorted colliding spiral galaxies about 70 million light-years away, in the constellation of Corvus (The Crow)The Crow: Antennae Galaxies are a pair of distorted colliding spiral galaxies about 70 million light-years away, in the constellation of Corvus (The Crow).
Light-years away: About 300 million light-years away, only four of these five galaxies are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encountersLight-years away: About 300 million light-years away, only four of these five galaxies are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
Wow: This composite image of a portion of the Tarantula Nebula's central cavity illustrates the profound effect new stars can have on their environmentWow: This composite image of a portion of the Tarantula Nebula’s central cavity illustrates the profound effect new stars can have on their environment.
Clusters: Astronomers have caught two clusters full of massive stars that may be in the early stages of merging. The clusters are 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to our Milky WayClusters: Astronomers have caught two clusters full of massive stars that may be in the early stages of merging. The clusters are 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to our Milky Way.
Black hole: Two jets powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules ABlack hole: Two jets powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A.
Old: This image provided by NASA and taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows previously unseen early galaxies including the oldest one at 13.3 billion years oldOld: This image provided by NASA and taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows previously unseen early galaxies including the oldest one at 13.3 billion years old.
Sparkling: Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a festive-looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189Sparkling: Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a festive-looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189.

VIDEO Zoom through the universe using the Hubble Space telescope to NGC 5189

 

 

The Furnace: Lying 45 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), this bright star-forming ring surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxyThe Furnace: Lying 45 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), this bright star-forming ring surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy

SupernovaSupernova: A new photo of Eta Carinae system’s largest star suffering a near-death experience before it goes supernova in the near future. The star is once more visible to the naked eye at night, although it’s nowhere near as bright as it was back in the 19th century.

Cosmic collision: The unusual form seen here is the result of a cosmic collision with a smaller galaxy which plunged right through the heart of the larger oneCosmic collision: The unusual form seen here is the result of a cosmic collision with a smaller galaxy which plunged right through the heart of the larger one.

Dying star: A photo of U Camelopardalis, a star nearing the end of its life located in the constellation of Camelopardalis

Dying star: A photo of U Camelopardalis, a star nearing the end of its life located in the constellation of Camelopardalis.Hot gas: Herbig-Haro 110 is a geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets off the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogenHot gas: Herbig-Haro 110 is a geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets off the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen.

The Swan: Located just beyond the tip of the tail of the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), this butterfly-shaped cloud of glowing gas and dust is the wreckage of a star similar to the SunThe Swan: Located just beyond the tip of the tail of the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), this butterfly-shaped cloud of glowing gas and dust is the wreckage of a star similar to the Sun.

Drifter:

Drifter: Two very different galaxies are drifting through space together in this image. The peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116 which is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 or M60 (C) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647 (upper right)

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