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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BEST SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK XC


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Week's Best Space Pictures: Orion's Lightsabers and Dust Doughnuts
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 18 December 2015.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe. This week, jets of energized gas create visible shockwaves in deep space, hurricanes form a single-file line across the Pacific Ocean, and a ring of space dust holds a surprising secret in its inner sanctum.

1. The Force Awakens

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HH 24, a region 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion, ejects lightsaber-like jets of energized gas. The jets - which flow from a protostar cluster - create shockwaves that form Herbig-Haro objects, the visible “beams.”

2. Family Photo

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Enceladus and Tethys, two of Saturn’s icy moons, line up almost perfectly for the cameras of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Enceladus, the front moon, is about half the diameter and one-fifth the mass of its bigger sibling Tethys.

3. Single File

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On August 26, 2015, NASA’s DSCOVR satellite spotted a trio of hurricanes - Kilo, Ignacio, and Jimena - marching across the Pacific Ocean.

4. Leaves of Stone

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An eroding river system 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, cuts elaborate, leaf-like canyons into the rock - as seen from the International Space Station.

5. Pink Eye

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Galaxy 1068, a spiral galaxy 47 million light-years away, glows with visible light and high-energy X-rays (magenta), seen here by NASA’s NuSTAR satellite. The X-rays are emitted by a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

6. Misty Mountains

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NASA’s Terra satellite sees fog enshroud the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The fog forms when moist Pacific air rides up the Cascade Mountains and then sinks, saturating the lower atmosphere with enough water to form ground-level “clouds.”

7. Martian Halfpipe

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NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey satellite snaps a shot of the red planet’s Olympica Fossae, a complex series of troughs and valleys. This trench - called a graben - is bounded on both sides by fault lines, which maintain its uniform width.

8. Empty Crib

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The ALMA radio observatory spots a transitional disk, a type of rotating disk of gas and dust that surrounds young stars. The disk’s inner “hole” gets cleared out when new planets form near the central star, a new study suggests.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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