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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BEST SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK CXI


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Week’s Best Space Pictures: Stars Form a Heavy-Metal Band
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 3 June 2016.

This week, astronauts gaze down at the world's largest biological structure, moons coast past the outskirts of Saturn's rings, and the European Space Agency's Herschel infrared telescope spots the largest possible star types.

1. Rainbow in the Dark

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A 10.5-billion-year-old star cluster some 35,000 light-years away, called NGC 6496, is space's version of a heavy-metal band: Its stars are richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium than stars in similar clusters.

2. Fragile Find

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An International Space Station astronaut photographed a 10-mile (15-kilometer) area of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Recent bleaching has killed about 35 percent of the reef’s north and central corals, according to new estimates.

3. Soaring Satellites

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Saturn's moons Janus (center) and Mimas (right) coast in their silent orbits beyond the rings in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The ansa, or outer edge of the rings, is visible at left.

4. Pluto's Beating Heart

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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft peers down on Sputnik Planum, Pluto's heart-shaped plain of nitrogen ice. New studies show that this area is reworked constantly by convection below the surface - similar to that in an oozing lava lamp.

5. Little Fox, Big Stars

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This false-colour infrared image shows Vulpecula OB1, a grouping situated 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula - Latin for "little fox." O and B stars, the largest possible stars, are forming inside.

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

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