The best space photographs

Blogger has a scheduled outage in some time. Was working on a lot of space related articles this month, so came across a few space photos. Many of these images are spectacular, particularly the ones that involve nubulae, supernovas and close-ups of the sun. In fact, images like these make up most of's top ten space images. The most recognisable of these is the Pillars of Creation image, which all of us have seen. Another common and breathtaking image is god's eye, or the helix nebula. My criteria was slightly different - instead of going for how pretty the photo looks, I went for something that showed the magic of the cosmos, and the science behind it more. The images had to move you in the guts more than the eyes... some of the images I came across were really strange. These included the rings of Uranus, hexagonal cloud formations on Saturn, and Auroras on Jupiter. Images that were historic or iconic because of the time they were taken in, or the subject, were also ignored. This meant the blue marble image, various earthrises from the moon, and the deep space photos of Hubble were ignored. Which left me with:

The honourable mention - A protoplanetary disk, this image shows a ring of matter around a newborn star. The ring of matter will eventually condense to form a stellar system.

5. Runaway stars. Stars don't need to stay in one place, in the same location to the galactic centre. They can move throw space, accelerating in a direction that is not consistent with nearby objects. Sometimes, they pass through clouds of matter creating trails like comets.

4. The 5000 light year long jet
Take a huge black hole (its actually pretty small, just incredibly massive) - put it into the center of a galaxy, and what you get is a stream of electron like particles that jet out perpendicular to the accretion disc. This jet here, is 5000 light years long.

3. Sunset from Mars
This photo reminded me of the desolation on Tatooine. In about sixty odd years, the Russians and the Chinese plan to land up here with men, and the other's are likely to be close behind, if not at par. This is going to be one of mankind's greatest adventures, and in the near future at that.

2. Pale Blue Dot
The Voyager 1 is the farthest man made object from the Earth. As it escaped the solar system, Carl Sagan (he gave you Contact), asked NASA to turn the probe around and photograph Earth. The Earth was so small, that it was smaller than the smallest imaging element on Voyager's photograph, registering only half a dot on the image. This, is our planet from 3.7 billion miles away, basking in the light rays of the sun. Also, I think, this is the largest rainbow ever photographed. Not exactly a rainbow, there is no rain out there... but decide for yourself.

1. Amateur weather balloon space photo
This is a recent development, showing that a small group of amateurs can take photos of space. The entire process is detailed here. Up for the Google Lunar X prize anyone?