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Explore the universe and discover our home planet with the official NASA Instagram account

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It's a long ways down. This is a view from the vantage point of astronaut Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) during his spacewalk Friday outside the International Space Station (@ISS). Shane posted this photo and wrote, " View of our spectacular planet (and my boots) during the #spacewalk yesterday with @Thom_astro." During the spacewalk with Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet (@thom_astro) of ESA (@europeanspaceagency), which lasted just over six-and-a-half hours, the two astronauts successfully disconnected cables and electrical connections to prepare for its robotic move Sunday, March 26.  Credit: NASA  #nasa #iss #space #earth #spacestation #astronauts
Two Interacting Galaxies Defying Cosmic Convention - The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a striking view of two interacting galaxies located some 60 million light-years away. They are so close that they are being distorted by the gravitational forces between them, and are twisting themselves into the unusual and unique shapes seen here.  Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA  #hubble #nasa #space #hst #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science
Dark Spot and Jovian 'Galaxy' - This enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter seems to reveal a Jovian "galaxy" of swirling storms. Juno acquired this JunoCam image on Feb. 2, 2017, at an altitude of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above the giant planet's cloud tops. This publicly selected target was simply titled "Dark Spot." In ground-based images it was difficult to tell that it is a dark storm. Citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko enhanced the color to bring out the rich detail in the storm and surrounding clouds.  Just south of the dark storm is a bright, oval-shaped storm with high, bright, white clouds, reminiscent of a swirling galaxy. As a final touch, he rotated the image 90 degrees, turning the picture into a work of art.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko  #nasa #jupiter #juno #nasabeyond #planets #space #science #citizenscience #astronomy #photography
Mount Etna Erupting from Space: The crew aboard the International Space Station (@ISS) had a nighttime view from orbit of Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna, erupting on March 19, 2017. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet (@thom_astro) of ESA (@europeanspaceagency) captured this image and shared it with his social media followers, writing, "Mount Etna, in Sicily. The volcano is currently erupting and the molten lava is visible from space, at night! (the red lines on the left)." Image Credit: ESA/NASA  #nasa #iss #spacestation #mountetna #etna#science #astronauts #esa
[ARTIST CONCEPT] Some 290 million years ago, a star much like the sun wandered too close to the central black hole of its galaxy. Intense tides tore the star apart, which produced an eruption of optical, ultraviolet and X-ray light that first reached Earth in 2014. Now, a team of scientists using observations from our Swift satellite have mapped out how and where these different wavelengths were produced in the event, named ASASSN-14li, as the shattered star's debris circled the black hole.  This artist's rendering shows the tidal disruption event named ASASSN-14li, where a star wandering too close to a 3-million-solar-mass black hole was torn apart. The debris gathered into an accretion disk around the black hole.  Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center  #nasa #space #nasabeyond #blackhole #swift #astronomy #galaxy #science
From the vantage point of the International Space Station (@ISS), astronaut Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) captured this image over the Earth and wrote, Looking west over the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  #earthart from the amazing space station.' The space station serves as the world's leading laboratory for conducting cutting-edge microgravity research, and is the primary platform for technology development and testing in space to enable human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including asteroids and Mars.  Credit: NASA  #nasa #iss #space #earth #spacestation #astronauts
Glittering Frisbee Galaxy: This image from Hubble's shows a section of a spiral galaxy located about 50 million light-years from Earth. We tend to think of spiral galaxies as massive and roughly circular celestial bodies, so this glittering oval does not immediately appear to fit the visual bill. What's going on? Imagine a spiral galaxy as a circular frisbee spinning gently in space. When we see it face on, our observations reveal a spectacular amount of detail and structure. However, the galaxy frisbee is very nearly edge-on with respect to Earth, giving it an appearance that is more oval than circular. The spiral arms, which curve out from the galaxy's dense core, can just about be seen.  Although spiral galaxies might appear static with their picturesque shapes frozen in space, this is very far from the truth. The stars in these dramatic spiral configurations are constantly moving as they orbit around the galaxy's core, with those on the inside making the orbit faster than those sitting further out. This makes the formation and continued existence of a spiral galaxy's arms something of a cosmic puzzle, because the arms wrapped around the spinning core should become wound tighter and tighter as time goes on - but this is not what we see. This is known as the winding problem.  Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA  #nasa #space #hubble #hst #galaxy #nasabeyond #astronomy #science
Goodbye Dragon! Astronauts Thomas Pesquet (@thom_astro) of ESA (@europeanspaceagency) and Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) of NASA released the @SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station's (@ISS) robotic arm at 5:11 a.m. EDT today. Pesquet posted this images and wrote, 'Today we said good bye to #dragon! She is taking part of us back to ground with her - important scientific samples, some from the crew!' Credit: NASA/ESA  #nasa #iss #spacestation #dragon #spacex #science #astronauts #esa
Stars were battling each other in a gravitational tussle, which ended with the system breaking apart and at least three stars being ejected in different directions. The speedy, wayward stars went unnoticed for hundreds of years until, over the past few decades, two of them were spotted in infrared and radio observations, which could penetrate the thick dust in the Orion Nebula. The observations showed that the two stars were traveling at high speeds in opposite directions from each other. The stars' origin, however, was a mystery. Astronomers traced both stars back 540 years to the same location and suggested they were part of a now-defunct multiple-star system. But the duo's combined energy, which is propelling them outward, didn't add up. The researchers reasoned there must be at least one other culprit that robbed energy from the stellar toss-up.  Now Nthe Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers find the final piece of the puzzle by nabbing a third runaway star. The astronomers followed the path of the newly found star back to the same location where the two previously known stars were located 540 years ago. The trio reside in a small region of young stars called the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, near the center of the vast Orion Nebula complex, located 1,300 light-years away.  The image by Hubble shows a grouping of young stars, called the Trapezium Cluster.  Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Luhman (Penn State University), and M. Robberto (STScI)  #nasa #space #nasabeyond #astronomy #hubble #science #stars #nebula
Happy #stpatricksday! Celebrating with a wave of green aurora that @Astro_JeffW was lucky enough to see in person during his 2016 mission on the space station (@ISS). The dancing lights of the aurora provide stunning views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.  Credit: NASA  #nasa #space #spacestation #iss #aurora #australia #happystpatricksday
Heat Below the Icy Surface of Enceladus: A new study in the journal Nature Astronomy reports that the south polar region of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus is warmer than expected just a few feet below its icy surface. This suggests that Enceladus' ocean of liquid water might be only a couple of miles beneath this region -- closer to the surface than previously thought.  The excess heat is especially pronounced over three fractures that are not unlike the "tiger stripes" -- prominent, actively venting fractures that slice across the pole -- except that they don't appear to be active at the moment. Seemingly dormant fractures lying above the moon's warm, underground sea point to the dynamic character of Enceladus' geology, suggesting the moon might have experienced several episodes of activity, in different places on its surface. "What is the warm underground ocean really like and could life have evolved there? These questions remain to be answered by future missions to this ocean world," said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute  #nasa #space #cassini #saturn #moon #planets #nasabeyond #solarsystem #enceladus #science
[No Audio] Earth’s radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped regions of charged particles encircling our planet, were discovered more than 50 years ago, but their behavior is still not completely understood. Now, new observations from NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission show that the fastest, most energetic electrons in the inner radiation belt are not present as much of the time as previously thought. The results are presented in a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research and show that there typically isn’t as much radiation in the inner belt as previously assumed — good news for spacecraft flying in the region.  The 3-dimensional radiation belt model in the visualizations above was constructed by propagating electron flux measurements, corresponding to a given time and distance from Earth measured by the Van Allen Probes, along a 3-dimensional structure of magnetic dipole field lines.  Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Tom Bridgman  #nasa #space #vanallenbelt #sun #radiation #earth #nasabeyond #science
This graphic features an artist's impression of a star found in the closest orbit known around a black hole. Astronomers found this extraordinarily close stellar pairing in a globular cluster, a dense collection of stars located on the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy, about 14,800 light years from Earth. This particular source, known as X9, has been of interest to scientists for many years. Until a couple of years ago, astronomers thought X9 contained a white dwarf pulling material from a companion star like the Sun. (Astronomers call a pair of objects orbiting one another a 'binary' system.) However, a team of scientists in 2015 used radio data to show that X9 likely consisted instead of a black hole pulling gas from a white dwarf companion. These researchers predicted that the white dwarf would take only about 25 minutes to orbit the black hole.  As seen in the artist's illustration, the white dwarf is so close to the black hole that much of its material is being pulled away. If it continues to lose mass, this white dwarf may evolve into some exotic sort of planet or completely evaporate.  Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Alberta/A.Bahramian et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss  #nasa #space #blackhole #star #chandra #nustar #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science
Mimas' gigantic crater Herschel lies near the moon's limb in this Cassini view. A big enough impact could potentially break up a moon. Luckily for Mimas, whatever created Herschel was not quite big enough to cause that level of disruption. When large impacts happen, they deliver tremendous amounts of energy -- sometimes enough to cause global destruction.  Even impacts that are not catastrophic can leave enormous, near-permanent scars on bodies like Mimas (246 miles or 396 kilometers across). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute  #nasa #cassini #space #mimas #planets #saturn #astronomy #science
Stretched Loops: When an active region rotated over to the edge of the sun, it presented us with a nice profile view of its elongated loops stretching and swaying above it (March 8/9, 2017). These loops are actually charged particles (made visible in extreme ultraviolet light) swirling along the magnetic field lines of the active region. The video covers about 30 hours of activity. Also of note is a darker twisting mass of plasma to the left of the active region being pulled and spun about by magnetic forces.  Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA  #nasa #space #sun #nasabeyond #sdo #science
This beautiful Hubble image reveals a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1, only 15,000 light-years away in our Milky Way neighborhood, yet home to one of the largest stars ever discovered.  Stars are classified according to their spectral type, surface temperature, and luminosity. While studying and classifying the cluster's constituent stars, astronomers discovered that Westerlund 1 is home to an enormous star.  Originally named Westerlund 1-26, this monster star is a red supergiant (although sometimes classified as a hypergiant) with a radius over 1,500 times that of our sun. If Westerlund 1-26 were placed where our sun is in our solar system, it would extend out beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Most of Westerlund 1's stars are thought to have formed in the same burst of activity, meaning that they have similar ages and compositions. The cluster is relatively young in astronomical terms -at around three million years old it is a baby compared to our own sun, which is some 4.6 billion years old.  Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA  #nasa #space #hubble #hst #nasabeyond #astronomy #science
[Artist Concept] Ancient stardust sheds light on the first stars. Astronomers have detected a huge mass of glowing stardust in a galaxy seen when the universe was only 4 percent of its present age. This galaxy was observed shortly after its formation and is the most distant galaxy in which dust has been detected. This observation is also the most distant detection of oxygen in the universe. These new results provide brand new insights into the births and explosive deaths of the very first stars.  This artist's impression shows what the very distant young galaxy might look like.  Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser  #nasa #space #star #stardust #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science
Space ravioli? No, it's Saturn's moon Pan. These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's tiny moon, Pan, were taken on March 7 by our Cassini spacecraft. The flyby had a close-approach distance of 24,572 kilometers (15,268 miles). These images are the closest images ever taken of Pan and will help to characterize its shape and geology.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (@NASAJPL)  #nasa #space #cassini #saturn #pan #moon #planets #spacecraft #nasabeyond #astronomy #geology #science
Engineers successfully tested the parachutes for our Orion spacecraft at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona Wednesday. This was the second test in a series of eight that will certify Orion's parachutes for human spaceflight. The test, which dropped an Orion engineering model from a C-17 aircraft at 25,000 feet, simulated the descent astronauts might experience if they have to abort a mission after liftoff.  Orion, which will launch atop our new Space Launch System rocket, is built to take astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. The spacecraft will carry crew to space, provide emergency abort capabilities, sustain the crew during their mission and provide safe re-entry through Earth's atmosphere.  Image Credit: NASA  #nasa #space #orion #sls #astronauts #mars #moon #rocket #spacecraft
Jupiter Wallpaper: When team members from our Juno mission(@NASAJuno)  invited the public to process JunoCam images, they did not anticipate that they would receive back such beautiful, creative expressions of art. The oranges and grayed-out regions of blue-green in this tiled and color-enhanced image resemble a color scheme much like Romantic era paintings, but more abstract. The lack of discreet objects to focus on allows the mind to seek familiar Earthly shapes, and the brightest spots seem to draw the eye.  Citizen scientist Eric Jorgensen created this Jovian artwork with a JunoCam image taken when the spacecraft was at an altitude of 11,100 miles (17,800 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloudtops on Dec. 11, 2016 at 9:22 a.m. PT (12:22 p.m. ET). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Eric Jorgensen @NASAJPL  #nasa #jupiter #juno #nasabeyond #planets #space #science #citizenscience #astronomy #photography
The bright central area of Ceres' Occator Crater, known as Cerealia Facula, is approximately 30 million years younger than the crater in which it lies, according to a new that used data from our Dawn spacecraft to analyze Occator's central dome in detail, concluding that this intriguing bright feature on the dwarf planet is only about 4 million years old -- quite recent in terms of geological history. The new study supports earlier interpretations from the Dawn team that this reflective material -- comprising the brightest area on all of Ceres -- is made of carbonate salts, although it did not confirm a particular type of carbonate previously identified. The secondary, smaller bright areas of Occator, called Vinalia Faculae, are comprised of a mixture of carbonates and dark material  The bright spots in the center of Occator Crater on Ceres are shown in enhanced color in this view from Dawn.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI/LPI  #nasa #dawn #ceres #space #planet #nasabeyond #solarsystem #science