Saturday, December 27

TOP -10 Most Viewed Space Photos of 2008-2009

1. Venus, Jupiter, Moon Smile on Earth
The heavens smiled down on Earth December 1 in National Geographic News's most viewed space photo of 2008. The celestial smiley face is the result of a planetary conjunction between Venus, Jupiter, and the moon, shown here over Manila in the Philippines.People in Asia saw the smile while sky-watchers in the United States saw a frown, though we're sure it was nothing personal.


2. First Mars Avalanches Seen In Action
NASA scientists might have been yodeling for joy in March when they saw the first-ever picture of active landslides occurring on Mars.Snapped by the Mars-orbiting HiRISE camera, billowing clouds of dust revealed the action at the base of a towering slope near the red planet's north pole. "It's great to see something so dynamic on Mars," HiRISE team member Ingrid Daubar Spitale noted at the time. "A lot of what we see there hasn't changed for millions of years." (Read an essay on Mars by famed author Ray Bradbury from this year's special space issue of National Geographic magazine.)


3. Gamma-Ray Burst Visible to Naked Eye
In March scientists detected an interstellar explosion so bright that it was briefly visible to the naked eye—from 7.5 billion light-years away.Images captured by NASA's Swift satellite show two views of the unusual gamma-ray burst, an outpouring of high-energy radiation and particles thought to follow the collapse of a massive star.The burst crushed the previous record holder for most distant object visible without assistance—the galaxy M33—by three orders of magnitude.


4.NEW JUPITER :Sharpest View Ever From Earth
Jupiter looks sharp in the crispest whole-planet picture of the gas giant ever shot from Earth, released in October.The picture was taken using a computer-assisted process that adjusts for distortions caused by Earth's atmosphere, allowing a ground-based telescope in Chile to snap shots rivaling those taken from space, astronomers said.In Jupiter's case, the result shows features as small as 180 miles (300 kilometers) across.


5. New Hi-Res Views of Mars's ''Fear'' Moon Unveiled
In April the Mars-orbiting HiRISE camera caught new high-resolution snapshots of Phobos, a Martian moon named for the Greek god of horror.The tiny moon's most prominent feature is Stickney Crater, pictured above in false color. The impact that created Stickney is thought to have almost shattered the roughly 17-mile-wide (27-kilometer-wide) moon. (Find out how Stickney Crater is revealing new insights into Phobos's makeup at the National Geographic News space blog, Breaking Orbit.)


6. New Picture of the Pinwheel Galaxy
An image released by NASA in April shows baby stars taking shape in the Southern Pinwheel galaxy.Embryonic stars were found to be growing in the galaxy's spindly arms (shown in red), rather than in its bright heart.Scientists at the time described the find as "absolutely stunning," because it was believed that such outlying sections of galaxies lacked the necessary materials for star formation


7. New Supernova "Gumball" Picture
The remnant of a supernova, first seen from Earth more than a thousand years ago, hangs like a gumball in a composite image released by NASA in June.The blast wave from the stellar explosion is still traveling at about 6 million miles (9.6 million kilometers) an hour, heating gases along its path that emit radiation as visible light.


8. Black Hole Seen in Closest Look Ever
Ground-based radio telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, and California combined forces to examine the super massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.Although by definition we can't see a black hole directly, we can see the bright region of radio emissions known as Sagittarius A* that's thought to be either a disk of matter swirling toward the black hole, or a high-speed jet of matter being ejected from it.Astronomers who released the image in September noted that further study of Sagittarius A* should help us understand "what happens as matter is drawn near to the black hole and disappears forever."


9. First Picture of Alien Planet Orbiting Sunlike Star?
A faint dot above a blazing inferno is possibly the first direct view of a planet outside our solar system orbiting a sunlike star.The infrared image, taken by the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, was released in September. At the time astronomers weren't sure whether the body was a planet or a planet like object, and it remains to be seen if it is truly orbiting the star.Two months later independent teams announced the first infrared image of an alien multiplanet system, taken using a pair of ground-based telescopes, as well as the first visible-light picture of an extra solar planet, snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope.


10. Supernova Creates "Ribbon" in Space
Like a ribbon trailing from a parade float, a streamer of hydrogen gas seems to waft across the stars in an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.Released in July, this festive shot of a supernova remnant was National Geographic News's tenth most viewed space photo of 2008.Bright stripes within the ribbon—which is actually the shock wave from the stellar explosion—appear where the wave is moving edge-on to Hubble's line of sight.



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