As tradition dictates, we are ending the year with a list of the most beautiful photos from space. What were the best space photos this year? More than 900 visitors chose the following ten photos.
Not surprisingly, the list is dominated by images from the James Webb Telescope. This telescope opened its eyes earlier this year and has already sent many beautiful shots to Earth. Only three photos in this top 10 were not taken by James Web…
In this article, we count down from number 10 to number 1. The best placed photos received higher ratings from visitors and are therefore higher in the list.
#10 You’ve never seen the sun like this before: A brand new telescope takes spectacular pictures of the chromosphere
Scientists released a stunning photo of our own parent star this year. The images were produced using the state-of-the-art Inouye Solar Telescope. And it really is a fantastic photo, revealing many secrets about our sun. “The telescope will forever change the way we study and understand our sun,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. Do you also think that the chromosphere of the sun is a bit like the hairy fur of an animal?
#9 James Webb Sees A Newborn Star Cause A Lot Of Trouble
Last month, the US space agency released this beautiful image taken by the James Webb Telescope. The photo shows a colored hourglass. And right in the middle, in the “neck”, a newborn star resides. What’s particularly special is that the fiery orange and blue clouds are only visible in infrared light. Therefore, they had never been seen before being captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera (Nircam). Read more about this photo in the news on Scientias.nl.
ESO’s #8 telescope sees a mighty star factory looming in space
In honor of ESO’s 60th anniversary, the observatory released an impressive image of the Cone Nebula this year. And this ‘star factory’ shines in the picture like never before. The nebula is less than 2,500 light-years away, making it relatively close to Earth. It is not for nothing that the Cone Nebula is a sought-after object of research and has been photographed several times. However, the new photo is more impressive than all the previous ones. Because wouldn’t you agree that the dark, impenetrable cloud structure of the nebula in this photo makes it look a lot like a monstrous creature?
#7 One of James Webb’s first images: NGC 3132
2000 light-years from Earth, we find a planetary nebula, also called the eight-flare nebula in English. The nebula (a cloud of gas growing around a dying star) is currently expanding at 14.5 kilometers per second. Webb gives astronomers a wealth of new information about the composition of planetary nebulae such as NGC 3132. Which molecules for example, this gigantic gas cloud formed?
#6 The James Webb Telescope peeks into the Cartwheel Galaxy
You may have heard of the Cartwheel system; a galaxy about 500 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy is located in the constellation of the Sculptor and is particularly known for its rather peculiar shape. As its name suggests, the system resembles the wheel of a chariot; the result of a huge collision. Earlier this year, researchers using the James Webb Space Telescope again observed the Cartwheel galaxy. And which gives interesting ideas.
#5 The new Hubble image of the spiral galaxy NGC 1961 is a sight to behold
It takes time, but here is the first Hubble photo in the top 10. This is a stunning image of the spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 1961. NGC 1961 is an AGN, or active galactic nucleus. AGNs are extremely energetic objects. They are powered by supermassive black holes. These black holes feed on large amounts of cosmic dust and gas. Before being engulfed, this material spirals through the black hole, releasing huge amounts of energy in the process. As a result, an active nucleus often shines brighter than all the stars in the surrounding galaxy combined. In fact, they can even shine brighter than supernovae!
#4 Webb Looks Into An Alien Nursery And Sees What Was Previously Unseen
One of the first images taken by the powerful James Webb Telescope was of the stunning cosmic cliffs of the Carina Nebula. This is an area at the edge of a giant gas cavity in star cluster NGC 3324. The nebula is a well-known nursery, previously photographed by Hubble. But thanks to Webb’s precise infrared vision, this telescope is able to peer into the dense clouds of dust and gas for the first time. And that led discover many more details about how stars see daylight.
#3 James Webb Takes Fantastic Photos Of The Tarantula Nebula
Instruments aboard this powerful space telescope reveal details never seen before in this well-studied nebula, including tens of thousands of new stars. Thanks to the unprecedented resolution at near-infrared wavelengths, NIRCam can still spot these stars, even if they are still hidden in dust. In the image, these stars are colored red. Additionally, you can also see a lot of blue dots in the photo. These mark the most active parts of the star-forming nebula, teeming with massive and very young stars.
#2 James Webb and Hubble team up and deliver a great shot
The James Webb and Hubble space telescopes together delivered a very nice image. This is an image of Messier 74, a spiral galaxy located about 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. New images from Messier 74 show the power of space observatories working together at multiple wavelengths. This is the spiral galaxy Messier 74 like you’ve never seen before.
#1 The brand new photo of the famous Eagle Nebula is scaring viewers
With an average rating of 9 (!!) is the Eagle Nebula the favorite space photo of the year according to Scientias.nl visitors. This nebula is located about 6500 light years away and is of course best known for its columns of gas. These have been stealing the show for decades. If not on Scientias.nl, then on TV, in the film (intro to ‘Contact’) or in a magazine. The picture became world famous in a short time. And it’s not surprising: the Eagle Nebula with its dusty pillars is magnificent.
Incidentally, James Webb took another picture of the Eagle Nebula earlier this year, which you can see here.
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