V404 Cygni

On June 15, the Swift satellite caught the onset of a rare X-ray outburst from a stellar-mass black hole in the binary system V404 Cygni. In that system a stream of gas from a star much like the sun flows toward a 10 solar mass black hole. Instead of spiraling into the black hole, the gas accumulates in an accretion disk around it. Every couple of decades, the disk changes state, sending the gas rushing inward. The result is a new X-ray outburst.

Video Credit: NASA

A Day on Pluto

nh-pluto-day_1As it approached Pluto last July, the cameras on the New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “day.” Pluto’s day is 6.4 Earth days long. The best available images of each view of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this montage of a full rotation.

Image Credit: NASA

Magnetic Loops on the Sun

Two active regions sprout arches of bundled magnetic loops in this video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory taken on 11 and 12 November, 2015. Charged particles move along the magnetic field, tracing out bright lines as they emit light in extreme ultraviolet light. Around the middle of the video, a small eruption from the active region near the center causes the coils to rise up and become brighter as the magnetic field realigns.

Video Credit: NASA