Gamma Ray Burst


When a massive star collapses to form a black hole, a burst of gamma rays results as particles are blasted outward at nearly the speed of light. This animation shows the most common type of gamma-ray burst. An end-on view of a jet greatly boosts its apparent brightness. One especially bright burst (GRB 130427A) was detected in 2013 by the Fermi and Swift satellites. A Fermi image of that burst ends the animation sequence.

Video Credit: NASA

Rotating a Galaxy


This animation illustrates the rotation rate of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Hubble Space Telescope observations have been used to determine that the central part of the LMC completes a rotation every 250 million years. It takes more than 10 million years for even the small amount of rotation illustrated in this video.

Video Credit: NASA

LL Orionis


This photograph is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in the Orion Nebula. The young variable star LL Orionis produces a stellar wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As its fast stellar wind smacks into slow moving gas, a shock front is formed, just like the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori’s cosmic bow shock. It’s about half a light-year across.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

Enceladus, Pandora, and Rings (Oh, My!)


Saturn’s moon Enceladus is backlit by the Sun in this Cassini spacecraft image from 2009. The dramatic lighting shows of the plumes that continuously spew into space from the south pole of 500 km diameter moon. The icy plumes are likely fed by an ocean beneath the ice shell of Enceladus. They supply material directly to Saturn’s outer, tenuous E ring and make the surface of Enceladus as reflective as snow. Behind Enceladus, Saturn’s rings scatter sunlight toward Cassini. Beyond the rings, the night side of the 80 km diameter moon Pandora is faintly lit by light reflecting off of Saturn.

Image Credit: NASA