NASA Latest Images ( from 29-Dec-2015 to 15-Jan-2016 )

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300
Image Credit: Hubble Heritage Team, ESA, NASA
Explanation: Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100,000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy's dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. In fact, on close inspection the nucleus of this classic barred spiral itself shows a remarkable region of spiral structure about 3,000 light-years across. Like other spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, NGC 1300 is thought to have a supermassive central black hole.

Prometheus and the F Ring
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
Explanation: In Greek myth Prometheus was a Titan, known for bringing fire from Mount Olympus. But in modern times the name is given to a small moon of Saturn, orbiting just inside Saturn's F ring. In a complex interaction, the tiny potato-shaped moon interacts with the icy ring particles creating structures along the F ring still not fully understood. One of the highest resolution views of Prometheus, this image of its pocked surface posing with the thin F ring in the background was taken during the Cassini spacecraft's close approach on December 6, 2015. Prometheus is about 86 kilometers (50 miles) across.

High Energy Andromeda
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, GSFC, NuSTAR, GALEX,
Explanation: A mere 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. In this (inset) scan, image data from NASA's Nuclear Spectrosopic Telescope Array has yielded the best high-energy X-ray view yet of our large neighboring spiral, revealing some 40 extreme sources of X-rays, X-ray binary star systems that contain a black hole or neutron star orbiting a more normal stellar companion. In fact, larger Andromeda and our own Milky Way are the most massive members of the local galaxy group. Andromeda is close enough that NuSTAR can examine its population of X-ray binaries in detail, comparing them to our own. The background image of Andromeda was taken by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer in energetic ultraviolet light.

Earthset from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State U./Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Explanation: On the Moon, the Earth never rises -- or sets. If you were to sit on the surface of the Moon, you would see the Earth just hang in the sky. This is because the Moon always keeps the same side toward the Earth. Curiously, the featured image does picture the Earth setting over a lunar edge. This was possible because the image was taken from a spacecraft orbiting the Moon - specifically the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). In fact, LRO orbits the Moon so fast that, from the spacecraft, the Earth appears to set anew about every two hours. The featured image captured one such Earthset about three months ago. By contrast, from the surface of the Earth, the Moon sets about once a day -- with the primary cause being the rotation of the Earth. LRO was launched in 2009 and, while creating a detailed three dimensional map of the Moon's surface, is also surveying the Moon for water and possible good landing spots for future astronauts.

Dust of the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Raul Villaverde Fraile
Explanation: What surrounds a hotbed of star formation? In the case of the Orion Nebula -- dust. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. Opaque to visible light, dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of particles. The Trapezium and other forming star clusters are embedded in the nebula. The intricate filaments of dust surrounding M42 and M43 appear brown in the featured image, while central glowing gas is highlighted in red. Over the next few million years much of Orion's dust will be slowly destroyed by the very stars now being formed, or dispersed into the Galaxy.

Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, SOHO Consortium
Explanation: What's happening to our Sun? Another Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)! The Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft has imaged many erupting filaments lifting off the active solar surface and blasting enormous bubbles of magnetic plasma into space. Direct light from the sun is blocked in the inner part of the featured image, taken in 2002, and replaced by a simultaneous image of the Sun in ultraviolet light. The field of view extends over two million kilometers from the solar surface. While hints of these explosive events, called coronal mass ejections or CMEs, were discovered by spacecraft in the early 70s, this dramatic image is part of a detailed record of this CME's development from the presently operating SOHO spacecraft. Near the maximum of the solar activity cycle, CMEs now typically occur several times a week. Strong CMEs may profoundly influence space weather. Those directed toward our planet can have serious effects.

Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Image Credit: ESA / NASA / JPL-Caltech / STScI
Explanation: Cosmic dust clouds ripple across this infrared portrait of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. In fact, the remarkable composite image from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope show that dust clouds fill this neighboring dwarf galaxy, much like dust along the plane of the Milky Way itself. The dust temperatures tend to trace star forming activity. Spitzer data in blue hues indicate warm dust heated by young stars. Herschel's instruments contributed the image data shown in red and green, revealing dust emission from cooler and intermediate regions where star formation is just beginning or has stopped. Dominated by dust emission, the Large Magellanic Cloud's infrared appearance is different from views in optical images. But this galaxy's well-known Tarantula Nebula still stands out, easily seen here as the brightest region to the left of center. A mere 160,000 light-years distant, the Large Cloud of Magellan is about 30,000 light-years across.

Wright Mons in Color
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute
Explanation: Informally named Wright Mons, a broad mountain about 150 kilometers across and 4 kilometers high with a wide, deep summit depression is featured in this inset image captured during the New Horizons flyby of Pluto in July 2015. Of course, broad mountains with summit craters are found elsewhere in the Solar System, like the large shield volcano Mauna Loa on planet Earth or giant Olympus Mons on Mars. New Horizons scientists note the striking similarity of Pluto's Wright Mons, and nearby Piccard Mons, to large shield volcanoes suggests the two could be giant cryovolcanoes that once erupted molten ice from the interior of the cold, distant world. In fact, found on a frozen dwarf planet Wright Mons could be the largest volcano in the outer Solar System. Since only one impact crater has been identified on its slopes, Wright Mons may well have been active late in Pluto's history. This highest resolution color image also reveals red material sparsely scattered around the region.
Source - NASA