Week's Best Space Pictures: Satellite View of Disenchantment
By Nadia Drake,
National Geographic News, 22 May 2015.

From creating space-like environments on Earth to a cosmic collision in progress, our picks for the best of this week’s space pics will take you on a journey to the stars - starting right here at home and ending 400 million light-years away.

1. Disenchantment Bay


Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier, seen by Landsat 8 in July 2014, creeps up on Disenchantment Bay. Fed by melting snow and debris, the growing glacier has twice blocked the entrance to pitchfork-shaped Russell Fjord, causing the water level to rapidly rise.

2. Cosmic Two-for-One


Inside this twisted knot of a galaxy called NGC 6240, two supermassive black holes are spiralling ever closer to one another. About 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, the messy tangle formed when two galaxies merged.

3. Meanwhile, on the International Space Station


NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts check out the space station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly, a piece of hardware that keeps cabin air breathable. The crew also packed up the SpaceX Dragon freighter, which returned home May 21.

4. Creating Space on Earth


Spacecraft sent to explore the solar system must operate in a vacuum - which means teams designing space-faring hardware need a space-like place for pre-flight tests. This high-tech vacuum chamber at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre is one of those spots.

5. Galactic Core


The heart of the Milky Way, as seen by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, hosts a supermassive black hole. Snared by the black hole’s gravity and about 2 trillion miles from it, an extremely magnetic dead star (called a magnetar) periodically flares.

6. Crescent Ceres


The biggest body in the asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres, is unusually warm and watery - especially compared to its space rock neighbours. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft began orbiting Ceres in March, and took this image from 8,400 miles away on April 30.

Photo gallery by Mallory Benedict.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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