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September 19, 2014

Images from NASA

A collection of images released by NASA gives us a look from above and beyond earth. Amazing technology allows us to view our world in ways we could never imagine. --Leanne Burden Seidel (10 photos total)

An active region just about squarely facing Earth erupted with an X 1.6 flare (largest class) as well as a coronal mass ejection on Sept. 10. The flare lasted longer than usual and sent out a burst of radiation into space. A darker wave of material was propelled across part of the Sun's surface. Images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)

This picture, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), shows a galaxy known as NGC 6872 in the constellation of Pavo (The Peacock). Its unusual shape is caused by its interactions with the smaller galaxy that can be seen just above NGC 6872, called IC 4970. They both lie roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. From tip to tip, NGC 6872 measures over 500,000 light-years across, making it the second largest spiral galaxy discovered to date. (ESA/Hubble & NASA / Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt) #

NASA's DHC-3 Otter plane flies in Operation IceBridge-Alaska surveys of mountain glaciers in Alaska in this image released on September 18. Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region's summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at work studying how rising temperatures are affecting the Arctic. The Arctic Radiation - IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment, or ARISE, is a new NASA airborne campaign to collect data on thinning sea ice and measure cloud and atmospheric properties in the Arctic. The campaign was designed to address questions about the relationship between retreating sea ice and the Arctic climate. (Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks) #

At about 10:45 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) on September 14, Hurricane Odile made landfall as a Category 3 storm near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Odile arrived with wind speeds of 110 knots (204 kilometers or 127 miles per hour). The storm tied Olivia (1967) as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state of Baja California Sur in the satellite era. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color view of the storm at about noon MDT on September 14, when it was still southeast of the Baja California peninsula. Unisys Weather reported that the Category 4 storm had maximum sustained wind speeds of 115 knots (213 kilometers per hour) at the time. (Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Kathryn Hansen) #

Far beyond the stars in the constellation of Leo (The Lion) is irregular galaxy IC 559. IC 559 is not your everyday galaxy. With its irregular shape and bright blue spattering of stars, it is a fascinating galactic anomaly. It may look like sparse cloud, but it is in fact full of gas and dust which is spawning new stars. This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, combines a wide range of wavelengths spanning the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared parts of the spectrum. (ESA/Hubble, NASA, D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team) #

An illustration of the supermassive black hole located in the middle of the very dense galaxy M60-UCD1. It weighs as much as 21 million times the mass of our Sun. Lying about 50 million light-years away, M60-UCD1 is a tiny galaxy with a diameter of 300 light-years just 1/500th of the diameter of the Milky Way! Despite its size it is pretty crowded, containing some 140 million stars. Because no light can escape from the black hole, it appears simply in silhouette against the starry background. The black holes intense gravitational field warps the light of the background stars to form ring-like images just outside the dark edges of the black holes event horizon. (Combined observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASAs Gemini North telescope determined the presence of the black hole inside M60-UCD1.) #

The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 1:48 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. However -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. (NASA/Goddard/SDO) #

The fire season in California has been anything but cooperative this year. Hot conditions combined with a state-wide drought and dry lightning makes for unpleasant conditions and leads to an abundance of forest fires.NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on September 15. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. (NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from Inciweb and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.) #

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a beautiful spiral galaxy known as PGC 54493, located in the constellation of Serpens (The Serpent). This galaxy is part of a galaxy cluster that has been studied by astronomers exploring an intriguing phenomenon known as weak gravitational lensing. This effect, caused by the uneven distribution of matter (including dark matter) throughout the Universe, has been explored via surveys such as the Hubble Medium Deep Survey. Dark matter is one of the great mysteries in cosmology. It behaves very differently from ordinary matter as it does not emit or absorb light or other forms of electromagnetic energy — hence the term "dark." (European Space Agency ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt) #

On August 22, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a true-color image of a sunny summer day in Iceland. While most of the winter snow has melted to reveal green vegetation, the rugged northern peaks retain a snow cap. Further south bright white marks the location of glaciers. Situated in the southeast is Vatnajökull – the largest glacier in Europe and the site of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur. (NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team) #