Space is as huge as our brain can imagine. Although the shape of the Universe is not yet known with complete certainty, it is known that it is continuously expanding due to its young age . For this reason, the number of stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets and other interstellar elements is increasing.
The most powerful tool that humans have to observe this type of phenomenon is the Hubble telescope , along with some telescopes strategically located throughout the planet in the different observatories. Throughout history, a multitude of images of space have been compiled, and this time we have selected twenty of the most surprising images of the Universe in its immensity.
The cat's eye of space
One of the most complex space phenomena discovered to date. Popularly known as cat's eye (its real name is NGC-6543), it is a nebula made up of different layers whose materials have not yet been discovered .
Let us remember that space nebulae are the prelude to the stars: if the stellar dust ever condenses, the cat's eye will turn into a star, such as the Sun. The form it takes is still curious.
The coldest place in the Universe: the future of the stars
What happens to stars when they die or stop emitting energy? The Boomerang Nebula, nicknamed this way because of its curious shape (later it would be discovered that it is spherical), is the coldest place in the Universe, with an average temperature of negative 270º C and even -272º C on some occasions.
The origin of the planetary nebula is due to the extinction of its star: after ceasing to emit energy, the star has cooled at such a frenetic rate that today it is proclaimed as the coldest region of space.
The most distant image of the Universe ever taken
We are a speck of dust in a sandy desert. And this photo is proof of that.
Taken in 2014 by the Hubble telescope, the image reveals the set of galaxies known as Abell 2744 or Pandora Cluster. Its distance from the Earth is 3.5 billion years. That is, it would take 3.5 billion years to reach this region of space traveling at the speed of light (about 300,000 kilometers per second).
Although it is not the first image to be obtained of this galaxy cluster, it is the sharpest.
Cluster of galaxies: the future of the Milky Way
Not one, not two, not three. Five galaxies in one image! The constellation of Pegasus, also known as Stefan's Quintet, shows no less than five galaxies very close to each other. Two of them, the ones we can see in the center of the image, have already collided , coinciding with what the Milky Way and Andromeda will experience in several million years. The consequences, although they may seem catastrophic, will not be hardly noticeable from Earth due to the vast region of space that each of the galaxies host. Will we as a species get to see it?
Saturn, that great unknown
Saturn is not only the second largest planet in the Solar System, it is also the main object of study by astronomers to determine if its moons may one day support life .
This curious image shows the passage of Enceladus through the giant's rings while the sun's rays fall on them. In the distance we can see Pandora, another of the satellites orbiting the gaseous planet. The photograph, by the way, was taken by the Cassini probe in 2009.
Earth seen from the Moon
Watching the sunrise from the Moon can be even more wonderful than watching it from Earth. Proof of this is this image taken by the Japanese orbiter Kayuga of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency . In it we can appreciate both the topography of the Moon and the part of the Earth illuminated by the Sun.
Jupiter's moon shading the giant
Being the largest planet in the Solar System, few are the elements that manage to overshadow Jupiter. The moon Amalthea is one of them .
The Juno probe took this curious snapshot of Jupiter's satellite in 2017 casting a shadow over the gaseous planet. The irregular shape of the shadow is precisely due to the geography of its moon, since it is known to have volcanic activity in its interior , the main reason for its reddish color.
The Helix Nebula
This is not an artistic representation, but the Helix Nebula. His eye is curious way to describe what astronomy is known as a planetary nebula, ie, the remains of a star much like the sun .
The star, located right in the center "of the eye", is only 700 light years from Earth, and the core of it is in the center. Now converted into a white dwarf, the star has stopped its cycle of activity by merging all the material it had . Our future, and the rest of the Solar System, in a single image.
Northern lights seen from space
The International Space Station not only focuses its efforts on observing space: it also focuses on Earth. The photograph, taken by Scott Kelly and signed by NASA, shows an aurora borealis in all its splendor from space .
This phenomenon occurs when charged particles from the Sun collide with the magnetic field of our planet . These particles are sent to the poles through the Earth's magnetic field. After colliding with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, the particles gain and electron that they will later release in the form of light, which is projected in different wavelengths and colors.
Japan seen from space at night
The Space Station has given us commendable images, as is the case with this photograph that shows the appearance of Japan at night.
Scott Kelly is, once again, the protagonist of this image, and in it we can not only appreciate the geography of Japan, but also the thin ozone layer that surrounds the Earth and the brightness of the sunlight projected on it . The image was taken again by one of the cameras on the International Space Station.
Apollo 12 reaching the Moon
Although NASA's best known mission was Apollo 11, the truth is that the Apollo project was distributed in different missions. Apollo 12 was the second manned mission after Apollo 11 , and the Intrepid spacecraft was the protagonist this time. The image shows the landing of the ship on a region of the Moon known as Mare Cognitum (Known Sea in Spanish).
Watch out, there is a hurricane on Saturn
It is not a nebula or galaxy, but a hurricane on Saturn. The image was taken during 2008 by the Cassini satellite, and the violence of a hurricane can be seen with total clarity on a planet made up mainly of liquid hydrogen and liquid metallic hydrogen . The hurricane, by the way, is located at the north pole of Saturn.
Object burns in the sky
The SpaceX Dragon capsule was the first successful launch of the SpaceX company led by Elon Musk, current head of Tesla.
This photograph was taken from the International Space Station when the capsule returned to Earth "engulfed in flames." The most curious thing of all is that the capsule was recycled.
Solar eclipse seen from space
The first complete solar eclipse of the 21st century was recorded in 2017 (the previous one was recorded 100 years ago). From one of the cameras of the International Space Station, it was possible to capture in detail the shadow that the moon projected on the Earth when crossing it with the Sun. Just below the shadow we can see the United States , a place where the phenomenon can be fully observed .
The Pillars of Creation
The Eagle Nebula, located 6,500 light years from Earth , gives us this unusual image of space.
Known as the Pillars of Creation, this region of space collects the formation of multitudes of stars among the stellar dust that it hides behind it . The brightest places correspond to the ultraviolet radiation that stars give off as they form with the dust released by clouds.
A look inside the galaxies
Have you ever wondered what is inside a galaxy like the Milky Way? In addition to planets, stars and satellites, the vast majority have a supermassive black hole at their center. This is the case of Messier 66 , although at the moment it is not known with total certainty.
The galaxy, located more than 36 million light years from Earth, has a diameter of 96,000 light years. There is nothing .
The NGC 6302 nebula in full swing
Is it Goku? Is it Vegeta? Nothing is further from reality. It is the nebula NGC-6302 .
Although it was taken in 2009, after repairing the Hubble telescope, the sharpness of the image is to be commended. Astronomers nickname it "the butterfly nebula" for its particular shape, with two wings on the sides and the trunk in the middle of the two cosmic clouds.
The supermassive black hole of the galaxy M87
Although it is not the most surprising image of space, it is one of the most interesting findings of the last century, demonstrating that Einstein's theory of relativity was true. Up to eight radio telescopes were needed to capture this image of the supermassive black hole at the center of Galaxy M87, no less than 53 million light-years from Earth .
To get an idea of its appearance, the black hole has an appearance practically traced to the Gargantua , the black hole presented in Interstellar. The latter was generated based on the calculations that Einstein estimated in his theory almost a century ago today.
The original image, by the way, is almost 200MB in size after being compressed .