2014 isn’t over yet, but we’ve already seen a wealth of
, often accompanied by stunning imagery. In honor of this year’s United Nations World awesome space discoveries Space Week, we’ve compiled some of our favorite space images—from stunning nebulas to the closest-ever views of a comet captured by an intrepid spacecraft to artists’ impressions of far-flung worlds.
A spectacular solar flare, captured on October 2 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, rises from the surface of the sun. This M-class flare (a medium-sized flare) caused what’s called a coronal mass ejection—a bubble of hellishly hot solar plasma bursting into space. Luckily, it wasn’t aimed at Earth; while the radiation from a solar flare can’t hurt humans directly, it can potentially disrupt the satellites we rely on for GPS and communications.
This year, the team behind the Hubble Space Telescope released a new version of the famous Hubble Ultra Deep Field, a snapshot of nearly 10,000 galaxies. The old version incorporated data from visible and infrared light; the latest version now includes observations with ultraviolet light, which allows us to see younger stars blooming to life around us.
In September, the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mangalyaan orbiter began circling Mars, gaining India entry into the very short list of nations that have made interplanetary journeys. Less than a week after its arrival, the orbiter began sending back beautiful portraits of the Red Planet.
The Hubble telescope celebrated 24 years of amazing space photography in March with this image of the Monkey Head Nebula, a colorful stellar nursery about 6,400 light years away from Earth in the constellation Orion.
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s odd rubber ducky shape is captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, the first ever rendezvous with a comet. In November, Rosetta will try to rack up another first and attempt to land the Philae probe directly onto the comet.
A newly recolored photo of the Orion Nebula, one of the brightest nebulae in the sky. 24 light years across, the nebula is 2,000 times as massive as our sun.
Rosetta takes a selfie showing its comet target drifting behind one of its solar panel wings. The spacecraft’s investigation of the comet will hopefully yield important insights into the birth of our solar system.
Image: NASA (All Images)