"Who could resist the chance to show worlds smashing together, especially when the result is motivated by actual observation of the aftermath?" Hurt says. "This is the kind of imagery that will catch people's attention and hopefully draw them in to learn more about the science behind the artwork." This image
is actually a still taken from an animation
the duo put together visualizing a Spitzer-captured collision between an object roughly the size of the moon and another body the size of Mercury. "What I really like about primarily the animation (and to some extent, this still) is the level of effects we incorporated: from the rippling, cracking planetary crust to the color of the fiery ejecta, we tried to include a number of subtle but accurate scientific points into one single animation," says Pyle. "And on the whole, I think we were successful."