Captured in infrared by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, this image of Cygnus X (part of the constellation Cygnus, or the Swan) is made beautiful by massive stars that have blown huge bubbles in the gas and dust in the region. This rather violent process causes both star birth and star death--and makes for a really nice image. Since the human eye can't see light in these wavelengths, the colors have been assigned to make them visible to us. The shortest wavelengths are blue, the longer red, and the mid-range light is green. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
It’s been a busy week, what with the Consumer Electronics Show and the Detroit Auto Show showering geeks and gearheads alike with enough conceptual eye-candy to keep us all salivating for the next big thing all year.
But for those of us whose eyes are on the heavens more than on little screens, the 219th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society was the thing to watch this week.
Click to launch the photo gallery
For stargazers, armchair cosmologists, and amateur astronomers–as well as for the pros who actually devote their working hours to the study of everything beyond 62 miles up–the annual meeting of AAS is one of those special times of year when scientists and institutions pull out their best papers, their most tantalizing discoveries, and–most importantly for our purposes–their most dazzling visuals.
Nebulae. Massive star nurseries. Black holes. Maybe even a Voorwerpor two. Over the course of an AAS meeting, there are too many good images hitting the Web for us to write about them all. But as the meeting winds to a close in Austin, we’ve culled the prettiest of the pretty space pics to hit our inboxes this week and collected them one place. You probably won’t get another buffet of cosmological wonder like this until next year, so savor it.