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February 11th, 2016
Planetary nebulae like the Helix are sculpted late in a Sun-like star's life by a torrential gush of gases escaping from the dying star. They have nothing to do with planet formation, but got their name because they look like planetary disks when viewed through a small telescope. With higher magnification, the classic "donut-hole" in the middle of a planetary nebula can be resolved. Based on the nebula's distance of 650 light-years, its angular size corresponds to a huge ring with a diameter of nearly 3 light-years. That's approximately three-quarters of the distance between our Sun and the nearest star.
The Helix Nebula is a popular target of amateur astronomers and can be seen with binoculars as a ghostly, greenish cloud in the constellation Aquarius. Larger amateur telescopes can resolve the ring-shaped nebula, but only the largest ground-based telescopes can resolve the radial streaks. After careful analysis, astronomers concluded the nebula really isn't a bubble, but is a cylinder that happens to be pointed toward Earth.
February 6th, 2016
A 3-light-year-long pillar, bathed in the glow of light from hot, massive stars to the top of the image. Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from these stars are sculpting the pillar and causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of gas and dust can be seen flowing off the top of the structure.
Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. They cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust. Although the stars themselves are invisible, one of them is providing evidence of its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star. Farther away, on the left, the jet is visible as a grouping of small, wispy clouds. A few small clouds are visible at a similar distance on the right side of the jet. Astronomers estimate that the jet is moving at speeds of up to 850,000 miles an hour. The jet's total length is about 10 light-years.
Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina.
By NASA Images
January 31st, 2016
This composite image combines a near-infrared view from the Hubble Space Telescope, an infrared view from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and an X-ray view from the Chandra X-ray Observatory into one multi-wavelength picture.
It features the spectacle of stellar evolution: from vibrant regions of star birth, to young hot stars, to old cool stars, to seething remnants of stellar death called black holes. This activity occurs against a fiery backdrop in the crowded, hostile environment of the galaxy's core, the center of which is dominated by a supermassive black hole nearly four million times more massive than our Sun. Permeating the region is a diffuse blue haze of X-ray light from gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by outflows from the supermassive black hole as well as by winds from massive stars and by stellar explosions. Infrared light reveals more than a hundred thousand stars along with glowing dust clouds that create complex structures including compact globules, long filaments, and finger-like "pillars of creation," where newborn stars are just beginning to break out of their dark, dusty cocoons.
January 27th, 2016
This HiRISE image shows a valley filled with an assortment of linear ridges. These ridges are often referred to as transverse aeolian ridges, or TAR, and they take a variety of forms. Here they sit at right angles to the direction of the valley, because the topography funnels the wind along the trough.
At this location, some of the TAR have secondary structures, likely small ripples. It is common for sand dunes to be covered in small ripples, often with different orientations that may be shaped by winds redirected by the larger dunes. Here the secondary structures have an unusual radiating/converging pattern, giving the TAR here a feathery appearance.
HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
January 26th, 2016
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Pluto's surface sports a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode. The image resolves details and colors on scales as small as 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers).
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
January 23rd, 2016
Taken somewhere above Montana as we were cruising at 38,000 feet, from Alberta, heading south to a warmer weather, escaping cold and snow.
Adobe Lightroom CC, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM.
Photo Settings: 35mm, f/5, 1/640 second, ISO 100.