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By NASA Images
March 14th, 2016
The graceful, winding arms of the majestic spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) appear like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust.
This sharpest-ever image of the Whirlpool Galaxy, taken in January 2005 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, illustrates a spiral galaxy's grand design, from its curving spiral arms, where young stars reside, to its yellowish central core, a home of older stars. The galaxy is nicknamed the Whirlpool because of its swirling structure.
The Whirlpool's most striking feature is its two curving arms, a hallmark of so-called grand-design spiral galaxies. Many spiral galaxies possess numerous, loosely shaped arms which make their spiral structure less pronounced. These arms serve an important purpose in spiral galaxies. They are star-formation factories, compressing hydrogen gas and creating clusters of new stars. In the Whirlpool, the assembly line begins with the dark clouds of gas on the inner edge, then moves to bright pink star-forming regions, and ends with the brilliant blue star clusters along the outer edge.
Some astronomers believe that the Whirlpool's arms are so prominent because of the effects of a close encounter with NGC 5195, the small, yellowish galaxy at the outermost tip of one of the Whirlpool's arms. At first glance, the compact galaxy appears to be tugging on the arm. Hubble's clear view, however, shows that NGC 5195 is passing behind the Whirlpool. The small galaxy has been gliding past the Whirlpool for hundreds of millions of years.
As NGC 5195 drifts by, its gravitational muscle pumps up waves within the Whirlpool's pancake-shaped disk. The waves are like ripples in a pond generated when a rock is thrown in the water. When the waves pass through orbiting gas clouds within the disk, they squeeze the gaseous material along each arm's inner edge. The dark dusty material looks like gathering storm clouds. These dense clouds collapse, creating a wake of star birth, as seen in the bright pink star-forming regions. The largest stars eventually sweep away the dusty cocoons with a torrent of radiation, hurricane-like stellar winds, and shock waves from supernova blasts. Bright blue star clusters emerge from the mayhem, illuminating the Whirlpool's arms like city streetlights.
The Whirlpool is one of astronomy's galactic darlings. Located 31 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs), the Whirlpool's beautiful face-on view and closeness to Earth allow astronomers to study a classic spiral galaxy's structure and star-forming processes.
Object Names: Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, NGC 5194/5
March 12th, 2016
Three Douglas Fir trees in the midday sun along Maple Glade trail in the Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington.
The only thing missing is perspective - at least 6 feet in diameter, these trees are enormous.
Photo Settings: 29mm, f/8, 1/60 second, ISO 800.
By Andy Rank
March 10th, 2016
A beautiful day near Trollstigen. I took this picture in July 2015 during my trip through Norway. The weather was really nice at that day which is not usual in Norway ;) ... I'll be back this year with my tent and camp there for a couple of days.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM.
Photo Settings: 24mm, f/10, 1/200 second, ISO 100.
February 27th, 2016
Some say Ireland is the land of rainbows. Maybe its because there is a lot of rain, maybe its because there are a lot of leprechauns.
If you chase the rainbow you may find its end. And as reward you'll find a pot of gold - or leprechaun headquarters.
Capture One Pro 9.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM.
By Nicolas Kamp
February 25th, 2016
February 24th, 2016
Although there is certainly a poetry to the world when it's alive and full of people, there is simply nothing that can possibly compare to that same world when no one else is around. It is stripped of the extraneous energy and second hand emotion that occurs when you're lost in a crowd (even if that crowd is small). You're seeing it raw… bare. It's an otherworldly experience to say the least.
Now add sunrise to the mix. That's the time when the earth itself wakes up. Shades of understated grey give way to hues of lilac, violet, and lemon that simply don't exist later in the day. It is the visual equivalent of listening to an orchestra tuning up just before the performance of a lifetime.
This shot features a private boathouse along the main river of Perth. (If you've visited the area, you may know it well!)
At sunrise on this crisp winter morning, it appeared wise… knowing. A loan witness to this beautiful world at this extraordinary time of day, there at the end of that simple, weathered pier.
Camera: GX617; Film: Velvia 50 Slide; Scan: Heidelberg Tango; Post-processing: None.
February 22nd, 2016
Baishi Mountain is located in Taiyuan county, west region of China's Hebei province. Its main ridge line is over 7,000 meters long and the highest peak is 2,096 meters high. The fog at high altitudes make the mountain a fairyland on Earth.
Adobe Photoshop CC.