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High-resolution desktop wallpaper The Helix Nebula's Iridescent Glory by NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO)
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The Helix Nebula's Iridescent Glory

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.

Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO).

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Tanjung Aru Sunset by Daniel Jiang
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Tanjung Aru Sunset

February 10th, 2016

Located on Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort is a man-made beach resort that gives a very great view of sunsets every single day. Shot on the rocky side of the small private beach provided by the resort over-viewing the Sunset Bar in the vicinity.

Adobe Lightroom.

Nikon D750, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED.

Photo Settings: 18mm, f/8, 1.6 seconds, ISO 100.

Map: 5.9576, 116.0411

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Clear Skies with a Chance of Proton bombardment by alfrfrey
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Clear Skies with a Chance of Proton bombardment

February 9th, 2016

The aurora forecast was low last night, but I took my chances and went out anyway - I was pleasantly surprised!

Taken in Longyearbyen - Svalbard, Norway.

Nikon D610.

Photo Settings: 20mm, f/1, 15 seconds, ISO 1250.

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Colorful Masterpiece by NASA, ESA, T. Megeath (University of Toledo) and M. Robberto (STScI)
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Colorful Masterpiece

February 8th, 2016

The magnificent masterpiece shows the Orion nebula in an explosion of infrared, ultraviolet and visible-light colors. It was "painted" by hundreds of baby stars on a canvas of gas and dust, with intense ultraviolet light and strong stellar winds as brushes.

At the heart of the artwork is a set of four monstrously massive stars, collectively called the Trapezium. These behemoths are approximately 100,000 times brighter than our sun. Their community can be identified as the yellow smudge near the center of the composite.

The swirls of green were revealed by Hubble's ultraviolet and visible-light detectors. They are hydrogen and sulfur gases heated by intense ultraviolet radiation from the Trapezium's stars.

Wisps of red, also detected by Spitzer, indicate infrared light from illuminated clouds containing carbon-rich molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. On Earth, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found on burnt toast and in automobile exhaust.

Additional stars in Orion are sprinkled throughout the image in a rainbow of colors. Spitzer exposed infant stars deeply embedded in a cocoon of dust and gas (orange-yellow dots). Hubble found less embedded stars (specks of green) and stars in the foreground (blue). Stellar winds from clusters of newborn stars scattered throughout the cloud etched all of the well-defined ridges and cavities.

This image is a false-color composite, in which light detected at wavelengths of 0.43, 0.50, and 0.53 microns is blue. Light with wavelengths of 0.6, 0.65, and 0.91 microns is green. Light of 3.6 microns is orange, and 8-micron light is red.

Credit: NASA, ESA, T. Megeath (University of Toledo) and M. Robberto (STScI)

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Rainforest Trail by mark greenfield
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Rainforest Trail

February 7th, 2016

Taken near Schooner Cove in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Vancouver Island, BC. October 2014.

Adobe Photoshop 6.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM.

Photo Settings: 26mm, f/8, 1/30 second, ISO 1000.

Map: 49.0731, -125.7859

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Jet in Carina by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
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Jet in Carina

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.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

High-resolution desktop wallpaper New Perspective on Old Clock Tower by AustynCunningham
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New Perspective on Old Clock Tower

February 5th, 2016

Aerial shot of the Clock Tower in Downtown Spokane, Washington. Taken using my DJI Phantom 3.

VSCOCam, Adobe Photoshop (for cropping and grain cleanup).

Photo Settings: 3mm, f/2, 1/150 second, ISO 100.

High-resolution desktop wallpaper The Galactic Center by NASA Images
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The Galactic Center

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.

Credit: NASA, ESA, SSC, CXC, and STScI

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Mather Point by coolios
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Mather Point

January 30th, 2016

Brisk January morning at Mather Point, Grand Canyon.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Nikon D7000, Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR.

High-resolution desktop wallpaper Cosmological Masterpiece by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler (for the Hubble Heritage Team)
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Cosmological Masterpiece

January 29th, 2016

Working with astronomical image processors at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., renowned astrophotographer Robert Gendler has taken science data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) archive and combined it with his own ground-based observations to assemble a photo illustration of the magnificent spiral galaxy M106.

Gendler retrieved archival Hubble images of M106 to assemble a mosaic of the center of the galaxy. He then used his own and fellow astrophotographer Jay GaBany's observations of M106 to combine with the Hubble data in areas where there was less coverage, and finally, to fill in the holes and gaps where no Hubble data existed.

The center of the galaxy is composed almost entirely of HST data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 detectors. The outer spiral arms are predominantly HST data colorized with ground-based data taken by Gendler's and GaBany's 12.5-inch and 20-inch telescopes, located at very dark remote sites in New Mexico. The image also reveals the optical component of the "anomalous arms" of M106, seen here as red, glowing hydrogen emission.

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler (for the Hubble Heritage Team)

Acknowledgment: J. GaBany

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