Our sun’s closest neighbors: NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, discovered two of the four nearest—the binary brown dwarf system WISE 1049-5319, and the brown dwarf WISE J085510.83-071442.5.
The closest system to the sun is a trio of stars 4.37 light years away that consists of a binary, Alpha Centauri AB, and a distant companion, Proxima Centauri (image credit: Penn State University).
Our most recently discovered neighbor is also the coldest known brown dwarf. This illustration depicts the dim, frigid WISE J085510.83-071442.5, found by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and confirmed by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Without enough mass to trigger fusion and too dim to be seen by the naked eye, nearby brown dwarfs show up in infra-red as objects moving quickly against the cosmic backdrop. WISE J085510.83-071442.5 is as cold as our planet’s North Pole, and is a relatively close 7.2 light years away from our Sun (image credit: Penn State University/NASA/JPL-Caltech).
Narrow-angle, approximate color mosaic of Mercury’s crescent, south-to-north, assembled from twenty images taken by the Messenger spacecraft as it flew by the innermost planet in October of 2008 (image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/Gordan Ugarkovic).
Artist’s concept of Kepler-186f, the first Earth-sized alien world yet discovered in its system’s “habitable zone,” where liquid water could conceivably exist on the surface. Kepler-186f is less than ten percent larger than our planet. Though a year on this world is only 130 days long and it orbits its star at around the distance that Mercury orbits our sun, Kepler 186 is a smaller, cooler red dwarf. Four other planets have been discovered orbiting even closer to Kepler 186 in this alien planetary system around 500 light years away from us (image credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech).
In Green Company: Aurora, mountain climber, and sunset over Svolvær, Norway (image credit: Max Rive).
This morning, the Moon transited the Sun from the vantage point of NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory for two hours of observation in various wavelengths (this image was taken at 171 angstroms—extreme ultraviolet). Just as the Moon left SDO’s field of view, an M8-class solar flare erupted from sunspot group AR 11967 (image credit: NASA/SDO).
Saturn’s churning north polar vortex, imaged in the infrared by the Cassini spacecraft from 476,000 miles away on June 14, 2013 (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).
Good morning! An unusual perspective on Earth’s aurora - the Southern Lights, full circle over Antarctica.
The icy moon Mimas, seen passing in front of Saturn by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft from a distance of 870,000 miles on January 18, 2005. From this angle of view, the blue clouds of Saturn’s northern hemisphere were striated by shadows cast by the giant planet’s intricate ring system (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI).
Southern hemisphere of Jupiter, a spherical projection of high-detail images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it flew past the gas giant in December of 2000 on its way to Saturn. Thick haze and the angle of view prevented Cassini from clearly imaging the planet’s south pole (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI).
Nightside of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, with its thick atmosphere backlit by the sun. The orange haze of Titan’s south polar vortex can be seen swirling at the bottom of this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft from 134,000 miles away on June 6, 2012 (image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/color composite Gordan Ugarkovic).
On this date in 1998, the Russians launched Zarya (“Sunrise”), the first module of the International Space Station, into orbit. This image of the ISS was taken on February 18, 2008 by the crew of the Atlantis, just after the space shuttle undocked for a return to Earth (image credit: NASA/STS-122 Shuttle Crew).
On July 19th of this year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looked back from 746,000 miles behind the planet Saturn to capture this narrow-angle, high resolution image of our planet (on the left) and its moon (on the right), as seen from 898,414,400 miles away.
Every known life form in the universe exists within the bright blue dot on the left. The pale dot on the right represents the furthest our species has ever traveled (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).
Did you smile for our family portrait this summer?
On July 19th of this year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looked back from 746,000 miles behind the planet Saturn at the inner solar system, to capture the 141 wide-angle images needed to assemble a stunning, natural-color mosaic view.
The bright point of light in the center of this image cropped from that view is our planet and its moon, as seen from 898.414 million miles away (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI).