(Inside Science) -- April was a landmark month in astronomy images this year. From the most detailed picture yet of the Milky Way galaxy to the orbit of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, astronomers have pictorially outdone themselves. To celebrate, we present the latest releases of astronomical images in a range of dazzling colors.
Astronomers spotted a merger of epic proportions this month, at an incredible 90 percent of the way across the observable universe. 12.4 billion light-years away from Earth, these 14 galaxies are in the midst of a merger that is expected to evolve into a gargantuan galaxy cluster. In this artist's impression, each of the colors represents a distinct galaxy as they all converge. (NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello)
In another historic event, on April 18, NASA launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, known as TESS. The satellite will be the first to hunt the entire sky for exoplanets around nearby stars. Pictured above is the orbit the spacecraft will take to circle the Earth every 13.7 days. Along the blue line TESS will look at the night sky; during the orange section, it will transmit data to Earth. (NASA)
The Bernese Mars camera on The Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System gives us this aerial view of sunlight streaming through mottled mountains on an alien world. This is one of many colored images the camera has taken of our red desert neighbor. In a range of earth tones streaming with golden sun rays, this image shows the view from the rim of the Korolev crater. (ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS)
Last week, the European Space Agency's Gaia mission presented this image -- the most detailed picture of the Milky Way galaxy yet. The image captures other neighboring galaxies as well, based on measurements from 1.7 billion stars taken between July 2014 and May 2016. (ESA/Gaia/DPAC)
In another dazzling array of color, the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 28th anniversary with a spectacular look at the Lagoon Nebula. At its center is a young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun, which is carving out cascades of gas and dust with stellar winds. The star, named Herschel 36, is 4,000 light-years away from us. (NASA/ESA/STScI)