(Inside Science) -- This month, we look at range of distant objects that have captivated human imagination for thousands of years. From the mysterious NGC 1052-DF2 -- a galaxy lacking dark matter -- to the oft observed Crab Nebula, we find astronomy images that remind us of the strangeness of our wonderful universe.
This is NGC 1052-DF2, a ghostly galaxy located 65 million light-years away. A recent study discovered something peculiar about this galaxy -- it contains at most .25 percent the amount of dark matter expected for a galaxy of its size. The discovery presents a mystery to astronomers around the world. (NASA/ESA/P. van Dokkum (Yale))
About 70,00 years ago, a small red star passed us by from less than a light-year away. It is now known as Scholz's star, and its visitation gravitationally disturbed comets and asteroids along its path. Today, astronomers are still observing those effects in an effort to retrospectively determine the star's trajectory. This illustration depicts an ancient human gazing upon Scholz's star in the distant past. (José A. Peñas/SINC)
In a cloud of swirling hues of purple and blue, this painterly photo presents the newest composite image of the Crab Nebula, combining X-ray data (blue) from Chandra, optical data (purple) from NASA, and infrared data (pink) from Spitzer. This photo marks the latest observation of the nebula, one part of a long history that can be dated back to at least 1054 A.D, when Chinese astronomers first noticed the nebula as a supernova. (NASA/Chandra/Spitzer)
The image above is only a small extract from the lengthy composite portrait astronomers have assembled of the Orion Nebula. Compiling images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the IRAM 30-metre telescope, and the Very Large Telescope, they captured a sweeping view. The fiery-red wisps that erupt through the image are filaments of cold gas that give birth to stars. (ESO/H. Drass/ALMA/A. Hacar)
This month, the Kepler space telescope captured this snapshot of a "fast-evolving luminous transient" supernova. Previously used only to image exoplanets, Kepler is now being expanded to observe other astrophysical objects. In this captivating photo, a red gas cloud surrounds a star, forewarning of a future explosion. When the star explodes, its energy will hit the gas and result in a luminous but fast burst of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)