Thursday, May 24, 2012

NASA Envisions Alien Worlds

For decades, NASA has delighted stargazers with pictures taken by astronauts, telescopes, and rovers across the galaxy -- photographic glimpses of real planets, moons, stars, and other heavenly bodies. When illustrators, meanwhile, stretch their imaginations -- giving shape and color to what, say, a sunrise on another world -- their work offers brilliant notions of what vistas beyond our tiny corner of space might look like. Captured by a camera or, as in this gallery, envisioned by artists, the far reaches of space continue to humble and amaze.  

Out of the Dust, a Planet is Born

In this artist's conception, a possible newfound planet spins through a clearing, detected around the star CoKu Tau 4 by the Spitzer Space Telescope, in a nearby star's dusty, planet-forming disc. The possible planet is theorized to be at least as massive as Jupiter, and may have a similar appearance to what the giant planets in our own solar system looked like billions of years ago. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)

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