Almost completely ignored by Galileo and Rene Descartes, Johannes Kepler introduced ideas in the 17th century that would revolutionize astronomy and the world of science. Last week, NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in the hunt for Earth-like planets.
Light echoes from red supergiant star V838 Monocerotis in the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn, in December 2002.
The Hubble telescope witnessed this "death star" galaxy black hole firing at a neighboring galaxy.
This image was taken by NASA's Spitzer telescope. A star's spectacular death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth as the supernova of 1054 A.D. Now, almost a thousand years later, a superdense neutron star left behind by the stellar death is spewing out a blizzard of extremely high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula.
Infant stars glow in this infrared image of the Serpens star-forming region, captured by NASA's Spitzer telescope. The reddish-pink dots are baby stars deeply embedded in the cosmic cloud of gas and dust that collapsed to create it. The Serpens star-forming region is located approximately 848 light-years away in the Serpens constellation.
This Hubble image shows the Trifid Nebula, a giant star-forming cloud of gas and dust located 5,400 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.
This Spitzer image shows the South Pillar area of the star-forming region called the Carina Nebula. Like cracking open a watermelon and finding its seeds, the infrared telescope "busted open" this murky cloud to reveal star embryos (yellow or white) tucked inside fingerlike pillars of thick dust (pink).
Dubbed Mountains of Creation by Spitzer scientists, these towering pillars of cool gas and dust are illuminated at their tips with light from warm, embryonic stars. The pillars in this Spitzer image are part of a region in the Cassiopeia constellation located 7,000 light-years away.
This is Hubble's view of the "nearby" barred spiral galaxy, NGC 1672. Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas, a long bright bar of stars across the center, and a bright active nucleus that likely houses a supermassive black hole. Light takes about 60 million years to reach us from NGC 1672.
"A galaxy on the edge," taken by the Hubble telescope, is located in Ursa Major. Instead of being viewed face-on, this galaxy is seen edge-on from our perspective.
Hubble found over 16 extrasolar planets orbiting a variety of distant stars in the central region of our Milky Way galaxy, looking farther than had ever been successfully searched.
I Zwicky, captured by Hubble, is possibly the youngest galaxy ever seen, and strangely resembles something one might find under a microscope.
This Hubble image shows the Eagle Nebula, a young cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens.
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With the help of other space-based telescopes such as the Hubble and Spitzer, nearly 300 planets have been discovered since 1995. Kepler will orbit the sun, observing a patch of space in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra — a region containing more than 100,000 stars. Take a look at some of the images that Hubble and Spitzer have captured through the years. And read more about the Kepler mission here.