Deep Magellanic Clouds Image Indicates Collisions : Did the two most famous satellite galaxies of our Milky Way Galaxy once collide? No one knows for sure, but a detailed inspection of deep images like that featured here give an indication that they have. Pictured, the Large Magellanic Cloud is on the bottom right. The surrounding field is monochrome color-inverted to highlight faint filaments, shown in gray. Perhaps surprisingly, the featured research-grade image was compiled with small telescopes to cover the large angular field nearly 40 degrees across. Much of the faint nebulosity is Galactic Cirrus clouds of thin dust in our own Galaxy, but a faint stream of stars does appear to be extending from the SMC toward the LMC. Also, stars surrounding the LMC appear asymmetrically distributed, indicating in simulations that they could well have been pulled off gravitationally in one or more collisions. Both the LMC and the SMC are visible to the unaided eye in southern skies. Future telescopic observations and computer simulations are sure to continue in a continuing effort to better understand the history of our Milky Way and its surroundings. via NASA

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Nebula Helix by Spitzer

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix Nebula. The nebula, located about 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, belongs to a class of objects called planetary nebulae.

Image credit: NASA / Spitzer

Cosmic Winter Wonderland : Although there are no seasons in space, this cosmic vista invokes thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. It is, in fact, a region called NGC 6357 where radiation from hot, young stars is energizing the cooler gas in the cloud that surrounds them.

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Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you’re not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its annual State of the Climate report, which says it’s the hottest it has been since scientists started tracking global temperatures in 1880.

A separate analysis, by NASA scientists, came to the same conclusion.

2016 Was The Hottest Year Yet, Scientists Declare

Graphic: Alyson Hurt/NPR