WORLD SCIENCE

Science in images

A compendium of the most beautiful (and coolest) science images on the Web

Click on the images to see related websites with full-size images and other related pictures. (World Science does not vouch for contents of any outside websites)

NEWLY FEATURED

Crossed lines A "ze­b­ru­la," or cross be­t­ween a horse and ze­b­ra, drew crowds at the Stu­ken­brock Sa­fa­ri Park, Ger­ma­ny, where it was brought in June 2007 from It­a­ly. Such crosses are not new, but this spec­i­men was un­u­su­al for the sharp di­vi­sions in its coat be­tween horse and zeb­ra ap­pear­ance. (Im­age cour­te­sy Stu­ken­brock Sa­fa­ri Park) 

A tad­pole with a bad skin con­di­tion? No, it's ac­tu­al­ly a deep-sea fish of the Pa­cif­ic, the Thread­fin snail­fish Ca­re­proc­tus longi­filis. The large sen­so­ry pores that pock­mark its face func­tion to sense wa­ter move­ments of oth­er an­i­mals in its hab­i­tat, about 2 to 3 km be­low the sur­face. The im­age is one of many from the 2007 pho­to book The Deep by By Claire Nou­vian. (Im­age © 2002 MBA­RI)

Not easy being purple sci­ent­ists be­lieve this re­mar­k­a­ble-look­ing toad of the ge­nus Atel­o­pus may be a spe­cies new to sci­ence. It's one of 24 such spe­cies de­s­c­ribed in a June 4, 2007 re­port by the wild­life group Con­ser­va­tion In­t­er­na­tion­al and part­ner in­s­ti­tu­tions, and dis­cov­ered in the north­ern Ama­zon na­tion of Su­ri­na­me. (Im­age © Paul Ou­bo­ter)

Au­ro­ra o­ver Alas­ka—The at­mo­s­phe­r­ic light show known as the au­ro­ra re­sults when streams of par­t­i­cles from the sun cause en­er­get­ic par­t­i­cles to strike mo­le­cules in the Earth's at­mo­s­phere. Re­search­ers are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a form of "dancing" au­ro­ra caused by mag­net­ic events known as sub­storms. The above di­git­al­ly en­hanced im­age from Josh­ua Strang of the U.S. Air Force was vot­ed Pic­ture of the Year for 2006 at the Wike­pe­dia Com­mons at wikipedia.org. 

Not finger puppets pair of the ti­ni­est mon­keys on Earth was born in 2006 at the Frö­sö Zoo in Os­t­er­sund, Swe­den. The two pyg­my mar­mo­sets are al­bi­nos, lack­ing in pig­ment. The smal­l­est mon­key spe­cies, a­d­ults are a­b­out five in­ch­es (13 cm) long with an eight-inch (20 cm) tail. The spe­cies, whose mem­bers are usu­al­ly born as as twins, co­mes from the Up­per Am­a­zon Ba­sin rain­for­est east of the An­des. Sad­ly, one of these twins died short­ly af­ter the pho­to, a pos­si­ble re­sult of a com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tem re­lat­ed to its al­bi­no na­ture, zoo of­fi­cials said. (Cour­te­sy Frösö Zoo). 

Crystal Warp Quick­ly freez­ing a liq­uid lets ice crys­tals form in vary­ing or­ien­ta­tions. "Knots" called to­po­lo­gi­cal de­fects a­rise where zones of dif­ferent­ly or­ien­ted crys­tals meet. Some phys­i­cists sug­gest a si­mi­lar pro­cess oc­curs on a cos­mic scale: af­ter the uni­verse's ex­plo­sive birth, ra­pid cool­ing might have led to such "de­fects," some of which ap­pear to us as the fun­da­men­tal par­ti­cles. A stu­dy in the May 12 is­sue of the jour­nal Phy­si­cal Re­view Let­ters ex­plores the the­ory. This pho­to shows to­po­lo­gi­cal de­fects in a li­quid crys­tal—a type of flu­id, used in app­li­ca­tions such as flat-panel dis­plays, marked by re­la­tive­ly or­der­ly ar­range­ment of its mo­le­cules. The scale is about 1/2 mm ver­ti­cal­ly. (Cour­te­sy Ol­eg D. La­v­ren­to­vich, Kent State Uni­ver­si­ty). 

Aurora from space The Aurora Australis or "southern lights," on Earth as seen from space. The view was photographed by a crewmember on the Space Shuttle Discovery during its STS-114 mission to the International Space Station last summer. Auroras are spectacular light displays in the sky caused by outflows of particles from the Sun hitting the Earth's magnetic field. (Credit: NASA).

Massive black holes often float in doughnut-shaped gas clouds which, depending on our line of sight, blocks the view of the black hole in the center. Using two European Space Agency orbiting telescopes, scientists looked "edge on" into this doughnut, called a torus, to see features never before seen so clearly. How the doughnut forms, however, remains a mystery. (added July 20, 2004. Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Nanotrees: University of Cambridge PhD student Ghim Wei Ho photographed these microscopic creations, which she had made of silicon-based material using a chemical vapor deposition process.

PLANETS & MOONS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM

Jupiter's moon Io (NASA, National Space Science Data Center)

A volcano erupts on Jupiter's moon Io (NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center)

Another active volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io was captured in this image taken on February 22, 2000 by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.  (NASA, National Space Science Data Center)

Another active volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io was captured in this image taken on February 22, 2000 by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.  (NASA, National Space Science Data Center)

Jupiter's moon Callisto (NASA). Known as the icy moon.

Venus: The mountain Maat Mons. The image is generated from computer data from the spacecraft Magellan, as seen from 3 kilometers (2 miles) above the terrain and 634 km (393 miles) away. Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers across the fractured plains shown in the foreground, to the base of Maat Mons.

Venus: The mountain Maat Mons. The image is generated from computer data from the spacecraft Magellan, as seen from 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) above the terrain and 560 kilometers (347 miles) away. Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers across the fractured plains shown in the foreground, to the base of Maat Mons.

Photo of Jupiter taken with NASA's Voyager 2  spacecraft. Colors are enhanced to bring out detail. (NASA/JPL)

Jupiter, close-up, as photographed by the Voyager II spacecraft (NASA/JPL)

Closeup of the "great red spot" of Jupiter, as photographed by the Voyager spacecraft. The spot is actually a giant storm. (NASA/JPL)

Jupiter, close-up with enhanced colors, as photographed by the Voyager I spacecraft (NASA/JPL)

Saturn as photographed by the Voyager II spacecraft. Its moon Mimas is visible as a tiny black dot against Saturn's cloud tops near the left horizon just below the rings. The big gap in the rings, called the Cassini Division (after its discoverer), is a 3500-km wide region (2200 mi, almost the width of the United States) that is much less populated with ring particles than the brighter B and A rings to either side of the gap. (Image from NASA Planetary Photojournal)

The northern hemisphere of Saturn as photographed by NASA's Voyager I spacecraft in 1980 at a distance of 9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles), showing a variety of features in Saturn's clouds. (NASA/JPL)

Possible variations in chemical composition from one part of Saturn's ring system to another are visible in this picture from the Voyager II spacecraft as subtle color variations that can be recorded with special computer-processing techniques. This highly enhanced color view was assembled from several images obtained Aug. 17 from a distance of 8.9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles). (NASA/JPL)

UNDERSEA HABITATS

A clownfish browses a coral reef. (U.S. Geological Survey)

A coral reef dweller off the Florida coast known as a spanish flag. (U.S. Geological Survey)

BUTTERFLIES

Butterflies (U.S. Geological Survey)

Monarch butterflies at the DeSoto refuge along the Missouri River on the Nebraska-Iowa border in the midwestern U.S.A. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

EARTH AS SEEN FROM SPACE

Jordan, satellite photo: Meandering wadis combine to form dense, branching networks across the stark, arid landscape of southeastern Jordan. The Arabic word "wadi" means a gully or streambed that typically remains dry except after drenching, seasonal rains. (U.S. Geological Survey "Earth As Art" image gallery)

The Earth as photographed by a U.S. weather satellite in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Syrian desert, satellite photo: Between the fertile Euphrates River valley and the cultivated lands of the eastern Mediterranean coast, the Syrian Desert covers parts of modern Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. (U.S. Geological Survey "Earth As Art" image gallery)

West Fjords, Iceland, satellite photo: The West Fjords are a series of peninsulas in northwestern Iceland. They represent less than one-eighth the country's land area, but their jagged perimeter accounts for more than half the country's coastline. (U.S. Geological Survey "Earth As Art" image gallery)

Hurricane Elena (from NASA's Earth From Space gallery)

Ocean currents (from NASA's Earth From Space gallery)

FAMOUS SPACE IMAGES

Multiple generations of stars in the Tarantula nebula: Near the edge of the most active starburst region in the local universe lies a cluster of brilliant, massive stars, known to astronomers as Hodge 301. Hodge 301, seen in the lower right hand corner of this image, is located at the edge of the Tarantula Nebula.  (Hubble Heritage Image Gallery)

Cat's Eye Nebula, imaged with Hubble Space Telescope, U.S.A. The Cat's Eye Nebula is a planetary nebula. This nebula formed about 1,000 years ago when a fast "stellar wind" of gas blown off the central star created the elongated shell of dense, glowing gas. This structure is embedded inside two larger lobes of gas blown off the star at an earlier phase. [ Image: J. P. Harrington and K. J. Borkowski (University of Maryland), and NASA]

Hourglass Nebula, a type of object known as a planetary nebula. When a star such as the Sun starts to die it becomes red and expands into a giant star. The old star will eventually eject its outer layers. The gaseous shell is illuminated by the dense stellar core, which is now exposed. We see the illuminated gas as a planetary nebula. ( Image: Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger (JPL), the WFPC2 science team, and NASA)

Swan Nebula, imaged with Hubble Space Telescope, U.S.A.

The Ring Nebula, imaged with Hubble Space Telescope, U.S.A, the most famous of all planetary nebulae. In this image, the telescope has looked down a tunnel of gas cast off by a dying star thousands of years ago. This photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula, and the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas.  (Hubble Heritage Image Gallery)

Planetary nebula IC 418, imaged with Hubble Space Telescope, U.S.A. It lies about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lepus. A planetary nebula represents the final stage in the evolution of a star similar to our Sun, as it runs out of fuel and ejects its outer layers into spacer. (Hubble Heritage Image Gallery)

The "ant nebula" (Hubble Heritage Image Gallery)

The reflection nebula NGC 1999. Like fog around a street lamp, a reflection nebula shines only because the light from an embedded source illuminates its dust; the nebula does not emit any visible light of its own.  (Hubble Heritage Image Gallery)

The "Whirlpool" galaxy M51, imaged with Hubble Space Telescope, U.S.A.

Simulation of a Bose Einstein condensate, an unusual form of matter consisting of millions of atoms all at exactly the same energy level, behaving exactly alike. (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology)

ROCKS AND MINERALS

A thin section, or slice, of a rock containing phengite and quartz. (From the New York State Museum's Splendor In Stone image collection)

A thin section, or slice, of a marble from Naxos, Greece. (From the New York State Museum's Splendor In Stone image collection)

A thin section, or slice, of a mineral-rich rock. (From the New York State Museum's Splendor In Stone image collection)

A thin section, or slice, of a rock exhibiting a pattern known as a spiral inclusion trail. The large purple blob is garnet, a mineral. As garnets grow, they can trap nearby grains. These inclusions commonly result in quite striking patterns. This garnet trapped quartz crystals in smoothly curving spiral trails. The pattern suggests the garnet may have rotated as it grew (From the New York State Museum's Splendor In Stone image collection)

A thin section, or slice, of a mineral rock structure known as folded phlogopite. Phlogopite is a member of the mica family. Micas are like stacks of paper in that they have a crystal structure formed by sheets of atoms, which can easily deform and slide past each other.  (From the New York State Museum's Splendor In Stone image collection)

MORE IMAGES

Gold particle smash into each other at near-light speed. (Brookhaven National Laboratory)

Scarlet king snake (U.S. Geological Survey/Florida Integrated Science Center)

A magenta microheater, a device that can detect toxic gases such as sarin or mustard gas. Slight variations in the thickness of the sensing film covering the microheater cause changes in color that have been enhanced in this micrograph. (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Alaska. An atmospheric phenomenon consisting of bands of light caused by charged solar particles following the earth's magnetic lines of force. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library)

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the southern latitudes of the United States in March, 2001. An atmospheric phenomenon consisting of bands of light caused by charged solar particles following the earth's magnetic lines of force. (Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF, from the National Optical Astronomical Observatory Image Library, U.S.A. )

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