January 5, 2009

TOP TEN SPACE PHOTOS: Most Viewed of 2008

10. Supernova Creates “Ribbon” in Space

Like a ribbon trailing from a parade float, a streamer of hydrogen gas seems to waft across the stars in an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Released in July, this festive shot of a supernova remnant was National Geographic News’s tenth most viewed space photo of 2008.

Bright stripes within the ribbon—which is actually the shock wave from the stellar explosion—appear where the wave is moving edge-on to Hubble’s line of sight.

Ribbon in Space (NASA)

Ribbon in Space (NASA)

9. First Picture of Alien Planet Orbiting Sunlike Star?

A faint dot above a blazing inferno is possibly the first direct view of a planet outside our solar system orbiting a sunlike star.

The infrared image, taken by the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, was released in September. At the time astronomers weren’t sure whether the body was a planet or a planetlike object, and it remains to be seen if it is truly orbiting the star.

Two months later independent teams announced the first infrared image of an alien multiplanet system, taken using a pair of ground-based telescopes, as well as the first visible-light picture of an extrasolar planet, snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope.

First photo of alien planet orbiting a star (NASA)

First photo of alien planet orbiting a star (NASA)

Click here for Top 10 Space Photos of 2008

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