Pictures of the year 2013: Space

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  • Pictures of the year 2013: Space

  • Astronomers used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory's launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1990. Although the nebula is shadowy in optical light, it appears transparent and ethereal when seen at infrared wavelengths.Picture: REX/NASA

  • A map of relic radiation (microwave sky) from the Big Bang, composed of data gathered by ESA's Planck satellite, launched in May 2009 to study Cosmic Microwave Background. The 50-million pixel, all-sky image, released in March, of the oldest light adds an edge of precision to some existing cosmological theories, defining more precisely the composition of the Universe and its age -- about 80 million years older than previously thought. Picture: ESA / LFI & HFI Consortia

  • The Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space in a long and slow dance around our galaxy, nearly 200 000 light-years from Earth. Picture: ESA/HUBBLE/AFP

  • The Milky Way arcs over Aspen, Colorado, in this composite picture by Thomas O'Brien. He stitched together 24 shots - the shutter was open for about 25 seconds each exposure.Picture: THOMAS O'BRIEN / CATERS NEWS

  • This highly distorted supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way. The remnant, called W49B, is about a thousand years old and is at a distance of about 26,000 light years away. The supernova explosions that destroy massive stars are generally symmetrical, with the stellar material blasting away more or less evenly in all directions. However, in the W49B supernova, material near the poles of the doomed rotating star was ejected at a much higher speed than material emanating from its equator. Jets shooting away from the star's poles mainly shaped the supernova explosion and its aftermath.Picture: EPA/NASA / CXC / MIT / L. Lopez

  • NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drilled into target rock John Klein, providing a view into the interior of the rock, as well as obtaining a sample of powdered material from the rock. The rock is part of the Sheepbed mudstone deposit in the Yellowknife Bay area of Gale Crater. Picture: Reuters/Nasa/JPL-Caltech

  • One of the most significant discoveries in the field of space science in 2013 was from the Mars Curiosity Rover. Drill tests and chemical analysis of fine-grained rocks in a dried-up lake bed by the Curiosity robot's science tools suggest conditions were right for the lake to have once supported microbial life, perhaps 3.6 billion years ago. Picture: NASA/AP

  • This image taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows a patch of rock cleaned by the first use of the rover's Dust Removal Tool, a motorised, wire-bristle brush on the turret at the end of the rover's arm. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSHO/AFP/Getty Images

  • Astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted New York City, incredibly clear, before the trees have filled with leaves.Picture: Chris Hadfield

  • @Cmdr_Hadfield tweeted this picture, with the caption The full moon rises over the only planet we have ever called home.Picture: @Cmdr_Hadfield

  • NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf named 2MASSJ22282889-431026., showing wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds. Brown dwarfs form out of condensing gas, as stars do, but lack the mass to fuse atoms and produce energy. Hubble and Spitzer simultaneously watched the brown dwarf as its light varied in time,Picture: NASA/Rex Features

  • This photo of the Earth from space show light trails made by cities, star trails from the cosmos and even hundreds of thunderstorms lighting up the atmosphere. NASA astronaut Don Pettit shot this from the International Space Station orbiting 240 miles above the planet. The image was created by combining 18 separate long-exposure photographs. Pettit says he takes multiple 30-second exposures, then stacks them using imaging software.Picture: DonPettit/NASA/BNPS

  • Amateur solar-photographer Dave Tyler took this photograph of solar flares in his back garden near High Wycombe, Bucks. He used a refracting telescope equipped with a hydrogen alpha filter to capture these incredible shots from 93 million miles away.Picture: David Tyler / Barcroft Media

  • NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory observes fast-growing sunspots. The bottom two black spots on the sun appeared quickly over the course of Feb. 19-20, 2013. These two sunspots are part of the same system and are over six Earths across.Picture: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center/Rex Features

  • Every 25.34 days, the object, designated LRLL 54361, unleashes a burst of light. Although a similar phenomenon has been observed in two other young stellar objects, this is the most powerful such beacon seen to date. The heart of the fireworks is hidden behind a dense disk and envelope of dust. Astronomers theorise the flashes are caused by material suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars, known as protostars. A blast of radiation is unleashed each time the stars get close to each other in their orbits.Picture: EPA/NASA / ESA

  • Astro-photographer Robert Gendler has taken science data from the Hubble Space Telescope archive and combined it with his own ground-based observations to assemble this photo illustration of the magnificent spiral galaxy M106 Picture: NASA/R. Gendler/ESA/Hubble Her. / Rex Features

  • This image of the Planetary Nebula Sh2-174, which may suggest a rose, was obtained with Mosaic 1 camera on the Mayall 4-metre telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. A planetary nebula is created when a low-mass star blows off its outer layers at the end of its life. The core of the star remains and is called a white dwarf.Picture: REUTERS/T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF

  • A composite of 25 separate images spanning the period of April 16, 2012 to April 15, 2013, revealing the zones on the sun where active regions are most common during this part of the solar cycle.Picture: NASA/GSFC/SDO / Rex Features

  • Amateur astronomer Ralph Smith photographed these close-ups of the sun from his garden. Ralph, from Deeral in Queensland, Australia, used off the shelf equipment to capture the detailed snaps. The results show huge bursts of flames - known as prominences - leaping from the Sun's surface. Others highlight giant sunspots - cooler areas on the Sun's photosphere - which are often larger in size than Earth itself.Picture: Ralph Smith / Barcroft India

  • A meteor contrail is seen while fragments of the meteor fall in the Chelyabinsk regionof Russia Picture: ITAR-TASS / Barcroft Media

  • Arianespace's unmanned Ariane 5 rocket, carrying the automated transfer vehicle (ATV) Albert Einstein in French Guiana. The ATV will resupply the International Space Station with 14,500 pounds of propellant, food, experiments, water and oxygen.Picture: Getty Images

  • Photographer Babak Tafreshi took this photo of star trails on the Chajnantor Plateau, at an altitude of 5000 metres in the Chilean Andes. The Hyperspace effect is created by the rotation of the Earth, revealed by the photographs long exposure.Picture: Caters News Agency

  • Another image from Chris Hadfield: Dubai, the Palm Island like a trilobite in the night.Picture: Chris Hadfield

  • A natural-color image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible, is seen in this NASA handout taken from the Cassini spacecraft July 19, 2013 and released November 12, 2013. The image captures 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across Saturn and its inner ring system, including all of Saturn's rings out to the E ring, which is Saturn's second outermost ring. Cassini's imaging team processed 141 wide-angle images to create the panora Picture: NASA/Reuters

  • An image from Nasa's Cassini mission of the spinning vortex of Saturn's north polar storm resembling a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).Picture: AFP

  • This Cassini Spacecraft image shows Saturn's north polar hexagon in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear to disappear on account of Saturn's shadow, put in an appearance in the background.Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/AFP

  • The Cassini spacecraft shows a view that looks toward the sunlit side of the rings of Saturn from about 18 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on August 12, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 728 nanometers.The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 994,000 miles from Saturn.Picture: AFP PHOTO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

  • NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, an Expedition 36 flight engineer, inside the Cupola of the International Space Station (ISS), using a 400mm lens on a digital still camera to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth some 250 miles (about 400 km) below him and the ISS. Cassidy has been aboard the orbital outpost since late March 2013 and will continue his stay into September Picture: EPA

  • A NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer image of NGC 6744, one of the galaxies most similar to our Milky Way