Five million miles away from Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft snapped the clearest photo of the dwarf planet yet on Tuesday.
The image shows three regions on Pluto, some darker than the others. Two regions stand out including a dark area along the equator known as “the whale” and a bright spot on the right, according to NASA.
The image is incredibly clear, but the spacecraft may snap an even better photo soon. “The next time we see this part of Pluto at closest approach, a portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today,” said NASA researcher Jeff Moore in a statement. “It will be incredible!”
Snapshots of the Heavens: Amazing Astronomy Photos The aurora borealis traces the shifting patterns of the Earth's magnetic field, creating a spectacular midwinter show in Nordland Fylke, Norway. The green light in this image comes from oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere, which have been energized by subatomic particles from the solar wind. Arild Heitmann Part of the Veil Nebula, the Witch's Broom is the glowing debris from a supernova explosion. It's what's left over after the violent death of a massive star. Although the supernova occurred several thousand years ago, the gaseous debris is still expanding outwards, producing this vast cloud-like structure. Robert Franke Dark mountain peaks frame two distinct lightscapes - the distant glow of towns and villages, and the majestic star fields of The Milky Way. Making the most of an August night, the photographer got this shot after trekking out to the Uludag National Park near his hometown of Bursa, Turkey. Tunc Tezel Galileo's Planetary Puzzle Has Finally Been Solved Laurent Laveder The Elephant's Trunk seems to uncoil from the dusty nebula on the right of the image, its tip curled around a cavity carved out by the radiation produced by young stars. Capturing a deep sky object like this takes skill and painstaking attention to detail and is a great achievement for a newcomer to astrophotography. Lóránd Fényes This long-exposure image contrasts the regular arcs of star trails with the chaotic swarming of fireflies - celestial, natural and manmade light are captured in a single photograph. Michael A. Rosinski The photographer came across two hikers lost in the wilderness of Yosemite late one evening in July 2011. He captured this image of the tiny figures in a small bubble of torchlight set within a vast, pitch black forest beneath the immense dome of the sky. It highlights the wonder, beauty and awe of astronomy. Steven Christenson A beautifully sharp and artfully framed detail of the Moon. The terminator which separates the daytime and night-time parts of the Moon is aligned with the bottom edge of the photograph. The Sun's light shines at a low angle onto the surface of the Moon just above this line, showing the contrast between smooth maria and rugged crater rims to the best advantage. Jacob Marchio Earth and space are evenly weighted in this wonderfully framed image of a Californian landscape beneath the Milky Way. The young photographer has chosen a view of an ancient bristlecone pine which is over 4,000 years old, and whose sloping trunk and gnarled branches provide perfect counterpoint to the edge-on view of the starry disc and knotted structure of our galaxy. Thomas Sullivan Taken in Nagano, Japan, this image shows Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades as the backdrop to an eerie frozen landscape. Though the stars appear to gleam with a cold, frosty light, bright blue stars like the Pleiades can be as hot as 30,000 degrees Celsius. Masahiro Miyasaka More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does Column: The New Antisemitism The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time