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Week's Best Space Pictures: Bipolar Stars and a Radio Phoenix
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 28 August 2015.

Feed your need for "heavenly" views of the universe every Friday with our picks of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, dying stars put on a light show, a volcano reawakens, and a galactic collision re-energizes an electron cloud.

1. Death Throes

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The two stars at the centre of the Twin Jet Nebula are dying. The smaller of the two is already a white dwarf, and its orbit around its partner is pulling gas ejected from the larger star into the two lobes pictured.

2. Backlit

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Plumes of icy material jetting from Enceladus' south pole are backlit by sunlight in this image taken by the Cassini orbiter. Reflected light from Saturn illuminates the moon's right side, while sunlight bathes Enceladus' left flank.

3. Seeing Red

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Cotopaxi, an Ecuadorian volcano, erupted last week after lying dormant for 70 years. A thermal imaging instrument on a NASA satellite captured the ash plume (grey) emanating from the volcano (centre, right). Vegetation is shown in red.

4. Raging Wildfires

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Thirty-six wildfires are burning out of control around Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest lake. This satellite image shows the northern area of the lake shrouded in smoke from the fires.

5. Reopening

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The Drakelands mine (upper right) in England originally opened in 1867 as a tin and tungsten mine. It closed in 1944, but work started last year to reopen the mine since it holds the world's fourth largest tungsten and tin deposits.

6. Phoenix

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A faded electron cloud has come back to life due to the collision of two galaxy clusters 1.6 billion light-years from Earth. It's called a radio phoenix (bright horizontal splotch, centre) because the cloud emits energy at radio frequencies.

Photo gallery by Sherry L. Brukbacher.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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