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Week’s Best Space Pictures: Off to Hunt for Black Holes
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 19 February 2016.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our picks for the week’s most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, a young star gleams through clouds of dust, satellites spot a rumbling volcano, and Ceres’ pockmarked surface showcases overlapping layers of ancient craters.

1. Up, Up, and Away

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An H-2A rocket launches from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, carrying the country’s ASTRO-H X-ray observatory into orbit. The satellite, called Hitomi (“eye pupil”), will study black holes.

2. That Shrinking Feeling

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China’s Poyang Lake, seen here by NASA’s Terra satellite, was once the country’s largest freshwater lake. It has now dipped to five percent of its usual capacity, thanks to a dam on the Yangtze River and evaporation during a drought.

3. Stacked Scars

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spots Datan, a 40-mile-wide crater on Ceres’ surface. Datan’s eastern half is superimposed on Geshtin, another crater - and both are pockmarked themselves, indicating that they’re quite old.

4. Where There's Smoke

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In October 2013, Russia’s Zhupanovsky volcano roared to life for the first time since the 1950s. Ever since, it has spewed ash and steam plumes, as seen here on February 13 by NASA’s Terra satellite.

5. Light in Fog

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The Hubble Space Telescope spots HBC 1, a young star that isn’t yet producing most of its energy from nuclear fusion. The star illuminates the nebula IRAS 00044+6521, which reflects light like mist enveloping a lamppost.

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

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