The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope snapped the best ever image of the Antennae Galaxies. The galaxies — also known as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 — are locked in a deadly embrace. Once normal, stable spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, the pair have spent the past few hundred million years sparring with one another. This clash is so violent that stars have been ripped from their host galaxies to form a streaming arc between the two. In wide-field images of the pair the reason for their name becomes clear — far-flung stars and streamers of gas stretch out into space, creating long tidal tails reminiscent of antennae. . This new image of the Antennae Galaxies shows obvious signs of chaos. Clouds of gas are seen in bright pink and red, surrounding the bright flashes of blue star-forming regions — some of which are partially obscured by dark patches of dust. The rate of star formation is so high that the Antennae Galaxies are said to be in a state of starburst, a period in which all of the gas within the galaxies is being used to form stars. This cannot last forever and neither can the separate galaxies; eventually the nuclei will coalesce, and the galaxies will begin their retirement together as one large elliptical galaxy. . PC - NASA/ESA
July 24, 1969 - On this day, 50 years ago, the command module “Columbia” returns three astronauts to the Earth. The national objective to land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth had been accomplished. . The Apollo 11 astronauts - Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, splashed down at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet. . (Image 1) The three Apollo 11 crew men await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing biological isolation garments. (Credit - NASA) . (Image 2) The Apollo 11 Command Module (CM) is photographed as it is hoisted aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery vessel for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The splashdown took place at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet. (Credit NASA)
A sequence of images of Astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, lunar module pilot, climbing down the Eagle’s ladder to join Armstrong on the surface of the Moon. . Aldrin began his descent to the surface, commenting on the way out of the cabin, “Now I want to … partially close the hatch. Making sure not to lock it on my way out.” This prompted a laugh from Armstrong who commented, “A particularly good thought.” . Once Aldrin was on the surface, he and Armstrong unveiled the commemorative plaque that was mounted on the landing leg and read the words that were inscribed on it, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” The plaque bore the signatures of the Apollo 11 astronauts as well as of President Richard M. Nixon.