Pictures of the year: Space

Our top images from space in 2016. [26 photos total]

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1
A view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System, in an artist's impression. (ESO/M. Kornmesser) #
2
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly corrals the supply of fresh fruit that arrived on the Kounotori 5 H-II Transfer Vehicle, August 2015. Visiting cargo ships often carry a small cache of fresh food for crew members aboard the International Space Station. (REUTERS/NASA) #
3
A Russian Soyuz 2.1A rocket carrying Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 satellites lifts off from the launch pad at the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Uglegorsk, in the far eastern Amur region of Russia, April 2016. (REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool) #
4
People watch and take pictures of the solar eclipse at the beach on Ternate island, Indonesia, March 2016. (REUTERS/Beawiharta) #
5
An imagined view of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth discovered using a specialist telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatoryin Chile. (ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger) #
6
The SLS Five-Segment Solid Rocket Motor, that will launch NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft to deep space, undergoes a static test fire at the Orbital ATK facility in Promontory, Utah, June 2016. (NASA/Bill Ingalls) #
7
The Bubble Nebula in an image captured in February, 2016, by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3. The nebula is 7 light-years across, about one-and-a-half times the distance from our sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, and resides 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. (REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble Team) #
8
An artist's concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA's Kepler space telescope. (Courtesy W. Stenzel/NASA) #
9
Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is seen in a high-resolution, enhanced color view captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. Scientists have learned that reddish material in the north (top) polar region is chemically processed methane that escaped from Pluto's atmosphere onto Charon. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI) #
10
The Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft capsule carrying International Space Station crew, comprised of Jeff Williams of the U.S. and Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Russia, descends beneath a parachute over Kazakhstan, September 2016. #
11
The collision of two black holes - a tremendously powerful event detected for the first time ever by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO - is seen in this still image from a computer simulation released in February. Scientists for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesized by Albert Einstein a century ago, in a landmark discovery that opens a new window for studying the cosmos. (REUTERS/The SXS Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes) #
12
The bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa on the dwarf planet Pluto is seen in an image from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. (REUTERS/NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI) #
13
The central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud in an undated image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This cluster contains hundreds of young blue stars, among them the most massive star detected in the Universe so far. (REUTERS/NASA/ESA/P Crowther/University of Sheffield) #
14
A black spot on the sun is visible in the upper right of this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This region produced a solar flare in April. (REUTERS/NASA/SDO/Goddard) #
15
(L-R) Dr. Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director, NASA; Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute; Geoff Yoder, acting Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA; Michael Watkins, director, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); celebrate with others on the Juno team after they received confirmation from the spacecraft that it had successfully completed the engine burn and entered orbit of Jupiter, in mission control of the Space Flight Operations Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 and will orbit the planet for 20 months to collect data on the planetary core, map the magnetic field, and measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere. (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani) #
16
Star trails and blurred terrestrial lights are seen in a time exposure captured by astronauts on NASA's International Space Station as they orbited the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour in October. (NASA/Handout via REUTERS) #
17
A meteor streaks across the sky in the early morning during the Perseid meteor shower in Ramon Crater near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, in August. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen) #
18
An artist's rendering of an outburst on an ultra-magnetic neutron star, also called a magnetar. (REUTERS/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) #
19
An Air Force Test Pilot School T-38C jet passes in front of the sun at supersonic speed, creating shockwaves caught photographically for research. NASA is using a modern version of a 150-year-old German photography technique -- schlieren imagery -- to visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight. The results will help engineers to design a quiet supersonic transport, according to NASA. (REUTERS/NASA) #
20
A winter storm affecting the U.S. East Coast is seen in a NASA picture taken from the International Space Station in January. (REUTERS/NASA) #
21
A heart shaped region named Sputnik Planum is seen in enhanced view of the dwarf planet Pluto from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. (REUTERS/NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI) #
22
The robotic arm in Japan's Kibo laboratory successfully deploys two combined satellites from Texas universities from the International Space Station in January. The pair of satellites together form the Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking (LONESTAR) investigation. (REUTERS/NASA/Tim Peake) #
23
A NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the Sun. Courtesy NASA (Courtesy NASA) #
24
A photo taken by European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station shows an Aurora over northern Canada, taken from a point just north of Vancouver, in January. The Canadian Rockies, Banff and Jasper national parks are visible in the foreground. The Bright lights of Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary (left of center) are also visible. (REUTERS/NASA/Tim Peake) #
25
The planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System, in an artist's impression. ESO/M. Kornmesser #
26
The spiral galaxy NGC 4845, located over 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. The galaxy's orientation clearly reveals the galaxy's striking spiral structure: a flat and dust-mottled disc surrounding a bright galactic bulge. NGC 4845's glowing center hosts a gigantic version of a black hole, known as a supermassive black hole. (REUTERS/NASA) #

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