NASA IS THE US GOVERNMENT AGENCY THAT DOES THE MOST awe-inspiring work, so it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that they have the most awe-inspiring Instagram account. The account, @nasa, regularly posts pictures of the sun, earth, moon, and the universe as a whole. The photos they put up manage to both dazzle and educate, and will give you a perspective on the world and universe that you hadn’t seen before — whether it’s a picture of a rocket take-off from space, of the late-night urban sprawl of the US eastern seaboard, or of the dazzling drama of the sun. Give them a follow and add a little bit of wonder to your daily routine.

A team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope found an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. Almost all galaxies with the jets were found to be merging with another galaxy, or to have done so recently. The team studied a large selection of galaxies with extremely luminous centers – known as active galactic nuclei – thought to be the result of large quantities of heated matter circling around and being consumed by a supermassive black hole. While most galaxies are thought to host supermassive black holes, only a small percentage of them are this luminous and fewer still go one step further and form what are known as relativistic jets. The two high-speed jets of plasma move almost at the speed of light and stream out in opposite directions at right angles to the disc of matter surrounding the black hole, extending thousands of light-years into space. Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI #nasa #astronomy #space #hubble #hubble25 #hst #esa #blackhole #galaxy #science

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The artist's concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone-a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface. The discovery from April 2014 of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth. Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130 days and receives one-third the energy that Earth does from the sun, placing it near the outer edge of the habitable zone. If you could stand on the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon would appear as bright as our sun is about an hour before sunset on Earth. Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up in orbit around a host star that is half the size and mass of the sun. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech #nasa #nasabeyond #exoplanet #space #kepler #science

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Hawaii from Space! From the International Space Station, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took this photograph of the island of Hawaii and posted it to social media on Feb. 28, 2015. Cristoforetti tweeted, "And suddenly as we flew over the Pacific… the island of #Hawaii with its volcanoes! #HelloEarth" Crew members on the space station photograph the Earth from their unique point of view located 200 miles above the surface as part of the Crew Earth Observations program. Photographs record how the planet is changing over time, from human-caused changes like urban growth and reservoir construction, to natural dynamic events such as hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions. Astronauts have used hand-held cameras to photograph the Earth for more than 40 years, beginning with the Mercury missions in the early 1960s. The ISS maintains an altitude between 220 – 286 miles (354 – 460 km) above the Earth, and an orbital inclination of 51.6˚, providing an excellent stage for observing most populated areas of the world. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti #nasa #esa #space #iss #spacestation

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Happy President's Day! Here's an International Space Station photo of the eastern (Atlantic) coast of the United States, which includes Virginia, where George Washington, the first U.S. president, was born. The image was taken in February 2012 by an Expedition 30 astronaut. Large metropolitan areas and other easily recognizable sites from the Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. area spanning almost to Rhode Island are visible in the scene. Boston is just out of frame at right. Long Island and the Greater Metropolitan area of New York City are visible in the lower right quadrant. Large cities in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) are near center. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost are seen in left foreground. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #iss #spacestation #washington #gerogewashington #presidentsday #virginia #space

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Exploded Star Blooms Like a Cosmic Flower: Because the debris fields of exploded stars, known as supernova remnants, are very hot, energetic, and glow brightly in X-ray light, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has proven to be a valuable tool in studying them. The supernova remnant called G299.2-2.9 (or G299 for short) is located within our Milky Way galaxy, but Chandra’s new image of it is reminiscent of a beautiful flower here on Earth. G299 was left over by a particular class of supernovas called Type Ia. Astronomers think that a Type Ia supernova is a thermonuclear explosion – involving the fusion of elements and release of vast amounts of energy − of a white dwarf star in a tight orbit with a companion star. If the white dwarf’s partner is a typical, Sun-like star, the white dwarf can become unstable and explode as it draws material from its companion. Alternatively, the white dwarf is in orbit with another white dwarf, the two may merge and can trigger an explosion. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/U.Texas #nasa #chandra #space #supernova #astronomy #science

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On this day in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7 from Pad 39A at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This high-angle view of the shuttle liftoff, showing a lengthy stretch of Florida Atlantic coastline and a number of large cumulus clouds, was photographed with a handheld 70mm camera by astronaut John W. Young, who piloted the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) for weather monitoring at launch and landing sites for STS missions. The STS-7 crew consisted of astronauts Robert Crippen, commander, the first two-time space shuttle astronaut; Frederick H. Hauck, pilot; and three mission specialists — Ride, John M. Fabian and Norman E. Thagard. One of Sally Ride's jobs was to call out "Roll program" seven seconds after launch. "I'll guarantee that those were the hardest words I ever had to get out of my mouth," she said later. Image Credit: NASA #otd #tbt #throwbackthursday #sallyride #space #nasahistory #history #nasa

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Earth From Space: 15 Years of Amazing Things The view of Earth from orbit is never the same – from minute to minute, day to day, year to year. In December of 1999 NASA launched a satellite that opened up a new era in our ability to see, measure and understand Earth. The satellite called Terra rocketed to space on Dec. 18, 1999. (And while it was designed for a five-year mission life – Terra is still up there, collecting invaluable data on Earth’s land, atmosphere and oceans.) In 2002 and 2004, satellites named Aqua and Aura followed. These are often called the three flagship satellites of NASA’s Earth Observing System — which began in earnest with Terra and now comprises a fleet of 18 Earth-observing satellites that have revolutionized our ability to observe our home planet from space. NASA and other space agencies had launched satellites to study Earth before. But the past 15 years have produced a more comprehensive look at Earth from space than any other period in history. At a time when our planet is undergoing critically important changes, this global view offers not only stunning imagery but also vitally important information about how Earth is changing. In 2002, NASA scientists and visualizers stitched together strips of brand new data, in natural color, collected over four months from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument aboard Terra. Seen here is the western hemisphere of that Blue Marble image. Image Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory

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Efforts to conserve parks and protected areas around the world are being aided by Earth observations from space-based sensors operated by NASA and other organizations. “Sanctuary,” a new book released this week at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, highlights how the view from space is being used today to protect some of the world’s most interesting, changing, and threatened places. In the book’s foreword, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden writes, ““As a former astronaut who has looked upon our beautiful planet from space, I hope that we can advance the use of space-based remote sensing and other geospatial tools to study, understand, and improve the management of the world’s parks and protected areas as well as the precious biodiversity that thrives within their borders.” NASA’s basic research and applied conservation programs have advanced our understanding of global change impacts within and around protected areas. Ongoing projects include assessing coral reef health, investigating the vulnerability of U.S. National Parks to climate change, and establishing marine biodiversity observation networks. Seen here is development and agricultural clearing (pink areas) shown encroaching the Sundarbans mangroves along the Bay of Bengal in this Landsat 8 image taken in March 2014. Credit: NASA/USGS

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Retreating Glacier: Located in the Brabazon Range of southeastern Alaska, Yakutat Glacier is one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world. It is the primary outlet for the 810-square kilometer (310-square mile) Yakutat ice field, which drains into Harlequin Lake and, ultimately, the Gulf of Alaska. The Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the glacier and lake on Aug. 13, 2013. Snow and ice appear white and forests are green. The brown streaks on the glaciers are lateral and medial moraines. Over the past 26 years, the glacier’s terminus has retreated more than 5 kilometers (3 miles). What is causing the rapid retreat? University of Alaska glaciologist Martin Truffer and colleagues pointed to a number of factors in their 2013 study published in the Journal of Glaciology. The chief cause is the long-term contraction of the Yakutat Ice Field, which has been shrinking since the height of the Little Ice Age. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey #earth #earthrightnow #climatechange #ice #glacier #nasa #science

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The Hubble Space Telescope turns 25 years old today! Celebrate with us as we share incredible images from Hubble: This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on Feb. 1-2, 2010. The colors in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulfur (red). Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI) #Hubble25 #hubble #hst #telescope #nasa #space

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Since measurements began in 1895, Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier has been thickening and steadily advancing into Disenchantment Bay. The advance runs counter to so many thinning and retreating glaciers nearby in Alaska and around the world. This image, acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, shows Hubbard Glacier on July 22, 2014. According to Leigh Stearns, a glaciologist at the University of Kansas, Hubbard’s advance is due to its large accumulation area; the glacier’s catchment basin extends far into the Saint Elias Mountains. Snow that falls in the basin either melts or flows down to the terminus, causing Hubbard to steadily grow. In addition, Hubbard is building up a large moraine, shoveling sediment, rock, and other debris from Earth’s surface onto the glacier’s leading edge. The moraine at the front gives the glacier stability and allows it to advance more easily because the ice does not need to be as thick to stay grounded. (If it is thin, it can start floating and will not necessarily advance.) Image Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory #earth #nasa #earthrightnow #climate #hubbard #glacier #science

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Fresh Martian Crater: The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired this closeup image of a "fresh" (on a geological scale, though quite old on a human scale) impact crater in the Sirenum Fossae region of Mars on March 30, 2015. This impact crater appears relatively recent as it has a sharp rim and well-preserved ejecta. The steep inner slopes are carved by gullies and include possible recurring slope lineae on the equator-facing slopes. Fresh craters often have steep, active slopes, so the HiRISE team is monitoring this crater for changes over time. The bedrock lithology is also diverse. The crater is a little more than 1-kilometer wide. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona #mars #nasa #mro #uarizona #hirise #crater #planets #science

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Coronal Loops Over a Sunspot Group The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) images the solar atmosphere in multiple wavelengths to link changes in the surface to interior changes. Its data includes images of the sun in 10 wavelengths every 10 seconds. When AIA images are sharpened a bit, such as this AIA 171Å channel image, the magnetic field can be readily visualized through the bright, thin strands that are called "coronal loops". Loops are shown here in a blended overlay with the magnetic field as measured with SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager underneath. Blue and yellow represent the opposite polarities of the magnetic field. The combined images were taken on Oct. 24, 2014, at 23:50:37 UT. Image Credit: NASA SDO #nasa #sdo #sun #coronalloops #solar #space #solardynamics

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