Physics in Pictures by Topic

Space & the Universe


Hoag's Object

The "Eye" in the Sky

Coronal Loops

Coronal Loops

Plasma arcs from the surface of the sun, guided back down by powerful magnetic field lines.


Space Dust Impact

A close look at the dangers of space dust.


Dark Matter Simulation

Simulations help bring the mysterious, invisible matter to light.


Lunar Charge Protection

Can magnetic anomalies on the moon protect future explorers?


Mars vs. Earth Infographic

Comparing Earth vs. Mars in this NASA-created infographic


Skull Galaxies

The Perseus Cluster of galaxies forms a spooky, skull-like x-ray image


Superfast Spacecraft: Juno

Juno recently sling-shotted around Earth on its way to Jupiter


LADEE Spacecraft

NASA's LADEE mission will study the lunar atmosphere and moon dust


Titan and Saturn

The ringed planet and its famous moon


Supermoon in Washington, DC

A supermoon sneaks behind the Washington Monument


Levitating in a Fluid

Using magnets, scientists re-create a space environment


The Eye of the Sahara

Easily visible from space, this huge structure still puzzles scientists


Cracked Windshield Physics

The number of cracks in glass reveal the strength of projectile impacts


Martian Wind

See the Curiosity rover's parachute flapping in the wind on Mars


Battle for Star Birth

Nascent stars and gigantic dust pillars collide


Pluto's Moons

Pluto's known family of moons may have just increased


Dark Energy Camera Galaxy Close-up

One of the Dark Energy Camera's first images


Dragon Launch 2

A glimpse at the SpaceX spacecraft before a mission


Backlit Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft captured this beautiful image of Saturn


Inside a Plasma Physics Lab

A glimpse into plasma physics and fusion research at MIT


Jupiter's Little Red Spot

On its way to Pluto, New Horizons caught a glimpse of Jupiter's smaller blemish


Mars at Night

Curiosity snaps some nighttime pictures from the red planet


Underground Neutrino Detector

A detector once searched for exotic physics 6,800 feet underground


Perihelion and Eccentricity

Learn about the Earth's farthest point from the sun with a lesson in eccentricity


Solstice Lunar Eclipse

In 2010, a lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice


Mayan Ruins Seen From Space

Satellites uncovered ancient Mayan ruins with remote sensing


Cathedral Stars

Massive dust pillars surround a cathedral of bright stars


Watery Blue Sunset

An artistically adapted image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory reveals the sun in a new light


Spooky Nebula

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory snapped this photo of the haunting SH2 136 Nebula.


Cassini's View of Alpha Centauri

An image of our nearest star system neighbor, Alpha Centauri, taken by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn.

Endeavour thumb

Endeavour's Flight Home

The retired Space Shuttle Endeavour stopped in Houston, Texas before heading to Los Angeles for permanent display.

dream thumb

Dream Chaser

The Dream Chaser spacecraft performs a test flight over Boulder, Colorado's flatiron rock formations.

DECam camera

Dark Energy Camera

A 570-megapixel camera attached to a telescope will help scientists uncover the mysteries of dark energy.

Rover Debris

Rover Debris

Before landing on Mars' surface, the Curiosity Rover images its parachute's crash site.

X-treme Solar Flare

X-treme Solar Flare

X-class flare erupting from the sun

Haleakala Observatory

Haleakala Observatory

High on a mountaintop in Hawaii, scientists search the sky.

Topographic Moon Map

Topographic Moon Map

This is the highest resolution topographic map of the moon to date taken from information gathered by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).


The Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake, Eielson Air Force Base. Find out about the physics behind this phenomenon.


Moon Tracks

This isn’t a new flavor of ice cream. No, this photo taken from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the marks left behind by Apollo 17.



The Sun’s closest neighbor, Mercury, now has a spacecraft zooming around its orbit. NASA’s Messenger spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury on Thursday , March 17th, 2011 around 9 p.m. EDT. This is the first spacecraft to begin orbiting Mercury, a milestone for US space exploration.


Rocky Planet: Kepler 10b

The Kepler Spacecraft, after nearly 8 months of collecting data (May 2009 – January 2010), discovered an exoplanet, Kepler 10b, that orbits a star other than our sun.


It’s Raining Antimatter… Upward?

The electrons produce so many gamma rays that they shoot electrons and positrons out of the atmosphere and NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope intercepts these particles, showing evidence that thunderstorms may be producing antimatter.

shoot the moon

Shoot the Moon!

Lasers are used to track satellites. At the Goddard Space Flight Center lasers are used to track the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which is collecting data as it orbits the Moon.


Sputnik and Satellites

Sputnik I was the world's first artificial satellite. It marked a new era in political, military, technological and scientific developments, beginning the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race. Satellites use gravity to stay in orbit. Learn about the differences between Newton's and Einstein's explanations of gravity as it relates to satellites.


It’s Raining Gamma Rays

If you happen to step outside into a thunderstorm, I bet the last thing you are concerned about is getting hit by gamma rays. A team of scientists has been using satellite data to find out where gamma ray pulses are coming from with a great deal of accuracy in order to clarify if these pulses are related to lightening.


Gamma Ray All-Sky Map

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is our high energy eye in orbit keeping a look out for big events in the universe and creating an extensive detailed map in the process. A high energy map of our universe reveals many interesting objects such as pulsars, super-massive black holes and possibly clues to its beginning.


Perfect Spheres to Test Einstein

Einstein is looking at you through a near perfect glass sphere. In fact this is the most precise sphere that humans have ever created. The surface of this little marble is so smooth that any bumps or scratches are no higher than 40 atoms. Cool! But why?

Dust devils on Mars!

Dust devils on Mars!

What does this image look like to you? Could it be a close up of a tattoo or a lizard's back or even silly putty that was rubbed on a newspaper?

Dwarf Star

Exploding White Dwarf Star

Astrophysicists are able to "explode a star" in a virtual computational laboratory by applying physics to calculate the mechanism and progression of the explosion.


Supernovae Surprise

There's no avoiding the tragic end of a large star's life; it dies in a catastrophic explosion called a supernova.


Red Rover, Red Rover

With dwindling hope, scientists at the European Space Agency have awaited a nine-note musical message, much like the sound I hear on my daughter's cellphone when it receives a call.


Thanks for the Memories

On September 21, 2003 the spacecraft Galileo ended a 14-year mission exploring Jupiter and its four largest moons.


Structures of the Early Universe

Enormous structures in the early universe which are invisible to the unaided eye become apparent when observed using a telescope sensitive to mm-wave light.


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Tadpole

Against a stunning backdrop of thousands of galaxies, this odd-looking galaxy with the long streamer of stars appears to be racing through space, like a runaway pinwheel firework.


High-Speed Chase

Relativity theory insists that no matter what speed you choose for your spaceship--snail-like or close to light speed--the laws of physics always look the same.


Galaxies Galore

Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute today unveiled the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved by humankind.


Plasma Jets

From the surface of the sun to the violent cores of quasars, many astrophysical objects shoot plasma in sharply defined streams, guided by magnetic fields.


Photonic Phocus

Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute today unveiled the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved by humankind.


Wholly Ozone

According to recent research, cosmic rays may be enlarging the hole in the ozone layer.


The Circle Game

Like a planet orbiting the sun, some ideas keep coming around. In the 1920s, the inventors of quantum mechanics scuttled the notion that an atom behaves like a tiny solar system.


Corona... Gasp!

In late October 2002, the time that some parts of the world were observing autumn’s explosion of color, the Sun gave a colorful show of its own to solar physicists.