Winning Astronomy Photos of 2011

Via National Geographic

Fighting Dragons of Ara
Photograph by Michael Sidonio

Known as the fighting dragons of Ara, two colorful gas clouds appear to be posing in attack position in a picture that received honorable mention in the “Deep Sky” category.

Australian astroimager Michael Sidonio captured subtle hues of purple, orange, and green from the giant cloud of gas and dust, which sits 4,000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Ara.

The 300-light-year-wide molecular cloud is being shaped by radiation from massive young stars formed inside during the past few million years.

Vela Supernova Remnant
Photograph by Marco Lorenzi

Hanging off one of the wings of the constellation Cygnus, the swan, is the nebulous Vela supernova remnant—all that remains of a star that exploded 12,000 years ago.

The cobweb-like structure, which lies more than 800 light-years from Earth, is seen expanding across a field of stars in this picture by Marco Lorenzi in Italy, winner of the “Deep Space” category.

“I’ve always been inspired by supernova remnants, in particular by their reach and their different compositions. After all, several of the building bricks of life are created during these apocalyptic events,” Lorenzi said in a press statement.

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