Photograph: Mark Hanson/Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014... NGC 6888 by Mark Hanson (US). This colourful starscape taken from Rancho Hidalgo, New Mexico, US reveals the searing heat of the Crescent Nebula glowing in a whirl of red and blue. (Cropped for Pinterest, click on the image for story and full image)

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014: the shortlist - in pictures

Photograph: Mark Hanson/Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014... NGC 6888 by Mark Hanson (US). This colourful starscape taken from Rancho Hidalgo, New Mexico, US reveals the searing heat of the Crescent Nebula glowing in a whirl of red and blue. (Cropped for Pinterest, click on the image for story and full image)

Stunning image showing the fusion of three galaxies by astronomers called "The Bird", this triple galaxy (composed of two massive spiral galaxies and a third irregular galaxy) lies 650 million light years in Sagittarius. The resulting mega galaxy is called Tinker Bell Triplet.

Stunning image showing the fusion of three galaxies by astronomers called "The Bird", this triple galaxy (composed of two massive spiral galaxies and a third irregular galaxy) lies 650 million light years in Sagittarius. The resulting mega galaxy is called Tinker Bell Triplet.

The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe Black holes are gigantic cosmic monsters, exotic objects whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape their clutches. Black holes come in a wide variety of forms, from small stellar-mass bodies to the supermassive beasts that reside at the hearts of galaxies. Here are 10 of the most extreme black holes, from the smallest to the largest and from cannibals to rogues. FIRST UP: The biggest and baddest See Slideshow

The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe Black holes are gigantic cosmic monsters, exotic objects whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape their clutches. Black holes come in a wide variety of forms, from small stellar-mass bodies to the supermassive beasts that reside at the hearts of galaxies. Here are 10 of the most extreme black holes, from the smallest to the largest and from cannibals to rogues. FIRST UP: The biggest and baddest See Slideshow

Pismis 24, one of the most massive and luminous star clusters known, glimmering above the NGC 6357 nebula that is approximately 8150 light-years away. According to NASA’s estimates, the brightest star of Pismis 24 cluster is over 200 times the mass of our Sun.

Pismis 24, one of the most massive and luminous star clusters known, glimmering above the NGC 6357 nebula that is approximately 8150 light-years away. According to NASA’s estimates, the brightest star of Pismis 24 cluster is over 200 times the mass of our Sun.

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