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Globular Cluster Credit: NASA, ESA and H. Richer (University of British Columbia

Central area of the Milky Way galaxy, released by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The photo shows 84 million stars in an image measuring 108,500×81,500, which contains nearly 9 billion pixels, and is actually a composite of thousands of individual photographs shot with the observatory's VISTA survey telescope.

Star Clusters Born Among the Interacting Galaxies of Stephan's Quintet

Baby stars are forming near the eastern rim of the cosmic cloud Perseus in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The baby stars are approximately three million years old and are shown as reddish-pink dots to the right of the image.

Galaxies 'Coming of Age' in Cosmic Blobs (NASA, Chandra, 6/24/09)

NASA's MESSENGER Satellite Captures Spectacular Color Mosaic of Mercury by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, via Flickr

Ngc 660, Polar Ring Galaxy In Pisces Credit: Robert Gendler

M51, whose name comes from being the 51st entry in Charles Messier's catalog, is considered to be one of the classic examples of a spiral galaxy. At a distance of about 30 million light years from Earth, it is also one of the brightest spirals in the night sky. A composite image of M51, also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, shows the majesty of its structure in a dramatic new way through several of NASA's orbiting observatories.