Spinning Stars, Goofy Monkey Faces and More
<p>Take a journey through this week's best science photos, from goofy monkey faces and a cutely named snake to fast spinning stars and a doomed satellite.</p>
Fast-Spinning Star Spotted
<p>This artist's concept illustrates what may be the fastest rotating star found to date, scientists reported this week. Called VFTS 102, the massive, bright young star rotates at a million miles per hour, or 100 times faster than our sun does. Centrifugal forces from this dizzying spin rate have flattened the star into an oblate shape and spun off a disk of hot plasma, seen edge-on in this view from a hypothetical planet. The star may have "spun up" by accreting material from a binary companion star, according to the scientists involved. The rapidly evolving companion later exploded as a supernova. The whirling star lies 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/1-image-day.html">See more amazing science images</a>]</p>
<p>Monkeys in Central and South America have amazingly diverse faces, from the white-mustached visage of the baby emperor tamarin (shown here) to the boiled-lobster-red skin of the bald uakari. Now, research reveals that New World monkeys rely on facial coloration mostly to recognize their own species.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17847-facial-features-monkey-evolution.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
<p>Another New World monkey, the cottontop tamarin is a native of Colombia and is critically endangered. And what a hairdo!
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17846-gallery-monkey-mug-shots.html">See more monkey mug shots</a>]</p>
<p>The news that a failed Russian Mars probe will come crashing back to Earth in the next few days reinforces a growing public perception that the sky is falling — that huge pieces of space junk could rain down on us at any moment.</p><p> These high-profile events have helped put space junk on the map for many people who had never worried about the possibility, however remote, of getting conked on the head by a satellite shard. Shown here, a computer illustration depicting the density of space junk around Earth in low-Earth orbit.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17909-space-junk-satellite-crashes-public-consciousness.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
Combative Angler Fish
<p>This week scientists announced what they said was the world's smallest vertebrate, a teensy frog that lives in the forests of Papua New Guinea. However, another scientist is arguing a tiny parasitic male angler fish, shown here attached to the back of the much larger female, is actually smaller.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17896-smallest-vertebrate-controversy-frog-angler-fish.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
Saturn on Steroids
<p>An enigmatic object detected five years ago in space may be a ringed alien world comparable to Saturn, the first such world discovered outside our solar system, scientists announced this week in Austin, Texas, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).</p><p> Shown here, an artist's illustration of a dust disk resembling Saturn's rings found around an object 420 light-years from Earth. It may be the first alien planet with rings actually found.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17876-strange-rings-saturn-steroids-deep-space-aas219.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
Matilda, the Snake
<p>A new type of snake, a species of bush viper, was discovered in southern Tanzania during a recent biological survey. Called Matilda's horned viper, the snake was named after the daughter of one of the researchers. Matilda's exact location is being kept secret to protect the visually striking black-and-yellow snake from illegal pet collectors.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17814-colorful-snake-species-discovered.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
Amazing Astronomy Illustrations Resurface
<p>Recently digitized drawings by 19th-century artist Etienne Leopold Trouvelot reveal stunning sunspots, auroras and even planetary bodies as they were observed in the Victorian era. </p><p> A chromolithograph of the planet Jupiter, observed Nov. 1, 1880, at 9:30 p.m. The piece of art reveals Jupiter's Great Red Spot, akin to a hurricane on Earth, which has been raging on the planet for hundreds of years.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17861-trouvelot-astronomy-illustrations.html">Read full story</a>]</p>
A Great Comet
<p>Another astronomy illustration by Trouvelot recently digitized. Shown here, a brilliant comet that streaked across the skies of the Northern Hemisphere in June 1881. E.L. Trouvelot illustrated the Great Comet of 1881 as he saw it.
[<a href="http://www.livescience.com/17862-gallery-astronomy-art-trouvelot.html">See more astronomy illustrations</a>]</p>