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What the Heck Is This?

This is just part of a larger photo, and even the entire image is a little hard to make out, so I bet this close-up will befuddle a lot of people.

But once you know what it is, you'll go, "Oh, yeah!"

Hint: It's a frightening view from above.

Hint 2: It's a great shot of planet-making in progress.

Okay, here's what scientists say this is: A complex configuration deep within the vent cavity in Halema`uma`u crater on Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano. I'll say!

On the right side of the full image (below) you'll see lava pouring into the "complex configuration," spilling from a small cliff into this lava lake. Not a place you want to visit.

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it to me and maybe I'll use it. And you follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Lava flows off a small cliff and into a lava lake May 11, 2011 on Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano. (Image credit: USGS)
Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.