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Image of the Day: June 2013

Image of the Day Archives

Two interacting galaxies

(Image credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team)

For older Image of the Day pictures, please visit the Image of the Day archives.

Above: A spiral galaxy with a tail like a peacock interacts with a second, elliptical, galaxy in this Hubble telescope snapshot. NGC 2936, the spiral galaxy on top, and NGC 2937, the elliptical galaxy on the bottom, are close enough together that each's gravity affects the other. Because of these interactions, the spiral galaxy unwinds and stretches, causing gases and dusts to compress into new stars, seen in blue. The elliptical galaxy has little gas or dust to form new stars, and the reddish stars seen are older.


Crab parasite

(Image credit: Ryan Hechinger)

A cousin to the cute roly-poly bugs you might find in your garden, Leidya is a parasite that makes its home on crabs. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara recently developed new food webs that reveal the place of parasites like this wriggly fellow in the ecosystem. Parasites, they reported June 18, 2013 in the journal PLOS Biology, may make their hosts more vulnerable to predators by debilitating them — but the joke's on the parasite, as they often get snarfed down in the process of predation.

Not enough parasites for you? Check out our diabolical parasite gallery for more of the weird hangers-on out there.

Geyser Steams At Yellowstone National Park

More than half of the world's geothermal features, including some 300 geysers, are found at Yellowstone National Park. Clepsydra Geyer, captured in an image, is nearly continuously active.

(Image credit: Olga Strong/U.S. Department of the Interior)

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. And for good reason: The park is home to the world's largest collection of geysers.

Over half the world's geothermal features, which includes geysers and hot springs, are found in Yellowstone. Geysers are springs that eject water and steam into the air. Yellowstone lies above a body of magma that gives off extreme heat, which powers the geysers.

Among the more than 300 geysers at Yellowstone is Old Faithful, a famous cone geyser in Wyoming that can shoot up to 8,400 gallons (32,000 liters) of piping hot water up to 185 feet (56 meters) into the air. The water works can last up to 5 minutes long.

Clepsydra Geyser, pictured above, is nearly continuously active, shooting water up to 45 feet (14 m) into the air. Clepsydra's name is derived from the Greek word for water clock. Before the 1959 Yellowstone earthquake, Clepsydra erupted every three minutes.

Yellowstone was established as the first national park in the United States, in 1872, to protect its treasured geysers.

- Brett Israel, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor

Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet & Google+.

Sloth Bear Cub Makes Debut

Hank the sloth bear club at the National Zoo

(Image credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Meet Hank, the Smithsonian National Zoo's sloth bear cub, who made his public debut at the zoo on June 19.

Hank was born to mother Hana on Dec. 19, 2012, and he and mom have spent the six months since in the den near their exhibit on the zoo's Asia Trail. A live Sloth Bear Cub Cam on the zoo's website has let zoo staff and the public alike watch as Hank has grown up and become a lively explorer and climber. Now that he is more adept at getting around, he is on display in the outdoor enclosure from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every day, weather permitting, the zoo said in a statement.

"Sloth bears in general are full of personality, but watching Hank explore and play in his yard is especially endearing," said animal keeper Mindy Babitz, in a statement from the zoo, which is one of only 18 in the United States that exhibits the species. Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus), which are native to Indian, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to poaching and habitat loss.

Supermoon Hangs Over DC

the supermoon hangs over the washington monument in washington, d.c.

(Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The largest full moon of the year, called the supermoon, rises behind the Washington Monument, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Washington, D.C. A supermoon is a full moon that happens within 12 hours of the lunar perigree, or the point in the lunar orbit that brings the moon closest to Earth.

This year, the moon was about 221,824 miles (356,991 kilometers) away at perigee, compared with the 252,581 miles (406,490 km) away at apogee, or when it is farthest away from Earth. This year's supermoon appeared up to 13.5 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon.

Star of the Ocean

Brisingid Sea Star

(Image credit: Jon Moore)

This brisingid sea star, a type of deep-sea dweller, was collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of its ocean exploration program. The sea star was found in Manning Seamount, an underwater volcanic mountain off the coast of New England in the Atlantic Ocean.

Brisingid sea stars can have up to 16 long, spiny arms that they use for feeding. These starfish can be found in a number of deep-sea locations around the world, including in the Caribbean and in the southwestern Pacific Ocean near New Zealand.

Bask in the View

The picturesque National Park of American Samoa is in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, near the International Date Line.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

U.S. national parks are not confined to just the 50 states. There's even a U.S. national park on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

The National Park of American Samoa has beaches and views unlike any you'll find in the mainland United States. The park preserves and protects unique paleotropical rainforests, coral reefs, fruit bats and the Samoan culture. Located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, in the Southern Hemisphere and near the International Date Line, this park spans three volcanic and mountainous islands, all shrouded in tropical rainforest. As if that's not enough, the park is also ringed with cliffs, beaches and coral reefs.

The National Park of American Samoa is also rich in history, with the Samoan culture being Polynesia's oldest. The first people of the Samoan Islands are thought to have come by sea from southeast Asia some 3,000 years ago. Near the park's Ofu beach, the To'aga archeological site has evidence of more than 3,000 continuous years of human occupancy. Modern descendants still reside nearby at Ofu Village.

- Brett Israel, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor

Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook & Google+.

Stars Fell on Manhattan

A neutron star and Manhattan size comparison

(Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Ever wonder about the size of a neutron star? Wonder no more. This NASA graphic places a neutron star — the densest object astronomers can observe directly — next to Manhattan Island. While a neutron star is about as long across as Manhattan (12 miles, or 19 kilometers), it contains half a million times the Earth's mass in that small space.


Comet ISON

(Image credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

Comet ISON streaks across space in this series of images from Feb. 4, March 4, April 3 and May 4, 2013. ISON is currently about 455 million to 360 million miles (730-580 million kilometers) from the sun, but it's headed toward Earth's star at a fast clip. On Nov. 28, 2013, the comet will graze the sun in one of the closest passes ever recorded for any comet, moving within 800,000 miles (1.3 million km) of the star. Before the close encounter (and after, should ISON survive), the comet should be visible from Earth, possibly even in daylight. [Read More About Comet ISON]

See Summer From the "Snow Caves"

glacier national park, snow cave, swift current pass, glaciers, snow cave images

(Image credit: Zach Clothier/U.S. Department of the Interior)

Summer can be seen at the end of winter's long tunnel at Glacier National Park in Montana.

Love to hike? Glacier is your place for summer backcountry adventures. With over 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) of trails, hikers will find a wilderness of forests, alpine meadows, mountains and beautiful lakes.

For those not ready to leave winter behind, there's the solitude of snow caves. Caves such as the one shown in the above image often form when meltwater runs under the ice of a glacier.

Glacier National Park is named for the glacier-scoured landscape. A few small glaciers remain throughout the park today, some of which can be seen from the roads. Just look for the tell-tale blue ice and crevasses that distinguishes them from the snowfields above timberline. [Top 10 Most Visited National Parks]

Visitors to the park in the summer should check the local road conditions before their trip. A heavy snowpack and budget cuts have hampered efforts to plow popular roads to the park in recent years. This month, plow crews have made progress removing snow from the park's famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, clearing up to half a mile on a good day. Happy summer!

- Brett Israel

Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook & Google+.

Feed Your Bowel

The human bowel and vasculature

(Image credit: NIH Clinical Center (CC))

The human gut isn't the most glamorous of systems, but it's got an important job to do. This computer-generated 3-D model shows the small intestine (blue) and its generous blood supply (yellow). Using CT (computed tomography) scans, NIH researchers were able to map out this vasculature.

Live Science Staff
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