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The massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717 Featured Space Image

The massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717

This composite image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 (MACS J0717, for short), where four separate galaxy clusters have been involved in a collision, the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. Hot gas is shown in an image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and galaxies are shown in an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The hot gas is color-coded to show temperature, where the coolest gas is reddish purple, the hottest gas is blue, and the temperatures in between are purple. MACS J0717 is located about 5.4 billion light-years from Earth. It is one of the most complex galaxy clusters ever seen.
The repeated collisions in MACS J0717 are caused by a 13-million-light-year-long stream of galaxies, gas, and dark matter, known as a filament, pouring into a region already full of matter. A collision between the gas in two or more clusters causes the hot gas to slow down. However, the massive and compact galaxies do not slow down as much as the gas does, and so move ahead of it. Therefore, the speed and direction of each cluster's motion, perpendicular to the line of sight, can be estimated by studying the offset between the average position of the galaxies and the peak in the hot gas

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Stereoscopic view of North America Featured Space Image

Stereoscopic view of North America

February 2000 - This stereoscopic shaded relief image shows Africa's topography as measured by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) in February 2000. Also shown are Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, and other adjacent regions. Previously, much of the topography here was not mapped in detail. Digital elevation data, such as provided by SRTM, are in high demand by scientists studying earthquakes, volcanism, and erosion patterns and for use in mapping and modeling hazards to human habitation. But the shape of Earth's surface affects nearly every natural process and human endeavor that occurs there, so elevation data are used in a wide range of applications. The image shown here is greatly reduced from the original data resolution, but still provides a good overview of the continent's landforms.
The northern part of the continent consists of a system of basins and plateaus, with several volcanic uplands whose uplift has been matched by subsidence in the large surrounding basins. Many of these basins have been infilled with sand and gravel, creating the vast Saharan lands. The Atlas Mountains in the northwest were created by convergence of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The geography of the central latitudes of Africa is dominated by the Great Rift Valley, extending from Lake Nyasa to the Red Sea, and splitting into two arms to enclose an interior plateau and the nearly circular Lake Victoria, visible in the right center of the image. To the west lies the Congo Basin, a vast, shallow depression that rises to form an almost circular rim of highlands. Most of the southern part of the continent rests on a concave plateau comprising the Kalahari Basin and a mountainous fringe, skirted by a coastal plain that widens out in Mozambique in the southeast.
Specific noteworthy features one may wish to explore in this scene include (1) the Richat Structure in Mauritania, a bull's eye geologic structure, (2) the Velingara Ring in Senegal, a possible meteorite impact crater, (3) the delta of the Niger River in Nigeria, (4) the Cameroon Line of volcanoes, crossing Cameroon and extending offshore, (5) long linear mountain ridges crossing the southern end of Africa, (6) Mount Kilimanjaro and neighboring volcanoes in Kenya and Tanzania, (7) the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and vicinity, where Earth's crust is being pulled in three directions by tectonic forces, (8) the Dead Sea fault line, between Israel and Jordan, (9) ancient shorelines, inland from the coast of Libya, and (10) vast seas of sand dunes, particularly across the Sahara Desert and much of the Arabian Peninsula

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Oblique view of the lunar surface Featured Space Image

Oblique view of the lunar surface

December 1968 - This oblique view of the lunar surface was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft looking southward toward Goclenius and other large craters in the Sea of Fertility. Goclenius, the crater in the foreground with a rille-broken flat floor, is about 70 kilometers (45 statute miles) in diameter. One rille, approximately horizontal in this view, crosses both crater rims and the central peak, and, on adjoining Apollo 8 photographs, can be traced several kilometers across the mare surface beyond the high crater wall. In the background, the two large craters with smooth floors are Colombo A (left) and Magelhaens. Magelhaens A, the crater with the irregular floor, is about 35 kilometers (20 statute miles) in diameter

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