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Astronomy

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sun illustration

SIGNS OF LINES  The sun’s magnetic field is connected to one in the corona, which is much weaker and therefore harder to observe. Together, they form a twisted mess, illustrated here as white lines (based partly on a model) over a 2016 image of the sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

example of gravitational lensing

TRICK OF THE LIGHT  Einstein showed that spacetime warps around massive bodies and makes light take different paths, as shown in this stellar smile in which a red galaxy distorts the light from a more distant blue galaxy.

Mercury

FIRST ROCK FROM THE SUN  NASA’s Messenger spacecraft orbited Mercury for four years, giving an unprecedented view of its surface, including this enhanced view of the chemicals and minerals that coat it. A mission during the 2017 total solar eclipse will take a deeper look at the planet.

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