NASA Releases Eight Stunning Never-Before-Seen Images of the Cosmos. A region of glowing gas in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way galaxy, NGC 3576 is located about 9,000 light years from Earth. Such nebulas present a tableau of the drama of the evolution of massive stars, from the formation in vast dark clouds, their relatively brief (a few million years) lives, and the eventual destruction in supernova explosions.
2013 is supposed to be the year of Solar Max, the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. Sunspot numbers however are well below their values in 2011, and strong solar flares have been infrequent for many months. The quiet has led some observers to wonder if forecasters missed the mark. Solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center has a different explanation: "This is solar maximum," he suggests. "But it looks different from what we expected because it is double peaked."