NASA releases spectacular space images to celebrate 'Year of Light'

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, for CNN

Updated 7:18 AM ET, Mon January 26, 2015
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This year has been designated "International Year of Light" by UNESCO, as a way of highlighting the incredible scientific achievements of light sciences, while placing light-based technologies under a spotlight. In honor of this, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has released five new composite images which "combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light."

The ethereal object in this image is believed to be the remnants of a massive exploded star. The image has been created by combining X-rays (shown in blue), radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (in pink) and visible light data from the Digitized Sky Survey (in yellow).
X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane et al; Optical: DSS; Radio: CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA
By releasing these images, NASA wants to demonstrate how astronomy uses light technologies every day to gain understanding of the inner-workings of the Universe.

The Cygnus A galaxy, over 700 million light years away, has a giant bubble of hot, X-ray emitting gas (indicated in blue). Radio data, shown in red, reveal "hot spots" of powerful jets.
Located 30 million light years from Earth, this spiral-shaped galaxy, called Messier 51, has been nicknamed "the whirlpool" for its spiral shape. Data from a host of telescopes, including Chandra (X-ray shown in purple), Hubble (visible light indicated in green), Spitzer (infrared light in red) and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (ultraviolet in blue) have helped create this mesmerizing shot of a galaxy similar in shape to our own. X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech
When a massive star exploded in one of our neighboring galaxies, known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, an expanding debris field with the catchy name of SNR 0519-69.0 was left in its wake. In this image, you can actually see the edge of the detonation in red surrounding the multimillion-degree gas captured in blue by the Chandra X-ray observatory. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Hughes; Optical: NASA/STScI
This jaw-dropping image shows the remains of a supernova explosion witnessed by Chinese astronomers almost 2,000 years ago. Thanks to advances in technology, modern telescopes can observe these remnants in light that would otherwise remain invisible to the human eye. NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Castro et al, Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTI
We also saw the 100 millionth image of the Sun taken at NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on January 19, 2015. The image's darker regions are areas of less dense gas known as coronal holes, where solar material is moving away from the Sun. NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL
NASA also released this remarkable bird's-eye panorama of part of the Andromeda galaxy last week. This is clearest image ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler