The best Australian science photos of 2015

These stunning images, ranging from the fading tendrils of an old star to the connections between nerve cells in our brains, have been selected in Australia’s Eureka Prize for Science Photography as the ten best for 2015.

The $160,000 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards. The 16 section winners will be announced at Sydney Town Hall on August 26.

Here are the three photography finalists and seven highly commended images for the Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography:

1. Thorny-Headed Worm

By Aileen Elliot, Murdoch University

FINALIST. While dissecting a bland peritoneal cyst from an Eel Tailed Catfish, Tandanus tropicanus, parasitologists Aileen Elliot was surprised when out popped this worm.

2. Soft Coral

By Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum:

FINALIST. Soft corals are more diverse and widespread than hard corals but much less is known about their contribution to reef biodiversity. About one-third of the world’s soft coral species are found on the Great Barrier Reef.

3. Saltwater Crocodile

By Justin Gilligan

FINALIST. Exploring the coral reefs of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea, Justin Gilligan found this juvenile saltwater crocodile. When taking this stunning image, Justin focused on the raised eyes and nostrils and the camouflaged skin.

4. Prismatic Life

By Julian Uribe-Palomino, IMOS–CSIRO Plankton Team, Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship

Sapphirina is the name given by science to this micro-crustacean (subclass Copepoda) which produces a metallic blue colouration when light strikes the animal’s body at a certain angle. This male specimen was collected near North Stradbroke Island in Queensland.

5. A tiny parasitic wasp in dark Cape York amber

By Geoff Thompson, Queensland Museum

The tiny parasitic wasp in dark Cape York amber is 10–20 million years old. A crack in the amber let air in and caused the beautiful silvering effect. Geoff Thompson’s image enabled an overseas expert to remotely identify the wasp as a new species in the genus Phanuromyia (family Platygastridae). The 38 source images needed to produce this photograph were taken on a Visionary Digital imaging system at what was then its maximum magnification.

6. Looking Without Seeing

By James Dorey

These two male garden jumping spiders, Opisthoncus parcedentatus (family Salticidae), have no idea the other is just millimetres away because without a direct line of sight their senses often fail them. James Dorey took this single frame image during an undergraduate study on the prey preference of jumping spiders.

7. In Search of Memory

By Dr Victor Anggono, University of Queensland

Anggono’s photograph depicts developing brain nerve cells (neurons) extending their processes, known as axons, and projecting to one another to establish synaptic connections.

8. Another planet

By Seedy Volunteers, Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian National University

Epacris paludosa (Alpine Heath). The National Seed Bank aims to store living seeds for tens to thousands of years for the conservation and research of native plants, and this seed (0.53 mm in length) is one of them. The image was taken with a FEI-Verios scanning electron microscope, then cropped, retouched and coloured.

9. Imperfect Focus

By Associate Professor Harald Kleine, School of Engineering and IT, University of New South Wales

Light can be focused to a single spot, but the focus of nonlinear waves, like shock waves, is always spread out so that the pressure and temperature amplification in the focal area is limited. Kleine’s sequence, taken in a single experiment with a high-speed camera, graphically illustrates imperfect focusing. The coloured areas around the focus and the vortex structure seen in later frames are clear indicators of the energy that could not be brought to the focus.

10. The Vela Super Nova Remnant

By Paul Haese

The Vela Super Nova was probably seen by humans around 11,000 years as a new star. It would have been a significant event seen during daylight hours for those on the sunlit side of the planet. Now it is a faint accumulation of dust and gas, drifting in knots across a wide area of space.

NOW READ: The Best Australian Science Photos Of 2014

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