These photos might look like something from a different world, but they were taken here on our very own, awesome planet. Astrophotographer Phil Hart captured a mesmerizing series of images featuring an unbelievable, yet natural, blue sheen streaking through a sea of saltwater. This bioluminescence is the result of a defensive reaction employed by microorganisms in the Gippsland Lakes in Australia. Their radiant reflex is similar to the luminescent jellyfish found in the British Columbian coast.

The tiny creatures, called Noctiluca scintillans, emit a bright blue light in an effort to warn its fellow algae of a disturbance. Essentially, any movement or shift in the tide would result in this response. Whether a group of children are playing in the water or waves are naturally flowing, the N. scintillans are sure to react by illuminating their surroundings. Though the non-parasitic creatures can be found in several locations around the globe, Hart’s images are unique because of its vibrant intensity. The circumstances, according to the artist, were unlike any he has since experienced.

Hart’s story, including how these marine-dwelling life forms wound up on an Australian coast, and how he managed to document their beautiful activity on film, is an extensive, saturated tale that is fascinating. You can read his recap of the project’s history and the measures he took to capture the rare photographs on his website.

[via My Modern Metropolis]