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The 39 photographs that took our breath away this year

From Commander Hadfield to Batkid, here are the most striking photographs from 2013.

GIVEN THAT THE number of photos being published every day has surged dramatically in recent years with the advent of the cameraphone and social media, picking the best of the year is always going to be difficult.

We’ve put together some of the most striking images of 2013, focusing on ones that really took our breath away when we saw them. Here’s what we came up with.

Note: some of these photographs contain graphic depictions of violence.

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Commander Chris Hadfield watches a water bubble float between him and the camera in the International Space Station on 21 January 2013. (Pic: NASA)

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The coffin of Margaret Thatcher is carried into St Paul’s Cathedral in London. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

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Thania Sayne leans on the headstone at the grave of her husband Timothy D Sayne a day before what would have been their third wedding anniversary. Her husband was killed in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan while serving with the US Army. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Members of An Garda Síochána in Dundalk at the funeral of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe who was shot dead during a raid on a credit union. (Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

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The Holmes family are forced to take shelter from intense wildfires under a jetty in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley in Australia. (AP Photo/Tim Holmes)

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People take photos and videos of Pope Francis as he speaks from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican after he was announced as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

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Miles Scott, right, dressed as Batkid, walks with Batman before saving a damsel in distress in San Francisco in November. The city turned into Gotham City for a day as officials helped fulfil Miles’s wish to be Batkid after finishing his treatment for leukaemia. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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A leopard trapped in a well looks up at officials at the Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

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An emergency responder and volunteers, including Carlos Arredondo in the cowboy hat, push injured Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair after he was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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A protester tries to remain standing as police water cannons are fired during clashes at Taksim Square in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

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A local resident looks at the rubble of a destroyed home one day after a tornado hit the town of Moore in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

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The body of a man and woman are seen in the debris of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Suman Paul)

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Riot police guard gay rights activists who had been beaten by anti-gay rights protesters during a rally in St Petersburg in Russia (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

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Fireworks go off near members of the Black Bloc anarchist group during clashes with police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

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Cars are buried by snow in Connecticut after a storm hit the east coast of America. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi count bodies in a makeshift morgue in Cairo’s Nasr City district. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

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An anti-government protester in Bahrain is engulfed in flames when a shot fired by riot police hits the petrol bomb in his hand that he was preparing to throw. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

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People watch a surfer ride a big wave at the Praia do Norte at the fishing village of Nazare on Portugal’s Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/Miguel Barreira)

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A woman named Saw Min lies on a bed with weights on her eyes after receiving local anaesthesia ahead of a cataract operation at a government hospital in Bago, Burma. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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A three-month-old Sumatran tiger cub named Bandar reacts after being dunked in the tiger exhibit moat for a swimming test at the National Zoo in Washington in the United States. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Press Association Images)

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Firefighters walk along a US highway as they continued to battle a giant fire near Yosemite National Park in California. (AP Photo/Jae C Hong)

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A woman who had been hiding during a gun battle runs for cover after armed police enter the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire. (AP Photo/Jonathan Kalan)

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Kaden Bowden looks at the funeral casket for his father, US Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Bowden, during a service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in the US. His dad died from injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Members of the Tokyo 2020 delegation celebrate after the Japanese capital was awarded the Olympic Games for 2020. (AP Photo/Victor R Caivano)

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Daredevil Nik Wallenda crosses a tightrope 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River Gorge in Arizona. The tightrope walk of a quarter of a mile took him 22 minutes to cross. (AP Photo/Rich Bowmer)

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Gardaí carry out an examination of the scene in Mayo where two children, Eoghan and Ruairí Chada, were found dead in a car after they went missing with their father Sanjeev. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

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Military police pepper spray a woman during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Victor R Caivano)

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Photographers take pictures of Oscar Pistorius as he stands in the dock during his bail hearing at a magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

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A man stands around coffins containing the remains of victims after the bodies were identified at a gym following a huge fire at Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria city, southern Brazil, leaving more than 230 people dead. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with former NBA star Dennis Rodman watching an exhibition game at a sports arena in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Jason Mojica/AP/Press Association Images)

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Pope Benedict XVI leaves after celebrating his last general audience at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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Usain Bolt celebrates winning gold in the men’s 200-metre final at the World Athletics Championships. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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Reshma Begum lies on a stretcher after being pulled out alive from the rubble of a collapsed garment factory building after surviving for 17 days. (AP Photo/Hasan Raza)

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LaTisha Garcia carries her 8-year-old daughter Jazmin Rodriguez near an elementary school after a massive tornado devastated the area. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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A man cries on a military officer in the garden of the house of the late General Vo Nguyen Glap in Hanoi, Vietnam, after paying homage to Giap, who died in October. Giap led the Vietnamese to victory over both the French and then the Americans. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

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A lightning strike near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. (Travis Roe/US Department of the Interior)

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Young patients watch high rise window washers dressed as Superman and Captain America as they clean the windows of the Sabara Children’s Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

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A meteorite contrail is seen in the sky after a meteor streaked across the sky over Russia’s Ural Mountains, causing sharp explosions and injuring more than 1,000 people.  (Yeketerina Pustynnikova/AP/Press Association Images)

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A frog photobombs the launch of a NASA rocket as it was blasted into space. (NASA Wallops Flight Facility/Chris Perry)

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