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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Raging Storm System on Saturn

    04/28/2013 9:10:21 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was one of the largest and longest lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. † First seen in late 2010, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet. The storm was tracked not only from Earth but from up close by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn. Pictured above in false colored infrared in February, orange colors indicate clouds deep in the atmosphere, while light colors highlight clouds higher up. The rings of Saturn are seen nearly edge-on as the thin blue...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M64: The Black Eye Galaxy

    04/04/2013 4:41:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This beautiful, bright, spiral galaxy is Messier 64, often called the Black Eye Galaxy or the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy for its heavy-lidded appearance in telescopic views. M64 is about 17 million light-years distant in the otherwise well-groomed northern constellation Coma Berenices. In fact, the Red Eye Galaxy might also be an appropriate moniker in this colorful composition of narrow and wideband images. The enormous dust clouds obscuring the near-side of M64's central region are laced with the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen associated with star forming regions. But they are not this galaxy's only peculiar feature. Observations show that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M42: Inside the Orion Nebula

    03/20/2013 3:37:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image in assigned colors highlighted by emission in oxygen and hydrogen, wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Herschel's Andromeda

    02/02/2013 9:46:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 02, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This infrared view from the Herschel Space Observatory explores the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way. Only 2.5 million light-years distant, the famous island universe is also known to astronomers as M31. Andromeda spans over 200,000 light-years making it more the twice the size of the Milky Way. Shown in false color, the image data reveal the cool dust lanes and clouds that still shine in the infrared but are otherwise dark and opaque at visual wavelengths. Red hues near the galaxy's outskirts represent the glow of dust heated by starlight to a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

    01/07/2013 4:52:59 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: AE Aurigae is called the flaming star. The surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula and the region seems to harbor smoke, but there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible near the nebula center, is so hot it is blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 660

    11/10/2012 9:57:08 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | November 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 660 is featured in this cosmic snapshot, a sharp composite of broad and narrow band filter image data from the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea. Over 20 million light-years away and swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces, NGC 660's peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy. A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings nearly perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk. The bizarre-looking configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Red Spider Planetary Nebula

    10/29/2012 12:33:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 29, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Oh what a tangled web a planetary nebula can weave. The Red Spider Planetary Nebula shows the complex structure that can result when a normal star ejects its outer gases and becomes a white dwarf star. Officially tagged NGC 6537, this two-lobed symmetric planetary nebula houses one of the hottest white dwarfs ever observed, probably as part of a binary star system. Internal winds emanating from the central stars, visible in the center, have been measured in excess of 1000 kilometers per second. These winds expand the nebula, flow along the nebula's walls, and cause waves of hot gas...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Simeis 147: Supernova Remnant

    10/09/2012 3:52:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | October 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's easy to get lost following the intricate filaments in this detailed mosaic image of faint supernova remnant Simeis 147 (S147). Also cataloged as Sh2-240, it covers nearly 3 degrees or 6 full moons on the sky. That's about 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud's estimated distance of 3,000 light-years. Anchoring the frame at the right, bright star Elnath (Beta Tauri) is seen towards the boundary of the constellations Taurus and Auriga, almost exactly opposite the galactic center in planet Earth's sky. This sharp composite includes image data taken through a narrow-band filter to highlight emission from hydrogen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Heart of Orion

    10/06/2012 1:07:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | October 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Near the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at the heart of the Orion Nebula, are four hot, massive stars known as the Trapezium. Gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius, they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster. Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars, mostly from the brightest star Theta 1 Orionis C powers the complex star forming region's entire visible glow. About three million years old, the Orion Nebula Cluster was even more compact in its younger years and a recent dynamical study indicates that runaway stellar collisions at an earlier...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Colorful Clouds Near Rho Ophiuchi

    08/28/2012 2:52:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust illuminated from the front by starlight produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower center. Rho Ophiuchi lies at the center of the blue nebula near the top. The distant globular cluster M4 is visible just...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16: Pillars of Creation

    07/22/2012 7:18:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | July 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was one of the most famous images of the 1990s. This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. The giant pillars are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas contracts gravitationally to form stars. At each pillars' end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density material to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed. The Eagle Nebula, associated with the open star cluster M16, lies about 7000 light years away. The pillars of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion Nebula: The Hubble View

    07/15/2012 2:41:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | July 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula's energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view - providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution. This detailed image of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy

    06/02/2012 3:23:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | June 02, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the handle's last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (top), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lantern Saturn

    05/31/2012 5:57:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 31, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Known for its bright ring system and many moons, gas giant Saturn looks strange and unfamiliar in this false-color view from the Cassini spacecraft. In fact, in this Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) mosaic the famous rings are almost invisible, seen edge-on cutting across picture center. The most striking contrast in the image is along the terminator or boundary between night and day. To the right (day side) blue-green hues are visible sunlight reflected from Saturn's cloud tops. But on the left (night side) in the absence of sunlight, the lantern-like glow of infrared radiation from the planet's...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dust of the Orion Nebula

    02/06/2012 4:26:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | February 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What surrounds a hotbed of star formation? In the case of the Orion Nebula -- dust. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. Opaque to visible light, dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of particles. The Trapezium and other forming star clusters are embedded in the nebula. The intricate filaments of dust surrounding M42 and M43 appear brown in the above image, while central glowing gas is highlighted in red. Over the next few million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Grand Spiral Galaxy NGC 1232

    01/07/2012 2:17:12 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galaxies are fascinating not only for what is visible, but for what is invisible. Grand spiral galaxy NGC 1232, captured in detail by one of the new Very Large Telescopes, is a good example. The visible is dominated by millions of bright stars and dark dust, caught up in a gravitational swirl of spiral arms revolving about the center. Open clusters containing bright blue stars can be seen sprinkled along these spiral arms, while dark lanes of dense interstellar dust can be seen sprinkled between them. Less visible, but detectable, are billions of dim normal stars and vast tracts...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Wide Field Image of the Galactic Center

    01/06/2012 2:27:26 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | January 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From Sagittarius to Scorpius, the central Milky Way is a truly beautiful part of planet Earth's night sky. The gorgeous region is captured in this wide field image spanning about 30 degrees. The impressive cosmic vista, taken in 2010, shows off intricate dust lanes, bright nebulae, and star clusters scattered through our galaxy's rich central starfields. Starting on the left, look for the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, the Cat's Paw, while on the right lies the Pipe dark nebula, and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi and Antares (right). The actual center of our Galaxy lies about 26,000 light...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Starburst Galaxy IC 10

    01/04/2012 7:09:59 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 30 replies
    NASA ^ | January 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Lurking behind dust and stars near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, IC 10 is a mere 2.3 million light-years distant. Even though its light is dimmed by intervening dust, the irregular dwarf galaxy still shows off vigorous star-forming regions that shine with a telltale reddish glow in this colorful skyscape. In fact, also a member of the Local Group of galaxies, IC 10 is the closest known starburst galaxy. Compared to other Local Group galaxies, IC 10 has a large population of newly formed stars that are massive and intrinsically very bright, including a luminous X-ray binary...
  • Space Christmas: Festive Photos of Cosmic Beauty

    12/23/2011 8:25:04 AM PST · by KevinDavis · 16 replies
    space.com ^ | 12/23/11
    I thought I share this with you... Merry Christmas!!!!
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 253: The Sculptor Galaxy

    12/20/2011 2:31:02 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | December 20, 2011 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 253 is not only one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, it is also one of the dustiest. Discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel in the constellation of Sculptor, NGC 253 lies only about ten million light-years distant. NGC 253 is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest group to our own Local Group of Galaxies. The dense dark dust accompanies a high star formation rate, giving NGC 253 the designation of starburst galaxy. Visible in the above photograph is the active central nucleus, also known to be a bright source of X-rays and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Beautiful Trifid

    05/13/2011 4:09:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday the 13th, May 2011 | (see photo credit)
    [Image Credit & Copyright: R Jay Gabany] Explanation: The beautiful Trifid Nebula is a cosmic study in colorful contrasts. Also known as M20, it lies about 5,000 light-years away toward the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. A star forming region in the plane of our galaxy, the Trifid illustrates three different types of astronomical nebulae; red emission nebulae dominated by light emitted by hydrogen atoms, blue reflection nebulae produced by dust reflecting starlight, and dark nebulae where dense dust clouds appear in silhouette. The bright red emission region, roughly separated into three parts by obscuring, dark dust lanes, lends the Trifid...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/25/2011 7:04:50 AM PDT · by paul in cape · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | 4/25/11 | NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)
    Peculiar Galaxies of Arp 273 Explanation: The spiky stars in the foreground of this sharp cosmic portrait are well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. The two eye-catching galaxies lie far beyond the Milky Way, at a distance of over 300 million light-years. Their distorted appearance is due to gravitational tides as the pair engage in close encounters. Cataloged as Arp 273 (also as UGC 1810), the galaxies do look peculiar, but interacting galaxies are now understood to be common in the universe. In fact, the nearby large spiral Andromeda Galaxy is known to be some 2 million light-years away...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/16/2011 5:05:59 AM PDT · by paul in cape · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | 4/16/11 | Copyright: Mark Hanson
    The Tadpoles of IC 410 Explanation: This telescopic close-up shows off the otherwise faint emission nebula IC 410 in striking false-colors. It also features two remarkable inhabitants of the cosmic pond of gas and dust above and left of center, the tadpoles of IC 410. The picture is a composite of images taken through both broad and narrow band filters. The narrow band data traces atoms in the nebula, with emission from sulfur atoms in red, hydrogen atoms in green, and oxygen in blue. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    03/19/2011 7:09:20 AM PDT · by paul in cape · 11 replies
    nasa ^ | 3/19/2011 | R Jay Gabany
    Messier 106 Explanation: Close to the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and surrounded by the stars of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici), this celestial wonder was discovered in 1781 by the metric French astronomer Pierre Mechain. Later, it was added to the catalog of his friend and colleague Charles Messier as M106. Modern deep telescopic views reveal it to be an island universe -- a spiral galaxy around 30 thousand light-years across located only about 21 million light-years beyond the stars of the Milky Way. Along with a bright central core, this colorful composite image highlights youthful blue star clusters and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    07/23/2010 6:00:48 AM PDT · by sig226 · 4 replies · 3+ views
    NASA ^ | 7/23/10 | Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.)
    Messier 76 Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.) Explanation: "Nebula at the right foot of Andromeda ... " begins the description for the 76th object in Charles Messier's 18th century Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters. In fact, M76 is one of the fainter objects on the Messier list and is also known by the popular name of the "Little Dumbbell Nebula". Like its brighter namesake M27 (the Dumbbell Nebula), M76 is recognized as a planetary nebula - a gaseous shroud cast off by a dying sunlike star. The nebula itself is thought to be shaped...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    07/18/2010 5:52:51 AM PDT · by sig226 · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | 7/18/10 | NASA
    The Antennae Galaxies in Collision Credit: NASA, ESA & B. Whitmore (STScI) et al.; Image processing: Davide De Martin Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. But when two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. That's because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In this clash of the titans,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    06/30/2010 8:52:19 AM PDT · by sig226 · 14 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | 6/30/10 | NASA
    Fast Gas Bullet from Cosmic Blast N49 Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S. Park et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y. H. Chu & R. Williams et al. Explanation: What is that strange blue blob on the far right? No one is sure, but it might be a speeding remnant of a powerful supernova that was unexpectedly lopsided. Scattered debris from supernova explosion N49 lights up the sky in this gorgeous composited image based on data from the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescopes. Glowing visible filaments, shown in yellow, and X-ray hot gas, shown in blue, span about 30 light-years in our neighboring galaxy,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    06/12/2010 5:22:20 AM PDT · by sig226 · 11 replies · 528+ views
    NASA ^ | 6/12/10 | Bob Franke (Focal Pointe Observatory)
    The Medusa Nebula Image Credit & Copyright: Bob Franke (Focal Pointe Observatory) Explanation: Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation. The planetary nebula phase represents a final stage in the evolution of low mass stars like the sun, as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers. Ultraviolet...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    06/03/2010 7:50:04 AM PDT · by sig226 · 5 replies · 449+ views
    NASA ^ | 6/3/10 | NASA, USRA, DSI, Cornell. Anthony Wesley
    Jupiter from the Stratosphere Credit: Infrared - NASA, USRA, DSI, Cornell Univ. / Visible - Anthony Wesley Explanation: SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, captured its "first light" images on May 26, from an altitude of 35,000 feet. While flying above most of planet Earth's infrared-absorbing water vapor, SOFIA's premier infrared views of the cosmos included this remarkable false-color image (right panel) of Jupiter. For comparison, on the left is a recent, ground-based visible light image. Both show our solar system's ruling gas giant without its dark southern equatorial belt (normally seen in the upper hemisphere in this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/29/2010 9:29:10 AM PDT · by sig226 · 7 replies · 524+ views
    NASA ^ | 4/29/10 | Stephen Leshin
    Virgo Cluster Galaxy NGC 4731 Image Credit & Copyright: Stephen Leshin Explanation: Barred spiral galaxy NGC 4731 lies some 65 million light-years away. The lovely island universe resides in the large Virgo cluster of galaxies. Colors in this well-composed, cosmic portrait, highlight plentiful, young, bluish star clusters along the galaxy's sweeping spiral arms. Its broad arms are distorted by gravitational interaction with a fellow Virgo cluster member, giant elliptical galaxy NGC 4697. NGC 4697 is beyond this frame above and to the left, but a smaller irregular galaxy NGC 4731A can be seen near the bottom in impressive detail...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/24/2010 5:07:26 AM PDT · by sig226 · 3 replies · 472+ views
    NASA ^ | 4/24/10 | Ken Crawford
    NGC 1055: Galaxy in a Box Image Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.), Collaboration: David Martinez-Delgado (MPIA, IAC), et al. Explanation: Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 1055 is a dominant member of a small galaxy group a mere 60 million light-years away toward the intimidating constellation Cetus. Seen edge-on, the island universe spans about 100,000 light-years, similar in size to our own Milky Way. Colorful, spiky stars in this cosmic portrait of NGC 1055 are in the foreground, well within the Milky Way. But along with a smattering of more distant background galaxies, the deep image...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/13/2010 5:54:55 AM PDT · by sig226 · 10 replies · 715+ views
    NASA ^ | 4/13/10 | NASA
    Unusual Spiral Galaxy M66 from Hubble Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage, S. Van Dyk (JPL/IPAC), R. Chandar (U. Toledo), D. De Martin & R. Gendler Explanation: Why isn't spiral galaxy M66 symmetric? Usually density waves of gas, dust, and newly formed stars circle a spiral galaxy's center and create a nearly symmetric galaxy. The differences between M66's spiral arms and the apparent displacement of its nucleus are all likely caused by previous close interactions and the tidal gravitational pulls of nearby galaxy neighbors M65 and NGC 3628. Spiral galaxy M66, pictured above, spans about 100,000 light years, lies about...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    03/30/2010 5:57:19 AM PDT · by sig226 · 9 replies · 662+ views
    NASA ^ | 3/30/10 | Robert Gendler
    Unusual Starburst Galaxy NGC 1313 Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler Explanation: Why is this galaxy so discombobulated? Usually, galaxies this topsy-turvy result from a recent collision with a neighboring galaxy. Spiral galaxy NGC 1313, however, appears to be alone. Brightly lit with new and blue massive stars, star formation appears so rampant in NGC 1313 that it has been labeled a starburst galaxy. Strange features of NGC 1313 include that its spiral arms are lopsided and its rotational axis is not at the center of the nuclear bar. Pictured above, NGC 1313 spans about 50,000 light years and lies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    12/31/2009 8:18:10 AM PST · by sig226 · 10 replies · 633+ views
    NASA ^ | 12/31/09 | NASA
    Dust and the Helix Nebula NASA, JPL-Caltech, Kate Su (Steward Obs, U. Arizona) et al. Explanation: Dust makes this cosmic eye look red. The eerie Spitzer Space Telescope image shows infrared radiation from the well-studied Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) a mere 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. The two light-year diameter shroud of dust and gas around a central white dwarf has long been considered an excellent example of a planetary nebula, representing the final stages in the evolution of a sun-like star. But the Spitzer data show the nebula's central star itself is immersed in a surprisingly...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    08/22/2009 6:09:01 AM PDT · by sig226 · 10 replies · 674+ views
    NASA ^ | 8/22/09 | Axel Mellinger
    The Gum Nebula Credit & Copyright: Axel Mellinger Explanation: Named for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum (1924-1960), The Gum Nebula is so large and close it is actually hard to see. In fact, we are only about 450 light-years from the front edge and 1,500 light-years from the back edge of this cosmic cloud of glowing hydrogen gas. Covered in this 41 degree-wide mosaic of H-alpha images, the faint emission region is otherwise easy to lose against the background of Milky Way stars. The complex nebula is thought to be a supernova remnant over a million years old, sprawling across...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    04/07/2009 8:27:26 AM PDT · by sig226 · 15 replies · 1,146+ views
    NASA ^ | 4/7/09 | NASA, ESA, M. Livio (STScI)
    The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274 Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Livio (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Virgo and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. This is because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small fraction of that space. But during the collision, one galaxy can rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. If the two galaxies merge, black holes that likely resided in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    03/17/2009 8:35:06 AM PDT · by sig226 · 30 replies · 1,126+ views
    NASA ^ | 3/17/09 | NASA
    Tycho's Supernova Remnant Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: MPIA, Calar Alto, O. Krause et al. Explanation: What star created this huge puffball? Pictured above is the best multi-wavelength image yet of Tycho's supernova remnant, the result of a stellar explosion first recorded over 400 years ago by the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. The above image is a composite of an X-ray image taken by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, an infrared image taken by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, and an optical image taken by the 3.5-meter Calar Alto telescope located in southern Spain. The expanding gas cloud is...
  • Eye Of God Photographed In Space [Breathtaking Pic]

    02/26/2009 5:31:41 PM PST · by Steelfish · 63 replies · 3,618+ views
    Daily Mirror (U.K.) ^ | February 27, 2009
    Eye of God photographed in Space 26/02/2009 Eye of God... this breathtaking image of the Helix nebula, giant rings of gas blown off a dying star 700 light years from the Sun, was captured with a special camera at an observatory in Chile. What happens if it blinks...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    12/25/2008 9:14:10 AM PST · by sig226 · 8 replies · 1,120+ views
    NASA ^ | 12/25/08 | R Jay Gabany
    Fox Fur, a Unicorn, and a Christmas Tree Credit & Copyright: R Jay Gabany Explanation: Clouds of glowing hydrogen gas fill this colorful skyscape in the faint but fanciful constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. A star forming region cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant and mixes reddish emission nebulae excited by energetic light from newborn stars with dark interstellar dust clouds. Where the otherwise obscuring dust clouds lie close to the hot, young stars they also reflect starlight, forming blue reflection nebulae. The wide mosaic spans about 3/4 degree...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    12/17/2008 3:54:46 PM PST · by sig226 · 13 replies · 920+ views
    NASA ^ | 12/17/08 | Daniel López, IAC
    The Dumbbells Credit & Copyright: Daniel López, IAC Explanation: These two nebulae are cataloged as M27 (left) and M76, popularly known as The Dumbbell and the Little Dumbbell. Not intended to indicate substandard mental prowess, their popular names refer to their similar, dumbbell or hourglass shapes. Both are planetary nebulae, gaseous shrouds cast off by dying sunlike stars, and are similar in physical size, at a light-year or so across. In each panel, the images were made at the same scale, so the apparent size difference is mostly because one is closer. Distance estimates suggest 1,200 light-years for the Dumbbell...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    10/26/2008 6:29:01 AM PDT · by sig226 · 11 replies · 836+ views
    NASA ^ | 10/26/08 | NASA, ESA
    Massive Stars in Open Cluster Pismis 24 Credit: NASA, ESA and J. M. Apellániz (IAA, Spain) Explanation: How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it a record holder. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the above image. Close inspection of images taken recently with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from...
  • Astronomy PIcture of the Day

    10/23/2008 3:42:11 AM PDT · by sig226 · 10 replies · 813+ views
    NASA ^ | 10/23/08 | Tony Hallas
    Great Orion Nebulae Credit & Copyright: Tony Hallas Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, also known as M42, is one of the most famous nebulae in the sky. The star forming region's glowing gas clouds and hot young stars are on the right in this sharp and colorful two frame mosaic that includes the smaller nebula M43 near center and dusty, bluish reflection nebulae NGC 1977 and friends on the left. Located at the edge of an otherwise invisible giant molecular cloud complex, these eye-catching nebulae represent only a small fraction of this galactic neighborhood's wealth of interstellar material. Within...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    09/28/2008 7:37:10 AM PDT · by sig226 · 7 replies · 725+ views
    NASA ^ | 9/28/08 | Antonella Nota, ESA, NASA
    Young Stars of NGC 346 Credit: Antonella Nota (ESA/STScI) et al., ESA, NASA Explanation: The massive stars of NGC 346 are short lived, but very energetic. The star cluster is embedded in the largest star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud, some 210,000 light-years distant. Their winds and radiation sweep out an interstellar cavern in the gas and dust cloud about 200 light-years across, triggering star formation and sculpting the region's dense inner edge. Cataloged as N66, the star forming region also appears to contain a large population of infant stars. A mere 3 to 5 million years old...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    09/27/2008 7:38:55 AM PDT · by sig226 · 11 replies · 887+ views
    NASA ^ | 9/27/08 | Davide De Martin, European Southern Observatory
    M83: The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy Color Composite: Davide De Martin (Skyfactory)Credit: European Southern Observatory Science Archive Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, spiral galaxy M83 lies a mere twelve million light-years away, near the southeastern tip of the very long constellation Hydra. Prominent spiral arms traced by dark dust lanes and blue star clusters lend this galaxy its popular name of the Southern Pinwheel. But reddish star forming regions that dot the sweeping arms highlighted in this sparkling color composite also suggest another nickname, The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy. About 40,000 light-years across, M83 is a member of a group of galaxies that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    09/01/2008 6:23:29 AM PDT · by sig226 · 6 replies · 344+ views
    NASA ^ | 9/1/08 | Mike Sidonio
    CG4: A Ruptured Cometary Globule Credit & Copyright: Mike Sidonio Explanation: Can a gas cloud grab a galaxy? It's not even close. The "claw" of this odd looking "creature" in the above photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    08/19/2008 5:05:14 PM PDT · by sig226 · 11 replies · 275+ views
    NASA ^ | 8/19/08 | Adam Block
    NGC 6960: The Witch's Broom Nebula Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, Univ. Arizona Explanation: Ten thousand years ago, before the dawn of recorded human history, a new light must suddenly have appeared in the night sky and faded after a few weeks. Today we know this light was an exploding star and record the colorful expanding cloud as the Veil Nebula. Pictured above is the west end of the Veil Nebula known technically as NGC 6960 but less formally as the Witch's Broom Nebula. The expanding debris cloud gains its colors by sweeping up and exciting existing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    07/04/2008 5:46:20 AM PDT · by sig226 · 16 replies · 3,011+ views
    NASA ^ | 7/4/08 | Everybody
    SN 1006 Supernova Remnant Credit: X-ray - NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G.Cassam-Chenai, J.Hughes et al.; Radio - NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/ Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical - Middlebury College/F.Winkler, NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS Explanation: A new star, likely the brightest supernova in recorded human history, lit up planet Earth's sky in the year 1006 AD. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation of Lupus, still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, this composite view includes X-ray data in blue from the Chandra Observatory, optical data in yellowish hues, and radio image data in red....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    06/30/2008 2:28:12 PM PDT · by sig226 · 8 replies · 191+ views
    NASA ^ | 6/30/08 | Daniel Lopez (Observatorio del Teide)
    In the Center of the Trifid Nebula Credit & Copyright: Daniel Lopez (Observatorio del Teide) Explanation: Clouds of glowing gas mingle with dust lanes in the Trifid Nebula, a star forming region toward the constellation of Sagittarius. In the center, the three prominent dust lanes that give the Trifid its name all come together. Mountains of opaque dust appear on the right, while other dark filaments of dust are visible threaded throughout the nebula. A single massive star visible near the center causes much of the Trifid's glow. The Trifid, also known as M20, is only about 300,000 years old,...
  • Spitzer Image Gallery - "A Shocking Surprise"

    03/16/2008 1:49:21 PM PDT · by Ken H · 21 replies · 2,346+ views
    A Shocking Surprise in Stephan's Quintet This false-color composite image of the Stephan's Quintet galaxy cluster clearly shows one of the largest shock waves ever seen (green arc), produced by one galaxy falling toward another at over a million miles per hour. It is made up of data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and a ground-based telescope in Spain. Four of the five galaxies in this image are involved in a violent collision, which has already stripped most of the hydrogen gas from the interiors of the galaxies. The centers of the galaxies appear as bright yellow-pink knots inside...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day

    01/31/2008 3:36:05 AM PST · by sig226 · 6 replies · 142+ views
    NASA ^ | 1/31/08 | A.L.D.
    Young Star Cluster Westerlund 2 Credit: X-ray; Y.Nazé, G.Rauw, J.Manfroid (Université de Ličge), CXC, NASA Infrared; E.Churchwell (University of Wisconsin), JPL, Caltech, NASA Explanation: Dusty stellar nursery RCW 49 surrounds young star cluster Westerlund 2 in this remarkable composite skyscape from beyond the visible spectrum of light. Infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope is shown in black and white, complimenting the Chandra X-ray image data (in false color) of the hot energetic stars within the cluster's central region. Looking toward the grand southern constellation Centaurus, both views reveal stars and structures hidden from optical telescopes by obscuring dust. Westerlund...