December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 4 540 002 016 :)

Happy New Year 2016

December 23, 2015

NuSTAR's View of NGC 1068

NGC 1068

Galaxy 1068 is shown in visible light and X-rays in this composite image. High-energy X-rays (magenta) captured by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, are overlaid on visible-light images from both NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The X-ray light is coming from an active supermassive black hole, also known as a quasar, in the center of the galaxy. This supermassive black hole has been extensively studied due to its relatively close proximity to our galaxy. NGC 1068 is about 47 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Roma Tre Univ
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December 18, 2015

NASA Releases New High-Resolution Earthrise Image

NASA earthrise from Moon HD

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft's vantage point in orbit around the moon.

"The image is simply stunning," said Noah Petro, Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The image of the Earth evokes the famous 'Blue Marble' image taken by Astronaut Harrison Schmitt during Apollo 17, 43 years ago, which also showed Africa prominently in the picture."

In this composite image we see Earth appear to rise over the lunar horizon from the viewpoint of the spacecraft, with the center of the Earth just off the coast of Liberia (at 4.04 degrees North, 12.44 degrees West). The large tan area in the upper right is the Sahara Desert, and just beyond is Saudi Arabia. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America are visible to the left. On the moon, we get a glimpse of the crater Compton, which is located just beyond the eastern limb of the moon, on the lunar farside.

LRO was launched on June 18, 2009, and has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon. LRO experiences 12 earthrises every day; however the spacecraft is almost always busy imaging the lunar surface so only rarely does an opportunity arise such that its camera instrument can capture a view of Earth. Occasionally LRO points off into space to acquire observations of the extremely thin lunar atmosphere and perform instrument calibration measurements. During these movements sometimes Earth (and other planets) pass through the camera's field of view and dramatic images such as the one shown here are acquired.

This image was composed from a series of images taken Oct. 12, when LRO was about 83 miles (134 kilometers) above the moon's farside crater Compton. Capturing an image of the Earth and moon with LRO's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) instrument is a complicated task. First the spacecraft must be rolled to the side (in this case 67 degrees), then the spacecraft slews with the direction of travel to maximize the width of the lunar horizon in LROC's Narrow Angle Camera image. All this takes place while LRO is traveling faster than 3,580 miles per hour (over 1,600 meters per second) relative to the lunar surface below the spacecraft!

The high-resolution Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) on LRO takes black-and-white images, while the lower resolution Wide Angle Camera (WAC) takes color images, so you might wonder how we got a high-resolution picture of the Earth in color. Since the spacecraft, Earth, and moon are all in motion, we had to do some special processing to create an image that represents the view of the Earth and moon at one particular time. The final Earth image contains both WAC and NAC information. WAC provides the color, and the NAC provides high-resolution detail.

"From the Earth, the daily moonrise and moonset are always inspiring moments," said Mark Robinson of Arizona State University in Tempe, principal investigator for LROC. "However, lunar astronauts will see something very different: viewed from the lunar surface, the Earth never rises or sets. Since the moon is tidally locked, Earth is always in the same spot above the horizon, varying only a small amount with the slight wobble of the moon. The Earth may not move across the 'sky', but the view is not static. Future astronauts will see the continents rotate in and out of view and the ever-changing pattern of clouds will always catch one's eye, at least on the nearside. The Earth is never visible from the farside; imagine a sky with no Earth or moon - what will farside explorers think with no Earth overhead?"

NASA's first Earthrise image was taken with the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft in 1966. Perhaps NASA's most iconic Earthrise photo was taken by the crew of the Apollo 8 mission as the spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts -- Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders -- held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
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December 15, 2015

The surroundings of the interacting galaxy NGC 5291

NGC 5291

The spectacular aftermath of a 360 million year old cosmic collision is revealed in great detail in this image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory. Among the debris surrounding the elliptical galaxy NGC 5291 at the centre is a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy, which appears as a bright clump towards the right of the image. This object is providing astronomers with an excellent opportunity to learn more about similar galaxies that are expected to be common in the early Universe, but are normally too faint and distant to be observed by current telescopes

Image Credit: ESO
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December 10, 2015

What it would look like if Helix Nebula were closer to the Earth?

What it would look like if Helix Nebula were closer to the Earth?

December 8, 2015

Galactic Gathering Gives Sparkling Light Display

NGC 2207 and IC 2163

This pair of spiral galaxies has been caught in a grazing encounter. NGC 2207 and IC 2163 have hosted three supernova explosions in the past 15 years and have produced one of the most bountiful collections of super-bright X-ray lights known. These special objects -- known as "ultraluminous X-ray sources" (ULXs) -- have been found using data from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

This composite image of NGC 2207 and IC 2163 contains Chandra data in pink, optical-light data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope visible-light data in blue, white, orange and brown, and infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in red.

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/STScI/JPL-Caltech
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December 7, 2015

Most Earth-Like Worlds Have Yet to Be Born

Earth-Like Worlds

This is an artist's impression of innumerable Earth-like planets that have yet to be born over the next trillion years in the evolving universe.

Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won't be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets - 92 percent - have yet to be born.

This conclusion is based on an assessment of data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the prolific planet-hunting Kepler space observatory.

"Our main motivation was understanding the Earth's place in the context of the rest of the universe," said study author Peter Behroozi of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, "Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the universe, the Earth is actually quite early."

Looking far away and far back in time, Hubble has given astronomers a "family album" of galaxy observations that chronicle the universe's star formation history as galaxies grew. The data show that the universe was making stars at a fast rate 10 billion years ago, but the fraction of the universe's hydrogen and helium gas that was involved was very low. Today, star birth is happening at a much slower rate than long ago, but there is so much leftover gas available that the universe will keep cooking up stars and planets for a very long time to come.

"There is enough remaining material [after the big bang] to produce even more planets in the future, in the Milky Way and beyond," added co-investigator Molly Peeples of STScI.

Kepler's planet survey indicates that Earth-sized planets in a star's habitable zone, the perfect distance that could allow water to pool on the surface, are ubiquitous in our galaxy. Based on the survey, scientists predict that there should be 1 billion Earth-sized worlds in the Milky Way galaxy at present, a good portion of them presumed to be rocky. That estimate skyrockets when you include the other 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

This leaves plenty of opportunity for untold more Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone to arise in the future. The last star isn't expected to burn out until 100 trillion years from now. That's plenty of time for literally anything to happen on the planet landscape.

The researchers say that future Earths are more likely to appear inside giant galaxy clusters and also in dwarf galaxies, which have yet to use up all their gas for building stars and accompanying planetary systems. By contrast, our Milky Way galaxy has used up much more of the gas available for future star formation.

A big advantage to our civilization arising early in the evolution of the universe is our being able to use powerful telescopes like Hubble to trace our lineage from the big bang through the early evolution of galaxies. The observational evidence for the big bang and cosmic evolution, encoded in light and other electromagnetic radiation, will be all but erased away 1 trillion years from now due to the runaway expansion of space. Any far-future civilizations that might arise will be largely clueless as to how or if the universe began and evolved.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)
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December 5, 2015

Supernova Remnant W44

Supernova Remnant W44Supernova Remnant W44 infraredSupernova Remnant W44 x-ray

Also known as G34.7-0.4, W44 is an expanding supernova remnant that is interacting with dense interstellar material that surrounds it. X-rays from Chandra (blue) show that hot gas fills the shell of the supernova remnant as it moves outward. Infrared observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope reveal the shell of the supernova remnant (green) as well as the molecular cloud (red) into which the supernova remnant is moving and the stars in the field of view. 

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Georgia/R.Shelton & NASA/CXC/GSFC/R.Petre; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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December 4, 2015

Cheshire Cat: The SDSS J103842.59+484917.7 Galaxy Group

Cheshire Cat Galaxy Group
Cheshire Cat Galaxy Group opticalCheshire Cat Galaxy GroupCheshire Cat Galaxy Group x-ray

What is it?
A group of galaxies nicknamed the "Cheshire Cat" about 4.6 billion light years from Earth.

How Far Away is it?
About 4.6 billion light years.

How is it Made?
X-rays from the Chandra, optical data from Hubble telescope.

How Big is it?
About 1.45 million light years across.

What do the Colors Mean?
X-rays are blue, optical red, green and blue.

Where is it Located?
In the constellation Ursa Major.

  • This group of galaxies has been nicknamed the "Cheshire Cat" because of its resemblance to a smiling feline.
  • Some of the cat-like features are actually distant galaxies whose light has been stretched and bent by the large amounts of mass contained in foreground galaxies.
  • X-rays from Chandra show that the two "eye" galaxies and the smaller galaxies associated with them are slamming into one another in a giant galactic collision.

Astronomers think that in the future the "Cheshire Cat" group will become what is known as a fossil group, a gathering of galaxies that contains one giant elliptical galaxy and other much smaller, fainter ones. Today, researchers know each "eye" galaxy is the brightest member of its own group of galaxies and these two groups are racing toward one another at over 300,000 miles per hour. Data from Chandra (purple), which has been combined with optical data from Hubble, show hot gas that has been heated to millions of degrees, which is evidence that the galaxy groups are slamming into one another. Chandra's X-ray data also reveal that the left "eye" of the Cheshire Cat group contains an actively feeding supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. 

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J.Irwin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)
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December 1, 2015

The star forming cloud RCW 34

star forming cloud RCW 34

This richly coloured cloud of gas called RCW 34 is a site of star formation in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sails). This image was taken using the FORS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

Image Credit: ESO
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November 29, 2015

Artist’s impression of CR7: the brightest galaxy in the early Universe

brightest galaxy

This artist’s impression shows CR7 a very distant galaxy discovered using ESO’s Very Large Telescope. It is by far the brightest galaxy yet found in the early Universe and there is strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk within it. These massive, brilliant, and previously purely theoretical objects were the creators of the first heavy elements in history — the elements necessary to forge the stars around us today, the planets that orbit them, and life as we know it. This newly found galaxy is three times brighter than the brightest distant galaxy known up to now.

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
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November 27, 2015

Star Cluster NGC 2367

Star Cluster NGC 2367

This rich view of an array of colourful stars and gas was captured by the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera, on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. It shows a young open cluster of stars known as NGC 2367, an infant stellar grouping that lies at the centre of an immense and ancient structure on the margins of the Milky Way.

Image Credit: ESO/G. Beccari
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November 24, 2015

The Prawn Nebula

The rich patchwork of gas clouds in this new image make up part of a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula (also known as Gum 56 and IC 4628). Taken using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, this may well be one of the best pictures ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.

Image Credit: ESO
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August 21, 2015

Star WR 124 and Nebula M1-67

WR 124, Nebula M1-67

Here we see the spectacular cosmic pairing of the star Hen 2-427 — more commonly known as WR 124 — and the nebula M1-67 which surrounds it. Both objects, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope are found in the constellation of Sagittarius and lie 15,000 light-years away.

The star Hen 2-427 shines brightly at the very center of this explosive image and around the hot clumps of surrounding gas that are being ejected into space at over 93,210 miles (150,000 km) per hour.

Hen 2-427 is a Wolf–Rayet star, named after the astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet. Wolf–Rayet are super-hot stars characterized by a fierce ejection of mass.

The nebula M1-67 is estimated to be no more than 10,000 years old — just a baby in astronomical terms — but what a beautiful and magnificent sight it makes.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Judy Schmidt, European Space Agency
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July 28, 2015

Kepler-452b: Exoplanet Most Like Earth


This artistic animation depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun. The habitable zone is a region around a star where temperatures are right for water -- an essential ingredient for life as we know it -- to pool on the surface. Scientists do not know if Kepler-452b can support life or not. What is known about the planet is that it is about 60 percent larger than Earth, placing it in a class of planets dubbed "super-Earths." While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a better than even chance of being rocky. Kepler-452b orbits its star every 385 days. The planet's star is about 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is a G2-type star like our sun, with nearly the same temperature and mass. This star is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun. As stars age, they grow in size and give out more energy, warming up their planets over time. The planet's rotation is sped up.

Image Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle
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Earth and Kepler-452b - Artistic Concept


Scientists using data from NASA's Kepler mission have confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. The habitable zone is the region around a star where temperatures are just right for water to exist in its liquid form. The artistic concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger. The illustration represents one possible appearance for Kepler-452b -- scientists do not know whether the planet has oceans and continents like Earth. Both planets orbit a G2-type star of about the same temperature; however, the star hosting Kepler-452b is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun. As stars age, they become larger, hotter and brighter, as represented in the illustration. Kepler-452b's star appears a bit larger and brighter.

Image Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle
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A Spin Around An Exoplanet Most Like Earth

Kepler-452 System

This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of Mercury. The habitable zone of Kepler-186 is very small compared to that of Kepler-452 or the sun because it is a much smaller, cooler star. The size and extent of the habitable zone of Kepler-452 is nearly the same as that of the sun, but is slightly bigger because Kepler-452 is somewhat older, bigger and brighter. The size of the orbit of Kepler-452b is nearly the same as that of the Earth at 1.05 AU. Kepler-452b orbits its star once every 385 days.

Image Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt
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May 20, 2015

The Medusa Nebula

ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has captured the most detailed image ever taken of the Medusa Nebula (also known Abell 21 and Sharpless 2-274). As the star at the heart of this nebula made its final transition into retirement, it shed its outer layers into space, forming this colourful cloud. The image foreshadows the final fate of the Sun, which will eventually also become an object of this kind.

Image Credit: ESO
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May 16, 2015

Hubble Spots the Layers of NGC 3923

NGC 3923

The glowing object in this Hubble Space Telescope image is an elliptical galaxy called NGC 3923. It is located over 90 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra.

NGC 3923 is an example of a shell galaxy where the stars in its halo are arranged in layers.

Finding concentric shells of stars enclosing a galaxy is quite common and is observed in many elliptical galaxies. In fact, every tenth elliptical galaxy exhibits this onion-like structure, which has never been observed in spiral galaxies. The shell-like structures are thought to develop as a consequence of galactic cannibalism, when a larger galaxy ingests a smaller companion. As the two centers approach, they initially oscillate about a common center, and this oscillation ripples outwards forming the shells of stars just as ripples on a pond spread when the surface is disturbed.

NGC 3923 has over twenty shells, with only a few of the outer ones visible in this image, and its shells are much more subtle than those of other shell galaxies. The shells of this galaxy are also interestingly symmetrical, while other shell galaxies are more skewed.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
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May 13, 2015

Supernova SN 1987A

Supernova SN 1987A

Supernova SN 1987A, one of the brightest stellar explosions since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago, is no stranger to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The observatory has been on the frontline of studies into this brilliant dying star since its launch in 1990, three years after the supernova exploded on 23 February 1987. This image of Hubble’s old friend, retreived from the telescope’s data archive, may be the best ever of this object, and reminds us of the many mysteries still surrounding it.

Dominating this picture are two glowing loops of stellar material and a very bright ring surrounding the dying star at the centre of the frame. Although Hubble has provided important clues on the nature of these structures, their origin is still largely unknown.

Another mystery is that of the missing neutron star. The violent death of a high-mass star, such as SN 1987A, leaves behind a stellar remnant — a neutron star or a black hole. Astronomers expect to find a neutron star in the remnants of this supernova, but they have not yet been able to peer through the dense dust to confirm it is there.

The supernova belongs to the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy about 168 000 light-years away. Even though the stellar explosion took place around 166 000 BC, its light arrived here less than 25 years ago.

This picture is based on observations done with the High Resolution Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The field of view is approximately 25 by 25 arcseconds.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
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May 11, 2015

Ceres Animation Showcases Bright Spots

Ceres Bright Spots

The mysterious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are better resolved in a new sequence of images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 3 and 4, 2015. The images were taken from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers).

In this closest-yet view, the brightest spots within a crater in the northern hemisphere are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots. However, their exact nature remains unknown.

"Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice," said Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission from the University of California, Los Angeles.

These images offer scientists new insights into crater shapes and sizes, and a host of other intriguing geological features on the surface. The image resolution is 0.8 mile (1.3 kilometers) per pixel.

Dawn has now concluded its first mapping orbit, in which it completed one 15-day full circle around Ceres while making a host of new observations with its scientific instruments. On May 9, the spacecraft powered on its ion engine to begin the month-long descent toward its second mapping orbit, which it will enter on June 6. In this next phase, Dawn will circle Ceres about every three days at an altitude of 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) -- three times closer than the previous orbit. During this phase, referred to as Dawn's survey orbit, the spacecraft will comprehensively map the surface to begin unraveling Ceres' geologic history and assess whether the dwarf planet is active. The spacecraft will pause twice to take images of Ceres as it spirals down into this new orbit.

Dawn is the first mission to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct solar system targets. It studied giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months in 2011 and 2012, and arrived at Ceres on March 6, 2015.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
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May 9, 2015

Sunset in Mars' Gale Crater

Sunset Mars Mars Sunset

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover recorded this view of the sun setting at the close of the mission's 956th Martian day, or sol (April 15, 2015), from the rover's location in Gale Crater.

This was the first sunset observed in color by Curiosity. The image comes from the left-eye camera of the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). The color has been calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts. Mastcam sees color very similarly to what human eyes see, although it is actually a little less sensitive to blue than people are.

Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors. That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun's part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. The effect is most pronounced near sunset, when light from the sun passes through a longer path in the atmosphere than it does at mid-day.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
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May 8, 2015

The Red Spider Nebula

Red Spider Nebula

Huge waves are sculpted in this two-lobed nebula some 3000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. This warm planetary nebula harbours one of the hottest stars known and its powerful stellar winds generate waves 100 billion kilometres high. The waves are caused by supersonic shocks, formed when the local gas is compressed and heated in front of the rapidly expanding lobes. The atoms caught in the shock emit the spectacular radiation seen in this image.

Image Credit: ESA & Garrelt Mellema
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May 6, 2015

New stars around Westerlund 2

Westerlund 2

The red dots scattered throughout the cosmic landscape captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image are a rich population of forming stars that are still wrapped in their gas and dust cocoons.

These stellar foetuses have not yet ignited the hydrogen in their cores to light-up as stars. However, Hubble’s near-infrared vision allows astronomers to identify these fledglings. The brilliant blue stars seen throughout the image are mostly in the foreground.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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May 4, 2015

Hubble image of Messier 77

Messier 77

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this vivid image of spiral galaxy Messier 77 — a galaxy in the constellation of Cetus, some 45 million light-years away from us. The streaks of red and blue in the image highlight pockets of star formation along the pinwheeling arms, with dark dust lanes stretching across the galaxy’s starry centre. The galaxy belongs to a class of galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies, which have highly ionised gas surrounding an intensely active centre.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA & A. van der Hoeven
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May 2, 2015

Turquoise-tinted plumes in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Large Magellanic Cloud

The brightly glowing plumes seen in this image are reminiscent of an underwater scene, with turquoise-tinted currents and nebulous strands reaching out into the surroundings.

However, this is no ocean. This image actually shows part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small nearby galaxy that orbits our galaxy, the Milky Way, and appears as a blurred blob in our skies. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has peeked many times into this galaxy, releasing stunning images of the whirling clouds of gas and sparkling stars.

This image shows part of the Tarantula Nebula's outskirts. This famously beautiful nebula, located within the LMC, is a frequent target for Hubble.

In most images of the LMC the colour is completely different to that seen here. This is because, in this new image, a different set of filters was used. The customary R filter, which selects the red light, was replaced by a filter letting through the near-infrared light. In traditional images, the hydrogen gas appears pink because it shines most brightly in the red. Here however, other less prominent emission lines dominate in the blue and green filters.

This data is part of the Archival Pure Parallel Project (APPP), a project that gathered together and processed over 1000 images taken using Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, obtained in parallel with other Hubble instruments. Much of the data in the project could be used to study a wide range of astronomical topics, including gravitational lensing and cosmic shear, exploring distant star-forming galaxies, supplementing observations in other wavelength ranges with optical data, and examining star populations from stellar heavyweights all the way down to solar-mass stars.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
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May 1, 2015

The NGC 1316 Galaxy

NGC 1316

This image made from data obtained with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the dust lanes and star clusters of this giant galaxy that give evidence that it was formed from a past merger of two gas-rich galaxies.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

April 30, 2015

Colour composite view of the Pillars of Creation from MUSE data

Pillars of Creation

This colour view was created from observations of the Pillars of Creation made with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The parts of the three-dimensional MUSE data cube that correspond to emission from different chemical elements in the clouds have been extracted and combined to create this colour view of the region.

Image Credit: ESO
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April 29, 2015

Aurora and Reindeer in Norway

Aurora and Reindeer

February 20, 2014

Image Credit & Copyright: Ole Salomonsen

April 28, 2015

Planetary Nebula: IC 4406

IC 4406

The Hubble telescope reveals a rainbow of colours in this dying star, called IC 4406. Like many other so-called planetary nebulae, IC 4406 exhibits a high degree of symmetry. The nebula's left and right halves are nearly mirror images of the other. If we could fly around IC 4406 in a spaceship, we would see that the gas and dust form a vast donut of material streaming outward from the dying star. We don't see the donut shape in this photograph because we are viewing IC 4406 from the Earth-orbiting Hubble telescope. From this vantage point, we are seeing the side of the donut.

This side view allows us to see the intricate tendrils of material that have been compared to the eye's retina. In fact, IC 4406 is dubbed the 'Retina Nebula.'

Image Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
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April 27, 2015

Star Cluster LH63 in Large Magellanic Cloud

Star Cluster LH63

This stunning Hubble image shows a small part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the closest galaxies to our own. This collection of small baby stars, most weighing less than the Sun, form a young stellar cluster known as LH63. This cluster is still half-embedded in the cloud from which it was born, in a bright star-forming region known as the emission nebula LHA 120-N 51, or N51. This is just one of the hundreds of star-forming regions filled with young stars spread throughout the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The burning red intensity of the nebulae at the bottom of the picture illuminates wisps of gas and dark dust, each spanning many light-years. Moving up and across, bright stars become visible as sparse specks of light, giving the impression of pin-pricks in a cosmic cloak.

This patch of sky was the subject of observation by Hubble's WFPC2 camera. Looking for and at low-mass stars can help us to understand how stars behave when they are in the early stages of formation, and can give us an idea of how the Sun might have looked billions of years ago.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Gouliermis
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April 26, 2015

Nearby Dust Clouds in the Milky Way

Dust Clouds in Milky Way

The yearly ritual of spring cleaning clears a house of dust as well as dust "bunnies", those pesky dust balls that frolic under beds and behind furniture. NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed similar dense knots of dust and gas in our Milky Way Galaxy. This cosmic dust, however, is not a nuisance. It is a concentration of elements that are responsible for the formation of stars in our galaxy and throughout the universe.

These opaque, dark knots of gas and dust are called Bok globules, and they are absorbing light in the center of the nearby emission nebula and star-forming region, NGC 281.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
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April 24, 2015

Artist’s impression of the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b

51 Pegasi b

This artist’s view shows the hot Jupiter exoplanet 51 Pegasi b, sometimes referred to as Bellerophon, which orbits a star about 50 light-years from Earth in the northern constellation of Pegasus (The Winged Horse). This was the first exoplanet around a normal star to be found in 1995. Twenty years later this object was also the first exoplanet to be be directly detected spectroscopically in visible light.

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger
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April 23, 2015

Calbuco Volcano Eruption

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