March 15, 2014

In the Heart of the Rosette Nebula

In the heart of the Rosette Nebula lies a bright open cluster of stars that lights up the nebula. The stars of NGC 2244 formed from the surrounding gas only a few million years ago. This image taken in January 2014 using multiple exposures and very specific colors of Sulfur (shaded red), Hydrogen (green), and Oxygen (blue), captures the central region in tremendous detail. A hot wind of particles streams away from the cluster stars and contributes to an already complex menagerie of gas and dust filaments while slowly evacuating the cluster center. The Rosette Nebula's center measures about 50 light-years across, lies about 4,500 light-years away, and is visible with binoculars towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).

Image Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman
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March 14, 2014

Milky Way Galaxy over Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA

Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka

March 13, 2014

Airglow, Gegenschein, and the Milky Way Galaxy

As far as the eye could see, it was a dark night at Las Campanas Observatory in the southern Atacama desert of Chile. But near local midnight on April 11, 2013, this mosaic of 3 minute long exposures revealed a green, unusually intense, atmospheric airglow stretching over thin clouds. Unlike aurorae powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, the airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction, and found around the globe. The chemical energy is provided by the Sun's extreme ultraviolet radiation. Like aurorae, the greenish hue of this airglow does originate at altitudes of 100 kilometers or so dominated by emission from excited oxygen atoms. The gegenschein, sunlight reflected by dust along the solar system's ecliptic plane was still visible on that night, a faint bluish cloud just right of picture center. At the far right, the Milky Way seems to rise from the mountain top perch of the Magellan telescopes. Left are the OGLE project and du Pont telescope domes.

Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky
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March 12, 2014

Aurora and the Milky Way Galaxy over Iceland

Aurora and the Milky Way Galaxy over Iceland

Bárðardalur, Iceland
March 9, 2013

Image Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Vetter

March 11, 2014

Lightning over Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
August 8, 2011

Image Credit & Copyright: Brandon Goforth

Tornado near Campo

Tornado - Campo, Colorado

Campo, Colorado, USA
May 31, 2010

Image Credit & Copyright: Brandon Goforth

March 10, 2014

The Cool Clouds of Carina

Observations made with the APEX telescope in submillimetre-wavelength light at a wavelength of 870 µm reveal the cold dusty clouds from which stars form in the Carina Nebula. This site of violent star formation, which plays host to some of the highest-mass stars in our galaxy, is an ideal arena in which to study the interactions between these young stars and their parent molecular clouds.

The APEX observations, made with its LABOCA camera, are shown here in orange tones, combined with a visible light image from the Curtis Schmidt telescope at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. The result is a dramatic, wide-field picture that provides a spectacular view of Carina’s star formation sites. The nebula contains stars equivalent to over 25 000 Suns, and the total mass of gas and dust clouds is that of about 140 000 Suns.

Image Credit: ESO/APEX/T. Preibisch et al. (Submillimetre); N. Smith, University of Minnesota/NOAO/AURA/NSF (Optical)
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Milky Way Galaxy over Big Sur coast

Milky Way Galaxy Big Sur coast

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in California, USA
April 2013

Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

March 9, 2014

Milky Way Galaxy over Crater Lake

Milky Way Galaxy Crater Lake

Crater Lake, Oregon, USA
June 2013

Image Credit & Copyright: John H. Moore