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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