Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Dust Monster in IC 1396

Is there a monster in IC 1396? Known to some as the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, parts of gas and dust clouds of this star formation regionmay appear to take on foreboding forms, somenearly human. The only real monster here, however, is a bright young star too far fromEarth to hurt us. Energetic light from this star is eating away the dust of the dark cometary globule near the top of the featured imageJetsand winds of particles emitted from this star are also pushing away ambient gas and dust. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a much larger region on the sky than shown here, with an apparent width of more than 10 full moons.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image website

Monday, July 31, 2017

Perseid Meteors Over Turkey

The Perseid Meteor Shower, usually the best meteor shower of the year, will peak late next week. A person watching a clear sky from a dark location might see a bright meteor every minute. These meteors are actually specks of rock that have broken off Comet Swift-Tuttleand continued to orbit the Sun until they vaporize in Earth's atmosphere. The featured composite image shows a outburst of Perseids as they appeared over Turkey during last year'smeteor shower. Enough meteors were captured to trace the shower's radiant back to theconstellation of Perseus on the far left. The tail-end of the Perseids will still be going during thetotal solar eclipse on August 21, creating a rare opportunity for some lucky astrophotographers to image a Perseid meteor during the day.
Image Credit & CopyrightTunç Tezel (TWAN)

Hubble's Cosmic Atlas

This beautiful clump of glowing gas, dark dust and glittering stars is the spiral galaxy NGC 4248, located about 24 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs).

This image was produced by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope as it embarked upon compiling the first Hubble ultraviolet 'atlas,'� for which the telescope targeted 50 nearby star-forming galaxies. The collection spans all kinds of different morphologies, masses, and structures. Studying this sample can help us to piece together the star-formation history of the universe.

By exploring how massive stars form and evolve within such galaxies, astronomers can learn more about how, when, and where star formation occurs, how star clusters change over time, and how the process of forming new stars is related to the properties of both the host galaxy and the surrounding interstellar medium (the gas and dust that fills the space between individual stars).

This galaxy was imaged with observations from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble andamp; NASA andnbsp;
Text credit: European Space Agency

Hubble Space Telescope

Monday, July 10, 2017

Composite Messier 20 and 21

The beautiful Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, lies about 5,000 light-years away, a colorful study in cosmic contrasts. It shares this nearly 1 degree wide field with open star clusterMessier 21 (top left). Trisected by dust lanes the Trifid itself is about 40 light-years across and a mere 300,000 years old. That makes it one of the youngest star forming regions in our sky, with newborn and embryonic stars embedded in its natal dust and gas clouds. Estimates of the distance to open star cluster M21 are similar to M20's, but though they share this gorgeous telescopic skyscape there is no apparent connection between the two. M21's stars are much older, about 8 million years old. M20 and M21 are easy to find with even a small telescope in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. In fact, this well-composed scene is a composite from two different telescopes. Using narrowband data it blends a high resolution image of M20 with a wider field image extending to M21.
Image Credit & CopyrightMartin Pugh

M81 Galaxy Group through the Integrated Flux Nebula

Distant galaxies and nearby nebulas highlight this deep image of the M81 Group of galaxies. First and foremost in this 80-exposure mosaic is the grand design spiral galaxy M81, the largest galaxy in the image, visible on the lower right. M81 is gravitationally interacting with M82just above it, a large galaxy with an unusual halo of filamentary red-glowing gas. Around the image many other galaxies from the M81 Groupof galaxies can be seen, as well as many foreground Milky Way stars. This whole galaxy menagerie is seen through the glow of anIntegrated Flux Nebula (IFN), a vast and complex screen of diffuse gas and dust also in our Milky Way Galaxy. Details of the red and yellow IFN, digitally enhanced, were imaged by a new wide-field camera recently installed at theTeide Observatory in the Canary Islands ofSpain.
Image Credit & Copyright : D. Lopez & A. Rosenberg, IAC

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The N44 Superbubble

What created this gigantic hole? The vastemission nebula N44 in our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud has a large, 250light-year hole and astronomers are trying to figure out why. One possibility is particle windsexpelled by massive stars in the bubble's interior that are pushing out the glowing gas. This answer was found to be inconsistent with measured wind velocities, however. Another possibility is that the expanding shells of oldsupernovas have sculpted the unusual space cavern. An unexpected clue of hot X-rayemitting gas was recently been detected escaping the N44 superbubble. The featured image was taken in three very specific colors by the huge 8-meter Gemini South Telescope onCerro Pachon in Chile.
Image Credit & CopyrightGemini Obs.AURA,NSF

Hubble uses Gravitational Lens to Capture Disk Galaxy

Acting as a “natural telescope” in space, the gravity of the extremely massive foreground galaxy cluster MACS J2129-0741 magnifies, brightens, and distorts the far-distant background galaxy MACS2129-1 in the upper-right corner of this image. (View an annotated image highlighting the gravitationally-lensed galaxy.)

By combining the power of this "natural lens" in space with the capability of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers made a surprising discovery—the first example of a compact yet massive, fast-spinning, disk-shaped galaxy that stopped making stars only a few billion years after the big bang.  Finding such a galaxy early in the history of the universe challenges the current understanding of how massive galaxies form and evolve, say researchers. This is the first direct observational evidence that at least some of the earliest so-called "dead" galaxies — where star formation stopped — somehow evolve from a Milky Way-shaped disk into the giant elliptical galaxies we see today.

Read more: Hubble Captures Massive Dead Disk Galaxy that Challenges Theories of Galaxy Evolution

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH team

Hubble Space Telescope

Markarian's Chain to Messier 64

Top to bottom, this colorful and broad telescopic mosaic links Markarian's Chain of galaxies across the core of the Virgo Cluster to dusty spiral galaxy Messier 64. Galaxies are scattered through the field of view that spans some 20 full moons across a gorgeous night sky. The cosmic frame is also filled with foreground stars from constellations Virgo and the well-groomed Coma Berenices, and faint, dusty nebulae drifting above the plane of the Milky Way. Look carefully for Markarian's eyes. The famous pair of interacting galaxies is near the top, not far from M87, the Virgo cluster's giant elliptical galaxy. At the bottom, you can stare down Messier 64, also known as the Black Eye Galaxy. The Virgo Cluster is the closest large galaxy cluster to our own local galaxy group. Virgo Cluster galaxies are about 50 million light-years distant, but M64 lies a mere 17 million light-years away.
Image Credit & CopyrightRogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Massive Stars in Westerlund

Star cluster Westerlund 1 is home to some of the largest and most massive stars known. It is headlined by the star Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant star so big that if placed in the center of our Solar System, it would extend out past the orbit of Jupiter. Additionally, the young star cluster is home to 3 other red supergiants, 6 yellow hypergiant stars, 24 Wolf-Rayet stars, and several even-more unusual stars that continue to be studied. Westerlund 1 is relatively close-by for a star cluster at a distance of 15,000 light years, givingastronomers a good laboratory to study the development of massive stars. The featured image of Westerlund 1 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope toward the southernconstellation of the Altar (Ara). Although presently classified as a "super" open cluster,Westerlund 1 may evolve into a low massglobular cluster over the next billion years.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Hubble Space Telescope

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Eliptical Galaxy with Outer Shells and Plumbs

Can you see them? This famous Messier object M89, a seemingly simple elliptical galaxy, is surrounded by faint shells and plumes. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where a recent collision with another large galaxy created density waves that ripple through this galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the featured imagehighlights the increasing consensus that at least some elliptical galaxies have formed in the recent past, and that the outer halos of most large galaxies are not really smooth but have complexities induced by frequent interactions with -- and accretions of -- smaller nearby galaxies. The halo of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one example of suchunexpected complexityM89 is a member of the nearby Virgo cluster of galaxies which lies about 50 million light years distant.
Image Credit & Copyright: Mark Hanson

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Great Nebula in Carina

In one of the brightest parts of Milky Way lies a nebula where some of the oddest things occur. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebulas. The Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324), the bright structure just to the right of the image center, houses several of these massive stars and has itself changed its appearance. The entire Carina Nebulacaptured here, spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of CarinaEta Carinae, themost energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, butthen faded dramatically. While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion,X-ray images indicate that much of the Great Nebula in Carina has been a veritable supernova factory.
Image Credit & Copyright: Amit Ashok Kamble