Monday, November 27, 2017

Apollo 17 in 1972

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. This sharp image was taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor. The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discoveredorange lunar soil. The Apollo 17 crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than was returned from any of the other lunar landing sites. Forty five years later, Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk on the Moon.

Image Copyright: Image Credit: Apollo 17 Crew,NASA

Apollo

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka,

AlnitakAlnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie from800 to 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the darkHorsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous OrionNebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful starfield. This well-framed, 2-panel telescopic mosaic spans about 4 degrees on the sky.

Image Credit & CopyrightMohammad Nouroozi

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Behold!! Observing Sun

A broad hole in the corona was the Sun's dominant feature November 7-9, 2017, as shown in this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The hole is easily recognizable as the dark expanse across the top of the Sun and extending down in each side. Coronal holes are magnetically open areas on the Sun that allow high-speed solar wind to gush out into space. They always appear darker in extreme ultraviolet. This one was likely the source of bright aurora that shimmered for numerous observers, with some reaching down even to Nebraska.

Image Credit:NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tending Your Garden .. In Space


If you plant it, will it grow (in space)? The answer is yes, at least for certain types of plants. The Vegetable Production System, or Veggie, was first deployed in 2013 and is capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew aboard the International Space Station with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food. Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery, but utilizes the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth. This image of a red lettuce plant was taken for the VEG-03 experiment in the Columbus Module by the Expedition 53 crew.

The Interstellar Asteroid "Oumuamua"


Nothing like it has ever been seen before. The unusual space rock 'Oumuamua is so intriguing mainly because it is the first asteroid ever detected from outside our Solar System -- although likely many more are to follow given modern computer-driven sky monitoring. Therefore humanity's telescopes -- of nearly every variety -- have put 'Oumuamua into their observing schedule to help better understand this unusual interstellar visitor. Pictured is an artist's illustration of what 'Oumuamua might look like up close. 'Oumuamua is also intriguing, however, because it has unexpected parallels to Rama, a famous fictional interstellar spaceship created by the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Like Rama, 'Oumuamua is unusually elongated, should be made of strong material to avoid breaking apart, is only passing through our Solar System, and passed unusually close to the Sun for something gravitationally unbound. Unlike a visiting spaceship, though, 'Oumuamua's trajectory, speed, color, and evenprobability of detection are consistent with it forming naturally around a normal star many millions of years ago, being expelled after gravitationally encountering a normal planet, and subsequently orbiting in our Galaxy alone. Even given 'Oumuamua's likely conventional origin, perhaps humanity can hold hope that one day we will have the technology to engineer 'Oumuamua -- or another Solar System interloper -- into an interstellar Rama of our own.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Pleiades Deep and Dusty

The well-known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye. The passing young dust cloud is thought to be part of Gould's Belt, an unusual ring of young star formation surrounding the Sun in the local Milky Way Galaxy. Over the past 100,000 years, part of Gould's Belt is by chance moving right through the older Pleiades and is causing a strong reaction between stars and dust. Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding bluereflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified. The featured deep image also captured Comet C/2015 ER61(PanSTARRS) on the lower left.

Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado(TWANEarth & Stars), Miquel Serra-Ricart & Daniel Padron, FECYT

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hubble's Messier 5

"Beautiful Nebula discovered between the Balance [Libra] & the Serpent [Serpens] ..." begins the description of the 5th entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous catalog of nebulae and star clusters. Though itappeared to Messier to be fuzzy and round and without stars, Messier 5 (M5) is now known to be a globular star cluster, 100,000 stars or more, bound by gravity and packed into a region around 165 light-years in diameter. It lies some 25,000 light-years away. Roaming the halo of our galaxy, globular star clusters are ancient members of the Milky Way. M5 is one of the oldest globulars, its stars estimated to be nearly 13 billion years old. The beautiful star cluster is a popular target for Earthbound telescopes. Of course, deployed in low Earth orbit on April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has also captured its own stunning close-up view that spans about 20 light-years across the central region of M5. Even close to its dense core the cluster's aging red and blue giant stars andrejuvenated blue stragglers stand out in yellow and blue hues in the sharp color image.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttps://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171104.html

NGC 2261: Hubble's Variable Nebula

What causes Hubble's Variable Nebula to vary? The unusual nebula featured here changes its appearance noticeably in just a few weeks. Discovered over 200 years ago and subsequently cataloged as NGC 2661, the remarkable nebula is named for Edwin Hubble, who studied it early last century. Fitting, perhaps, the featured image was taken by another namesake of Hubble: the Space TelescopeHubble's Variable Nebula is areflection nebula made of gas and fine dustfanning out from the star R Monocerotis. The faint nebula is about one light-year across and lies about 2500 light-years away towards theconstellation of the Unicorn (Monocerotis). The leading variability explanation for Hubble's Variable Nebula holds that dense knots of opaque dust pass close to R Mon and castmoving shadows onto the reflecting dust seen in the rest of the nebula.

Image Copyright: Image Credit: HubbleNASA,ESAData: Mark Clampin (NASA s GSFC);Processing & LicenseJudy Schmidt

Hubble Space Telescope

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NGC 1055 a Close up

Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 1055 is a dominant member of a small galaxy group a mere 60 million light-years away toward the aquatically intimidating constellation Cetus. Seen edge-on, the island universe spans over 100,000 light-years, a little larger than our own Milky Way. The colorful stars in this cosmicclose-up of NGC 1055 are in the foreground, well within the Milky Way. But the telltale pinkish star forming regions are scattered through winding dust lanes along the distant galaxy's thin disk. With a smattering of even more distant background galaxies, the deep image also reveals a boxy halo that extends far above and below the central bluge and disk of NGC 1055. The halo itself is laced with faint, narrow structures, and could represent the mixed and spread out debris from a satellite galaxy disrupted by the larger spiral some 10 billion years ago.

Image Credit & Copyright: Processing - Robert GendlerRoberto Colombari
Data - European Southern ObservatorySubaru Telescope (NAOJ), et al.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A year of full Moons


Do all full moons look the same? No. To see the slight differences, consider this grid of twelve full moons. From upper left to lower right, the images represent every lunation from 2016 November through 2017 October, as imaged from Pakistan. The consecutive full moons are all shown at the same scale, so unlike the famous Moon Illusion, the change in apparent size seen here is real. The change is caused bythe variation in lunar distance due to the Moon's significantly non-circular orbit. The dark notch at the bottom of the full moon of 2017 August is the shadow of the Earth -- making this a partial lunar eclipse. Besides the sometimes exaggerated coloring, a subtler change in appearance can also be noticed on close examination, as the Moon seems to wobble slightly from one full moon to the next. This effect, known as libration, is more dramatic and easier to see in this lunation video highlighting all of the ways that the Moon appears to change over a month (moon-th).
Image Credit & CopyrightTalha Zia

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dark Molecular Cloud Barnard

Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gasabsorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors ofmolecular clouds some of the coldest and mostisolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchusknown as Barnard 68pictured here. That no stars are visible in the center indicates thatBarnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds likeBarnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form. In fact, Barnard 68 itself has been found likely to collapse and form a new star system. It is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light.
Image Credit: FORS Team8.2-meter VLT Antu,ESO

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Pluto's Bladed Terrain

Imaged during the New Horizons spacecraft flyby in July 2015, Pluto's bladed terrain is captured in this close-up of the distant world.The bizarre texture belongs to fields of skyscraper-sized, jagged landforms made almost entirely of methane ice, found at extreme altitudes near Pluto's equator. Casting dramatic shadows, the tall, knife-like ridges seem to have been formed by sublimation. By that process, condensed methane ice turns directly to methane gas without passing through a liquid phase during Pluto's warmer geological periods. On planet Earth, sublimation can also produce standing fields of knife-like ice sheets, found along the high plateau of the Andes mountain range. Known as penitentes, those bladed structures are made of water ice and at most a few meters tall.

New Horizons

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

95 Minutes Over Jupiter

This sequence of color-enhanced images shows how quickly the viewing geometry changes for NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter. The images were obtained by JunoCam.

Once every 53 days, Juno swings close to Jupiter, speeding over its clouds. In just two hours, the spacecraft travels from a perch over Jupiter’s north pole through its closest approach (perijove), then passes over the south pole on its way back out. This sequence shows 11 color-enhanced images from Perijove 8 (Sept. 1, 2017) with the south pole on the left (11th image in the sequence) and the north pole on the right (first image in the sequence).

The first image on the right shows a half-lit globe of Jupiter, with the north pole approximately at the upper center of the image close to the terminator -- the dividing line between night and day. As the spacecraft gets closer to Jupiter, the horizon moves in and the range of visible latitudes shrinks. The second and third images in this sequence show the north polar region rotating away from the spacecraft's field of view while the first of Jupiter's lighter-colored bands comes into view. The fourth through the eighth images display a blue-colored vortex in the mid-southern latitudes near Points of Interest "Collision of Colours," "Sharp Edge," "Caltech, by Halka," and "Structure01." The Points of Interest are locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere that were identified and named by members of the general public. Additionally, a darker, dynamic band can be seen just south of the vortex. In the ninth and tenth images, the south polar region rotates into view. The final image on the left displays Jupiter's south pole in the center.

From the start of this sequence of images to the end, roughly 1 hour and 35 minutes elapsed.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at:

www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam      

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

Larger view

Juno

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 websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap170802.html

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula

What is creating the strange texture of IC 418? Dubbed the Spirograph Nebula for its resemblance to drawings from a cyclical drawing toolplanetary nebula IC 418 showspatterns that are not well understood. Perhaps they are related to chaotic winds from the variable central star, which changes brightness unpredictably in just a few hours. By contrast, evidence indicates that only a few million years ago, IC 418 was probably a well-understood star similar to our Sun. Only a few thousand years ago, IC 418 was probably a common red giantstar. Since running out of nuclear fuel, though, the outer envelope has begun expanding outward leaving a hot remnant core destined to become a white-dwarf star, visible in the imagecenter. The light from the central core excites surrounding atoms in the nebula causing them to glow. IC 418 lies about 2000 light-years away and spans 0.3 light-years across. This false-color image taken from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the unusual details.
Image Credit: NASAESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA);Acknowledgement: R. Sahai (JPL) et al.

Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturn in the Milky way

Saturn is near opposition in planet Earth's sky. Rising at sunset and shining brightly throughout the night, it also lies near a line-of-sight to crowded starfields, nebulae, and obscuring dust clouds along the Milky Way. Whitish Saturn is up and left of center in this gorgeous central Milky Way skyscape, a two panel mosaic recorded earlier this month. You can find the bright planet above the bowl of the dusty Pipe nebula, and just beyond the end of a dark riverto Antares, alpha star of the constellation Scorpius. For now the best views of the ringed giant planet are from the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft, though. Diving close, Cassini's Grand Finale orbit number 8 is in progress.
Image Credit & CopyrightMohammad Nouroozi

M27 not a Comet

While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list. In fact, 21st century astronomers would identify it as a planetary nebula, but it's not a planet either, even though it may appear round and planet-like in a small telescope. Messier 27 (M27) is an excellent example of agaseous emission nebula created as a sun-like star runs out of nuclear fuel in its core. The nebula forms as the star's outer layers are expelled into space, with a visible glow generated by atoms excited by the dying star's intense but invisible ultraviolet light. Known by the popular name of the Dumbbell Nebula, the beautifully symmetric interstellar gas cloud is over 2.5 light-years across and about 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula.This spectacular color image incorporates broad and narrowband observations recorded by the 8.2 meter Subaru telescope.
Image Credit &Copyright:Data;Subaru, NAOJ,Assembly and Processing;Roberto Colombari

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Beneath the Jupiter

Jupiter is stranger than we knew. NASA's Juno spacecraft has now completed its sixth swoop past Jupiter as it moves around its highlyelliptical orbit. PicturedJupiter is seen from below where, surprisingly, the horizontal bandsthat cover most of the planet disappear intoswirls and complex patterns. A line of white oval clouds is visible nearer to the equator.Recent results from Juno show that Jupiter's weather phenomena can extend deep below its cloud tops, and that Jupiter's magnetic fieldvaries greatly with location. Juno is scheduled to orbit Jupiter 37 times with each orbit taking about six weeks.
Image Credit: NASAJunoSwRIMSSSGerald Eichstädt & Seán Doran

Juno

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744

Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 6744 is nearly 175,000 light-years across, larger than our own Milky Way. It lies some 30 million light-years distant in the southern constellation Pavo appearing as a faint, extended object in small telescopes. We see the disk of the nearby island universe tilted towards our line of sight. This remarkably distinct and detailed galaxy portraitcovers an area about the angular size of the full moon. In it, the giant galaxy's yellowish core is dominated by the light from old, cool stars. Beyond the core, spiral arms filled with young blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions sweep past a smaller satellite galaxy at the lower left, reminiscent of the Milky Way's satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Image Credit & CopyrightDaniel Verschatse

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Star Cluster, Spiral Galaxy, Super Nova

A cosmic snapshot from May 19, this colorful telescopic field of view spans about 1 degree or 2 full moons on the sky. Spiky in appearance, foreground Milky Way stars are scattered toward the royal constellation Cepheus while stars of open cluster NGC 6939 gather about 5 thousand light-years in the distance near the top of the frame. Face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6946 is toward the lower left nearly 22 million light-years away. The helpful red lines identify recently discovered supernova SN 2017eaw, the death explosion of a massive star nestled in the galaxy's bluish spiral arms. In fact in the last 100 years, 10 supernovae have been discovered in NGC 6946. By comparison, the average rate of supernovae in our Milky Way is about 1 every 100 years or so. Of course, NGC 6946 is also known as The Fireworks Galaxy.
Image Credit & CopyrightPaolo Demaria

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Comet Clark is near the edge

Sweeping through this stunning field of view,Comet 71P/Clark really is in the foreground of these cosmic clouds. The 2 panel telescopic mosaic is color enhanced and is about 5 degrees (10 full moons) across. It captures thefaint comet's position on the night of May 23/24 over 5 light-minutes from Earth, very near the line-of-sight to bright star Antares and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. In the frame Antares, also known as Alpha Scorpii, is at bottom center surrounded by a dusty cosmic cloud reflecting the cool giant star's yellowish light. Globular star cluster M4 shines just right of Antares, but M4 lies some 7,000 light-years away compared to Antares' 500 light-year distance. Slightly closer than Antares, Rho Ophiuchi's bluish starlight is reflected by the dust in molecular clouds toward the top. You can spot the small coma and short tail of the comet as a faint smudge near the center of the left edge of the frame. Just look for the comet's striking greenish color, produced as diatomic carbon molecules fluoresce in sunlight.
Image Credit & CopyrightRaul Villaverde Fraile

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A View Towards M101

Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. M101 shares this modern telescopic field of view with spiky foreground stars within the Milky Way, and more distant background galaxies. The colors of the Milky Way stars can also be found in the starlight from the large island universe. Its core is dominated by light from cool yellowish stars.Along its grand spiral arms are the blue colors of hotter, young stars mixed with obscuring dust lanes and pinkish star forming regions. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 25 million light-years away.
Image Credit & CopyrightLaszlo Bagi

In the Center of Lagoon Nebula

The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwindof spectacular star formation. Visible on the lower left, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Hershel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, was taken in 1995 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.
Image Credit: Hubble, A. Caulet (ST-ECF, ESA),NASA

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Galaxy Cluster Abell 370 and Beyond

Some 4 billion light-years away, massive galaxy cluster Abell 370 only appears to be dominated by two giant elliptical galaxies and infested with faint arcs in this sharp Hubble Space Telescope snapshot. The fainter, scattered bluish arcs along with the dramatic dragon arc below and left of center are images of galaxies that lie far beyond Abell 370. About twice as distant, their otherwise undetected light is magnified and distorted by the cluster's enormous gravitational mass, dominated by unseen dark matter. Providing a tantalizing glimpse of galaxies in the early universe, the effect is known as gravitational lensing. A consequence of warped spacetime it was first predicted by Einstein a century ago. Far beyond the spiky foreground Milky Way star at lower right, Abell 370 is seen toward the constellation Cetus, the Sea Monster. It is the last of six galaxy clusters imaged in the recently concluded Frontier Fieldsproject.
Image Credit: NASAESA, Jennifer Lotz and theHFF Team (STScI)

The Perseus Cluster Waves

The cosmic swirl and slosh of giant waves in an enormous reservoir of glowing hot gas are traced in this enhanced X-ray image from theChandra Observatory. The frame spans over 1 million light-years across the center of the nearby Perseus Galaxy Cluster, some 240 million light-years distant. Like other clusters of galaxies, most of the observable mass in the Perseus cluster is in the form of the cluster-filling gas. With temperatures in the tens of millions of degrees, the gas glows brightly in X-rays. Computer simulations can reproduce details of the structures sloshing through the Perseus cluster's X-ray hot gas, including the remarkable concave bay seen below and left of center. About 200,000 light-years across, twice the size of the Milky Way, the bay's formation indicates that Perseus itself was likely grazed by a smaller galaxy cluster billions of years ago.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap170504.html

Chandra X-ray Observatory

Illustration of Earth-Size 'Tatooine' Planet

With two suns in its sky, Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in "Star Wars" looks like a parched, sandy desert world. In real life, thanks to observatories such as NASA's Kepler space telescope, we know that two-star systems can indeed support planets, although planets discovered so far around double-star systems are large and gaseous. Scientists wondered: If an Earth-size planet were orbiting two suns, could it support life?

It turns out, such a planet could be quite hospitable if located at the right distance from its two stars, and wouldn't necessarily even have deserts. In a particular range of distances from two sun-like host stars, a planet covered in water would remain habitable and retain its water for a long time, according to an April 6, 2017 study in the journal Nature Communications.

This illustration shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. In reality, the stellar pair Kepler-35A and B host a planet called Kepler-35b, a giant planet about eight times the size of Earth, with an orbit of 131.5 Earth days. For their study, researchers neglected the gravitational influence of this planet and added a hypothetical water-covered, Earth-size planet around the Kepler-35 A and B stars. They examined how this planet’s climate would behave as it orbited the host stars with periods between 341 and 380 days.

More: Earth-Sized 'Tatooine' Planets Could Be Habitable

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Kepler

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cassini Looks out from Saturn

This is what Saturn looks like from inside the rings. Last week, for the first time, NASA directed the Cassini spacecraft to swoop between Saturn and its rings. During the dive, the robotic spacecraft took hundreds of images showing unprecedented detail for structures in Saturn's atmosphere. Looking back out, however, the spacecraft was also able to capture impressive vistas. In the featured imagetaken a few hours before closest approach,Saturn's unusual northern hexagon is seen surrounding the North Pole. Saturn's C ring is the closest visible, while the dark Cassini Division separates the inner B ring from the outer A. A close inspection will find the twosmall moons that shepherd the F-ring, the farthest ring discernable. This image is raw and will be officially verified, calibrated and released at a later date. Cassini remains on schedule toend its mission by plunging into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15.
Image Credit: NASAJPL-CaltechSpace Science Institute

Cassini

Cooling Neutron Star

The bright source near the center is a neutron star, the incredibly dense, collapsed remains of a massive stellar core. Surrounding it issupernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), acomfortable 11,000 light-years away. Light from the Cas A supernova, the death explosion of a massive star, first reached Earth about 350 years ago. The expanding debris cloud spans about 15 light-years in this composite X-ray/optical image. Still hot enough to emit X-rays, Cas A's neutron star is cooling. In fact, years of observations with the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory find that the neutron star is cooling rapidly -- so rapidly that researchers suspect a large part of the neutron star's core is forming a frictionless neutron superfluid. The Chandra results represent the first observational evidence for this bizarre state of neutron matter.
Image Credit: X-ray:NASA/CXC/UNAM/Ioffe/D.PageP. Shternin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hubble's Bright Shining Lizard Star

In space, being outshone is an occupational hazard. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a galaxy named NGC 7250. Despite being remarkable in its own right '” it has bright bursts of star formation and recorded supernova explosions'” it blends into the background somewhat thanks to the gloriously bright star hogging the limelight next to it.

The bright object seen in this Hubble image is a single and little-studied star named TYC 3203-450-1, located in the constellation of Lacerta (The Lizard). The star is much closer than the much more distant galaxy.

Only this way can a normal star outshine an entire galaxy, consisting of billions of stars. Astronomers studying distant objects call these stars 'foreground stars'� and they are often not very happy about them, as their bright light is contaminating the faint light from the more distant and interesting objects they actually want to study.

In this case, TYC 3203-450-1 is million times closer than NGC 7250, which lies more than 45 million light-years away from us.andnbsp; If the star were the same distance from us as NGC 7250, it would hardly be visible in this image.
andnbsp;

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

Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble's Bright Shining Lizard Star

In space, being outshone is an occupational hazard. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a galaxy named NGC 7250. Despite being remarkable in its own right '” it has bright bursts of star formation and recorded supernova explosions'” it blends into the background somewhat thanks to the gloriously bright star hogging the limelight next to it.

The bright object seen in this Hubble image is a single and little-studied star named TYC 3203-450-1, located in the constellation of Lacerta (The Lizard). The star is much closer than the much more distant galaxy.

Only this way can a normal star outshine an entire galaxy, consisting of billions of stars. Astronomers studying distant objects call these stars 'foreground stars'� and they are often not very happy about them, as their bright light is contaminating the faint light from the more distant and interesting objects they actually want to study.

In this case, TYC 3203-450-1 is million times closer than NGC 7250, which lies more than 45 million light-years away from us.andnbsp; If the star were the same distance from us as NGC 7250, it would hardly be visible in this image.
andnbsp;

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

Hubble Space Telescope

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cassini Captures Closest Images of Saturn's Atmosphere

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn's atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Cassini

Lyrids in Southern Skies

Earth's annual Lyrid meteor shower peaked before dawn on April 22nd, as our fair planet plowed through dust from the tail of long-periodcomet Thatcher. Seen from the high, dark, and dry Atacama desert a waning crescent Moon and brilliant Venus join Lyrid meteor streaks in this composited view. Captured over 5 hours on the night of April 21/22, the meteors stream away from the shower's radiant, a point not very far on the sky from Vega, alpha star of the constellation Lyra. The radiant effect is due to perspective as the parallel meteor tracks appearto converge in the distance. In the foreground are domes of the Las Campanas Observatory housing (left to right) the 2.5 meter du Pont Telescope and the 1.3 meter Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) telescope.
Image Credit & CopyrightYuri Beletsky(Carnegie Las Campanas ObservatoryTWAN)