Galactic Center of Our Milky Way
The Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — collaborated to produce an unprecedented image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy.
Observations using infrared light and X-ray light see through the obscuring dust and reveal the intense activity near the galactic core. The center of the galaxy is located within the bright white region in the upper portion of the image. The entire image covers about one-half a degree, about the same angular width as the full moon.
Each telescope’s contribution is presented in a different color:
- Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble. They outline the energetic regions where stars are being born as well as reveal hundreds of thousands of stars.
- Red represents the infrared observations of Spitzer. The radiation and winds from stars create glowing dust clouds that exhibit complex structures from compact, spherical globules to long, stringy filaments.
- Blue and violet represents the X-ray observations of Chandra. X-rays are emitted by gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and by outflows from the supermassive black hole in the galaxy’s center. The bright blue blob toward the bottom of the full field image is emission from a double star system containing either a neutron star or a black hole.
Ring galaxies are thought to be the result of a collision between two galaxies of different sizes. When a smaller galaxy passes through the disk of a larger one, the increased gravitational interaction condenses the gas and dust clouds at the center of the galaxy and creates a “shock wave” that sends star forming regions away from the point of collision. In the case of the galaxy system Arp 147, two separate ring galaxies were created in the collision.
Credit: M Livio et al. (STScI), ESA, NASA
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The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33) 3 hours 30 mins of data by Gareth Harding
Many of NASA’s first came from Project Gemini. Mission goals were to test and practice maneuvers needed for going to the Moon. The first American space walk, first rendezvous and docking, first non-solo flight, etc. took place during Project Gemini. Some of the most famous astronauts started out in Project Gemini, like Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong. Also the “selfie” is introduced to space.
The Fairy of the Eagle Nebula
The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts. Pictured above is one of several striking dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula that might be described as a gigantic alien fairy. This fairy, however, is ten light years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. The above image in scientifically re-assigned colors was released in 2005 as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Wolf-Rayet Star 124
M81 Galaxy Group
APOD link: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120313.html
THE LONELY PLANET
Poor Neptune doesn’t get a lot of visitors. To date, Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to visit this distant planet, and the data it gathered inspired this composite image created by Rolf Wahl Olsen.
Backlit by the Sun, some of Neptune’s interesting features are highlighted. Its moon, Triton, is visible close by on the right, as well as its very faint ring system, which was discovered during Voyager’s flyby. A dark band of clouds is visible as a spot right at the pole, with a vortex circling around it.
Due to the dearth of high-resolution images of the Neptunian system, Olsen scoured the freely available data from NASA’s Planetary Data System in order to stitch this lovely image together. By modelling the density based on available data, Olsen was able to fill in gaps where the ring system was too faint to be seen. He also worked out the corresponding position of the background stars and added a view of Triton from Voyager’s passage 3 days after the flyby. By carefully considering his calculations, Olsen was able to create this lovely image that gives us a glimpse of what this mysterious outer planet may have looked like through a slightly different lens.
Over 2 light years across and over 2000 light years away from Earth: The Ghost Nebula (Hubble)