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Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 4

User Thread
 32yrs • F •
12 October 2012

Pan-STARRS and Nebulae
Image Credit: PS1 Science Consortium
Processing: Nigel Metcalfe, Peter Draper (Durham Univ.), Gene Magnier (IfA Hawaii)

quote:
A single field from the world's most powerful survey instrument captures this spectacular skyview. Looking toward Sagittarius, the scene spans nearly 3 degrees or six times the width of the Full Moon. At bottom, upper right, and lower left it covers the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Trifid Nebula (M20), and NGC 6559, in the crowded, dusty starfields of the central Milky Way. The adopted color scheme shows dust reddened starlight in red hues and normally red emission from hydrogen atoms in green. Built and operated by the Pan-STARRS project, the instrument features a 1.4 gigapixel (billion pixel) digital camera and telescope. Pan-STARRS, the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, is intended to scan the skies for potentially dangerous near-earth asteroids and comets, exploring the Universe with a unique high resolution, wide field view.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
13 October 2012

Galaxies, Stars, and Dust
Image Credit & Copyright: Ignacio de la Cueva Torregrosa (Capturandoeluniverso, A.A.E.)
quote:
Spiky stars and spooky shapes abound in this deep cosmic skyscape. Its well-composed field of view covers about 2 Full Moons on the sky toward the constellation Pegasus. Of course the brighter stars show diffraction spikes, the commonly seen effect of internal supports in reflecting telescopes, and lie well within our own Milky Way galaxy. The faint but pervasive clouds of interstellar dust ride above the galactic plane and dimly reflect the Milky Way's combined starlight. Known as high latitude cirrus or integrated flux nebulae they are associated with molecular clouds. In this case, the diffuse cloud cataloged as MBM 54, less than a thousand light-years distant, fills the scene. Other galaxies far beyond the Milky Way are visible through the ghostly apparitions, including the striking spiral galaxy NGC 7497 some 60 million light-years away. Seen almost edge-on near the center of the field, NGC 7497's own spiral arms and dust lanes echo the colors of the Milky Way's stars and dust.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
14 October 2012

The Hubble Extreme Deep Field
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (UCSC), R. Bouwens (Leiden Obs.), and the XDF Team
quote:
What did the first galaxies look like? To help answer this question, the Hubble Space Telescope has just finished taking the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the deepest image of the universe ever taken in visible light. Pictured above, the XDF shows a sampling of some of the oldest galaxies ever seen, galaxies that formed just after the dark ages, 13 billion years ago, when the universe was only a few percent of its present age. The Hubble Space Telescope's ACS camera and the infrared channel of the WFPC3 camera took the image. Combining efforts spread over 10 years, the XDF is more sensitive, in some colors, than the original Hubble Deep Field (HDF), the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) completed in 2004, and the HUDF Infrared completed in 2009. Astronomers the world over will likely study the XDF for years to come to better understand how stars and galaxies formed in the early universe.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
15 October 2012

Black Sun and Inverted Starfield
Image Credit & Copyright: Jim Lafferty
quote:
Does this strange dark ball look somehow familiar? If so, that might be because it is our Sun. In the above image, a detailed solar view was captured originally in a very specific color of red light, then rendered in black and white, and then color inverted. Once complete, the resulting image was added to a starfield, then also color inverted. Visible in the above image of the Sun are long light filaments, dark active regions, prominences peaking around the edge, and a moving carpet of hot gas. The surface of our Sun has become a particularly busy place over the past two years because it is now nearing Solar Maximum, the time when its surface magnetic field is wound up the most. Besides an active Sun being so picturesque, the plasma expelled can also become picturesque when it impacts the Earth's magnetosphere and creates auroras.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
16 October 2012

A Spiral Nebula Surrounding Star R Sculptoris
Visualization Credit: ALMA Observatory (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
quote:
What's happening around that star? An unusual spiral structure has been discovered around the Milky Way star R Sculptoris, a red giant star located about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Sculptor (Sculptoris). The star was observed with the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most powerful telescopic array observing near millimeter wavelengths, that part of the spectrum situated well beyond red light but before microwaves and radio waves. Data from ALMA observations was used to create a 3D visualization of the gas and dust immediately surrounding the star. A digital slice through this data showed the unexpected spiral structure. Although unusual, a similar spiral pattern was discovered in visible light recently around LL Pegasi. Upon analyzing the data, a hypothesis was drawn that the red giant star in R Sculptoris might be puffing gas toward an unseen binary companion star. The dynamics of this system might be particularly insightful because it may be giving clues as to how giant stars evolve toward the end of their lives -- and so release some constituent elements back to the interstellar medium so that new stars may form.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
17 October 2012

Aurora Over White Dome Geyser
Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Howell
quote:
Sometimes both heaven and Earth erupt. Colorful aurorae erupted unexpectedly earlier this month, with green aurora appearing near the horizon and brilliant bands of red aurora blooming high overhead. A bright Moon lit the foreground of this picturesque scene, while familiar stars could be seen far in the distance. With planning, the careful astrophotographer shot this image mosaic in the field of White Dome Geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the western USA. Sure enough, just after midnight, White Dome erupted -- spraying a stream of water and vapor many meters into the air. Geyser water is heated to steam by scalding magma several kilometers below, and rises through rock cracks to the surface. About half of all known geysers occur in Yellowstone National Park. Although the geomagnetic storm that created these aurorae has since subsided, eruptions of White Dome Geyser continue about every 30 minutes.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
18 October 2012

A View from Next Door
Illustration Credit: European Southern Observatory, L. Calçada, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)
quote:
Located just next door, Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Sun. A view from our interstellar neighbor a mere 4.3 light-years away is shown in this illustration. The Sun is at the upper right, a bright star against the background of the Milky Way. The crescent in the foreground is an artist's rendering of a planet now reported orbiting Alpha Centauri B, making it the closest known exoplanet. Discovered by astronomer Xavier Dumusque et al. using the planet hunting HARPS instrument to measure minute shifts in the star's spectrum for more than four years, the planet has approximately the same mass as Earth. But it orbits once every 3.2 days, about 0.04 times the Earth-Sun distance from its parent star. That puts it well outside the habitable zone, much too close to Alpha Cen B, a star only a little cooler than the Sun. Still, estimates indicate that planetary orbits would be stable within the habitable zone of Alpha Cen B, at about half the Earth-Sun distance ...



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
19 October 2012

Merging NGC 2623
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Martin Pugh
quote:
NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer. The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within the nuclear region. The star formation and its active galactic nucleus make NGC 2623 bright across the spectrum. This sharp cosmic snapshot of NGC 2623 (aka Arp 243) is based on Hubble Legacy Archive image data that also reveals even more distant background galaxies scattered through the field of view.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
20 October 2012

Zodiacal Light and Milky Way
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)
quote:
Ghostly apparitions of two fundamental planes in planet Earth's sky span this October all-sky view. The scene was captured from a lakeside campsite under dark skies in northern Maine, USA. In it, the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy arcs above faint airglow along the horizon. Zodiacal light, a band of dust scattering sunlight along the solar system's ecliptic plane, stretches almost horizontally across the wide field and intersects the Milky way near a point marked by bright planet Jupiter. Right of Jupiter, past the Pleiades star cluster, is the brightening of the Zodiacal band known as the Gegenschein, also visible to the eye on that dark night. Begirt with many a blazing star and rising above the distant mountains, Orion the hunter is reflected in the lake's calm waters.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
21 October 2012

The Horsehead Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF
quote:
One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Light takes about 1,500 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula. The above image was taken with the 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
22 October 2012

A Space Shuttle on the Streets of Los Angeles
Credit & Copyright: Bryan Chan, Los Angeles Times; Music: Keeper of the Wind (Eleni Hassabis, Firstcom)
quote:
Was that the space shuttle that just went by? Garnering attention that could make even a movie star blush, thousands of people watched in awe as a quintessential icon of the space age was towed through the streets of Los Angeles. After landing at LAX airport late last month, the shuttle Endeavour was carefully loaded onto rolling trailers and maneuvered down roads and across bridges to the California Science Center, 20 kilometers away. To many, there was a majesty to the voyage that was beyond description, inspiring people to line the LA streets and wait at windows and balconies to witness and photograph this once-in-a-lifetime event. Narrowly avoiding some buildings and trees, the retired shuttle made it safely to its new home and will soon be ready for permanent display. Although the journey took place over three days, it has been shortened in the above artistic time-lapse video to about three minutes.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
23 October 2012

Mammatus Clouds Over Saskatchewan
Image Credit & Licence: Craig Lindsay, Wikipedia
quote:
Normal cloud bottoms are flat. This is because moist warm air that rises and cools will condense into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. These mammatus clouds were photographed over Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada during the past summer.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
24 October 2012

NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda
Image Credit & Copyright: Bob and Janice Fera (Fera Photography)
quote:
The large stellar association cataloged as NGC 206 is nestled within the dusty arms of neighboring spiral galaxy Andromeda (M31), 2.5 million light-years distant. Seen near the center of this gorgeous close-up of the southwestern extent of Andromeda's disk, the bright, blue stars of NGC 206 indicate its youth. Its youngest massive stars are less than 10 million years old. Much larger than the clusters of young stars in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy known as open or galactic clusters, NGC 206 spans about 4,000 light-years. That's comparable in size to the giant stellar nurseries NGC 604 in nearby spiral M33 and the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
[  Edited by Dawn at   ]
 32yrs • F •
25 October 2012

The Medusa Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.)
quote:
Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation. The planetary nebula phase represents a final stage in the evolution of low mass stars like the sun, as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers. Ultraviolet radiation from the hot star powers the nebular glow. The Medusa's transforming star is near the center of the overall bright crescent shape. In this deep telescopic view, fainter filaments clearly extend below and to the left of the bright crescent region. The Medusa Nebula is estimated to be over 4 light-years across.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 32yrs • F •
26 October 2012

Reflection Nebula vdB1
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona
quote:
Every book has a first page and every catalog a first entry. And so this lovely blue cosmic cloud begins the van den Bergh Catalog (vdB) of stars surrounded by reflection nebulae. Interstellar dust clouds reflecting the light of the nearby stars, the nebulae usually appear blue because scattering by the dust grains is more effective at shorter (bluer) wavelengths. The same type of scattering gives planet Earth its blue daytime skies. Van den Bergh's 1966 list contains a total of 158 entries more easily visible from the northern hemisphere, including bright Pleiades cluster stars and other popular targets for astroimagers. Less than 5 light-years across, VdB1 lies about 1,600 light-years distant in the constellation Cassiopeia. Also on this scene, two intriguing nebulae at the right show loops and outflow features associated with the energetic process of star formation. Within are extremely young variable stars V633 Cas (top) and V376 Cas.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 4
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