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Astronomy Picture Of The Day - Page 9

User Thread
 39yrs • F •
26 December 2012

Makemake of the Outer Solar System
Illustration Credit: European Southern Observatory
quote:
Makemake is one of the largest objects known in the outer Solar System. Pronounced MAH-kay MAH-kay, this Kuiper belt object is about two-thirds the size of Pluto, orbits the Sun only slightly further out than Pluto, and appears only slightly dimmer than Pluto. Makemake, however, has an orbit much more tilted to the ecliptic plane of the planets than Pluto. Discovered by a team led by Mike Brown (Caltech) in 2005, the outer Solar System orb was officially named Makemake for the creator of humanity in the Rapa Nui mythology of Easter Island. In 2008, Makemake was classified as a dwarf planet under the subcategory plutoid, making Makemake the third cataloged plutoid after Pluto and Eris. Makemake is known to be a world somewhat red in appearance, with colors indicating it is likely covered with patchy areas of frozen methane. No images of Makemake's surface yet exist, but an artist's illustration of the distant world is shown above. Careful monitoring of the brightness drop of a distant star recently eclipsed by Makemake indicates that the dwarf planet has little atmosphere.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 33yrs • M
A CTL of 1 means that Theory is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Truly wonderous...
Good post dawn

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"We breathe natures breath until we are tired and layed to rest..."
 39yrs • F •
Thanks Theory - I started this thread last year but I wasn't able to keep my daily updates going so now I'm catching up the thread. There's some amazing things floating around in the universe and I think it's enlightening to catch a small glimpse into the immensity of the the cosmos

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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
27 December 2012

Curiosity Rover at Rocknest on Mars
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS, MAHLI
quote:
What's in this smooth soil on Mars? In late October, NASA's robotic Curiosity rover stopped near a place dubbed Rocknest as it continues to explore Gale Crater on Mars. Rocknest is the group of stones seen near the top left of the above image -- just to the left of Curiosity's mast. Of particular interest was the unusually smooth patch of soil named Wind Drift seen to the left of Curiosity, which was likely created by the Martian wind blowing fine particles into Rocknest's wake. The above image shows part of Mt. Sharp in the background to upper right, and, oddly, almost the entire rover itself, digitally reconstructed from 55 frames while digitally removing an extended arm. Curiosity scooped several sand samples from Wind Drift into its Chemistry and Mineralogy Experiment (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory for a detailed analysis. Preliminary data from the soil indicates a small amount of one-carbon organic material the origin of which it presently unknown. Although the organic signal might be just contaminants from Earth, the exciting possibility that it could be from Mars itself will remain a focus of future exploration and research.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
28 December 2012

NGC 6188 and NGC 6164
Image Credit & Copyright: Kfir Simon
quote:
Fantastic shapes lurk in clouds of glowing hydrogen gas in NGC 6188, about 4,000 light-years away. The emission nebula is found near the edge of a large molecular cloud unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara. Massive, young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive stars, that swept up and compressed the molecular gas. Joining NGC 6188 on this cosmic canvas is rare emission nebula NGC 6164, also created by one of the region's massive O-type stars. Similar in appearance to many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164's striking, symmetric gaseous shroud and faint halo surround its bright central star at the lower right. The field of view spans about two full Moons, corresponding to 70 light years at the estimated distance of NGC 6188.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
29 December 2012

Zeta Oph: Runaway Star
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Spitzer Space Telescope
quote:
Like a ship plowing through cosmic seas, runaway star Zeta Ophiuchi produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this stunning infrared portrait. In the false-color view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, lies near the center of the frame, moving toward the left at 24 kilometers per second. Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty interstellar material and shaping the curved shock front. Around it are clouds of relatively undisturbed material. What set this star in motion? Zeta Oph was likely once a member of a binary star system, its companion star was more massive and hence shorter lived. When the companion exploded as a supernova catastrophically losing mass, Zeta Oph was flung out of the system. About 460 light-years away, Zeta Oph is 65,000 times more luminous than the Sun and would be one of the brighter stars in the sky if it weren't surrounded by obscuring dust. The image spans about 1.5 degrees or 12 light-years at the estimated distance of Zeta Ophiuchi.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
30 December 2012

Doomed Star Eta Carinae
Image Credit: J. Morse (Arizona State U.), K. Davidson (U. Minnesota) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA
quote:
Eta Carinae may be about to explode. But no one knows when - it may be next year, it may be one million years from now. Eta Carinae's mass - about 100 times greater than our Sun - makes it an excellent candidate for a full blown supernova. Historical records do show that about 150 years ago Eta Carinae underwent an unusual outburst that made it one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Eta Carinae, in the Keyhole Nebula, is the only star currently thought to emit natural LASER light. This image, taken in 1996, brought out new details in the unusual nebula that surrounds this rogue star. Now clearly visible are two distinct lobes, a hot central region, and strange radial streaks. The lobes are filled with lanes of gas and dust which absorb the blue and ultraviolet light emitted near the center. The streaks remain unexplained.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
31 December 2012

Saturn's Rings from the Dark Side
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
quote:
What do Saturn's rings look like from the dark side? From Earth, we usually see Saturn's rings from the same side of the ring plane that the Sun illuminates them -- one might call this the bright side. Geometrically, in the above picture taken in August by the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn, the Sun is behind the camera but on the other side of the ring plane. Such a vantage point gives a breathtaking views of the most splendid ring system in the Solar System. Strangely, the rings have similarities to a photographic negative of a front view. For example, the dark band in the middle is actually the normally bright B-ring. The ring brightness as recorded from different angles indicates ring thickness and particle density of ring particles. At the top left of the frame is Saturn's moon Tethys, which although harder to find, contains much more mass than the entire ring system.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
1 January 2013

A Double Star Cluster
Image Credit & Copyright: F. Antonucci, M. Angelini, & F. Tagliani, ADARA Astrobrallo
quote:
Few star clusters are seen to be so close to each other. Some 7,000 light-years away, though, this pair of open or galactic star clusters is an easy binocular target, a lovely starfield in the northern constellation Perseus. Also visible to the unaided eye from dark sky areas, it was cataloged in 130 BC by Greek astronomer Hipparchus. Now known as h and chi Persei, or NGC 869 (above right) and NGC 884, the clusters themselves are separated by only a few hundred light-years and contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun. In addition to being physically close together, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that both clusters were likely a product of the same star-forming region.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
2 January 2013

The Einstein Cross Gravitational Lens
Image Credit & Copyright: J. Rhoads (Arizona State U.) et al., WIYN, AURA, NOAO, NSF
quote:
Most galaxies have a single nucleus -- does this galaxy have four? The strange answer leads astronomers to conclude that the nucleus of the surrounding galaxy is not even visible in this image. The central cloverleaf is rather light emitted from a background quasar. The gravitational field of the visible foreground galaxy breaks light from this distant quasar into four distinct images. The quasar must be properly aligned behind the center of a massive galaxy for a mirage like this to be evident. The general effect is known as gravitational lensing, and this specific case is known as the Einstein Cross. Stranger still, the images of the Einstein Cross vary in relative brightness, enhanced occasionally by the additional gravitational microlensing effect of specific stars in the foreground galaxy.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
3 January 2013

Open Star Clusters M35 and NGC 2158
Image Credit & Copyright: Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet)
quote:
Open clusters of stars can be near or far, young or old, and diffuse or compact. Found near the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, they contain from 100 to 10,000 stars, all of which formed at nearly the same time. Bright blue stars frequently distinguish younger open clusters. M35, on the upper left, is relatively nearby at 2800 light years distant, relatively young at 150 million years old, and relatively diffuse, with about 2500 stars spread out over a volume 30 light years across. An older and more compact open cluster, NGC 2158, is at the lower right. NGC 2158 is four times more distant than M35, over 10 times older, and much more compact with many more stars in roughly the same volume of space. NGC 2158's bright blue stars have self-destructed, leaving cluster light to be dominated by older and yellower stars. Both clusters are seen toward the constellation of Gemini.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
4 January 2013

Sunrise at Tycho
Credit: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State Univ. / Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
quote:
Tycho crater's central peak complex casts a long, dark shadow near local sunrise in this spectacular lunarscape. The dramatic oblique view was recorded on June 10, 2011 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Shown in amazing detail, boulder strewn slopes and jagged shadows appear in the highest resolution version at 1.5 meters per pixel. The rugged complex is about 15 kilometers wide, formed in uplift by the giant impact that created the well-known ray crater 100 million years ago. The summit of its central peak reaches 2 kilometers above the Tycho crater floor.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
5 January 2013

Stereo Helene
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA; Stereo Image by Roberto Beltramini
quote:
Get out your red/blue glasses and float next to Helene, small, icy moon of Saturn. Appropriately named, Helene is one of four known Trojan moons, so called because it orbits at a Lagrange point. A Lagrange point is a gravitationally stable position near two massive bodies, in this case Saturn and larger moon Dione. In fact, irregularly shaped ( about 36 by 32 by 30 kilometers) Helene orbits at Dione's leading Lagrange point while brotherly ice moon Polydeuces follows at Dione's trailing Lagrange point. The sharp stereo anaglyph was constructed from two Cassini images (N00172886, N00172892) captured during a close flyby in 2011. It shows part of the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Helene mottled with craters and gully-like features.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
6 January 2013

The Dark Tower in Scorpius
Image Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman
quote:
In silhouette against a crowded star field toward the constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower. In fact, clumps of dust and molecular gas collapsing to form stars may well lurk within the dark nebula, a structure that spans almost 40 light-years across this gorgeous telescopic portrait. Known as a cometary globule, the swept-back cloud, extending from the lower right to the head (top of the tower) left and above center, is shaped by intense ultraviolet radiation from the OB association of very hot stars in NGC 6231, off the upper edge of the scene. That energetic ultraviolet light also powers the globule's bordering reddish glow of hydrogen gas. Hot stars embedded in the dust can be seen as bluish reflection nebulae. This dark tower, NGC 6231, and associated nebulae are about 5,000 light-years away.



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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
 39yrs • F •
7 January 2013

AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh
quote:
AE Aurigae is called the flaming star. The surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula and the region seems to harbor smoke, but there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible near the nebula center, is so hot it is blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons away from atoms in the surrounding gas. When an atom recaptures an electron, light is emitted creating the surrounding emission nebula. In this cosmic portrait, the Flaming Star nebula lies about 1,500 light years distant, spans about 5 light years, and is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga).



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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 9
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