Mariela Markova

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APOD: NGC 2683: Edge-On Spiral Galaxy (2014 Feb 05) Image Credit: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Space Telescope; Image Assembly, Processing, & Copyright: Robert Gendler Explanation: Does spiral galaxy NGC 2683 have a bar across its center? Being so nearly like our own barred Milky Way Galaxy, one might guess it has. Being so nearly edge-on, however, it is hard to tell. Either way, this gorgeous island universe, cataloged as NGC 2683, lies a mere 20 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the Cat (Lynx). NGC 2683 is seen nearly edge-on in this cosmic vista combining data and images from the ground-based Subaru telescope and the space-based Hubble Space Telescope. More distant galaxies are seen scattered in the background. Blended light from a large population of old yellowish stars forms the remarkably bright galactic core. Starlight silhouettes the dust lanes along winding spiral arms, dotted with the telltale blue glow of young star clusters in this galaxy's star forming regions. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD

APOD: Downtown Auriga (2014 Feb 13) Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) Explanation: Rich in star clusters and nebulae, the ancient constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer, rides high in northern winter night skies. Spanning nearly 24 full moons (12 degrees) on the sky, this deep telescopic mosaic view recorded in January shows off some of Auriga's most popular sights for cosmic tourists. The crowded field sweeps along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in the direction opposite the galactic center. Need directions? Near the bottom of the frame, at the Charioteer's boundary with Taurus the Bull, the bright bluish star Elnath is known as both Beta Tauri and Gamma Aurigae. On the far left and almost 3,000 light-years away, the busy, looping filaments of supernova remnant Simeis 147 cover about 150 light-years. Look toward the right to find emission nebula IC 410, significantly more distant, some 12,000 light-years away. Star forming IC 410 is famous for its embedded young star cluster, NGC 1893, and tadpole-shaped clouds of dust and gas. The Flaming Star Nebula, IC 405, is just a little farther along. Its red, convoluted clouds of glowing hydrogen gas are energized by hot O-type star AE Aurigae. Two of our galaxy's open star clusters, Charles Messier's M36 and M38 line up in the starfield above, familiar to many binocular-equipped skygazers. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD

APOD: Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane (2014 Feb 23) Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA Explanation: If this is Saturn, where are the rings? When Saturn's "appendages" disappeared in 1612, Galileo did not understand why. Later that century, it became understood that Saturn's unusual protrusions were rings and that when the Earth crosses the ring plane, the edge-on rings will appear to disappear. This is because Saturn's rings are confined to a plane many times thinner, in proportion, than a razor blade. In modern times, the robot Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn now also crosses Saturn's ring plane. A series of plane crossing images from 2005 February was dug out of the vast online Cassini raw image archive by interested Spanish amateur Fernando Garcia Navarro. Pictured above, digitally cropped and set in representative colors, is the striking result. Saturn's thin ring plane appears in blue, bands and clouds in Saturn's upper atmosphere appear in gold. Details of Saturn's rings can be seen in the high dark shadows across the top of this image, taken back in 2005. Moons appear as bumps in the rings. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD

APOD: Martian Sunset (2014 Mar 02) Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Texas A&M, Cornell, JPL, NASA Explanation: What would it be like to see a sunset on Mars? To help find out, the robotic rover Spirit was deployed in 2005 to park and watch the Sun dip serenely below the distant lip of Gusev crater. Colors in the above image have been slightly exaggerated but would likely be apparent to a human explorer's eye. Fine martian dust particles suspended in the thin atmosphere lend the sky a reddish color, but the dust also scatters blue light in the forward direction, creating a bluish sky glow near the setting Sun. Because Mars is farther away, the Sun is less bright and only about two thirds the diameter it appears from Earth. Images like this help atmospheric scientists understand not only the atmosphere of Mars, but atmospheres across the Solar System, including our home Earth. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD

APOD: Sun and Prominence (2014 Mar 04) Image Credit & Copyright: jp-Brahic Explanation: Dramatic prominences can sometimes be seen looming just beyond the edge of the sun. Such was the case last week as a large prominence, visible above, highlighted a highly active recent Sun. A waving sea of hot gas is visible in the foreground chromosphere in great detail as it was imaged in one specific color of light emitted by hydrogen. A solar prominence is a cloud of solar gas held just above the surface by the Sun's magnetic field. The Earth, illustrated in the inset, is smaller than the prominence. Although very hot, prominences typically appear dark when viewed against the Sun, since they are slightly cooler than the photosphere below them. A quiescent prominence typically lasts about a month, and may erupt in a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) expelling hot gas into the Solar System, some of which may strike the Earth and trigger auroras. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD

APOD: The Antennae Galaxies in Collision (2014 Mar 16) Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA; Processing & Copyright: Davide Coverta Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. That's because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In this clash of the titans, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars, some of which are gravitationally bound together in massive star clusters. Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page #APOD