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Stephan’s Quintet. Four galaxies merging into one - Exploring Space

Celebrate Hubble’s 24th With Giant Galaxies, Dying Stars and Cosmic Chaos

Science & InnovationNo Place Like Home<p>Twenty-four years and two days ago, on a Tuesday morning, the space shuttle <i>Discovery</i> hitched a ride to low Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Aboard the shuttle? NASA’s newest eye in the sky, the Hubble Space Telescope, an instrument capable of peering …

As seen on #Cosmos: Infrared Light Infrared waves have longer wavelengths than visible light and can pass through dense regions of gas and dust in space with less scattering and absorption. Thus, infrared energy can also reveal objects in the universe that cannot be seen in visible light using optical telescopes. These two images of a huge pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and in infrared light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object. The pictures demonstrate one example of the broad wavelength range of the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble telescope, extending from ultraviolet to visible to infrared light. The top image, taken in visible light, shows the top of the 3-light-year-long pillar, bathed in the glow of light from hot, massive stars off the top of the image. Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from these stars are sculpting the pillar and causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of gas and dust can be seen flowing off the top of the structure. In the image at bottom, taken in infrared light, the dense column and the surrounding greenish-colored gas all but disappear. Only a faint outline of the pillar remains. By penetrating the wall of gas and dust, the infrared vision of WFC3 reveals the infant star that is probably blasting the jet. Part of the jet nearest the star is more prominent in this view. These features can be seen because infrared light, unlike visible light, can pass through the dust. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the Carina Nebula July 24 through July 30, 2009. Credit

Galaxies of the Perseus Cluster. This colorful telescopic skyscape is filled with galaxies that lie nearly 250 million light-years away, the galaxies of the Perseus cluster. Their extended and sometimes surprising shapes are seen beyond a veil of foreground stars in our own Milky Way. Ultimately consisting of over a thousand galaxies, the cluster is filled with yellowish elliptical and lenticular galaxies, like those scattered throughout this view of the cluster's central region. Notably, the large galaxy at the left is the massive and bizarre-looking NGC 1275. A prodigious source of high-energy emission, active galaxy NGC 1275 dominates the Perseus cluster, accreting matter as entire galaxies fall into it and feed the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's core. Of course, spiral galaxies also inhabit the Perseus cluster, including the small, face-on spiral NGC 1268, right of picture center. The bluish spot on the outskirts of NGC 1268 is supernova SN 2008fg. At the estimated distance of the Perseus galaxy cluster, this field spans about 1.5 million light-years. (Image Credit & Copyright: R. Jay Gabany) #interstellarhd

M94: A New Perspective. Beautiful island universe M94 lies a mere 15 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. A popular target for astronomers, the brighter inner part of the face-on spiral galaxy is about 30,000 light-years across. Traditionally, deep images have been interpreted as showing M94's inner spiral region surrounded by a faint, broad ring of stars. But a new multi-wavelength investigation has revealed previously undetected spiral arms sweeping across the outskirts of the galaxy's disk, an outer disk actively engaged in star formation. At optical wavelengths, M94's outer spiral arms are followed in this remarkable discovery image, processed to enhance the outer disk structure. Background galaxies are visible through the faint outer arms, while the three spiky foreground stars are in our own Milky Way galaxy. (Image Credit & Copyright: R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Obs.) Collaboration: I. Trujillo, I. Martinez-Valpuesta, D. Martinez-Delgado ( IAC); J. Penarrubia (IoA Cambridge); M. Pohlen (Cardiff)) #interstellarhd

The Busy Center of the Lagoon Nebula. Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. This spectacular portion of the Lagoon Nebula was created in scientifically-assigned colors from light emitted in very specific colors by hydrogen, silicon, and oxygen. The light from M8 we see today left about 5000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8. (Image Credit & Copyright: Michael Sherick) #interstellarhd

NGC 6240: Merging Galaxies. NGC 6240 offers a rare glimpse of a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes. The titanic galaxy-galaxy collision is located a mere 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. One of the brightest sources in the infrared sky, the merging galaxies spew distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergo frantic bursts of star formation. The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole. Soon, only one large galaxy will remain. This dramatic image of the scene is a multiwavelength composite; red colors trace infrared emission from dust recorded by the Spitzer Space Telescope, with Hubble visible light images of stars and gas in green and blue hues. The view spans over 300,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 6240. (Image Credit & Copyright: NASA / JPL-Caltech / STScI-ESA / S. Bush, et al. (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)) #interstellarhd

A Fox Fur, a Unicorn, and a Christmas Tree. What do the following things have in common: a cone, the fur of a fox, and a Christmas tree? Answer: they all occur in the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros). Pictured as a star forming region cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant and mixes reddish emission nebulae excited by energetic light from newborn stars with dark interstellar dust clouds. Where the otherwise obscuring dust clouds lie close to the hot, young stars they also reflect starlight, forming blue reflection nebulae. The image spans about 3/4 degree or nearly 1.5 full moons, covering 40 light-years at the distance of NGC 2264. Its cast of cosmic characters includes the Fox Fur Nebula, whose convoluted pelt lies below center, bright variable star S Mon immersed in the blue-tinted haze, and the Cone Nebula near the tree's top. Of course, the stars of NGC 2264 are also known as the Christmas Tree star cluster. The triangular tree shape traced by the stars appears here with its apex at the Cone Nebula and its broader base centered near S Mon. (Image Credit & Copyright: Rolf Geissinger) #interstellarhd

The Jets of NGC 1097. Enigmatic spiral galaxy NGC 1097 shines in southern skies, about 45 million light-years away in the chemical constellation Fornax. Its blue spiral arms are mottled with pinkish star forming regions in this colorful galaxy portrait. They seem to have wrapped around a small companion galaxy below and left of center, about 40,000 light-years from the spiral's luminous core. That's not NGC 1097's most peculiar feature, though. The very deep exposure hints of faint, mysterious jets, most easily seen to extend well beyond the bluish arms toward the lower right. In fact, four faint jets are ultimately recognized in optical images of NGC 1097. The jets trace an X centered on the galaxy's nucleus, but probably don't originate there. Instead, they could be fossil star streams, trails left over from the capture and disruption of a much smaller galaxy in the large spiral's ancient past. A Seyfert galaxy, NGC 1097's nucleus also harbors a supermassive black hole. (Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh) #interstellarhd

Spiral Galaxy NGC 2403 from Subaru. Sprawling spiral arms dotted with bright red emission nebulas highlight this new and detailed image of nearby spiral galaxy NGC 2403. Also visible in the photogenic spiral galaxy are blue open clusters, dark dust lanes, and a bright but relatively small central nucleus. NGC 2403 is located just beyond the Local Group of Galaxies, at a relatively close 10 million light years away toward the constellation of the Giraffe (Camelopardalis). NGC 2403 has a designated Hubble type of Sc. In 2004, NGC 2403 was home to one of the brightest supernovas of modern times. The above image, the highest resolution complete image of NGC 2403 ever completed, was taken by the Japan's 8.3-meter Subaru telescope located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA. (Image Credit & Copyright: Suprime-Cam, Subaru Telescope, NAOJ) #interstellarhd

Cometary Globules. Bright-rimmed, flowing shapes gather near the center of this rich starfield toward the boarders of the nautical southern constellations Pupis and Vela. Composed of interstellar gas and dust, the grouping of light-year sized cometary globules is about 1300 light-years distant. Energetic ultraviolet light from nearby hot stars has molded the globules and ionized their bright rims. The globules also stream away from the Vela supernova remnant which may have influenced their swept-back shapes. Within them, cores of cold gas and dust are likely collapsing to form low mass stars, whose formation will ultimately cause the globules to disperse. In fact, cometary globule CG30 (upper right in the group) sports a small reddish glow near its head, a telltale sign of energetic jets from a star in the early stages of formation. (Image Credit & Copyright: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ) & DSS; Assembly and Processing: Robert Gendler) #interstellarhd

Supernova Cleans Up Its Surroundings: Supernovas are the spectacular ends to the lives of many massive stars. These explosions, which occur on average twice a century in the Milky Way, can produce enormous amounts of energy and be as bright as an entire galaxy. These events are also important because the remains of the shattered star are hurled into space. As this debris field – called a supernova remnant – expands, it carries the material it encounters along with it. Astronomers have identified a supernova remnant that has several unusual properties. First, they found that this supernova remnant – known as G352.7-0.1 (or, G352 for short) – has swept up a remarkable amount of material, equivalent to about 45 times the mass of the Sun. Another atypical trait of G352 is that it has a very different shape in radio data compared to that in X-rays. Most of the radio emission is shaped like an ellipse, contrasting with the X-ray emission that fills in the center of the radio ellipse. This is seen in this new composite image of G352 that contains X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue and radio data from the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in pink. These data have also been combined with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in orange, and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey in white. (The infrared emission to the upper left and lower right are not directly related to the supernova remnant.) Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Morehead State Univ/T.Pannuti et al.; Optical: DSS; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Radio: NRAO/VLA/Argentinian Institute of Radioastronomy/G.Dubner #nasa #space #chandra #supernova #universe

The Great Orion Nebula glows in vivid shades of pink and purple in this stunning photo taken by an avid night sky photographer , who captured the image using portable photo gear for the first time. See how:

Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841. Some 50 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk with tightly wound spiral arms. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy. The galaxy's dust lanes and turbulent star-forming regions are found along the spiral arms, but X-ray images suggest that resulting winds and stellar explosions create plumes of hot gas extending into a halo around NGC 2841. Of course, the prominent stars with a spiky appearance in the picture are close foreground objects within the Milky Way and not associated with NGC 2841. (Credit & Copyright: Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory)) #interstellarhd

Messier 101. 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. This mosaic of M101 was assembled from Hubble Legacy Archive data. Additional ground-based data was included to further define the telltale reddish emission from atomic hydrogen gas in this gorgeous galaxy's star forming regions. The sharp image shows stunning features in the galaxy's face-on disk of stars and dust along with background galaxies, some visible right through M101 itself. 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 & Copyright: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing and additional imaging - Robert Gendler) #interstellarhd

A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals a galaxy cluster so huge that it acts like a magnifying glass, warping and amplifying light from galaxies much farther away.

"Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." - Carl Sagan (Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC))