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Keyword: nebula

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MyCn18: An Hourglass Planetary Nebula

    05/09/2015 10:04:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The sands of time are running out for the central star of this hourglass-shaped planetary nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a Sun-like star's life occurs as its outer layers are ejected - its core becoming a cooling, fading white dwarf. In 1995, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to make a series of images of planetary nebulae, including the one above. Here, delicate rings of colorful glowing gas (nitrogen-red, hydrogen-green, and oxygen-blue) outline the tenuous walls of the hourglass. The unprecedented sharpness of the HST images has revealed surprising details of...
  • Here's what the Pillars of Creation look like in three dimensions

    05/01/2015 4:09:45 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 7 replies
    CNet ^ | 5/1/15 | NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team
    Researchers have been able to map how the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation are distributed in three-dimensional space for the first time, using new data from the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. Given the tremendous size of this section of the Eagle Nebula and its distance from Earth (around 7,000 light-years), researchers previously thought we were unlikely to ever see the shape of it in anything other than two flat dimensions, as in Hubble's famous photograph.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planetary Nebula Mz3: The Ant Nebula

    04/26/2015 10:39:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | April 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why isn't this ant a big sphere? Planetary nebula Mz3 is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun that is, surely, round. Why then would the gas that is streaming away create an ant-shaped nebula that is distinctly not round? Clues might include the high 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible above at the nebula's center. One possible answer is that Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds...
  • Rejoice at the glory and grandeur of God’s universe: Happy Anniversary Hub!

    04/24/2015 8:11:15 AM PDT · by NOBO2012 · 9 replies
    Michelle Obama's Mirror ^ | 4-24-2015 | MOTUS
    As usual the MSM got it wrong: they’re all celebrating Hubble’s 25th birthday today when in fact it is the 25th anniversary of his launch into deep space. I should know, as Hub is my twin brother: I am a fraternal twin (female). My brother (Hub) is the mirror in the Hubble telescope. We are Cassegrain reflectors of Ritchey-Chretien design, and were conceived in 1979 at the Corning New York factory when 2 conjoined blanks of ultra-low expansion glass were sandwiched around a honeycomb lattice. (I didn’t mean to get into the sex stuff, but a lot of people are...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M46 Plus Two

    04/17/2015 10:30:16 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galactic or open star clusters are young. These swarms of stars are born together near the plane of the Milky Way, but their numbers steadily dwindle as cluster members are ejected by galactic tides and gravitational interactions. In fact, this bright open cluster, known as M46, is around 300 million years young. It still contains a few hundred stars within a span of 30 light-years or so. Located about 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation Puppis, M46 also seems to contain contradictions to its youthful status. In this pretty starscape, the colorful, circular patch above and right of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mystic Mountain Dust Pillars

    04/16/2015 4:54:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | April 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's stars versus dust in the Carina Nebula and the stars are winning. More precisely, the energetic light and winds from massive newly formed stars are evaporating and dispersing the dusty stellar nurseries in which they formed. Located in the Carina Nebula and known informally as Mystic Mountain, these pillar's appearance is dominated by the dark dust even though it is composed mostly of clear hydrogen gas. Dust pillars such as these are actually much thinner than air and only appear as mountains due to relatively small amounts of opaque interstellar dust. About 7,500 light-years distant, the featured image...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Clouds of Orion the Hunter

    03/16/2015 5:05:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | March 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cradled in cosmic dust and glowing hydrogen, stellar nurseries in Orion the Hunter lie at the edge of giant molecular clouds some 1,500 light-years away. Spanning about 30 degrees, this breath-taking vista stretches across the well-known constellation from head to toe (left to right) and beyond. At 1,500 light years away, the Great Orion Nebula is the closest large star forming region, here visible just right and below center. To its left are the Horsehead Nebula, M78, and Orion's belt stars. Sliding your cursor over the picture will also find red giant Betelgeuse at the hunter's shoulder, bright blue...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 602 in the Flying Lizard Nebula

    03/08/2015 7:04:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | March 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year young star cluster NGC 602. Surrounded by natal gas and dust, NGC 602 is just below center in this telescopic field of view with the angular size of the Full Moon on the sky. The cluster itself is about 200 light-years in diameter. Glowing interior ridges and swept back shapes strongly suggest that energetic radiation and shock waves from NGC 602's massive young stars have eroded the dusty material and triggered a progression of star formation moving away from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pillars and Jets in the Pelican Nebula

    03/04/2015 3:02:06 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What dark structures arise from the Pelican Nebula? Visible as a bird-shaped nebula toward the constellation of a bird (Cygnus, the Swan), the Pelican Nebula is a place dotted with newly formed stars but fouled with dark dust. These smoke-sized dust grains formed in the cool atmospheres of young stars and were dispersed by stellar winds and explosions. Impressive Herbig-Haro jets are seen emitted by a star on the right that is helping to destroy the light year-long dust pillar that contains it. The featured image was scientifically-colored to emphasize light emitted by small amounts of ionized nitrogen, oxygen,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Long Lovejoy and Little Dumbbell

    02/27/2015 4:58:58 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | February 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Buffeted by the solar wind, Comet Lovejoy's crooked ion tail stretches over 3 degrees across this telescopic field of view, recorded on February 20. The starry background includes awesome bluish star Phi Persei below, and pretty planetary nebula M76 just above Lovejoy's long tail. Also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula, after its brighter cousin M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 is only a Full Moon's width away from the comet's greenish coma. Still shining in northern hemisphere skies, this Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is outbound from the inner solar system some 10 light-minutes or 190 million kilometers from Earth....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Rosette Nebula in Hydrogen and Oxygen

    02/25/2015 5:25:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Rosette Nebula is not the only cosmic cloud of gas and dust to evoke the imagery of flowers -- but it is the most famous. At the edge of a large molecular cloud in Monoceros, some 5,000 light years away, the petals of this rose are actually a stellar nursery whose lovely, symmetric shape is sculpted by the winds and radiation from its central cluster of hot young stars. The stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged as NGC 2244, are only a few million years old, while the central cavity in the Rosette Nebula, cataloged as NGC 2237,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Heart of Orion

    01/02/2015 2:10:37 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Near the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at the heart of the Orion Nebula, are four hot, massive stars known as the Trapezium. Tightly gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius, they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster. Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars, mostly from the brightest star Theta-1 Orionis C powers the complex star forming region's entire visible glow. About three million years old, the Orion Nebula Cluster was even more compact in its younger years and a dynamical study indicates that runaway stellar collisions at an earlier age...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Tulip Nebula

    11/15/2014 3:06:21 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | November 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Framing a bright emission region this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula the glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of this composite image. Red, green, and blue hues map emission from ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ultraviolet radiation from young, energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Cat's Eye Nebula from Hubble

    11/08/2014 9:29:02 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | November 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To some, it may look like a cat's eye. The alluring Cat's Eye nebula, however, lies three thousand light-years from Earth across interstellar space. A classic planetary nebula, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebula's dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood. Seen so clearly in this digitally sharpened Hubble Space Telescope image,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble

    10/11/2014 9:28:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | October 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How did a star create the Helix nebula? The shapes of planetary nebula like the Helix are important because they likely hold clues to how stars like the Sun end their lives. Observations by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the 4-meter Blanco Telescope in Chile, however, have shown the Helix is not really a simple helix. Rather, it incorporates two nearly perpendicular disks as well as arcs, shocks, and even features not well understood. Even so, many strikingly geometric symmetries remain. How a single Sun-like star created such beautiful yet geometric complexity is a topic of research. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Bubble Nebula

    10/04/2014 3:36:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 10 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Below and left of the Bubble's center is a hot, O star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and around 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble

    10/04/2014 3:33:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | October 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and is presented here in reprocessed colors. Cutting across a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Lagoon Nebula in Stars Dust and Gas

    09/27/2014 9:37:39 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cocoon Nebula Wide Field

    09/20/2014 12:30:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this crowded starfield covering over 2 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: The Dumbbell Nebula

    09/13/2014 9:28:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ou4: A Giant Squid Nebula

    07/19/2014 4:41:59 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mysterious, squid-like apparition, this nebula is very faint, but also very large in planet Earth's sky. In the mosaic image, composed with narrowband data from the 2.5 meter Isaac Newton Telescope, it spans some 2.5 full moons toward the constellation Cepheus. Recently discovered by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the remarkable nebula's bipolar shape and emission are consistent with it being a planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star, but its actual distance and origin are unknown. A new investigation suggests Ou4 really lies within the emission region SH2-129 some 2,300 light-years away. Consistent with that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16 and the Eagle Nebula

    07/10/2014 8:26:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | June 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A star cluster around 2 million years young, M16 is surrounded by natal clouds of dust and glowing gas also known as The Eagle Nebula. This beautifully detailed image of the region includes cosmic sculptures made famous in Hubble Space Telescope close-ups of the starforming complex. Described as elephant trunks or Pillars of Creation, dense, dusty columns rising near the center are light-years in length but are gravitationally contracting to form stars. Energetic radiation from the cluster stars erodes material near the tips, eventually exposing the embedded new stars. Extending from the left edge of the frame is another...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6334: The Cat's Paw Nebula

    06/18/2014 7:07:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | June 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat's Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat's Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured above is a deep field image of the Cat's Paw...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16 and the Eagle Nebula

    06/07/2014 9:55:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | June 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A star cluster around 2 million years young, M16 is surrounded by natal clouds of dust and glowing gas also known as The Eagle Nebula. This beautifully detailed image of the region includes cosmic sculptures made famous in Hubble Space Telescope close-ups of the starforming complex. Described as elephant trunks or Pillars of Creation, dense, dusty columns rising near the center are light-years in length but are gravitationally contracting to form stars. Energetic radiation from the cluster stars erodes material near the tips, eventually exposing the embedded new stars. Extending from the left edge of the frame is another...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Heart of the Rosette Nebula

    03/11/2014 3:38:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | March 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In the heart of the Rosette Nebula lies a bright open cluster of stars that lights up the nebula. The stars of NGC 2244 formed from the surrounding gas only a few million years ago. The above image taken in January using multiple exposures and very specific colors of Sulfur (shaded red), Hydrogen (green), and Oxygen (blue), captures the central region in tremendous detail. A hot wind of particles streams away from the cluster stars and contributes to an already complex menagerie of gas and dust filaments while slowly evacuating the cluster center. The Rosette Nebula's center measures about...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Long Jet of the Lighthouse Nebula

    02/20/2014 10:15:13 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Lighthouse nebula was formed by the wind of a pulsar, a rapidly rotating, magnetized neutron star, as it speeds through the interstellar medium at over 1,000 kilometers per second. Some 23,000 light-years distant toward the southern constellation Carina, pulsar and wind nebula (cataloged as IGR J1104-6103) are indicated at the lower right in this remarkable image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Energetic particles generated by the pulsar are swept back into the wind's comet-like tail trailing up and to the left, along the direction of the pulsar's motion away from its parent supernova remnant. Both runaway pulsar and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2359: Thor's Helmet

    02/15/2014 9:17:54 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | February 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor's Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the nebula is located about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. The sharp image,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1805: Light from the Heart

    02/13/2014 9:22:48 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds about 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy. Stars were born in this region whose nickname, the Heart Nebula, derives from its Valentine's-Day-appropriate shape. The clouds themselves are shaped by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula's newborn star cluster Melotte 15 about 1.5 million years young. This deep telescopic image maps the pervasive light of narrow emission lines from atoms in the nebula to a color palette made popular in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Cosmic Web of the Tarantula Nebula

    02/17/2014 5:20:35 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the largest and most complex star forming region in the entire galactic neighborhood. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy orbiting our Milky Way galaxy, the region's spidery appearance is responsible for its popular name, the Tarantula nebula. This tarantula, however, is about 1,000 light-years across. Were it placed at the distance of Milky Way's Orion Nebula, only 1,500 light-years distant and the nearest stellar nursery to Earth, it would appear to cover about 30 degrees (60 full moons) on the sky. Intriguing details of the nebula are visible in the above image shown...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Inside the Eagle Nebula

    02/16/2014 7:25:21 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From afar, the whole thing looks like an Eagle. A closer look at the Eagle Nebula, however, shows the bright region is actually a window into the center of a larger dark shell of dust. Through this window, a brightly-lit workshop appears where a whole open cluster of stars is being formed. In this cavity tall pillars and round globules of dark dust and cold molecular gas remain where stars are still forming. Already visible are several young bright blue stars whose light and winds are burning away and pushing back the remaining filaments and walls of gas and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Tadpoles of IC 410

    01/10/2014 5:28:08 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This telescopic close-up shows off the otherwise faint emission nebula IC 410 in striking false-colors. It also features two remarkable inhabitants of the cosmic pond of gas and dust below and right of center, the tadpoles of IC 410. The picture is a composite of images taken through narrow band filters. The narrow band image data traces atoms in the nebula, with emission from sulfur atoms in red, hydrogen atoms in green, and oxygen in blue. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of stars that energizes the glowing gas. Composed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 7293: The Helix Nebula

    01/10/2014 5:31:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | January 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere seven hundred light years from Earth, in the constellation Aquarius, a sun-like star is dying. Its last few thousand years have produced the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a well studied and nearby example of a Planetary Nebula, typical of this final phase of stellar evolution. A total of 28.5 hours of exposure time have gone in to creating this deep view of the nebula. Combining narrow band image data from emission lines of hydrogen atoms in red and oxygen atoms in blue-green hues, it shows remarkable details of the Helix's brighter inner region, about 3 light-years across,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Spectre in the Eastern Veil

    10/30/2013 3:19:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | October 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Frightening forms and scary faces are a mark of the Halloween season. They also haunt this cosmic close-up of the eastern Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, the expanding debris cloud from the death explosion of a massive star. While the Veil is roughly circular in shape covering nearly 3 degrees on the sky in the constellation Cygnus, this portion of the eastern Veil spans only 1/2 degree, about the apparent size of the Moon. That translates to 12 light-years at the Veil's reassuring estimated distance of 1,400 light-years from planet Earth. In the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Horsehead and Orion Nebulas

    10/29/2013 3:20:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | October 29, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The dark Horsehead Nebula and the glowing Orion Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, they appear in opposite corners of the above stunning mosaic. The familiar Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. The magnificent emission region,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- North America and the Pelican

    09/03/2013 4:28:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Here lie familiar shapes in unfamiliar locations. On the left is an emission nebula cataloged as NGC 7000, famous partly because it resembles our fair planet's continent of North America. The emission region to the right of the North America Nebula is IC 5070, also known for its suggestive outlines as the Pelican Nebula. Separated by a dark cloud of obscuring dust, the two bright nebulae are about 1,500 light-years away. At that distance, the 4 degree wide field of view spans 100 light-years. This spectacular cosmic portrait combines narrow band images to highlight bright ionization fronts with fine...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Vicinity of the Cone Nebula

    08/06/2013 6:48:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | August 06, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Strange shapes and textures can be found in neighborhood of the Cone Nebula. The unusual shapes originate from fine interstellar dust reacting in complex ways with the energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars. The brightest star on the right of the above picture is S Mon, while the region just below it has been nicknamed the Fox Fur Nebula for its color and structure. The blue glow directly surrounding S Mon results from reflection, where neighboring dust reflects light from the bright star. The red glow that encompasses the whole region results not only...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Beautiful Trifid

    07/25/2013 4:39:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | July 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The beautiful Trifid Nebula is a cosmic study in contrasts. Also known as M20, it lies about 5,000 light-years away toward the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. A star forming region in the plane of our galaxy, the Trifid illustrates three different types of astronomical nebulae; red emission nebulae dominated by light emitted by hydrogen atoms, blue reflection nebulae produced by dust reflecting starlight, and dark nebulae where dense dust clouds appear in silhouette. The bright red emission region, roughly separated into three parts by obscuring dust lanes, lends the Trifid its popular name. But in this sharp, colorful scene,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Pillars of Eagle Castle

    07/13/2013 10:04:36 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | July 14, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What lights up this castle of star formation? The familiar Eagle Nebula glows bright in many colors at once. The above image is a composite of three of these glowing gas colors. Pillars of dark dust nicely outline some of the denser towers of star formation. Energetic light from young massive stars causes the gas to glow and effectively boils away part of the dust and gas from its birth pillar. Many of these stars will explode after several million years, returning most of their elements back to the nebula which formed them. This process is forming an open...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2170: Still Life with Reflecting Dust

    07/07/2013 5:52:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | July 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this beautiful celestial still life composed with a cosmic brush, dusty nebula NGC 2170 shines at the upper left. Reflecting the light of nearby hot stars, NGC 2170 is joined by other bluish reflection nebulae, a compact red emission region, and streamers of obscuring dust against a backdrop of stars. Like the common household items still life painters often choose for their subjects, the clouds of gas, dust, and hot stars pictured here are also commonly found in this setting - a massive, star-forming molecular cloud in the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). The giant molecular cloud, Mon...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Forming Region NGC 3582

    06/11/2013 3:30:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | June 11, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening in the NGC 3582 nebula? Bright stars and interesting molecules are forming. The complex nebula resides in the star forming region called RCW 57. Visible in this image are dense knots of dark interstellar dust, bright stars that have formed in the past few million years, fields of glowing hydrogen gas ionized by these stars, and great loops of gas expelled by dying stars. A detailed study of NGC 3582, also known as NGC 3584 and NGC 3576, uncovered at least 33 massive stars in the end stages of formation, and the clear presence of the complex...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M57: The Ring Nebula

    06/05/2013 6:15:11 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Except for the rings of Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57) is probably the most famous celestial band. Its classic appearance is understood to be due to our own perspective, though. The recent mapping of the expanding nebula's 3-D structure, based in part on this clear Hubble image, indicates that the nebula is a relatively dense, donut-like ring wrapped around the middle of a football-shaped cloud of glowing gas. The view from planet Earth looks down the long axis of the football, face-on to the ring. Of course, in this well-studied example of a planetary nebula, the glowing material does...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion Nebula in Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Sulfur

    06/05/2013 6:15:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | June 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Few astronomical sights excite the imagination like the nearby stellar nursery known as the Orion Nebula. The Nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud. Many of the filamentary structures visible in the above image are actually shock waves - fronts where fast moving material encounters slow moving gas. The Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located about 1500 light years away in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye just below and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble

    05/21/2013 3:39:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How was the unusual Red Rectangle nebula created? At the nebula's center is an aging binary star system that surely powers the nebula but does not, as yet, explain its colors. The unusual shape of the Red Rectangle is likely due to a thick dust torus which pinches the otherwise spherical outflow into tip-touching cone shapes. Because we view the torus edge-on, the boundary edges of the cone shapes seem to form an X. The distinct rungs suggest the outflow occurs in fits and starts. The unusual colors of the nebula are less well understood, however, and speculation holds...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula in Infrared from Hubble

    04/22/2013 6:15:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | April 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While drifting through the cosmos, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud became sculpted by stellar winds and radiation to assume a recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is embedded in the vast and complex Orion Nebula (M42). A potentially rewarding but difficult object to view personally with a small telescope, the above gorgeously detailed image was recently taken in infrared light by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the 23rd anniversary of Hubble's launch. The dark molecular cloud, roughly 1,500 light years distant, is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is seen above primarily because it is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Factory Messier 17

    04/18/2013 4:02:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this degree wide field of view spans almost 100 light-years. The sharp, composite, color image utilizing data from space and ground based telescopes, follows faint details of the region's gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17's stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material producing the cavernous appearance and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 3132: The Southern Ring Nebula

    04/09/2013 6:19:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | April 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's the dim star, not the bright one, near the center of NGC 3132 that created this odd but beautiful planetary nebula. Nicknamed the Eight-Burst Nebula and the Southern Ring Nebula, the glowing gas originated in the outer layers of a star like our Sun. In this reprocessed color picture, the hot purplish pool of light seen surrounding this binary system is energized by the hot surface of the faint star. Although photographed to explore unusual symmetries, it's the asymmetries that help make this planetary nebula so intriguing. Neither the unusual shape of the surrounding cooler shell nor the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula

    03/21/2013 3:48:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Moving left to right near the center of this beautifully detailed color composite, the thin, bright, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge on. The interstellar shock wave plows through space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its elongated appearance suggests its popular name, the Pencil Nebula. The Pencil Nebula is about 5 light-years long and 800 light-years away, but represents only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant. The Vela remnant itself is around 100 light-years in diameter, the expanding debris cloud of a star...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6751: The Glowing Eye Nebula

    03/13/2013 4:35:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | March 13, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Planetary nebulae can look simple, round, and planet-like in small telescopes. But images from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope have become well known for showing these fluorescent gas shrouds of dying Sun-like stars to possess a staggering variety of detailed symmetries and shapes. This composite color Hubble image of NGC 6751, the Glowing Eye Nebula, is a beautiful example of a classic planetary nebula with complex features. It was selected in April of 2000 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hubble in orbit, but was reprocessed recently by an amateur as part of the Hubble Legacy program. Winds and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Thor's Helmet

    03/07/2013 7:10:52 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | March 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor's Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is actually more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble's center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the nebula is located about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. The sharp...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1805: The Heart Nebula

    03/04/2013 7:47:15 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sprawling across almost 200 light-years, emission nebula IC 1805 is a mix of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds. Derived from its Valentine's-Day-approved shape, its nickname is the Heart Nebula. About 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy, stars were born in IC 1805. In fact, near the cosmic heart's center are the massive hot stars of a newborn star cluster also known as Melotte 15, about 1.5 million years young. A little ironically, the Heart Nebula is located in the constellation of the mythical Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia). This deep view of the...