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Keyword: nebula

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula

    01/31/2016 8:52:34 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | January 31, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The featured image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud

    01/14/2016 3:59:50 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | January 14, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic dust clouds ripple across this infrared portrait of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. In fact, the remarkable composite image from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope show that dust clouds fill this neighboring dwarf galaxy, much like dust along the plane of the Milky Way itself. The dust temperatures tend to trace star forming activity. Spitzer data in blue hues indicate warm dust heated by young stars. Herschel's instruments contributed the image data shown in red and green, revealing dust emission from cooler and intermediate regions where star formation is just...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Reflections on the 1970s

    01/13/2016 2:59:37 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | January 13, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The 1970s are sometimes ignored by astronomers, like this beautiful grouping of reflection nebulae in Orion - NGC 1977, NGC 1975, and NGC 1973 - usually overlooked in favor of the substantial glow from the nearby stellar nursery better known as the Orion Nebula. Found along Orion's sword just north of the bright Orion Nebula complex, these reflection nebulae are also associated with Orion's giant molecular cloud about 1,500 light-years away, but are dominated by the characteristic blue color of interstellar dust reflecting light from hot young stars. In this sharp color image a portion of the Orion Nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The California Nebula

    01/11/2016 11:57:19 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    NASA ^ | January 12, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's California doing in space? Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy, this cosmic cloud by chance echoes the outline of California on the west coast of the United States. Our own Sun also lies within the Milky Way's Orion Arm, only about 1,500 light-years from the California Nebula. Also known as NGC 1499, the classic emission nebula is around 100 light-years long. On the featured image, the most prominent glow of the California Nebula is the red light characteristic of hydrogen atoms recombining with long lost electrons, stripped away (ionized) by energetic starlight. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Lagoon Nebula in Hydrogen, Sulfur, and Oxygen

    01/05/2016 11:51:04 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | April 05, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The majestic Lagoon Nebula is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars. 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 the Archer (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 right of the open cluster's...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula

    12/16/2015 12:39:21 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | December 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most famous nebulae on the sky. It is visible as the dark indentation to the red emission nebula in the center of the above photograph. The horse-head feature is dark because it is really an opaque dust cloud that lies in front of the bright red emission nebula. Like clouds in Earth's atmosphere, this cosmic cloud has assumed a recognizable shape by chance. After many thousands of years, the internal motions of the cloud will surely alter its appearance. The emission nebula's red color is caused by electrons recombining with protons to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A 212-Hour Exposure of Orion

    11/22/2015 11:03:29 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | November 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The constellation of Orion is much more than three stars in a row. It is a direction in space that is rich with impressive nebulas. To better appreciate this well-known swath of sky, an extremely long exposure was taken over many clear nights in 2013 and 2014. After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard's Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

    11/09/2015 10:01:43 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | November 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No. Even though AE Aurigae is named the flaming star, the surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula, and the region appears to have the color of fire, 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 such as stars. 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 toward the right...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Orion Nebula M42

    11/04/2015 11:49:43 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | November 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, also known as M42, is one of the most famous nebulas in the sky. The star forming region's glowing gas clouds and hot young stars are on the right in this sharp and colorful image that includes the bluish reflection nebulae NGC 1977 and friends on the left. Located at the edge of an otherwise invisible giant molecular cloud complex, these eye-catching nebulas represent only a small fraction of this galactic neighborhood's wealth of interstellar material. Within the well-studied stellar nursery, astronomers have also identified what appear to be numerous infant planetary systems. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Seeking Venus under the Spitzkoppe Arch

    11/03/2015 9:33:59 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | November 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that in the sky? Although there was much to see in this spectacular panorama taken during the early morning hours of a day in late September, the brightest object in the sky was clearly the planet Venus. In the featured image, Venus was captured actually through a natural rock bridge, itself picturesque, in Spitzkoppe, Namibia. The planet, on the left of the opening, was complemented by a silhouette of the astrophotographer on the right. Above and beyond the rock bridge were many famous icons of a dark night sky, including, from left to right, the Pleiades star cluster,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Witch Head Nebula

    10/31/2015 1:13:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble .... maybe Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula. A frighteningly shaped reflection nebula, this cosmic crone is about 800 light-years away though. Its malevolent visage seems to glare toward nearby bright star Rigel in Orion, just off the right edge of this frame. More formally known as IC 2118, the interstellar cloud of dust and gas is nearly 70 light-years across, its dust grains reflecting Rigel's starlight. In this composite portrait, the nebula's color is caused not only by the star's intense bluish light but because the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1871: Inside the Soul Nebula

    10/29/2015 2:31:38 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This cosmic close-up looks deep inside the Soul Nebula. The dark and brooding dust clouds outlined by bright ridges of glowing gas are cataloged as IC 1871. About 25 light-years across, the telescopic field of view spans only a small part of the much larger Heart and Soul nebulae. At an estimated distance of 6,500 light-years the star-forming complex lies within the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way, seen in planet Earth's skies toward the constellation Cassiopeia. An example of triggered star formation, the dense star-forming clouds of IC 1871 are themselves sculpted by the intense winds and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright from the Heart Nebula

    10/27/2015 3:46:27 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that inside the Heart Nebula? First, the large emission nebula dubbed IC 1805 looks, in whole, like a human heart. The nebula glows brightly in red light emitted by its most prominent element: hydrogen. The red glow and the larger shape are all created by a small group of stars near the nebula's center. In the center of the Heart Nebula are young stars from the open star cluster Melotte 15 that are eroding away several picturesque dust pillars with their energetic light and winds. The open cluster of stars contains a few bright stars nearly 50 times...
  • Solved: The Riddle of the Nova of 1670

    06/03/2015 3:14:10 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 41 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | David Dickinson
    On June 20, 1670, a new star appeared in the evening sky that gave 17th century astronomers pause. Eventually peaking out at +3rd magnitude, the ruddy new star in the modern day constellation of Vulpecula the Fox was visible for almost two years before vanishing from sight. The exact nature of Nova Vulpeculae 1670 has always remained a mystery. The event has often been described as a classic nova… but if it was indeed a garden variety recurrent nova in our own Milky Way galaxy, then why haven’t we seen further outbursts? And why did it stay so bright, for...
  • 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...