Category: MainFeature

Dragon Blazes in Light and Color

NASA/ESA Hubble

Light from the Large Magellanic Cloud takes nearly 200,000 years to travel to Earth. And it’s worth the wait. In this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, a dragon roars out of the cloud, or maybe you see a rearing horse.

Explore the bright pockets of color, dark lanes of dark dust and blazing new stars in this image of LHA 120-N 11, or just simply N11, from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

This region of the Large Magellanic cloud is ablaze with star formation. It is the brightest and most prolific stellar nursery known to scientists. Explore the regions of colorful gas and dark fingers of fine dust. Hydrogen gas glows its characteristic pinkish-red throughout the image providing plenty of fuel for new stars. Massive stars, born from the cloud itself, blast the surrounding nebula with stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation that ionizes the hydrogen gas causing it to glow. Bright pockets of star formation, NGC 1769, in the center, and NGC 1763, to the right in the image, dominate this scene.

Alot of Hubble’s time is spent peering at the star clouds of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC, an irregular dwarf galaxy, is close astronomically speaking. This proximity – less than one-tenth the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the closest large spiral galaxy – allows astronomers to study star formation as well as galaxy evolution in detail. It is also relatively clear of the Milky Way’s busy and dusty plane offering a clear view uncluttered by bright foreground stars. LMC shares some features with spiral galaxies, such as a single arm and a clearly visible central bar. Some research indicates that the small galaxy is just passing by, distorted by the gravitational tug of the much larger Milky Way Galaxy.

View more of Hubble’s Hidden Treasures.

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Carnival of Space #280

The Internets were abuzz last week with all sorts of spacey news. Let’s dive right in for the 280th edition of Carnival of Space!

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17 leaving the Moon. Amy Shira Teitel with Vintage Space offers a look back at the last words they spoke while still on its surface.

The Air & Space blog brings us “Dr Paul Spudis’s The Lunar Surface – What Lies Beneath, what the The NASA mission GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) shows us.The Meridian Journal also reports on the odd ‘bubble rings.’

The Lunar and Planetary Institute highlights odd ‘bubble rings’ from Curiosity, and NASA press release images for November. Mars, Moon, Mercury, Titan and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Cheap Astronomy indulges in a little speculation on the future of humanity (podcast).

EverydaySpacer offers up “#108 See Emily’s Snapshots. From explaining the seasons on Mars to sorting out Saturn’s rings, it seems there is already plenty of variety in the six videos on the Snapshots from Space page of The Planetary Society website as of this publication.

Cosmoquest reminds us that Citizen science projects abound, whether you want to study the weather, nature’s critters, or the night sky. Get out more and do some science.

The Chandra blog helps us understand ‘What’s Out There By Looking Down Here as well as Revealing Hidden Black Holes”.

There’s an abundance of news at NextBigFuture. The president of SpaceX said the U.S. domestic space launch market has “changed dramatically” in the last two weeks as a result of an Air Force decision to award the upstart company its first military contracts. Gwynn Shotwell also said SpaceX plans to grow its nascent military launch business. After calling the market for commercial space launches “incredibly stable, if not growing,” Shotwell said her company was not worried about how sequestration could impact the industry. Shotwell warned that the U.S. runs the risk of falling behind international competitors. “The U.S. has definitely been complacent, I think, on launch,” Shotwell said, specifically mentioning that China is investing heavily in space technology. “I think it’s critically important not to write the Chinese off. I think they will be the fiercest competitor here in the next five to 10 years.”

Astroblogger brings us spectacular images of the asteroid Toutais flyby. Universe Today also brings us NASA’s radar images from Toutais’ tumbling pass as well as images of the incredible sky show put on by the Geminid meteor shower. Also check out the great video of GRAIL capturing LRO as it flew by, a Nile-like delta on Titan. And lastly, Hubble census unveils galaxies near the cosmic dawn, at a record-setting red shift of 12.

Tranquility Base writes about teachers in space: pioneer Christa McAuliffe and the teachers that followed her.

The folks with the NASA/ESA Hubble regularly release spectacular images from the orbiting telescope. StarryCritters, this website, lets you lose yourself zooming into an image of ESO 318-13 full of glittering stars and far-away galaxies. StarryCritters also promotes Hubble Star Cards; a game that lets you hold the universe in your hands.

Want to catch up or read back posts on COS? Uni­ver­se­To­day has the entire archive. If you have a space-related blog and you want a lit­tle expo­sure con­sider con­tribut­ing to the Car­ni­val of Space. Just email your post to carnivalofspace@gmail.com and the cur­rent week’s host will add a link. If you feel really ambi­tious and want to help send an email to the above email and sign up as a host. We’d love to have you either way.

Spiral in a glittering galaxy

NASA/ESA Hubble

A spiral galaxy peeps through a sparkling array of stars in this image of ESO 318-13 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the dazzling spray of stars and far-off galaxies; take in the objects near and far. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Galaxies after all are mostly empty space. Light-years separate stars and if dark dust clouds don’t obscure the view, the galaxies become mostly transparent allowing distant background galaxies to shine through.

Pan to the center of the galaxy and you’ll find a bright star right in the middle. The stars of ESO 318-13 are brilliant in this image but they don’t compare to to the bright star that is actually much closer to Earth within our Milky Way Galaxy. Several bright stars are also members of our galaxy.

ESO 318-13 is an irregular dwarf galaxy millions of light-years from Earth. In this image, we see the galaxy along its edge. Although the stars are brilliant and crystal clear, the beautiful image doesn’t show us much of the galaxy’s structure. We do find many distant galaxies with distinct spiral and elliptical shapes scattered throughout the image.

ESO 318-13 is located toward the southern constellation Antlia, the Pump. French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille created this constellation in 1756 to commemorate the air pump. The constellation faces away from the Milky Way Galaxy and toward deeps space and has no bright stars.

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Ringing a Bulls-Eye

NASA/ESA Hubble

A galactic bulls-eye ringed with pink nebulae is the only evidence of a rare galactic collision of NGC 922 that occurred millions of years ago.

Explore this awesome image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

NGC 922 used to be a spiral galaxy. But as you zoom across the image, the spiral arms look distorted and disrupted. Tell-tale signs of a galactic interaction are many from the large numbers of bright pink nebulae and blue stars to the spray of dim stars toward the top of the image. Ripples set up as the smaller galaxy passed through the gas and dust clouds of NGC 922 created new star formation. Ultraviolet radiation from these bright new stars cause hydrogen gas in the surrounding nebula to glow a characteristic pink. The tugs of gravity hurled thousands of stars outward.

Scientists believe that millions of years ago a small galaxy, known as 2MASXI J0224301-244443, plunged through the heart of NGC 922. Sometimes, if a small galaxy hits a larger galaxy just right, a circle is formed. But more often than not, galaxies are not aligned perfectly. When a galaxy smacks another off center, one side of the ring is brighter than the other. NGC 922 is a prime example of what astronomers call collisional ring galaxies.

As you explore the empty places of the image, look for faraway background galaxies. Several dim spiral galaxies dot the image both outside the galaxy and within the star-speckled interior.

NGC 922 is found about 330 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Fornax. Fornax, the Furnace, is a constellation we haven’t visited before. Introduced by sky mapper and French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756, Fornax is relatively devoid of stars allowing astronomers to peer deep into the universe. Astronomers targeted Fornax for the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image.

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Now Available! Hubble Star Cards

If you’ve visited this website in the past, you’ve probably seen the big area on the home page featuring Hubble Star Cards. The space-themed card game puts the universe in the hands of parents, children and teachers.

The game won a Hubble Gold Star award in 2010 from NASA and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for its inspiring use of the amazing imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope. The vivid, stunning images motivate and engage children of all ages to learn about objects in Space.

Hubble has a unique ability to draw the public into exploring space. Through beautiful images of planets, star clusters, pillars of dust, and galaxies, Hubble provides a crucial stepping stone in the process of scientific inquiry. Hubble Star Cards create a hand-held experience that opens the door to new questions and answers. You can actually hold the Universe, all of creation, in the palm of your hand and have fun learning about it at the same time.

The game includes 60 cards categorized by planets, planetary nebulae, supernovae remnants, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. The cards include an image, a basic description, a key to the type of object, location in the sky, constellation, and distance from Earth. Possible games include War, Go Fish, Sorting, Distances and Matching. Although targeted for students 8 and older, preschoolers have played many of the games just by using the amazing imagery as a guide.

Hubble Star Cards, just $24.95, are available for secure online purchasing at hubblestarcards.com.

I think they are pretty neat and I think you will too.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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