Category: Water Creatures

Jellyfish Supernova

Credit: NASA/CXC/UCSC/L. Lopez et al.

Tucked away in the constellation Centaurus, a colorful bubble of gas and dust resembling a jellyfish, is all that remains of a great star.

Explore the supernova remnant of G292 in this image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. What shapes and stories do you see in this image? Leave a note for us.

Supernovae occur in a couple of different ways. In one type of supernova, a white dwarf gathers star material from a companion star. Eventually, the core temperature rises to a point where runaway nuclear fusion occurs and it explodes. Astronomers call these Type 1a supernovae.

In another type of supernova, a very massive star collapses after burning all of its hydrogen fuel. These stars are so big that they use up all of their fuel in just a few million years. When this happens, the star can collapse suddenly creating a neutron star or black hole. The star material heats up to incredible temperatures and then explodes away from the surface. Supernovae release so much energy that for brief spans of time they can outshine an entire galaxy. Material from supernovae help create elements for future star and planet creation. Elements found on Earth, such as gold, silver, and uranium, were created in supernovae explosions.

G292 is the second type of supernova. Astronomers studying data from Chandra imagery have found that supernovae remnants of this variety are more symmetrical. If you cut the remnant in half, both sides would look very similar.

Medium-sized stars such as our Sun are not massive enough to become a supernova. In about 4.5 billion years from now, our Sun will burn the last of its hydrogen fuel, become a red giant. The out layers of the Sun will puff out into space and our star will blossom into a planetary nebula.

G292 is found about 20,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Centaurus, the Centaur.

Galactic Puffer

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

This image of the Large Magellanic Cloud resembles a galactic puffer fish in this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Explore this mosaic of of 300,000 images showing bright bands of stars and thick regions of dust. What patterns or stories do you see in this image? Leave a note below.

The Large Magellanic Cloud, found about 160,000 light-years from Earth, is just one of many dwarf galaxies that are associated with the Milky Way Galaxy. The LMC is about one-third as wide as the Milky Way and only about one-third of that can be seen in this image.

Astronomers use colors to represent different temperatures and densities inside a galaxy or nebulae. The blue color in this image near the center is starlight from older stars. Chaotic regions outside the blue bar are filled with hot, massive stars buried in blankets of dust. The red color around these bright regions is from dust heated by these young stars. Red dots across the image are either old stars or far-away galaxies. Greenish clouds contain cool gas and dust lit by starlight. Astronomers use images like this to see how space dust, the stuff that makes up planets and people, is recycled and spread across a galaxy.

Glowing Fans

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Fans of glowing interstellar gas dominate a nebular lagoon in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore Messier 8, also known as the Lagoon Nebula. What shapes and stories do you see floating in this surreal scene of gas? Leave a note below.

Bright and massive stars, still hidden within the cloud, send out a torrent of high-energy ultraviolet radiation and a blistering stellar wind. The wind shapes the cloud forming the fan-like shapes, peaks and valleys in the dust. The ultraviolet radiation excites molecules of hydrogen and other elements creating hues of bright color. Eventually the stars born in this star cloud will blow away all the surrounding material leaving a group of hot, blue stars. For now, scientists have to use telescopes like the Hubble to pierce the thick dust to study the objects within the cloud.

First recorded in 1747 by French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil, the Lagoon Nebula is a huge structure of glowing gas and dust. The nebula spans more than 140 light-years in one direction; 60 light-years in another. If the Sun were at the edge, the nebula would easily encompass some of the brightest stars in our night sky, including Alpha Centauri, Aldebaran, and Sirius.

Messier 8 lies about 5,000 light-years from Earth. It can be seen with the naked eye glowing faintly in the constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer.

WISE Jellyfish

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

A colorful jellyfish floats in this image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

What stories or images do you see in this explosion of light and color? Leave a note below.

IC 443, also known as the Jellyfish Nebula, is a supernova remnant. Created by a colossal stellar explosion, IC 443 shows an expanding bubble of debris. What interests scientists most is the way the explosion affects the surrounding area. Stars like our Sun usually become planetary nebula. But stars with many times the mass of the Sun burn through their nuclear fuel quickly. Within just a few million years, these massive stars explode. Their light can easily outshine an entire galaxy for a brief time. IC 443 is all that remains of a star that exploded 5,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Explore the expanding shockwave surrounding the supernova. This supernova blast wave moves through thick cloud of gas and dust. The wave sweeps aside and heats the gas and dust causing it to glow. Colors in this infrared image show the differences in energies of the shockwave. The upper part of the shell, seen as a violet, shows a fast shockwave while the bottom half, with its bluish colored tendrils, was hit with a slower shockwave. Elements such as iron, neon, silicon and oxygen give the upper half its purplish color.

IC 443 is found about 4,890 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Gemini, the Twins. The expanding shell of debris is about 65 light-years across.

The WISE orbit­ing tele­scope sur­veyed the sky from Decem­ber 2010 until it was turned off in Feb­ru­ary 2011. To view the uni­verse in infrared wave­lengths, the satellites sen­sors had to be kept very cold. Coolant needed to keep its images sharp ran out and the satel­lite stopped send­ing use­ful data.

Starry Hunter

Credit: ESO

A hunter lurks in a starry sea in this image from the European Southern Observatory.

Explore the colorful regions of gas and dark dust clouds of the Carina Nebula around the blazingly brilliant star called WR 22. What shapes and stories can your imagination tell? Share them below.

WR 22 is one of those stars that lives fast and dies young. This rare star is very hot and massive star and is bursting with so much radiation and solar wind that is shedding its atmosphere into space. Formed from the Carina Nebula, WR 22 is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. It is one of the most massive stars known. These stars are more than 20 times more massive than our Sun and lose material to space at a much higher rate.

French astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet discovered this class of stars in 1867. WR 22 lies about 5,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Carina, the keel of Jason’s ship Argo from Greek mythology. The image was taken with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.


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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