Posts Tagged ‘galaxy’

Faces in a Faint Cloud

Credit: ESA/NASA Hubble

 

Eyes peer out of this faint star cloud known as the Antlia Dwarf Galaxy in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Zoom into the sparsely populated star cloud. What faces or stories do you see? Leave a note below.

Discovered recently in 1997, the Antlia Dwarf Galaxy is a very faint collection of stars just four million light-years from Earth. Although it is somewhat close, it is unclear whether it is part of the Local Group, a group of galaxies containing the Milky Way Galaxy, Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda Galaxy. The Antlia Dwarf Galaxy may be just wandering near the group interacting slightly with nearby galaxies. Astronomers study galaxies like this one because it gives them a clear picture of different stages of galaxy formation.

Zoom into the loose galaxy. New, bluer stars are found toward the center of the image. Older red stars and faint, fuzzy globular clusters are found to the outside. In the background, gaze at dozens of faraway galaxies of different shapes. Perhaps one of those distant galaxies has a faint dwarf galaxy nearby that we cannot see.

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Cosmic Horseshoe

Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble

A blue cosmic horseshoe rings a massive galaxy in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the Cosmic Horseshoe and the faraway galaxies in this image of deep space. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

The Cosmic Horseshoe is an example of an Einstein Ring. Albert Einstein predicted that gravity could bend light. The ring is actually a galaxy on the far side of the bright galaxy at its center. The center galaxy has incredible mass; about ten times that of our own Milky Way. It is one of a group of galaxies known as Luminous Red Galaxies. The strong gravitational pull of the galaxy warps and magnifies the light of the faraway galaxy like a lens.

The chance alignment offers scientists a glimpse at the early Universe. By studying the light of the blue galaxy, astronomers believe light from the galaxy has been traveling to our eyes for almost 11 billion years. The Universe itself is believed to be incredibly old at about 13.7 billion years old.

Astronomers discovered the Cosmic Horseshoe in 2007.

Gravity’s Sculpture

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Gravity sculpts time and space into an arc in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of a deep view of the universe.

Explore this image of LRG-4-606. What stories or patterns do you see? Leave a note below.

LRG stands for Luminous Red Galaxy. Scientists gave it this name because of the large cluster of bright red galaxies found in this image. Most of the galaxies are giant elliptical galaxies with huge numbers of old stars. As you explore the image look for the numerous faraway galaxies. Each of these huge galaxies are made up of billions of stars; stars just like our Sun, smaller stars and giant stars. There are hundreds of billions of stars in this image. The bright star on the right side of the image is found within our own Milky Way Galaxy. The rays shooting from the star are created by the lenses and mirrors of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The most dramatic part of this image is to the left. Look for the arc of light. The red elliptical galaxy is so massive and with such strong gravity that it bends the light of galaxies behind it. Astronomers call this gravitational lensing. The elliptical galaxy curves and sculpts the fabric of space and time. Gravity is bending and brightening the light from the blue background galaxies. The special alignment of the far-off galaxy and the elliptical galaxy make for a near-perfect half-circle of light. If you look closer, other smaller arcs can be seen. Each of these arcs is another galaxy on the far side of the red elliptical galaxy.

Spectacular dust

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgment: R. OConnell (University of Virginia) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee

With a wide swath of thick dust hiding its middle, Centaurus A dazzles.

Explore the dusty lanes and wisps of pink gas in this image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. What shapes or stories do you see in this image? Leave a note below.

The galaxy’s thick dust hides a bright middle. As we travel out from the older, yellow stars of the center, look for tight clusters of stars and patches of pink. These glowing fields of hydrogen gas are stellar nurseries similar to the Great Nebula in Orion or the Eagle Nebula. New stars born within these clouds send out torrents of ultraviolet light that excite atoms within the nebulae and cause them to glow. Near the edge of the galaxy, look for a dusting of young, blue stars. As you scan around you might notice a bright star smack in the middle of the image. This is a star within own Milky Way Galaxy that is positioned between us and Centaurus A.

Cen­tau­rus A, or NGC 5128, is one of the most stud­ied objects in the south­ern sky. The spec­tac­u­lar band of dust is thought to be all that is left over after a small spi­ral galaxy col­lided with a larger ellip­ti­cal galaxy between 200 mil­lion to 700 mil­lion years ago.

Astronomers captured the most detailed ever view of this galaxy with the new Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the Hubble telescope. The image shows us close-up details in visible light. It also shows objects that glow in other wavelengths of light, such as ultraviolet light and near infrared. This offers a peek at new stars that are hidden deep within the galaxy’s thick dust band.

Centaurus A is located fairly close to us, about 11 million light-years away toward the constellation Centaurus, the Centaur.

A spinning beauty

Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble

Millions of stars dance slowly to produce the spinning beauty known as IC 391.

Explore this image of the face-on spiral galaxy from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. What patterns or stories do you see in this image? Leave a note below.

Even though change is slow, galaxies do evolve. Stars take hundreds of thousands of years to orbit the tight nucleus of this galaxy. Stars are born and stars die.

Stars of all ages are found in this image. Older yellow and red stars dominate the core and color the middle of the spiral arms. But at the far reaches of this galaxy, colors turn to blue. Blue stars are young and hot having been recently born from vast clouds of hydrogen gas. As you explore the image, you can find both giant clusters of blue stars as well as a blue mist of new stars. And sometimes we witness the ultimate end of one of these hot, giant stars as they blow themselves apart as supernovae. On January 3, 2001, astronomers in China discovered one of these titanic stellar explosions. For a short time, the energy and light given off by SN 2001B outshined the entire galaxy.

IC 391 is found about 80 million light-years from Earth toward the northern constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

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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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