Posts Tagged ‘Hubble’

Astral “J”

Credit: NASA, ESA and K. Cook (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA)

What looks like a astral “J” is a combined view from NASA’s Hubble, Chandra and NRAO’s Very Large Array showing a galaxy cluster called M3735.6+7421 bound together by gravity.

The “J” in this far view is more than 1.5 million light-years tall and about 750,000 light-years wide. Astronomers suspect that a supermassive black hole lurks in the central bright galaxy. The image, combining views from the three telescopes, shows how black holes impact their surroundings. The black hole in this galaxy cluster generates some of the most powerful outbursts seen in the universe and is seen in the VLA radio image as red. The jets have smashed into the hot, diffuse gas surrounding the the galaxy cluster. The hot, X-ray emitting gas glows blue in this image. The jets, moving at nearly the speed of light, have punched two huge cavities into the surrounding gas. Each cavity spans an area of about 640,000 light-years in diameter. That size of an area could contain about seven Milky Way Galaxies.

M3735.6+7421 lies about 2.6 billion light-years away toward the faint northern constellation of Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

Twisting Butterfly

Credit: A. Caulet (ST-ECF, ESA) and NASA

Twisting in space we find a starry butterfly. This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the Lagoon Nebula, or M8. But in the center of the swirling, twister-like nebula, there seems to be a glowing yellow butterfly. This bright area is also called the Hourglass.
The twisters within the Lagoon Nebula are similar to Earth tornadoes. Huge changes in temperature in the dust clouds combined with the solar winds from hot stars may cause the clouds to twist. If you explore the image a bit more, you can see little dark globs, called Bok globules, bow shocks around stars, rings and knots. The Lagoon Nebula and other similar nebula are places where stars are born.
The Lagoon Nebula lies about 5,000 light years away toward the constellation of Sagittarius.


Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

Not all creatures that we see in space images have to be real. I see a winged, fairy-tale creature standing on a pedestal in this image.

This tower of gas and dust is part of the Eagle Nebula. The image from the Hubble Space Telescope helped astronomers understand what is going on inside this nebula. The tower is about 9.5 light years, or about 90 trillion kilometers high. That’s twice the distance from the Sun to our nearest neighbor.

The Eagle Nebula, or M16, is a huge star nursery. New stars start forming when the gas and dust gather together. The star begins to glow after the dense region collapses under its own weight. When the stars begin to glow, the new solar wind pushes gas and dust. This shockwave pushes the gas and dust into new clumps which can become new stars too. These new stars sculpt the tower into fantasy-like shapes, eating away at the cosmic mountains.

The Eagle Nebula lies toward the constellation Serpens, the serpent, and is 6,500 light years away.

Red Spiders

Credit: Garrelt Mellema (Leiden University) et al., HST, ESA, NASA

What a tangled web. The Red Spider Nebula, caught in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, is a two-lobed planetary nebula. Also called butterfly nebulas, these planetary nebula are what remains when a normal, Sun-like star reaches the end of its life. What is left becomes a white dwarf. The Red Spider Nebula, also called NGC 6537, houses one of the hottest white dwarfs astronomers have seen. The nebula is created when gas and dust blown out from the star, called a solar wind, collide with the walls of the nebula. The walls of the nebula aren’t moving as fast. When the two collide, the atoms in the cloud begin to glow. As for the strange shape, stars at the final stage of their life throw off gas and star material in waves and in all different directions.

The Red Spider Nebula is found toward the constellation of Sagittarius. It is thought to be about 4,000 light years away.

The Crab

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)

In the year 1054, Japanese, Chinese and Native American astronomers recorded a violent event. They saw a star that hadn’t been there before. It turned out to be a supernova that formed the Crab Nebula and it’s one of the earliest recorded astronomical events by humans.

Also known as M1 and NGC 1952, the Crab Nebula is the leftovers after a star explodes. The streamers found in the Crab Nebula are the remains of that star flung out during the huge explosion. To astronomers who first looked at the night sky, this patch of light looked like a crab. At the center of the Crab Nebula is a neutron star. A neutron star is as massive as the sun but is pressed into a ball the size of a small town. It is very dense and spins very quickly. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times a second.

The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light years. It is 6,000 light years away toward the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Taurus is beginning to rise in the late evening now and during the fall will rise earlier and earlier.

NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope took this image of M1 in 1999 and 2000. The picture is one of the largest ever taken by Hubble. It is the best image taken of the Crab Nebula.


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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