Posts Tagged ‘Large Magellanic Cloud’

Butterfly of Combined Light

X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m

When NASA combines images from different telescopes they create amazing works of art and we learn a few things.

Explore this butterfly of combined light, known as NGC 1929, from NASA‘s Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes and ESO‘s ground-based telescope in Chile. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Star cluster NGC 1929 contains some of the most massive stars known to scientists. These massive stars spew intense radiation and a blistering stellar wind that blow huge bubbles in the surrounding nebula. The massive stars also end their short lives exploding as supernova which further helps carve out cavities in this region. Officially, the entire nebula is known as LHA 120-N 44, or just N 44. The vast superbubble is 325 by 250 light-years across; almost a hundred times the distance between the Sun and the nearest star. As you explore the image, look for dozens of smaller bubbles and the faint rim of another huge bubble on the left side of the nebula. Along the edges of the superbubble, new stars are forming

As beautiful as this destructive scene is, we wouldn’t be able to see it quite like this with our own eyes. Astronomers combined the light of several telescopes; all observing N44 in different wavelengths of light. X-rays from Chandra, in blue, reveal areas created by winds and shocks. Infrared data from Spitzer, in red, show where dust and cooler gas reside. Optical light from ESO’s telescope in Chile, light we can see with our eyes, outlines where ultraviolet radiation from the stars causes the gas to glow.

N 44 and NGC 1929 are found about 160,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf, irregular companion galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy.

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Sweeping Wings in a Cloud

ESA/Hubble, NASA and D. A Gouliermis. Acknowledgement: Flickr user Eedresha Sturdivant

The sweeping wings of a dragon or bat shine with the light of dozens of bright stars in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the haze surrounding this young stellar group known as NGC 2040, or LH 88. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

NGC 2040 is a loose star cluster. The stars have a common birthplace in this star cloud and will drift through space together. The cluster is known by astronomers as an OB association. These groups contain 10-100 stars of O and B type stars; among the hottest in the cosmos. Usually these hot and heavy stars have short but brilliant lives. After burning out their nuclear fuel in just a few million years, these stars will probably explode as supernovae. The stars lie in a supergiant shell of gas and dust called LMC 4. The shell is created as whipping solar winds from the new stars push gas and dust outward. Supernovae explosions also blow away surrounding gas and dust triggering even more star formation. Thousands of stars may form at the dense edge of these super bubbles.

NGC 2040 is found about 160,000 light-years away in a dwarf satellite galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud. Although the small galaxy is 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way it is home to some of the largest known star-making areas.

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Faint Webs of the Tarantula Nebula


The faint body of a spider hides in a web of dark dust in this image of the Tarantula Nebula from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the outskirts of this massive nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. What stories or images do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Located about 170,000 light-years from Earth, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest known nebula in the Local Group of galaxies; a group of nearby galaxies that includes the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda Galaxy. The nebula is a vast star-making factory. It takes light more than 650 years to cross this nebula.

The wispy structures in this nebula glow in this image because new stars give off strong ultraviolet radiation which causes the atoms in the cloud to become excited and glow. Hydrogen gas usually glows red but scientists tweak the filters used on the Hubble telescope to bring out different details in different colors of light. In this image, hydrogen glows green. Eventually, as the gas is blown away from the new stars, clusters of stars, like the Pleiades, will be revealed.

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Blown Away

NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O’Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee

Massive stars carve out deep cavities, blowing away gas and dust in the turbulent scene in the Large Magellanic Cloud in this infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Zoom across the star-birth region of space surrounding R136. Dive into the swirls, peaks, ridges and deep hollows of this brilliant nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

R136 is a large, young star cluster. It is only a few million years old but already is home to some of the most massive stars known. Some of these stars are more than 100 times more massive than our Sun. These monster stars will explode into supernovae within just a few million years. Scorching ultraviolet light from these huge suns excites the atoms in the nebula causing it to glow. These stars also send out strong solar winds creating a bubble in the nebula and sculpting a fantastic landscape. While they move the gas and dust around, the winds create shockwaves within the nebula that may trigger the birth of new stars.

R136 resides within the 30 Doradus Nebula. This massive nebula is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 170,000 light-years from Earth. The LMC is a small dwarf galaxy drifting near the Milky Way Galaxy. The LMC and another small irregular galaxy, called the Small Magellanic Cloud, can be seen in the skies of the southern hemisphere.

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Ripples in an Explosion of Light


Waves of gas and dust ripple through this image of the Large Magellanic Cloud from the Herschel and Spitzer space telescopes.

Explore the curls of dust and waves of gas creating an explosion of light in this image. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Both the ESA Herschel Space Observatory and NASA Spitzer Space Telescope see the Universe in the infrared. Infrared is a part of the spectrum of light that is just below visible light. We feel infrared light energy as heat. What these telescopes offer us is a way to see the heat of stars being born and of warm dust. And it allows astronomers to peek inside nebula to see warm objects that otherwise are blocked by thick dust in visible light.

The bright object to the left of center is called 30 Doradus or the Tarantula Nebula. This nebula is one of the largest star-making areas known to scientists. Look for other bubbles of star-formation around the image. Any bright blob is a an area of warm dust and possible new star formation.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a small, irregular dwarf galaxy that has come alongside the Milky Way Galaxy. 30 Doradus, deep within the LMC, is found about 170,000 light-years from Earth. Both the LMC and another small companion galaxy known as the Small Magellanic Cloud can be seen in the night skies of the southern hemisphere.

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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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