Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

Sparkling Hook

NASA/ESA Hubble

As if waiting for cosmic fish, this hook-shaped galaxy sparkles in a deep image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Or perhaps you’ve turned your head and you see a galactic smile.

Explore the beautiful galaxy known as J082354.96+280621.6, or J082354.96 for short. Let us know what shapes or stories you see in the comments below.

J082354.96 is a starburst galaxy. These types of galaxies have high rates of star formation. As you explore the image, look for bright blue areas. These are new stars being born. J082354.96 is also warped meaning another galaxy has interacted with it millions of years in the past. As galaxies move near each other, gravity pushes and pulls the stars into unusual shapes. Gravity also pushes gas and dust together where it might collect, collapse and form a new star. You can see the cores and warped arms of the two interacting galaxies at the ends of the hook.

As you zoom across the image, look for faint galaxies far in the dark background. The two bright stars are actually stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy between Earth and J082354.96. The galaxy is found about 650 million light-years from Earth toward the northern constellation Lynx.

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Loops of Stars

NASA/ESA Hubble

A sparkling pink and purple loop floats in a sea of galaxies in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore this image of ring galaxy Zw II 28. What patterns or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes. Some galaxies have graceful spiral arms. Some galaxies appear as disks with bulges in the center. Other galaxies, called elliptical galaxies, are just giant, milky blobs of stars. Ring galaxies, like Zw II 28, are much rarer. Although the universe seems mostly empty, galaxies do collide. Usually they pass each other and combine leaving tell-tale tails of stars and bursts of star formation. But sometimes, one galaxy will pass right through the center of another leaving behind a ring galaxy.

Interactions between galaxies stir up gas and dust. As gas and dust are pushed together, or compressed, new stars form. In Zw II 28, the outer ring is glowing with pink clouds of gas and dust and will be the home of new stars. Sparkling in these clouds, look for blue patches of light. These are brand new stars. On the right side of the ring, just inside the inner loop, look for a brighter white area. This may be a companion galaxy or perhaps even the galaxy that collided with Zw II 28 to create this rare galaxy.

As you explore the galaxy, look for the dozens of galaxies that dot the background of the image.

Zw II 28, is found about 380 million light years from Earth toward the constellation of Orion.

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A Confused Galactic V

NASA/ESA Hubble

Check out a galactic-sized “flying V in this image of interacting galaxies IC 2184 from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the two nearly edge-on galaxies as they begin their billion-year-long dance. What shapes or stories do you see in the image? Leave a note in the comments below.

IC 2184 is really two galaxies. Even though space is huge, galaxies graze each other all the time. Gravity is strong with both galaxies. As the galaxies interact, stars, gas and dust are flung out into space forming long tidal tails. Look close for two faint tails. Usually these tails arc far into space but they look straight in this image because we are looking at them from the edge. The tails are arcing toward or away from us.

Also look for bright, fireworks regions. Gravity not only flings stars outward but also it can smash gas and dust. The bright blue and pink bursts are hot regions where new stars are forming, similar to regions in our galaxy such as the Orion Nebula or the Carina Nebula. These areas glow brightly enough that they show up as bright blobs of light in large telescopes.

IC 2184 is found about 160 million light-years from Earth toward the faint constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

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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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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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Welcome

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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