Astronomy and Astrophysics
Deep near-infrared color composite image of the L1688 cloud in the Ophiuchus star-forming complex from the VISIONS European Southern Observatory public survey, where blue, green and red are mapped to the NIR bands J (1.2 μm), H (1.6 μm) and KS (2.2 μm), respectively. (Image credit: João Alves/ESO VISIONS)
A Hubble Space Telescope image (left) of a galaxy known to host a ‘fast radio burst’ helps ID where in the galaxy the blast originated (oval). After image processing (right), the burst’s origin appears centered on one of the galaxy’s spiral arms. Credit: NASA, ESA, Alexandra Mannings/University of California Santa Cruz, Wen-fai Fong/Northwestern University, Alyssa Pagan/STScI
A rare kind of galaxy is at the heart of a new citizen science project that is being unveiled today: "Cosmological Jellyfish" is part of the Zooniverse platform, where volunteers can contribute to genuine scientific research projects. In the new project, participants look at the results of a cosmological simulation and identify galaxies that look somewhat like jellyfish. The jellyfish-like appearance is an indicator that the galaxy in question has interacted with gas in a galaxy cluster.
Wisps like this are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star. About 7,000 years ago that star exploded in a supernova leaving the Veil Nebula. At the time, the expanding cloud was likely as bright as a crescent Moon, remaining visible for weeks to people living at the dawn of recorded history. Today, the resulting supernova remnant, also known as the Cygnus Loop, has faded and is now visible only through a small telescope directed toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus).
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features an impressive portrait of M1-63, an example of a bipolar planetary nebula located in the constellation of Scutum (the Shield). A nebula like this one is formed when the star at its center sheds huge quantities of material from its outer layers, leaving behind a spectacular cloud of gas and dust.
This week’s NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features AFGL 5180, a beautiful stellar nursery located in the constellation of Gemini (The Twins). At the centre of the image, a massive star is forming and blasting cavities through the clouds with a pair of powerful jets, extending to the top right and bottom left of the image. Light from this star is mostly escaping and reaching us by illuminating these cavities, like a lighthouse piercing through the storm clouds.
NGC 2336 is the quintessential galaxy — big, beautiful and blue — and it is captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The barred spiral galaxy stretches an immense 200 000 light-years across and is located approximately 100 million light years away in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe). Its spiral arms are glittered with young stars, visible in their bright blue light. In contrast, the redder central part of the galaxy is dominated by older stars.
The Pelican Nebula is changing. The entire nebula, officially designated IC 5070, is divided from the larger North America Nebula by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust. The Pelican, however, is particularly interesting because it is an unusually active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The featured picture was processed to bring out two main colors, red and blue, with the red dominated by light emitted by interstellar hydrogen
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features NGC4826 — a spiral galaxy located 17 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair). This galaxy is often referred to as the “Black Eye”, or “Evil Eye”, galaxy because of the dark band of dust that sweeps across one side of its bright nucleus. NGC4826 is known by astronomers for its strange internal motion.
Herbig-Haro objects are some of the rarer sights in the night sky, taking the form of thin spindly jets of matter floating amongst the surrounding gas and stars. The two Herbig-Haro objects catalogued as HH46 and HH47, seen in this image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, were spotted in the constellation of Vela (The Sails), at a distance of over 1400 light-years from Earth.
This stunning image captures a small region on the edge of the inky Coalsack Nebula, or Caldwell 99. Caldwell 99 is a dark nebula — a dense cloud of interstellar dust that completely blocks out visible wavelengths of light from objects behind it. The object at the center of the image is a (much smaller) protoplanetary nebula. The protoplanetary nebula phase is a late stage in the life of a star in which it has ejected a shell of hydrogen gas and is quickly heating up.
This week’s NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features an impressive portrait of M1-63, a beautifully captured example of a bipolar planetary nebula located in the constellation of Scutum (the Shield). A nebula like this one is formed when the star at its centre sheds huge quantities of material from its outer layers, leaving behind a spectacular cloud of gas and dust.
Nicknamed the Southern Pinwheel, Messier 83 (or NGC 5236) is a stunning face-on spiral galaxy located about 15 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Hydra. Its spiral arms are lined with dark lanes of dust and peppered with reddish, star-forming clouds of hydrogen gas. One of the deepest images ever taken of the Southern Pinwheel (combining more than 11 hours of exposure time), this view was captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam).
NGC 6902 is a beautiful spiral galaxy located more than 130 million light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer. This image was taken with MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument attached to one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes that make up the VLT, and shows the galaxy from a unique perspective. A zoom in towards the galaxy’s centre, the image shows a nuclear ring where the orange glow of intense star formation is visible.
A bright foreground star isn’t enough to distract from the grandeur of the galaxy UGC 3855, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. While this foreground star is incredibly bright to Hubble’s eye, it does not outshine the details of the background galaxy. Many young blue stars are sprinkled throughout the circular patterns of UGC 3855’s arms, contrasted and complemented by dark lanes of dust also following the spiral structure.
The lives of planetary nebulae are often chaotic, from the death of their parent star to the scattering of its contents far out into space. Captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESO 455-10 is one such planetary nebula, located in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). The oblate shells of ESO 455-10, previously held tightly together as layers of its central star, not only give this planetary nebula its unique appearance, but also offer information about the nebula.
Located in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), around 50 million light-years from Earth, NGC 4535 is truly a stunning sight to behold. Despite the incredible quality of this image, taken from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NGC 4535 has a hazy, somewhat ghostly, appearance when viewed from a smaller telescope. This led amateur astronomer Leland S. Copeland to nickname NGC 4535 the “Lost Galaxy” in the 1950s.
CTB-1 is the expanding gas shell that was left when a massive star toward the constellation of Cassiopeia exploded about 10,000 years ago. The star likely detonated when it ran out of elements, near its core, that could create stabilizing pressure with nuclear fusion. The resulting supernova remnant, nicknamed the Medulla Nebula for its brain-like shape, still glows in visible light by the heat generated by its collision with confining interstellar gas.
Featured here in a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NGC 613 is a lovely example of a barred spiral galaxy. It is easily distinguishable as such because of its well defined central bar and long arms, which spiral loosely around its nucleus. As revealed by surveys, about two thirds of spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way galaxy, contain a bar. Recent studies have shown that bars are more common in galaxies now than they were in the past.
Captured with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), this image of the distant spiral galaxy NGC 1097 shows a textbook example of a star-bursting nuclear ring. Located 45 million light-years away from Earth, in the constellation of Fornax, this ring lies at the very centre of its galaxy. It spans only 5,000 light years across, being dwarfed by the full size of its host galaxy, which extends some tens of thousands of light-years beyond its centre.
What is pareidolia? It is the psychological phenomenon where we see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. When an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 – a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles about 17,000 light-years from Earth – was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.
The galaxy NGC 6946 is nothing short of spectacular. In the last century alone, NGC 6946 has experienced 10 observed supernovae, earning its nickname as the Fireworks Galaxy. In comparison, our Milky Way averages just 1-2 supernova events per century. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the stars, spiral arms, and various stellar environments of NGC 6946 in phenomenal detail.
The magnificent central bar of NGC 2217 (also known as AM 0619-271) shines bright in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog), in this new image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Roughly 65 million light-years from Earth, this barred spiral galaxy is a similar size to our Milky Way at 100 thousand light-years across. Many stars are concentrated in its central region forming the luminous bar, surrounded by a set of tightly wound spiral arms.
This unusual lenticular galaxy, known as NGC 1947, has lost almost all the gas and dust from its signature spiral arms, which used to orbit around its centre. Discovered almost 200 years ago by James Dunlop, a Scottish-born astronomer who later studied the sky from Australia, NGC 1947 can only be seen from the southern hemisphere, in the constellation Dorado (The Dolphinfish).
The Hubble Space Telescope captured a crowd of stars that looks rather like a stadium darkened before a show, lit only by the flashbulbs of the audience's cameras. Yet the many stars of this object, known as Messier 107, are not a fleeting phenomenon, at least by human reckoning of time - these ancient stars have gleamed for many billions of years. Messier 107 is one of more than 150 globular star clusters found around the disc of the Milky Way galaxy.