Yellow Balls


Volunteers using the web-based Milky Way Project brought star-forming features nicknamed "yellowballs" to the attention of researchers, who later showed that they are a phase of massive star formation.Infrared wavelengths of 3.6, 8.0, and 24 µm are mapped into visible colors red, green, and blue in this Spitzer Space Telescope image. The cloud of gas and dust is W33, a massive starforming complex some 13,000 light-years distant near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Amateur scientists of the web-based Milky Way Project found the features they called yellow balls as they scanned many Spitzer images and persistently asked that question of the pros. Now there is an answer. The yellow balls are  an early stage of massive star formation. They appear yellow in the false color IR images because they are overlapping regions of “red” and “green,” the colors that correspond to dust and organic molecules known as PAHs at the Spitzer detector wavelengths. Yellow balls represent the stage before newborn massive stars clear out cavities in their surrounding gas and dust.

Image Credit: NASA

Arp 230


The polar ring of Arp 230Arp 230 is a galaxy of an uncommon or peculiar shape which is how it earned its place in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies produced by Halton Arp. Its irregular shape is probably the result of a violent collision with another galaxy sometime in the past.

The collision likely caused the formation of the galaxy’s polar ring. The outer ring surrounding the galaxy consists of gas and stars. It rotates over the poles of the galaxy. If the orbit of the smaller of the two galaxies that created Arp 230 was perpendicular to the disk of the  larger galaxy when they collided, the smaller galaxy would have been ripped apart and formed the polar ring.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

NGC 7714


NGC 7714NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy at 100 million light-years from Earth. That makes it a relatively close neighbour in cosmic terms. The galaxy has witnessed some violent and dramatic events in its recent past, as can be seen in NGC 7714’s strangely shaped arms and in the smoky golden haze that stretches out from the galactic centre.

The cause of this mangling is a smaller companion named NGC 7715, which lies just out of the frame of this image. The two galaxies drifted too close together between 100 and 200 million years ago and began to disrupt one another’s structure and shape. As a result, a ring and two long tails of stars have emerged from NGC 7714, creating a bridge between the two galaxies. This bridge acts as a pipeline, funnelling material from NGC 7715 towards its larger companion and feeding bursts of star formation.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Missed Us By That Much


20150126 flybyNASA’s 70-m Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, was used to collect these radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86. They show the asteroid, which made its closest approach 16:19 UTC yesterday at a distance of about 1.2 million km (about 3.1X the distance from Earth to the Moon).They also show that the asteroid has its own small moon.

Video Credit: NASA