Doomed Neutron Stars

Here’s NASA’s description of this video: Doomed neutron stars whirl toward their demise in this animation. Gravitational waves (pale arcs) bleed away orbital energy, causing the stars to move closer together and merge. As the stars collide, some of the debris blasts away in particle jets moving at nearly the speed of light, producing a brief burst of gamma rays (magenta). In addition to the ultra-fast jets powering the gamma-rays, the merger also generates slower moving debris. An outflow driven by accretion onto the merger remnant emits rapidly fading ultraviolet light (violet). A dense cloud of hot debris stripped from the neutron stars just before the collision produces visible and infrared light (blue-white through red). The UV, optical and near-infrared glow is collectively referred to as a kilonova. Later, once the remnants of the jet directed toward us had expanded into our line of sight, X-rays (blue) were detected. This animation represents phenomena observed up to nine days after GW170817.

Video Credit: NASA

A Hole in the Sky

What used to be considered holes in the sky is now known to astronomers as dark molecular clouds. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68 where a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark interiors of molecular clouds are some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to be born. In fact, Barnard 68 will probably collapse and form a new star system.

Image Credit: ESO

A Close Encounter

Asteroid 2012 TC4 flew by the Earth during the night of 11/12 October, 2017. This video was recorded at 20:54 UTC on the 11th by astronomers Peter Schlatter and Dominik Bodenmann working at the ZIMLAT telescope at the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory operated by the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB) while the 10 to 20 m diameter asteroid was approaching the Earth. It made its closest approach at 05:41 UTC on the 12th, less than 44,000 km away—much closer than the Moon. Watch the asteroid move from left to right across the upper half of the reverse video image.

Video Credit: AIUB

NGC 1964

NGC 1964 is a spiral galaxy approximately 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Lepus (The Hare). NGC 1964 has a bright and dense core. This view of NGC 1964 contains an array of galaxies visible in the background and several nearby stars in the Milky Way. The star HD 36785 can be seen to the galaxy’s immediate right. Above it reside two other prominent stars named HD 36784 and TYC 5928-368-1, and the large bright star below NGC 1964 is known as BD-22 1147.

Image Credit: ESO