A Solar Tsunami

In 2006, a large solar flare from an Earth-sized sunspot produced this tsunami-like shock wave. The resulting shock wave, technically called a Moreton wave, compressed and heated up gasses including hydrogen in the photosphere of the Sun, causing it to glow more brightly. These images were taken by the Optical Solar Patrol Network (OSPAN) telescope in New Mexico. The tsunami moved at nearly a million kilometers per hour, circling Sun in a matter of minutes.

Image Credit: NSO / AURA / NSF / USAF Research Laboratory

Messier 57

ring_nebulaThe Hubble Space Telescope took a look down a barrel of gas cast off by a dying star thousands of years ago. The resulting photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula and the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas. This ring nebula (aka Messier 57) is about a light-year in diameter and around 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The colors shown in this image are roughly true colors. The image was assembled from three black-and-white photos taken through different color filters. Blue emissions come from very hot helium mostly located near the hot central star. Green is from ionized oxygen found farther out. Red comes from ionized nitrogen farthest from the star. The gases glow because it is excited ultraviolet radiation from the star whose surface temperature is estimated to be over 100,000 °C.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Crowded Neighborhood

m60The densest galaxy in the nearby Universe may be this galaxy known as M60-UCD1. It is located near a massive elliptical galaxy called M60, about 54 million light years from Earth. Packed with an extraordinary number of stars, M60-UCD1 is an “ultra-compact dwarf galaxy”. It was discovered with the Hubble Space Telescope and follow-up observations were done with the Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes. It is the most luminous known galaxy of its type and one of the most massive, weighing 200 million times more than our Sun.

This composite image shows the region near M60. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are pink and data from the Hubble Space Telescope are red, green and blue. The Chandra image shows hot gas and double stars containing black holes and neutron stars and the Hubble image reveals stars in M60 at the right edge of the frame.

Image Credit: NASA

36 Galactic Mile Posts

These 36 galaxies are some of the 40+ that have been observed by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope because they contain both Cepheid variable stars and supernovae. These stars are used measure the distance and refine the measurement of the rate of the expansion of the universe. Pictured above (from left to right and top to bottom) are NGC 7541, NGC 3021, NGC 5643, NGC 3254, NGC 3147, NGC 105, NGC 2608, NGC 3583, NGC 3147, Mrk 1337, NGC 5861, NGC 2525, NGC 1015, UGC 9391, NGC 691, NGC 7678, NGC 2442, NGC 5468, NGC 5917, NGC 4639, NGC 3972, The Antennae Galaxies, NGC 5584, M106, NGC 7250, NGC 3370, NGC 5728, NGC 4424, NGC 1559, NGC 3982, NGC 1448, NGC 4680, M101, NGC 1365, NGC 7329, and NGC 3447.

Image Credits: NASA / ESA / STScI

NGC 1512

NGC 1512 is a barred spiral galaxy around 38 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Horologium. It has a double ring structure with a so-called nuclear ring around the galactic nucleus and a second ring further out in the main disk. When viewed in UV light, the galaxy shows at least 200 clusters recent star formation activity.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA