The Sunflower Galaxy


A galactic sunflowerThis galaxy is called M63 because of its listing the the Messier catalog. It’s also known as the Sunflower Galaxy. M63 has a spiral shape with no central bar feature and moderate to loosely wound arms. The spiral structure isn’t readily apparent in visible light. However, when viewed in the near infrared, the galaxy’s two spiral arms are easily seen. Each arm wraps 150° around the galaxy and extends up to 13,000 light-years from the nucleus.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

The Blinking Galaxy


NGC 6118NGC 6118 is a grand-design spiral galaxy, and it shines bright in this image taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Its central bar and tight spiral arms are clearly visible. The galaxy is sometimes known to amateur astronomers as the “Blinking Galaxy” because this relatively faint, fuzzy object can appear to flick into existence when viewed through small telescopes and then suddenly disappear again as the observer’s eye position shifted.

Image Credit: ESO

GRB 080916C


Gamma ray bursts are the brightest explosions we see in the Universe. The farthest known GRB occurred 12.2 billion light-years away in the constellation Carina. The explosion that created GRB 080916C contained the power of 9,000 supernovae. This very short movie shows Fermi Large Area Telescope observations of GRB 080916C. About 8 minutes of data are compressed into 6 seconds. The colored dots represent gamma rays of different energies. The blue dots represent lower-energy gamma rays; green, moderate energies; and red, the highest energies.

Video Credit: NASA / DOE / Fermi LAT Collaboration

Magnetism and a Black Hole


The dusty streamlines in this image highlight the magnetic fields around the Milky Way’s massive black hole. The Y-shaped structure is warm material falling toward the black hole, which is located near the intersection of the the two arms of the Y. The streamlines reveal that the magnetic field closely follows the shape of the dusty structure surrounding the black hole. Each of the blue arms has its own field that is distinct from the rest of the ring which is shown in pink. The dust and magnetic fields are from data taken by SOFIA and have been overlaid on a visible light image from Hubble.
Image Credit: NASA