A Galaxy and a Star


This image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show a galaxy cataloged as NGC 4907. Its about 270 million light-years away. The bright star in the image below the galaxy is in our galaxy. It appears to outshine the billions of stars in NGC 4907 because it is roughly 100,000 time closer to us.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A 3D Model of the Helix Nebula


The Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293) is a large planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius. It’s about 700 light-years away. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God.” Tolkien fans have occasionally called it the “Eye of Sauron”

This animation of a 3-D model was created from Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data of the Helix Nebula.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

A Doomed Dwarf


This is the dwarf galaxy known as NGC 1140. It lies 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus. It has an irregular form, much like the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. This small galaxy is undergoing a starburst. Despite being only about one-tenth the size of the Milky Way, it is creating stars at about the same rate—the equivalent of one star the size of our sun being created per year. The galaxy is full of bright, blue-white, young stars.

Galaxies like NGC 1140 are of particular interest to astronomers because their composition makes them similar to the intensely star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, and those early Universe galaxies were the building blocks of present-day large galaxies like our Milky Way. Because they are so far away, the early Universe galaxies are harder to study, so these closer starbursting galaxies are a good substitute for studyingt galaxy evolution.

Its vigorous star formation eventually will have a very destructive effect on this small dwarf galaxy. When the larger stars in the galaxy die and explode as supernovae, the gas blown into space may escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy. The ejection of gas from the galaxy will starve future star formation. Thus, NGC 1140’s starburst cannot last for long.

Image Credit: ESA

The Crab’s Neutron Star


Heart of the CrabThis Hubble image peers deep into the core of the Crab Nebula, revealing its beating heart. At its center are the remnants of a supernova which sends out clock-like pulses of radiation and waves of charged particles. The neutron star at the very center of the Crab Nebula has about the same mass as the Sun, but it’s compressed into an incredibly dense sphere that is only a few miles across. Spinning 30 times a second, the neutron star ticks along, shooting out detectable beams of energy.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NASA/ESA Release the First Images from the Solar Orbiter


This animation shows a series of views of the Sun captured by Extreme Ultraviolet Imager on the Solar Orbiter on 30 May. They show the Sun’s appearance at a wavelength of 17 nanometers in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Images at this wavelength allow examination of the Sun’s upper atmosphere and the corona, regions with temperatures of more than 1,000,000 C.
Image Credits: ESA, NASA, CSL, IAS, MPS, PMOD/WRC, ROB, UCL/MSSL

A Fluffy Galaxy


NGC 2275 is classified as a flocculent (or fluffy-looking) spiral galaxy. It’s about 67 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cancer. It’s fluffy spiral arms are the result of a slowdown in star formation, and virtually no new stars are being formed in center of the galaxy which is unusually large and relatively empty. Essentially all its gas was converted into stars long ago.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NGC 7027


NGC 7027 is a very young and dense planetary nebula about 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus Only a few hundred years old, it’s a tiny infant. Indeed, it’s one of the smallest planetary nebulae, only 0.2 by 0.1 light-year. Most planetary nebulae are around 1 light-year across. NGC 7027 has a very complex structure, consisting of inner elliptical region of ionized gas inside of a large cloud of neutral gas.

The white dwarf at the core of the nebula has a mass about 70 percent of the Sun’s. The expanding halo has roughly three times the mass of the Sun.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Pair of Neighborhood Dwarfs


Luhman 16AB is a double star system composed of two brown dwarfs. It’s only about six light-years away, and is the third closest stellar system to Earth—after the triple star system Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s Star. Because the brown dwarfs are so dim, Luhman 16AB was only discovered in 2013.

This series of dots with varying spacings between them in the image above shows the slow waltz of the two brown dwarfs. It’s a composite of 12 images made over the course of three years by the Hubble Space Telescope. Using high-precision astrometry, a team of astronomers tracked the two components of the system as they moved both across the sky and around each other.

The brown dwarfs, Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B, orbit each other at a distance of only about 500,000,000 km, roughly three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Observations of the system require high resolution. The astronomers using Hubble to study Luhman 16AB were not only interested in the waltz of the two starss as they orbited each other but also were also searching for a third, invisible partner. Earlier ground-based observation suggested the presence of an exoplanet in the system, but the Hubble data showed that the two dwarfs are indeed dancing alone, unperturbed by a massive planetary companion.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Grand Design Spiral Galaxy


NGC 2608 (also known as Arp 12) is considered a grand design spiral galaxy because the galaxy’s arms wind moderately (neither tightly nor loosely) around its prominent central bar. It is about 93 million light-years away in the constellation Cancer and is 62,000 light-years across, roughly 60% of the width of the Milky Way.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Out on the Edge


0105-4x5color.aiMost galaxies are clumped together in groups or clusters, but NGC 6503 is in a lonely position at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. The Local Void is a region of space over 150 million light-years across that is essentially empty of stars or galaxies. NGC 6503 is 18 million light-years away from us in the constellation Draco. It’s about 30,000 light-years across or a third of the size of the Milky Way.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Lonely Dwarf


The Local Void is a vast, empty region of space adjacent to the Local Group, the group of galaxies that included our Milky Way. It’s composed of three separate sectors which are separated by bridges of “wispy filaments” of gas and dust. The exact size of the Local Void is unknown, but it is at least 150 million light-years across—and possibly 3 to 6 times larger still. It’s called a void because it has significantly fewer galaxies than expected from standard cosmology.

The irregular dwarf galaxy in the foreground of the picture is cataloged as KK 246, and it’s one of the few galaxies in the Local Void.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Stellar Nursery


This infrared view (click the image to embiggen it) made by the Herschel Space Observatory of Cygnus X spans some 6×2 degrees of one of the closest, massive star forming regions in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. The rich stellar nursery already holds the massive star cluster known as the Cygnus OB2 association. Those stars are more evident by the region cleared by their energetic winds and radiation near the bottom center of the picture. They can’t be detected by Herschel instruments operating at long infrared wavelengths, but Herschel does reveal the region’s complex filaments of cool gas and dust around the locations where new massive stars are forming. Cygnus X lies some 4500 light-years away toward the heart of the northern constellation of the Swan. This picture covers a view about 500 light-years wide.

Image Credit: ESA

NGC 6814


A spiral snowflakeThis worth posting simply because it’s pretty.

NGC 6814 is an intermediate spiral galaxy in constellation Aquila located about 75 million light years from Earth. It’s a Seyfert galaxy with an extremely bright nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole with roughly 10 millions times the mass of the Sun. The galaxy is also a highly variable source of X-ray radiation. UV and optical emission also vary, although more smoothly, with time lag of two days behind the x-ray output.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

Mergers and Acquisitions


Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe held together by gravity. They can contain hundreds or thousands of galaxies held together in vast clouds of multi-million-degree gas glowing in X-rays.

The system known as Abell 2384 is the result of the collision of a pair galaxy cluster hundreds of millions of years ago. This composite image was put together using x-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and XMM-Newton (blue) and radio data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India (red). It shows the superheated bridge of gas running through Abell 2384 and reveals the effects of a jet from a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy in one of the clusters. The jet is so powerful that it bends the shape of the 3 million light-year long gas bridge which has the mass of about 6 trillion Suns.

Image Credit: NASA

New Stars


NGC 346This image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a population of infant stars in the Milky Way’s satellite galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud, located 210,000 light-years away. Some of the stars in the nebula NGC 346 are still forming from gravitationally collapsing gas clouds, and they have not yet ignited their hydrogen fuel to sustain nuclear fusion. The smallest of these infant stars is only half the mass of the Sun.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Shell in a Fish


supernova_shellThese thin wisps of gas are an object known as SNR 0519. The blood-red clouds are the remains from a violent explosion of a star as a supernova seen about 600 years ago. The star that exploded is known to have been a white dwarf star—a Sun-like star in the final stages of its life.

SNR 0519 is over 150 000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish), a constellation that also contains most of our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, a region of the sky is full of intriguing and beautiful deep sky objects. The Large Magellanic Cloud orbits the Milky Way galaxy as a satellite and is the fourth largest in our group of galaxies.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA