Weather on Neptune


Neptune has seasons which drive some of the features in its atmosphere, but those seasons are much longer than on Earth, lasting for decades rather than months.

This new Hubble view of Neptune shows a dark storm near the top center of the planet’s disc in the region currently experiencing “summer.” The feature is the fourth and latest  dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993. Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet. Since the Voyager flyby, Hubble has been out only telescope with sufficient sensitivity in blue light to track such elusive features which have appeared and faded quickly.

Image Credit: NASA / STScI

A Galaxy with a Tail


A long thread of hydrogen is being stripped from the spiral galaxy D100 as it drawn toward the center of the giant Coma galaxy cluster. This wide view is a composite of images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. The narrow red streamer of hydrogen gas flowing from the galaxy’s center extends for nearly 200,000 light-years, but it is quite narrow–only 7,000 light-years wide. The tail’s clean edges and smooth structure suggests that it’s being held together by magnetic fields.

The Coma cluster is located 330 million light-years from Earth.

Image Credits: NASA / ESA / M. Sun (University of Alabama) / W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University) / M. Yagi (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

Uranus and Ariel


Uranus_ArielUranus’ moon Ariel (white dot) and its shadow (black dot) were caught crossing the face of Uranus in this Hubble Space Telescope image. Note that the cloud bands which are aligned with the planet’s rotation are nearly vertical in the picture. Uranus is the giant planet whose equator is nearly at right angles to its orbit. A collision with an Earth-sized object several billion years ago is the likely cause of Uranus’ tilt. Nearly a twin to Neptune, Uranus has more methane in its mainly hydrogen and helium atmosphere than Jupiter or Saturn. Methane gives Uranus its blue tint.

Image Credit: NASA