Mergers and Acquisitions


NGC6240NGC 6240 is a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes. It’s a titanic collision of galaxies throwing distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergoing massive bursts of star formation. The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole. Eventually, only one large galaxy will remain.

Image Credit: NASA

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

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

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 Multi-Wavelength Crab


This composite view of the Crab Nebula uses data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (blue and white), the Hubble Space Telescope (purple), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (pink). The nebula is the remnant of a supernova that was seen on Earth in AD 1054.

It’s powered by a pulsar, a quickly spinning neutron star  formed when a original star ran out nuclear fuel and collapsed. The combination of rapid rotation and a strong magnetic field in the Crab generates jets of matter and anti-matter moving away from the pulsar’s poles and an intense stellar wind flowing out of its equator.

Image Credit: NASA

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

M61


M61Messier 61 is a type of galaxy known as a starburst galaxy. Starburst galaxies have an abnormally high rate of star formation, hungrily using up their reservoir of gas in a very short period of time (in astronomical terms). However, that’s not the only activity we believe is going on within M61; deep at its heart there is thought to be a supermassive black hole that is violently spewing out radiation.

Despite its inclusion in the Messier Catalogue, Messier 61 was actually discovered by Italian astronomer Barnabus Oriani in 1779. Charles Messier also noticed this galaxy on the very same day as Oriani, but mistook it for a comet.

Image Credit: NASA