Blue Blobs, M81, and M82

galex-view-m81_m82The Hubble Space Telescope has resolved some strange objects nicknamed “blue blobs” and found them to be brilliant blue clusters of stars born in the swirls and eddies of a galactic smashup 200 million years ago. These “blue blobs” exist along a wispy bridge of gas strung among three colliding galaxies, M81, M82, and NGC 3077about 12 million light-years away from Earth. This is not a place astronomers expect to find star clusters because the gas filaments should be too thin to allow enough material to accumulate and actually build so many stars. The star clusters in this diffuse structure might have formed from gas collisions and subsequent turbulence which locally enhanced the density of the gas streams.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA

Crescent Jupiter

crescent-jupiterThis picture was taken by JunoCam at 22:30 UTC on 11 December, 2016, as the Juno spacecraft performed its third close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft was about 459,000 km from the planet. The series of storm shaped like white ovals is known as the “string of pearls, and the reddish storm between them and the Great Red Spot is known as Oval BA.


Image Credit: NASA

Voyager 1 Looks Back

voyager1looksback-smallIn this artist’s rendering the Voyager 1 spacecraft has a outsider’s view of the Solar System. The circles represent the orbits of the major planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Voyager 1 visited the planets Jupiter and Saturn, and the spacecraft is now almost 21 billion km from Earth, making it the farthest and fastest-moving human-made object ever built. It’s is now moving through interstellar space, the region between the stars that is filled with gas, dust, and material recycled from dying stars.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)