Frankengalaxy


UGC 1382About 250 million light-years away in a neighborhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies. In optical light (left), UGC 1382 appears to be a simple elliptical galaxy, but spiral arms appeared when astronomers incorporated ultraviolet and deep optical data (middle). Combining that with a view of low-density hydrogen gas (shown in green at right), revealeded that UGC 1382 is gigantic.

It turns out that UGC 1382, a galaxy that had originally been thought to be old, small and typical is 10 times bigger than previously thought and, unlike most galaxies, its insides are younger than its outsides, almost as if it had been built using spare parts. It’s a rotating disk of low-density gas where stars don’t form quickly because the gas is so spread out. UGC 1382 is about 718,000 light-years across, more than seven times wider than the Milky Way, making it one of the three largest isolated disk galaxies ever discovered.

Image Credit: NASA / SDSS / NRAO

Galactic Sharing


Whirlpool in radioThis composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy and it’s nearby companion galaxy overlays radio astronomy data from the Very Large Array with optical data.  The image in white shows how the galaxies appear to optical telescopes: one giant spiral galaxy with a smaller one hanging off an arm. The VLA sees a much bigger picture. The blue overlay reveals the the cast-off gases that were once in the outer spiral arms of these galaxies which have been pulled apart as the smaller galaxy has moved passed the larger one.

Image Credit: NRAO

Hercules A


Hercules A is the brightest radio source in the constellation of Hercules. Astronomers found that the double-peaked radio emission was centered on a giant elliptical galaxy known as 3C 348. This galaxy is not found within a large cluster of hundreds of galaxies, but rather within a comparatively small group of dozens of galaxies. The active part of the galaxy is the supermassive black hole in its core, sending out strong jets of energetic particles that produce enormous lobes of radio emission. It’s been suggested that Hercules A may be the result of two galaxies merging together.

This video imagines a three-dimensional look at the combined visible light (Hubble Space Telescope) and radio emission (Very Large Array) from Hercules A. The radio lobes dwarf the large galaxy and extends throughout the volume of the surrounding galaxy group. This visualization is only a scientifically reasonable guess of the three-dimensional structures. For example, the galaxy distances within the group are based on a statistical model, and not measured values.

Video Credit: NASA

More Than Meets the Eye


Whirlpool in radioThis composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy and it’s nearby companion galaxy overlays radio astronomy data from the Very Large Array with optical data.  The image in white shows how the galaxies appear to optical telescopes: one giant spiral galaxy with a smaller one hanging off an arm. The VLA sees a much bigger picture. The blue overlay reveals the the cast-off gases that were once in the outer spiral arms of these galaxies which have been pulled apart as the smaller galaxy has moved passed the larger one.

Image Credit: NRAO

A “Young” Supernova Remnant


g306_wideAstronomers estimate that a supernova explosion occurs perhaps a couple of times a century in the Milky Way. The expanding blast wave and hot stellar debris slowly dissipate over hundreds of thousands of years, eventually mixing with and becoming indistinguishable from interstellar gas. The Swift satellite uncovered the previously unknown remains of a shattered star during an X-ray survey of the galaxy’s central regions. The new object, named G306.3-0.9 after it’s coordinates in the sky,is among the youngest of the 300+ known supernova remnants in the Milky Way. Analysis indicates that G306.3–0.9 is probably less than 2,500 years old. That would make it one of the 20 youngest supernova remnants identified.

This composite image of G306.3–0.9 (the blob in the lower left) was stitched together using data from Chandra X-ray observations (blue), infrared data acquired by the Spitzer Space Telescope (red and cyan) and radio observations (purple) from the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

G306_Swift_XRTjpgThe image on the left was taken in February, 2011, using Swift’s X-ray Telescope as part of the Galactic Plane Survey. The dots in the image indicate where X-rays struck the detector. Despite this short 8.5-minute exposure, the extended circular patch of G306.3–0.9 stands out quite nicely.

Image Credits: NASA

A “Young” Supernova Remnant


g306_wideAstronomers estimate that a supernova explosion occurs perhaps a couple of times a century in the Milky Way. The expanding blast wave and hot stellar debris slowly dissipate over hundreds of thousands of years, eventually mixing with and becoming indistinguishable from interstellar gas. The Swift satellite uncovered the previously unknown remains of a shattered star during an X-ray survey of the galaxy’s central regions. The new object, named G306.3-0.9 after it’s coordinates in the sky,is among the youngest of the 300+ known supernova remnants in the Milky Way. Analysis indicates that G306.3–0.9 is probably less than 2,500 years old. That would make it one of the 20 youngest supernova remnants identified.

This composite image of G306.3–0.9 (the blob in the lower left) was stitched together using data from Chandra X-ray observations (blue), infrared data acquired by the Spitzer Space Telescope (red and cyan) and radio observations (purple) from the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

G306_Swift_XRTjpgThe image on the left was taken in February, 2011, using Swift’s X-ray Telescope as part of the Galactic Plane Survey. The dots in the image indicate where X-rays struck the detector. Despite this short 8.5-minute exposure, the extended circular patch of G306.3–0.9 stands out quite nicely.

Image Credits: NASA

M82 on the Radio


m82_gbtThis composite image of starburst galaxy M82 shows the distribution of dense molecular gas as seen by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s 85-ft Green Bank Telescope (yellow and red) and the background stars and dust as seen by Hubble (blue). The yellow areas correspond to regions of intense star formation. The red areas trace outflows of gas from the disk of the galaxy.

Image Credit: NARO/NASA

Fornax A


Fornaxgiant_radioFornax A is a galaxy with a very active black hole in its core. That black hole is send out huge jets of radio waves. The white glow in the center of this picture is the visible galaxy NGC 1316. There’s another, smaller galaxy just above it. These two galaxies are merging, and as gas and dust are stripped out of the small galaxy and poured into the center of NGC 1316. The huge radio lobes (shown as orange blobs in this multi-wavelength image) to either side of this merger are signs that a black hole is being fed more than it can handle and spinning some of the material out into intergalactic space.

Image Credit: NRAO

More Than Meets the Eye


Whirlpool in radioThis composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy and it’s nearby companion galaxy overlays radio astronomy data from the Very Large Array with optical data.  The image in white shows how the galaxies appear to optical telescopes: one giant spiral galaxy with a smaller one hanging off an arm. The VLA sees a much bigger picture. The blue overlay reveals the the cast-off gases that were once in the outer spiral arms of these galaxies which have been pulled apart as the smaller galaxy has moved passed the larger one.

Image Credit: NRAO

Old Lace


M33radio_opt_largeThis combined image of radio and visible light observations of the faint galaxy known as M33 looks like lace hanging in the sky. Also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, it is part of the Local Group of galaxies which includes the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way. M33 is over thirty thousand light years across and more than two million light years away. The optical data in this image (mostly white) show the many stars within the galaxy as well as reddish star forming regions that are filled with hot hydrogen gas. The radio data (colored pink) from the Very Large Array (VLA) reveal the cooler hydrogen gas in the galaxy, gas which cannot be seen with an optical telescope. Mergedr, the radio and optical images show a more comprehensive view of star formation in this galaxy.

Image Credit: NRAO

Saturn on the Radio


Saturn in RadioThis is Saturn, as seen by the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope. The bright disk of the planet gradually fades toward the edge, an effect called limb darkening. It’s caused by the gradual cooling moving outward in Saturn’s atmosphere. The rings are seen as emitters of energy outside the planet’s disk, but in front of the planet they absorb the radiation from the bright disk behind and appear as a dark band. That’s in contrast to their appearance in visible light where they reflect the incident sunlight. At radio wavelengths sunlight is much fainter, and we see the actual radio emissions from Saturn.

Image Credit: NRAO

A “Young” Supernova Remnant


g306_wideAstronomers estimate that a supernova explosion occurs perhaps a couple of times a century in the Milky Way. The expanding blast wave and hot stellar debris slowly dissipate over hundreds of thousands of years, eventually mixing with and becoming indistinguishable from interstellar gas. The Swift satellite uncovered the previously unknown remains of a shattered star during an X-ray survey of the galaxy’s central regions. The new object, named G306.3-0.9 after it’s coordinates in the sky,is among the youngest of the 300+ known supernova remnants in the Milky Way. Analysis indicates that G306.3–0.9 is probably less than 2,500 years old. That would make it one of the 20 youngest supernova remnants identified.

This composite image of G306.3–0.9 (the blob in the lower left) was stitched together using data from Chandra X-ray observations (blue), infrared data acquired by the Spitzer Space Telescope (red and cyan) and radio observations (purple) from the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

G306_Swift_XRTjpgThe image on the left was taken in February, 2011, using Swift’s X-ray Telescope as part of the Galactic Plane Survey. The dots in the image indicate where X-rays struck the detector. Despite this short 8.5-minute exposure, the extended circular patch of G306.3–0.9 stands out quite nicely.

Image Credits: NASA