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Cosmology and Astronomy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject: IC 417 Reply with quote

The skie goes black for several moments before a trio of stars erupt into the velvet blackness. Just left of center is IC 417, a small open cluster and associated red-emission nebula lying 1.5 degrees south of the much larger open cluster M38, in the constellation Auriga. The bright yellow orange star to IC 417's upper right is Phi Aurigae, a red giant fift-five times the Sun's diameter, and about 400 light years from Earth. The blue-white star at the far right is about one fourth the size of Phi Aurigae, and more than three times more distant, but since it burns so much hotter, visually it appears almost as bright.

(Photo: Robert Gendler www.robgendlerastropics.com)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Gravitational Lens Reply with quote

The skies return to darkness as the room is silent, starting out very softly, a french horn begins, followed by an oboe, the flutes join in, and all the while the music rises in a slow crescendo. With each new instrument, another galaxy lights up the darkness until the full symphony of sound is matched by the symphony of light and color above.

This image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys and displays a seemingly uncountable number of galaxies surrounding a galaxy cluster at image center, designated SDSS J1004+4112. The cluster's massive gravitation is so huge that light from distant objects is being bent and stretched into visible arcs, a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein called "gravitational lensing".

In addition, light from an extremely luminous and distant quasar has been warped to create five blue-white, star-like points encircling the cluster.

(Photo: ESA, NASA, K Sharon (Tel Aviv University) and E. Ofek (Caltech).)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:41 pm    Post subject: Carina Nebula NGC 3372 Reply with quote

The amber slowly fades from the countless galaxies to be resolved into shades of red and purple with a right center.

This is the Carina Nebula NGC 3372 and is located approximately 10,000 light years away, toward the southern constellation Carina, and is among the largest diffuse nebulae of ionized hydrogen (H-II region) in the Milky Way.

Within NGC 3371 lies one of the most massive, luminous, and peculiar stars in our galaxy, Eta Carinae. It is found near the center of the image and has undergone episodes of dramatic flaring and eruption that may be a precursor stage of stellar evolution to a supernova, which, due to its size and proximity would surely be visible during daylight.

(Photo: Wolfgang Promper www.astro-pics.com)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:58 pm    Post subject: Messier 78 Reply with quote

Shades of purple and lavender fade away, leaving a stunningly clear image of M78 lighting the darkness. This is the brightest reflection nebula in the sky, and part of the huge molecular cloud surrounding Orion Nebula (M42) some 1,600 light years away.

Reflection nebula are named for the way they are illuminated, in this case, by star light, scattering and reflecting from minute dust particles.

Two hot, massive stars light up M78 from within, and along with dozens of smaller stars, produce a vigorous stellar wind that is hollowing out this nebula.

(Photo: Johannes Schedler, http://panther-observatory.com)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject: NGC 3190 Reply with quote

Turning toward the right, the dome goes black as an amber disk fades into view. NGC 3190 belongs to a group of four galaxies known as Hickson 44. NGC 3190 is located about 70 million light years away in the constellation Leo.

The group is named for Canadian astronomer Paul Hickson, who in 1982 published a catalog of 400 galaxies comprising compact, physically related, and gravitationally interacting groups. It is not surprising to observe therefore that NGC 3190's tightly wound spiral arms are highly distorted due to the proximity of its group neighbors.

We are viewing the arms edge on.

(Photo: European Southern Observatory)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject: NGC 6992 Veil Nebula Reply with quote

Crimson Veil

NGC 6992 designated the eastern part of the Veil Nebula, located approximately 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is also known as the Cygnus Loop, it is the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred more than 5,000 years ago. It is estimated that the stellar explosion from which the Veil Nebula was produced was brighter than any planet, and possibly as bright as a crescent Moon, and perhaps visible during daylight.

The Loop, a strong source of radio waves and X rays, is still expanding at about 100 kilometers (60 miles) per second.

<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/148279/ Cygnus-Loop>.




http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010928.html Credit: Steve Mandel, Hidden Valley Observatory


http://www.astro-pics.com/ngc6992.htm (Image used with written permission from Wolfgang Promper 2008)
300mm F4 Lens, SXV H9 HaRGB 60 20 20 20

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:40 pm    Post subject: Oval BA Reply with quote

Jupiter

Oval BA, descended of features first observed in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere nearly seventy years earlier and roughly half the diameter of the Great Red Spot, suddenly turned from white to red on February 24, 2006. This HST/ACS image acquired six weeks later shows Oval BA approaching the Great Red Spot from the west/southwest, as the two slowly drift toward each other. That summer, astronomers using the Gemini North telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, observed the closest encounter of the two red storms from which Red Spot Jr. emerged intact.



Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center) and I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley)
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: M13 Reply with quote

A Sphere of Stars

Messier 13, M13, the “Great globular cluster in Hercules,” is also called NGC 6205 and describes what is arguably the brightest globular cluster in the northern skies.

It is estimated to contain hundreds of thousands of stars. It is one of many huge conglomerations of older, red stars and a sprinkling of some younger, blue stars that orbits beyond the Milky Way.

Discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714. It lies at a distance of 25,100 LY, its angular diameter of 20' corresponds to a linear 145 light years - visually, it is perhaps 13' large.

Globular cluster M13 was selected in 1974 as target for one of the first radio messages addressed to possible extra-terrestrial intelligent races, and sent by the big radio telescope of the Arecibo Observatory.


http://www.astro-pics.com/m13nt.htm (Photo used with permission from Wolfgang Promper) Astro Systeme Austria 10” f2.2 Astrograph. LRGB 15 7 7 7
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Aquilla's new star cluster Reply with quote

Parting the Curtains

Using the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared vision, astronomers are able to see through otherwise opaque clouds of dust. Here we can see a dense cloud of dust and gas located in the constellation Aquilla, inside of which a previously unknown star cluster resides. Just below left of the center cluster is a bright white arc, probably indicating a giant star that is forming there.




http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/mediaimages/s ig/sig05-024.shtml


The infrared image was captured with the Spitzer's infrared array camera (IRAC). The picture is a 4-channel false-color composite, showing emission from wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), 5.8 microns (orange) and 8.0 microns (red).

The new cluster is seen in the center of the red nebula, or star-forming cloud, as the grouping of small blue, yellow, and green stars. The wisps of red are organic molecules within the dust which have been illuminated by nearby star formation. Green indicates the presence of hot hydrogen gas. Blue predominantly reveals older stars. The bright white arc located to the lower left side of the central star cluster shows the area where a massive star is forming.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject: NGC 2170 Reply with quote

NGC 2170

Blue reflection nebulae surrounding the hot blue-white stars and red glowing ionized hydrogen are contrasted here by dark lanes of gas and dust in NGC 2170, part of a vast star forming region located in the constellation Monoceros, known also as Mon R2, is classified an “R” association, which indicates the presence of reflection nebulosity. This occurs when starlight from bright, young stars reflects from minute, carbon-rich dust particles in the molecular cloud from which the stars have formed.

This nebula was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1784. Currently it is a fairly bright nebulosity of about 9.5 magnitude. It is found at Right Ascention 06H 00m 43s, Declination: 96 minutes 23.1 seconds



http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/NGC2170NM.html

“The core of the molecular cloud Mon R2 is associated with both a massive bipolar energetic outflow (one of the largest known outflows) and several radio sources thought to originate from water, formaldehyde, and OH Masers. Maser is an acronym for "Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". Masers form through the interaction between high-energy starlight and regions rich in various molecules. Both outflow phenomenon and maser acitivity occur in regions of very active star formation. These energetic phenomenon arise from the core of the Mon R2 cloud where a compact HII region and several dust embedded infrared sources have been identified, thought to be associated with pre-main sequence objects, presumably evolving hot B-type stars. The reflection Nebula VdB 68 shows the visible striations characteristic of older nebulae where the exciting star has begun to destroy the surrounding molecular material. The reflection nebulae NGC 2170 and VDB 69 show no such striations implying that they may be younger objects than VDB 68.”

Quote is taken from: http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/NGC2170text.htm l
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject: Eagle Nebula Reply with quote

Eagle Nebula

Messier 16, M16, is an open-star cluster lying approximately 7,000 light years away toward the constellation Serpens. Although it is often referred to as the Eagle Nebula, M16 is also called NGC 6611. It specifically identifies the brilliant open cluser that emerged from within the Eagle Nebula IC4703, which is the surrounding cloud of molecular hydrogen being ionized by the intense ultraviolet light blasting from the cluster.

The cluster stars are relatively young, about 5.5 million years old, a little more than 1/1,000th of the Sun’s age. This active star forming region is producing stars of the spectral type O6. The active star forming regions are the giant clouds of interstellar dust and gas. The brightest star in M16 has a visual magnitude of 8.24.

It is found at Right Ascension 18:18.8, declination -13:47. It has an apparent dimension of 7.0 arc minutes, and a visual brightness of 6.4.

It was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745. This cluster is also referred to as NGC 6611 and the nebula as IC 4703.



http://www.astro-pics.com/m16-mlm.htm (Used with permission from Wolfgang Promper)
Image details: RGB 30 30 40 FLI Microline 8300 ASA N12 Astrograph
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:27 pm    Post subject: Black Hole NGC 4696 Reply with quote

Bubbling Black Hole

Twin bubbles (seen here in blue) extend 10,000 light years into the surrounding, superhot gas (seen in red) on either side of a super massive black hole at the core of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4696 in the direction of the constellation Centaurus.

The bubbles are being formed by infalling gas, fueling jets of particles that are being propelled outward at near light speed by a magnetized disk of matter encircling the black hole.



Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.Allen et al; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G.Taylor; Infrared: NASA/ESA/McMaster Univ./W.Harris

“Surprisingly, the results indicate that most of the energy released by the infalling gas goes, not into an outpouring of light as is observed in many active galactic nuclei, but into jets of high-energy particles. Such jets can be launched from a magnetized gaseous disk around the central black hole, and blast away at near the speed of light to create huge bubbles.
An important implication of this work is that the conversion of energy by matter falling toward a black hole is much more efficient than nuclear or fossil fuels. For example, it is estimated that if a car was as fuel-efficient as these black holes, it could theoretically travel more than a billion miles on a gallon of gas!” (quote taken from: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2006/bhcen/)
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:54 pm    Post subject: M20 Trifid Nebula Reply with quote

Trifid Nebula M20

This nebula is one of the night sky’s most recognizable and spectacular objects. It is located about 6,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius, and is named for its three lobed appearance. It is located at Right Ascension 18:02.3, Declination -23:02. The Trifid is distinguished by dark lanes of dust and condensed gas, separately catalogued as B85 by astronomer E.E. Barnard.

The red ionized region comprising the nebula’s southern part is illuminated by a compact cluster of several young stars, including a hot super giant thirty times the mass of the Sun. This is an O type star designated HD 164492. Blue nebulosity dominant to the north is caused by light of another supergiant reflecting from interstellar dust.

This nebula is about 30 light years across.



This image is from: http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/M20NM.html and is a composit LRGB image with a total exposure time of 9 hours. Luminance 12.5” RC, 6 hours, color 12.5” RC, 3 hours.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:07 pm    Post subject: Pluto and Moons Reply with quote

The Pluto System

Pluto and its three moons was recently re-designated as a ‘dwarf planet’ by the International Astronomical Union. It is shown herewith the largest moon Charon, which was discovered in 1978. The other two moons are much smaller, and are called Nix and Hydra were found using the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. These two small moons orbit Pluto two to three times farther out than their larger sibling Charon.

“In mythology, Nyx is the goddess of the night. Among her many offspring was Charon, the boatman who ferried the dead across the river Styx into the underworld. Because asteroid 3908 already bears the Greek name Nyx, the IAU changed Nyx to its Egyptian equivalent, Nix. The mythological Hydra was a nine-headed serpent with poisonous blood. The Hydra had its den at the entrance to Hades, where Pluto and his wife Persephone were supposed to have entered the Underworld.” (quote taken from: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/plutos_mo ons.html)



http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/plutos_mo ons.html
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colorful Cartwheel

Combining multiple images of celestial objects taken at different light wavelengths provides researchers with a useful tool for sorting out the evolution of the object and its surroundings. This false color imageis of the Cartwheel Galaxy, ESO 350-40. This composite image shows the galaxy as seen by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer's Far Ultraviolet detector (blue); the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera-2 in B-band visible light (green); the Spitzer Space Telescope's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) at 8 microns (red); and the Chandra X-ray Observatory's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer-S array instrument (purple).

The bright blue outer ring indicates high UV emission associated with vigorous star formation, which is believed to have been triggered by one of the smaller galaxies at lower left that when crashing through the Cartwheel about 100 million years ago.


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/P. N. Appleton (SSC-Caltech)




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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:44 pm    Post subject: Large Magellanic Cloud Reply with quote

Large Magellanic Cloud, LMC in Infrared

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way approximately 160,000 light years away toward the southern constellations of Dorado and Mensa (The Dolphin and Table.)

In this Spitzer infrared image, the blue glow at the center is the light from older stars, and the swirling red areas are clouds of dust heated by more massive and luminous stars embedded within them.

The original image is a huge mosaic assembled from more than 100,000 separate frames.



Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Meixner (STScI) & the SAGE Legacy Team

“This vibrant image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy.
The infrared image, a mosaic of 300,000 individual tiles, offers astronomers a unique chance to study the lifecycle of stars and dust in a single galaxy. Nearly one million objects are revealed for the first time in this Spitzer view, which represents about a 1,000-fold improvement in sensitivity over previous space-based missions. Most of the new objects are dusty stars of various ages populating the Large Magellanic Cloud; the rest are thought to be background galaxies.

The blue color in the picture, seen most prominently in the central bar, represents starlight from older stars. The chaotic, bright regions outside this bar are filled with hot, massive stars buried in thick blankets of dust. The red color around these bright regions is from dust heated by stars, while the red dots scattered throughout the picture are either dusty, old stars or more distant galaxies. The greenish clouds contain cooler interstellar gas and molecular-sized dust grains illuminated by ambient starlight.

Astronomers say this image allows them to quantify the process by which space dust -- the same stuff that makes up planets and even people -- is recycled in a galaxy. The picture shows dust at its three main cosmic hangouts: around the young stars, where it is being consumed (red-tinted, bright clouds); scattered about in the space between stars (greenish clouds); and in expelled shells of material from old stars (randomly-spaced red dots).

The Large Magellanic Cloud, located 160,000 light-years from Earth, is one of a handful of dwarf galaxies that orbit our own Milky Way. It is approximately one-third as wide as the Milky Way, and, if it could be seen in its entirety, would cover the same amount of sky as a grid of about 480 full moons. About one-third of the entire galaxy can be seen in the Spitzer image.

This picture is a composite of infrared light captured by Spitzer. Light with wavelengths of 3.6 (blue) and 8 (green) microns was captured by the telescope's infrared array camera; 24-micron light (red) was detected by the multiband imaging photometer. “

http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2 006-17/ssc2006-17b.shtml
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: NGC 2467 Jolly Roger Reply with quote

The seating tilts back and the darkened dome to reveal what almost appears to be a colorful version of the Pirate’s Jolly Roger. This is also called the “Skull and Crossbones”. NGC 2467 is a thriving stellar nursery approximately 17,000 light years away toward the southern constellation Puppis (The ‘Stern’ of the archaic constellation Argo Navis) The stars here are relatively young, only 2 – 3 million years old and massive. Radiation and stellar wind streaming from the hot young stars is shaping and ionizing the molecular cloud of dust and gas from which the stars are formed.



Image credit: European Southern Observatory
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Andromeda M31 Reply with quote

The sky dome goes dark and seating turns right as the Andromeda Galaxy brightens. This is the nearest large galaxy to Earth, and easily seen on dark nights with the naked eye. The image of M31 combines infrared and x-ray data to reveal galactic structure that is otherwise invisible. The red shows dust in the galactic disk heated by starlight and re-emitting infrared radiation, while green defines a diffuse cloud of superhot gas permeating the galaxy. Finally, light blue dots peppering the view show the location of point like sources of high energy X-rays, which are mostly neutron stars created by supernovae and black holes that belong to binary star systems.


Image credit: X-ray NASA/JPL – Caltech/U.Mass Z. Li, Q.D.Wang
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:19 pm    Post subject: Andromeda Hot and Cold M31 Reply with quote

Andromeda Hot and Cold

The image of Andromeda shifts into a full display of the galaxy. This false color composite image of the Andromeda Galaxy combines ultraviolet light data acquired by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spacecraft with an infrared image taken from the Spitzer Space Telescope. The ultraviolet components (green and blue) shows regions of hot older and young stars while infrared data (red) maps cooler, dusty areas. Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy to us, located 2.5 million light years away.



Image credit: NASA/JPL Caltech K Gordon (Univ. of Ariz.) & GALEX Science
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:39 pm    Post subject: Perseus A Reply with quote

Heart of Perseus A

We leave Andromeda and turn toward the stars of Perseus. This Chandra X-ray image totals nearly one million seconds of exposure time depicts the region surrounding Perseus A (NGC 1275)), a giant galaxy in the Perseus Cluster of galaxies, located roughly 250 million light years away in the constellation for which it is named. Huge plumes of multimillion degree gas swirl around NGC 1275, while outflows from a super-massive black hole within the galaxy are creating low pressure regions in the gas. Dark blue filaments near the center are likely the remains of a passing galaxy that has been shredded by the black hole.


Image credit: NASA/CXC/IoA/ A Fabian et al

A 53-hour Chandra observation of the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster (left) has revealed wavelike features (right) that appear to be sound waves. The features were discovered by using a special image-processing technique to bring out subtle changes in brightness.

These sound waves are thought to have been produced by explosive events occurring around a supermassive black hole (bright white spot) in Perseus A, the huge galaxy at the center of the cluster. The pitch of the sound waves translates into the note of B flat, 57 octaves below middle-C. This frequency is over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing, so the sound is much too deep to be heard.

The image also shows two vast, bubble-shaped cavities, each about 50 thousand light years wide, extending away from the central supermassive black hole. These cavities, which are bright sources of radio waves, are not really empty, but filled with high-energy particles and magnetic fields. They push the hot X-ray emitting gas aside, creating sound waves that sweep across hundreds of thousands of light years.

The detection of intergalactic sound waves may solve the long-standing mystery of why the hot gas in the central regions of the Perseus cluster has not cooled over the past ten billion years to form trillions of stars. As sounds waves move through gas, they are eventually absorbed and their energy is converted to heat. In this way, the sound waves from the supermassive black hole in Perseus A could keep the cluster gas hot.
The explosive activity occurring around the supermassive black hole is probably caused by large amounts of gas falling into it, perhaps from smaller galaxies that are being cannibalized by Perseus A. The dark blobs in the central region of the Chandra image may be fragments of such a doomed galaxy.

http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/perseus/
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 5:52 pm    Post subject: Massive Stars in Scorpius Reply with quote

Massive stars in Scorpius
Some of the largest stars known, including what may be the most massive star yet observed, belong to the open-star cluster Pismis 24, associated with the emission nebula NGC 6357 in the constellation Scorpius. The largest and brightest of the stars at the top of this image is estimated to be up to 200 times the mass of the Sun. Intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds are sculpting the molecular cloud from which these newer stars formed.


Photo credit: NASA / ESA and JM Apelliniz (IAA, Spain)
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject: Suns in Bloom M63 Reply with quote

Striking and complex structures of dust lanes – reminiscent of a multi-petal flower – provide a recognizable basis for naming spiral galaxy M63 the “Sunflower Galaxy”. It is located approximately 37 million light years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. M63 was the first deep sky object discovered by Pierre Mechain, a friend and collaborator with French astronomer Charles Messier.


Photo credit: Stefan Seip 2006 www.photmeeting.de/astromeeting
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:21 pm    Post subject: Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant Reply with quote

Infrared Remnant

Cassiopeia A or Cas A for short, is a supernova remnant 11,000 light years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. In this composite image taken with the IRAC camera on board the Spitzer Space Telescope, data from three separate wavelengths of infrared light were combined to create this visual representation to show structure otherwise invisible to the human eye. Blue glowing regions near the outer edge reveal material heated by the outward moving shock wave created when the progenitor star exploded. Green, yellow and red areas are material ejected by the star heated by a rebound shock wave.


Image credit: NASA/ JPL Caltech / L. Rudnick (Univ. of Minn.)
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:43 pm    Post subject: Milky Way Warm Glow Reply with quote

The blackness of the dome begins to glow in warm shades of reds, oranges and just a hint of yellow. Have you ever looked into a campfire pit after the flames have died down? The dusty ashes appear devoid of even the slightest hint of the dull red glow indicating live embers, but placing a hand near them, you discover that they are in fact quite hot, and still very much “live”? You are feeling infrared light in much the same way, dust in interstellar space obscures visible light, but is much more transparent to infrared. In this Spitzer image the otherwise invisible center of the Milky Way blazes in infrared light emitted by dust warmed from embedded stars.


Photo credit: NASA/ JPL Caltech S. Stolovy (Spitzer Science Center / Caltech)
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