Celebrating 28 Years of the Hubble Space Telescope

This colorful image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, celebrates the Earth-orbiting observatory’s 28th anniversary of viewing the heavens, giving us a window seat to the universe’s extraordinary stellar tapestry of birth and destruction. via NASA https://ift.tt/2vopVdE

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 7 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and left of the Bubble’s center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and some 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The intriguing Bubble Nebula and associated cloud complex lie a mere 7,100 light-years away toward the boastful constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp, tantalizing view of the cosmic bubble is a composite of Hubble Space Telescope image data from 2016, reprocessed to present the nebula’s intense narrowband emission in an approximate true color scheme. via NASA https://ift.tt/2HBnKIw

Milky Way over Deadvlei in Namibia

What planet is this? It is the only planet currently known to have trees. The trees in Deadvlei, though, have been dead for over 500 years. Located in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia (Earth), saplings grew after rainfall caused a local river to overflow, but died after sand dunes shifted to section off the river. High above and far in the distance, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy forms an arch over a large stalk in this well-timed composite image, taken last month. The soil of white clay appears to glow by reflected starlight. Rising on the left, under the Milky Way’s arch, is a band of zodiacal light — sunlight reflected by dust orbiting in the inner Solar System. On the right, just above one of Earth’s larger sand dunes, an astute eye can find the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our galaxy. Finding the Small Magellanic Cloud in the featured image, though, is perhaps too hard. via NASA https://ift.tt/2J4DFMA

M57: The Ring Nebula

Except for the rings of Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57) is probably the most famous celestial band. Its classic appearance is understood to be due to our own perspective, though. The recent mapping of the expanding nebula’s 3-D structure, based in part on this clear Hubble image,indicates that the nebula is a relatively dense, donut-like ring wrapped around the middle of a (American) football-shaped cloud of glowing gas. The view from planet Earth looks down the long axis of the football, face-on to the ring. Of course, in this well-studied example of a planetary nebula, the glowing material does not come from planets. Instead, the gaseous shroud represents outer layers expelled from the dying, once sun-like star, now a tiny pinprick of light seen at the nebula’s center. Intense ultraviolet light from the hot central star ionizes atoms in the gas. The Ring Nebula is about one light-year across and 2,000 light-years away. via NASA https://ift.tt/2HHgEzK

Seasons of Snow Cover in the West

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this photo while flying over the western United States. The wide field of view stretches from the Sierra Nevada of California to the Columbia Plateau of Oregon and the Snake River Valley of Idaho. Lake Tahoe is nestled on the border of California and Nevada. via NASA https://ift.tt/2qCFhXg

Flyover of Jupiters North Pole in Infrared

What would it look like to fly over the North Pole of Jupiter? A fictional animation made from real images and data captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft shows an answer. Since the pole is presently in shadow, the video uses infrared light emitted by Jupiter — specifically an infrared color where the hottest features glows the brightest. As the animation starts, Juno zooms in on the enormous world. Soon, one of the eight cyclones orbiting the North Pole is featured. One by one, all eight cyclones circling the pole are inspected, each the size of an entire continent on Earth, and each containing bumpy and fragmented spiral walls. The virtual trip ends with a zoom out. Studying Jovian cyclones helps humanity to better understand dangerous storm systems that occur here on Earth. Juno has recently concluded another close pass by Jupiter — Perijove 12 — and seems healthy enough to complete several more of the two-month orbits. via NASA https://ift.tt/2EM34s1

Martian Chiaroscuro

Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface. Recorded on January 24, 2014 by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers. From 250 kilometers above the Red Planet the camera is looking down at a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was about 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests were caught in full sunlight. A long, cold winter is coming to the southern hemisphere and bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes. via NASA https://ift.tt/2JJcIPN

NASA’s TESS Mission Hopes to Find Exoplanets Beyond Our Solar System

The worlds orbiting other stars are called “exoplanets,” and they come in a wide variety of sizes, from gas giants larger than Jupiter to small, rocky planets about as big around as Earth or Mars. This rocky super-Earth is an illustration of the type of planets future telescopes, like NASA’s TESS, hope to find outside our solar system. via NASA https://ift.tt/2HAq6VW

Facing NGC 3344

From our vantage point in the Milky Way Galaxy, we see NGC 3344 face-on. Nearly 40,000 light-years across, the big, beautiful spiral galaxy is located just 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo Minor. This multi-color Hubble Space Telescope close-up of NGC 3344 includes remarkable details from near infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths. The frame extends some 15,000 light-years across the spiral’s central regions. From the core outward, the galaxy’s colors change from the yellowish light of old stars in the center to young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions along the loose, fragmented spiral arms. Of course, the bright stars with a spiky appearance are in front of NGC 3344 and lie well within our own Milky Way. via NASA https://ift.tt/2qvIXce