The Perseus Cluster by Chandra. Click for larger. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Bulbul, et al.
You want big? The Perseus Cluster is BIG!
Perseus A (aka NGC 1275) is 72.7 Mpc (237 million light-years) away in the constellation Perseus of all places.
Perseus is located at RA: 03h 25m 20.601s Dec: +49°54’29.118″,actually the location of Mirfak, the alpha star which means it is the brightest star in the constellation. Easily visible in the northern sky, it is home to the Double Cluster, a pair of open clusters, simply beautiful, It’s one of my favorites and very easy to find (the link has a finders chart).
From the Chandra site:
This image is Chandra’s latest view of the Perseus Cluster, where red, green, and blue show low, medium, and high-energy X-rays respectively. It combines data equivalent to more than 17 days worth of observing time taken over a decade with Chandra. The Perseus Cluster is one of the most massive objects in the Universe, and contains thousands of galaxies immersed in an enormous cloud of superheated gas.
In Chandra’s X-ray image, enormous bright loops, ripples, and jet-like streaks throughout the cluster can be seen. The dark blue filaments in the center are likely due to a galaxy that has been torn apart and is falling into NGC 1275 (a.k.a. Perseus A), the giant galaxy that lies at the center of the cluster. A different view of Perseus combines data from Chandra in the inner regions of the cluster and XMM data in the outer regions.
Hubble’s view of NGC 3081. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: R. Buta (University of Alabama) Text credit: European Space Agency
Another stunning image from the Hubble!
NGC 3081 is about 34.3 Mpc away (that’s about 112 Million light-years!) in the constellation of Hydra. There are two People credited with the discovery of this galaxy: by William Herschel on 21 Dec 1786 and later listed as NGC 3081, and by Lewis Swift on 11 Apr 1898 and later listed as IC 2529. The internet was slower back then. Just kidding, it’s not at all far fetched to have independent discoveries.
NGC and IC are both catalogs. IC is for the Index Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars which is an update to the New General Catalogue. NGC was put together in the 1880’s by John Dreyer using data from William and John Herschel (father and son). The Index Catalogue or IC was published in two sections by Dreyer in 1895 and 1908.
I think there are at around 7840 entries in the NGC.
ESA’s description (via NASA):
Taking center stage in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a galaxy known as NGC 3081, set against an assortment of glittering galaxies in the distance. Located in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent), NGC 3081 is located over 86 million light-years from us. It is known as a type II Seyfert galaxy, characterized by its dazzling nucleus.
NGC 3081 is seen here nearly face-on. Compared to other spiral galaxies, it looks a little different. The galaxy’s barred spiral center is surrounded by a bright loop known as a resonance ring. This ring is full of bright clusters and bursts of new star formation, and frames the supermassive black hole thought to be lurking within NGC 3081 — which glows brightly as it hungrily gobbles up in-falling material.
NGC 7538 from Herschel. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Whitman College
We know that NGC 7538 is a star factory from Herschel data (see earlier post), turns out there is a puzzling feature located there too:
The Herschel Space Observatory has uncovered a weird ring of dusty material while obtaining one of the sharpest scans to date of a huge cloud of gas and dust, called NGC 7538. The gigantic ring structure is situated at the center-top of this image. The odd ovoid possesses the mass of 500 suns, with its long axis spanning about 35 light-years and its short axis about 25 light-years.
The Wirlpool glitters in x-ray light. Click for larger. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard, et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
The Whirlpool Galaxy or M51 is a nice telescope target in the northern sky. I think it could be seen with binoculars with good skies because even at around 37 million light-years (11.3 Mpc) the galaxy pair is a bright 8.4.
This is also a very large system, the image spans 52,000 by 87,000 light-years.
The Chandra image is the product of a combined exposure of 9 days, 16 hours and 10 minutes between the x-ray and optical components. It really does sparkle in x-ray light.
Nearly a million seconds of observing time with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way glittering with hundreds of X-ray points of light.
The galaxy is officially named Messier 51 (M51) or NGC 5194, but often goes by its nickname of the “Whirlpool Galaxy.” Like the Milky Way, the Whirlpool is a spiral galaxy with spectacular arms of stars and dust. M51 is located about 30 million light years from Earth, and its face-on orientation to Earth gives us a perspective that we can never get of our own spiral galactic home.
Read the rest and get larger version at the Chandra website.
Here is one of the most colorful deep field images ever taken by the amazing Hubble. Below is a video of the image which I like because it shows how small an area is being looked at and how much is there.
The video is great but take a look at a large version at HubbleSite. You will be treated to the full image, a composite of separate exposures taken in 2003 to 2012 with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3. It is AMAZING!
Hubble records the shrinking of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) Acknowledgment: C. Go, H. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, and AURA), and R. Beebe (New Mexico State University)
The famous Red Spot on Jupiter is shrinking and thanks to this great look from Hubble we can see exactly how much.
Just look at Jupiter though, stunning!
Jupiter’s monster storm, the Great Red Spot, was once so large that three Earths would fit inside it. But new measurements by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal that the largest storm in our solar system has downsized significantly. The red spot, which has been raging for at least a hundred years, is only the width of one Earth. What is happening? One possibility is that some unknown activity in the planet’s atmosphere may be draining energy and weakening the storm, causing it to shrink. The Hubble images were taken in 1995, 2009, and 2014.
A very nice look at NGC 4605 by Hubble. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts) and the LEGUS Team
Some overlooked viewing opportunities are available in the northern skies. Not surprising, all the action is near the ecliptic and the northern sky is by comparison sparsely populated in the north.
If you are looking for something different, try a good look in and around Ursa Major.
Below is the description from a NASA site, the link will go to that page with larger versions of the image. The description talks about groups or clusters of galaxies and how even they are bound to each other by gravity — good stuff.
Hubble Eyes a Scale of the Universe
This bundle of bright stars and dark dust is a dwarf spiral galaxy known as NGC 4605, located around 16 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). This galaxy’s spiral structure is not obvious from this image, but NGC 4605 is classified as an SBc type galaxy — meaning that it has sprawling, loosely wound arms and a bright bar of stars cutting through its center.
Hubble’s look at the aurora on Saturn. Credit: NASA/ESA, Acknowledgement: J. Nichols (University of Leicester)
The details from ESA’s Space in Images:
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured new images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn’s north pole. Taken in April and May 2013 from Hubble’s perspective in orbit around Earth, these observations provide a detailed look at previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow.
The ultraviolet images, taken by Hubble’s super-sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, capture moments when Saturn’s magnetic field is affected by bursts of particles streaming from the Sun.
Saturn’s magnetosphere – the vast magnetic ‘bubble’ that surrounds the planet – is compressed on the Sunward side of the planet, and streams out into a long ‘magnetotail’ on the nightside.
It appears that when particles from the Sun hit Saturn, the magnetotail collapses and later reconfigures itself, an event that is reflected in the dynamics of its auroras.
Saturn was caught during a very dynamic light show – some of the bursts of light seen shooting around Saturn’s polar regions travelled more than three times faster than the speed of the gas giant’s roughly 10-hour rotation period!
The new observations were taken as part of a three-year Hubble observing campaign, and are presented in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The images complement those taken by the international Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn.
The galaxy known as M61 as seen by Hubble. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NAS, Acknowledgement: Det58
This image of the galaxy M61 by Hubble. This galaxy is a very nice telescope target and if you have dark skies possibly even binoculars can pick it out. Currently M61 is leading Mars so if you can see Mars you can see this galaxy.
M61 from SEDS.
The description from NASA and ESA:
This new Hubble picture is the sharpest ever image of the core of spiral galaxy Messier 61. Taken using the High Resolution Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, the central part of the galaxy is shown in striking detail.
Also known as NGC 4303, this galaxy is roughly 100,000 light-years across, comparable in size to our galaxy, the Milky Way. Both Messier 61 and our home galaxy belong to a group of galaxies known as the Virgo Supercluster in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) — a group of galaxy clusters containing up to 2,000 spiral and elliptical galaxies in total.
Messier 61 is a type of galaxy known as a starburst galaxy. Starburst galaxies experience an incredibly high rate of star formation, hungrily using up their reservoir of gas in a very short period of time (in astronomical terms). But this is not the only activity going on within the galaxy; 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 passing comet — the comet of 1779.
A gravitaional lensed galaxy from Hubble and Hershel. Credit: NASA/STScI; S. Allam and team; and the Master Lens Database, L. A. Moustakas, K. Stewart, et al (2014)
Hubble and Herschel combine to study the galaxy known as S0901 seen here as a arc. The arc is a result of huge gravitational forces from a galaxy or galaxies between us and the galactic arc, gravity so strong light from the more distant S0901 is actually magnified and bent into an arc.
Fascinating stuff! I do wonder if we will ever be able to sort of reverse engineer the arc into some semblance of the actual hidden galaxy.
target=”blank’>More images and the following caption at NASA:
The young galaxy SDSS090122.37+181432.3, also known as S0901, is seen here as the bright arc to the left of the central bright galaxy. The distorted view of S0901 is caused by gravitational lensing, resulting from one or more galaxies that lie between the observer and S0901. Although one effect of lensing is to distort the image, another effect is to magnify the light of the lensed object. This effect was used to enable scientists to study S0901 with Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI).