Plasma Jets in 4C12.50

A combination of Hubble and VLBI data of the galaxy 4C12.50 showing the plasma jet (inset is a close up).  Credit: optical: HST/STSci/Tadhunter et al.; radio: VLBI, Morganti et al. 2013

A combination of Hubble and VLBI data of the galaxy 4C12.50 showing the plasma jet (inset is a close up). Credit: optical: HST/STSci/Tadhunter et al.; radio: VLBI, Morganti et al. 2013

What can you do with a radio telescope as big as the Earth? You can look into the hearts of galaxies 1.5 to 2 BILLION light-years away and actually make out plasma jets from a supermassive black hole, like the one above called. 4C12.50.

Both the image and JIVE are described in this press release from the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE):

DWINGELOO, The Netherlands (5 September 2013) – The jets which are shot away into space by the supermassive black hole in the centre of a galaxy, clear gas away from the galaxy. The first clear evidence of this was obtained by a team led by Raffaella Morganti (ASTRON, University of Groningen). The results will be published in Science on the 6th of September.

Astronomers have been puzzled by the fact that many galaxies in the Universe seem to be depleted of their gas and are therefore unable to form any new stars. Fast outflows of gas have been observed in the past, but the mechanism driving these outflows was not understood. The suspicion that the powerful plasma jets that are shot into space by the central supermassive black hole are responsible for the expulsion of the gas has now been confirmed.
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Hubble 12

Planetary nebula PN Hb 12 or simply Hubble 12. Copyright: NASA, ESA, A. Zijlstra; Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington

Planetary nebula PN Hb 12 or simply Hubble 12. Copyright: NASA, ESA, A. Zijlstra; Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington

Amazingly symmetrical.

Kudos to Josh Barrington and the great job with the processing.

From the ESA website:

This image shows an example of a bipolar planetary nebula known as PN Hb 12 — popularly known as Hubble 12 — in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The striking shape of this nebula, reminiscent of a butterfly or an hourglass, was formed as a Sun-like star approached the end of its life and puffed its outer layers into the surrounding space. For bipolar nebulae, this material is funnelled towards the poles of the ageing star, creating the distinctive double-lobed structure.
Observations using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NTT have found that bipolar planetary nebulae located towards the central bulge of our Milky Way appear to be strangely aligned in the sky — a surprising result given their varied and chaotic formation.
PN Hb 12 was not part of the new study. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Josh Barrington.

Sagittarius A

Sagittarius A - The Central Milky Way Image credit: X-ray: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al., IR: NASA/STScI

Sagittarius A – The Central Milky Way Image credit: X-ray: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al., IR: NASA/STScI

I always enjoy these looks into the center of our Milky Way especially these collaborations between telescopic instruments.

At about 8,000 parsecs the black hole is close enough for pretty decent observations and finding surprises. Looks like less than 1 percent of material in the grasp of the black know actually gets assimilated?

Didn’t see that one coming.

Here is the Chandra press release (get larger images here too):

The center of the Milky Way galaxy, with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), located in the middle, is revealed in these images. As described in our press release, astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to take a major step in understanding why material around Sgr A* is extraordinarily faint in X-rays.

The large image contains X-rays from Chandra in blue and infrared emission from the Hubble Space Telescope in red and yellow. The inset shows a close-up view of Sgr A* in X-rays only, covering a region half a light year wide. The diffuse X-ray emission is from hot gas captured by the black hole and being pulled inwards. This hot gas originates from winds produced by a disk-shaped distribution of young massive stars observed in infrared observations.
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PGC 10922

Hubble's view of PGC 10922.  Click for larger.  ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Hubble’s view of PGC 10922. Click for larger. ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Here is an image of PGC 10922. The ESA caption is below but for some other particulars that makes this Hubble view even more outstanding:

The galaxy is located at RA 02h 53m 35.9s and DEC -83d 08m 32s and it’s about 67.92 Mpc away (about 221 million light-years).  It shines  at a magnitude 13.7 and is small at around one (1) arc minute +/-.

Want a comparison between Hubble and a ground based image?  Have a look at this image from the 2MASS 1.3m telescope at the ESO.

One other interesting thing about the image is it is has a redshift velocity (moving away from us) of 4,830 km/second (z = 0.016111), that’s nearly 11 million mph for the metrically challenged.

Here’s the ESA caption (via NASA and you can get different sizes of the image at this link):

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this image of PGC 10922, an example of a lenticular galaxy — a galaxy type that lies on the border between ellipticals and spirals.
Seen face-on, the image shows the disk and tightly-wound spiral structures of dark dust encircling the bright center of the galaxy. There is also a remarkable outer halo of faint wide arcs or shells extending outwards, covering much of the picture. These are likely to have been formed by a gravitational encounter or even a merger with another galaxy. Some dust also appears to have escaped from the central structure and has spread out across the inner shells. An extraordinarily rich background of more remote galaxies can also be seen in the image.

Stellar Nurseries

Part of Herschels view of Orion.  Credit: ESA

Part of Herschel’s view of Orion. Credit: ESA

Wow, just wow and what you see here is only part of the image (see below).

This Herschel image is the region just below the three stars that make up the belt of Orion, specifically in the sword. ESA’s image description explains it all pretty nicely.

I want to add that if you have a telescope and even a pair of binoculars (binoculars are a wonderful way to view the night sky BTW) spend some time looking at each of principle stars of the Orion. This constellation has much to offer, from the Great Orion Nebula (M42) and the stellar nurseries to the hot stars to aging Betelgeuse.

This new view of the Orion A star-formation cloud from ESA’s Herschel space observatory shows the turbulent region of space that hugs the famous Orion Nebula.

The nebula lies about 1500 light years from Earth within the ‘sword of Orion’ – below the three main stars that form the belt of the Orion constellation.

In this view, the nebula corresponds to the brightest region in the centre of the image, where it is lit up by the Trapezium group of stars at its heart.

Read the rest of Embracing Orion at ESA and see the while image.

The Spitzer Space Telescope is 10-years old!

The IRIS Nebula as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope and the WISE spacecraft.  Click for larger. Image:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

The IRIS Nebula as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope and the WISE spacecraft. Click for larger. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image from 24 May 2013 is one of the many taken by the now 10-year old Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer supplied the infrared data and the rest came from the WISE spacecraft (the parts Spitzer could not see).

The image is of the Iris Nebula located about 1,300 light-years (~398.8 parsecs) away in the constellation Cephus. The Iris Nebula is also known as NGC 7023.

Spitzer with its infrared vision was launched on August 25, 2003, the last of the so-called Great Observaties missions by NASA. The other three being: Hubble – visible light, Chandra X-Ray Observatory – x-ray, and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory – Gamma-Ray.

Image source

Cosmic Illusion

Hubble's cosmic illusion.  Click for larger.  Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

Hubble’s cosmic illusion. Click for larger. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

It’s not the collision it looks like. The cloud of stars is an irregular galaxy PGC 16389 From what I can tell it is located at RA: 04 h56m 58.7s and Dec: -42d 48m 14s, the magnitude is 14.4 and it’s about 1.3 arc minutes across. The galaxy has a radial velocity of 657 km/sec (derived from a redshift 0.002192z), an accurate (as accurate as cosmic get in the first place) doesn’t seem to be available.

This Hubbble picture is a classic, the number of galaxies in the background is amazing.

Here is the caption for image and you should visit the site though to see larger versions even desktop size.

At first glance, this Hubble picture appears to capture two space giants entangled in a fierce celestial battle, with two galaxies entwined and merging to form one. But this shows just how easy it is to misinterpret the jumble of sparkling stars and get the wrong impression — as it’s all down to a trick of perspective.

By chance, these galaxies appear to be aligned from our point of view. In the foreground, the irregular dwarf galaxy PGC 16389 — seen here as a cloud of stars — covers its neighboring galaxy APMBGC 252+125-117, which appears edge-on as a streak. This wide-field image also captures many other more distant galaxies, including a quite prominent face-on spiral towards the right of the picture.

IRIS and SDO Imagers

This image compares the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) at 1600 Angstroms (on left) to the IRIS' Si IV (on right). Credit: NASA. Credit: NASA/SDO/IRIS

This image compares the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) at 1600 Angstroms (on left) to the IRIS’ Si IV (on right). Credit: NASA. Credit: NASA/SDO/IRIS

Wow, the the new IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft promises to be a valuable addition to the satellites already observing the Sun.

The IRIS has one instrument, an ultraviolet telescope with a mirror of around 20 cm (8 in) with an imaging spectrograph. The imaging setup will take observations at specific temperatures to target material on the solar surface (photosphere) and the lower atmosphere. These observations are in the form of an image every 5 to 10 seconds and spectra about every one to two. The result is a very capapble set up that has a small field of veiw with amazing resolution, features down to 240 km (150 miles).

I like NASA’s suggestion to think of IRIS as acting a “microscope” for the wider field imagers aboard other satellites such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory peering into regions we know little of up to now.

A larger look at the IRIS image above can be found here.

A Kilonova

A fireball following a gamma-ray burst (as predicted) is captured by Hubble.  Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Tanvir (University of Leicester), A. Fruchter (STScI), and A. Levan (University of Warwick)

A fireball following a gamma-ray burst (as predicted) is captured by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Tanvir (University of Leicester), A. Fruchter (STScI), and A. Levan (University of Warwick)

Finally! This is very exciting: The Hubble has captured what is known as a Kilonova and in the process helps us down the road of showing a short-duration gamma-ray bursts can be set off by the collision and merger of two of the densest objects we know of: a pair of neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole.

The gamma-ray burst occured in the constellation Leo at a distance of 4-BILLION light-years.

I’ll let NASA explain (the link goes to a more detailed explanation plus more images):

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently provided the strongest evidence yet that short-duration gamma ray bursts are produced by the merger of two small, super-dense stellar objects.

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Hubblesite’s ISON Blog

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble.  Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble. Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Have a look at this Hubble image of ISON; wow it’s amazing on so many levels, it’s destined to be on my desktop.

The internet conspiracy activity is beginning to blossom. LOL. I’ve also gotten emails trying to explain how and why ISON is in the process of fizzling out to be a non-event later this year.

I’m not going to bite at least until I hear it from a reputable source like the new Hubblesite ISONblog which promises a great source of current data about ISON over time.

Here’s part of what Hubblesite has to say about this image and if you want larger versions of it, perhaps for your desktops click here:

In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, the sun-approaching Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.