Category Archives: Space Telescope

Eta Carinae

etacarina

We now know Eta Carina has analogs (described at twins) in other galaxies.

Here’s the story at NASA (includes images of the other systems).

From Hubble/NASA/ESA:
Astronomers cannot yet explain what caused the titanic eruption of star Eta Carinae in the 1840s. The discovery of likely Eta Carinae “twins” in other galaxies will help scientists better understand this brief phase in the life of a massive star.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

Image Credit :NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

 

Merging Galaxies

hubblemerginggalaxy

ESA’s caption:

This image, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the galaxy NGC 6052, located around 230 million light-years away in the constellation of Hercules.

It would be reasonable to think of this as a single abnormal galaxy, and it was originally classified as such. However, it is in fact a “new” galaxy in the process of forming. Two separate galaxies have been gradually drawn together, attracted by gravity, and have collided. We now see them merging into a single structure.

As the merging process continues, individual stars are thrown out of their original orbits and placed onto entirely new paths, some very distant from the region of the collision itself. Since the stars produce the light we see, the “galaxy” now appears to have a highly chaotic shape. Eventually, this new galaxy will settle down into a stable shape, which may not resemble either of the two original galaxies.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Happy New Year!

Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24
Source: Hubblesite.org

Happy New Year everybody!

What better way to start the new year than a picture of a baby, a baby star that is.

From Hubblesite:

Just about anything is possible in our remarkable universe, and it often competes with the imaginings of science fiction writers and filmmakers. Hubble’s latest contribution is a striking photo of what looks like a double-bladed lightsaber straight out of the Star Wars films. In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe. Gas from a surrounding disk rains down onto the dust-obscured protostar and engorges it. The material is superheated and shoots outward from the star in opposite directions along an uncluttered escape route — the star’s rotation axis. Much more energetic than a science fiction lightsaber, these narrow energetic beams are blasting across space at over 100,000 miles per hour. This celestial lightsaber does not lie in a galaxy far, far away but rather inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

What am I doing on the first day of 2016? Waiting for the furnace repair guy to show up.

NuSTAR and NGC 1068

nustar

Galaxy NGC 1068 is shown in visible light and X-rays in this composite image. High-energy X-rays (magenta) captured by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, are overlaid on visible-light images from both NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The X-ray light is coming from an active supermassive black hole, also known as a quasar, in the center of the galaxy. This supermassive black hole has been extensively studied due to its relatively close proximity to our galaxy. NGC 1068 is about 47 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus.

The supermassive black hole is also one of the most obscured known, blanketed by thick clouds of gas and dust. NuSTAR’s high-energy X-ray view is the first to penetrate the walls of this black hole’s hidden lair.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, California, and with support from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) Science Data Center.

NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at UC Berkeley, with the ASI providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission’s outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California. NASA’s Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Roma Tre Univ.

Stellar Shrapnel

Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant
Source: Hubblesite.org

Beautiful image of the Veil Nebula. I always have a hard time trying to take a decent image of the Veil,

Hubble description:
Not long before the dawn of recorded human history, our distant ancestors would have witnessed what appeared to be a bright new star briefly blazing in the northern sky, rivaling the glow of our moon. In fact, it was the titanic detonation of a bloated star much more massive than our sun. Now, thousands of years later, the expanding remnant of that blast can be seen as the Cygnus Loop, a donut-shaped nebula that is six times the apparent diameter of the full moon. The Hubble Space Telescope was used to zoom into a small portion of that remnant, called the Veil Nebula. Hubble resolves tangled rope-like filaments of glowing gases. Supernovae enrich space with heavier elements used in the formation of future stars and planets — and possibly life.

Visit Hubblesite for larger images.

Changes in the Great Red Spot

Click the image for a larger version.

We have seen features on Jupiter change from time to time.  Here we see changes to  the Great Red Spot.  Using a top notch observatory like Hubble and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 3 (WFPC3) helps a great deal.

About the image from NASA:

The movement of Jupiter’s clouds can be seen by comparing the first map to the second one in this animated pair of images. Zooming in on the Great Red Spot at blue (below, at left) and red (below, at right) wavelengths reveals a unique filamentary feature not previously seen.

Image: NASA/ESA/GSFC/UCBerkeley/JPL-Caltech/STScI

 

Mysterious Ripples Found

AU Microscopii
Source: Hubblesite.org

Hubblesite – Though astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars, very little is known about how they are born. The conventional wisdom is that planets coagulate inside a vast disk of gas and dust encircling newborn stars. But the details of the process are not well understood because it takes millions of years to happen as the disk undergoes numerous changes until it finally dissipates.

The young, nearby star AU Microscopii (AU Mic) is an ideal candidate to get a snapshot of planet birthing because the disk is tilted nearly edge on to our view from Earth. This very oblique perspective offers an opportunity to see structure in the disk that otherwise might go unnoticed. Astronomers are surprised to uncover fast-moving, wave-like features embedded in the disk that are unlike anything ever observed, or even predicted. Whatever they are, these ripples are moving at 22,000 miles per hour — fast enough to escape the star’s gravitational pull. This parade of blob-like features stretches farther from the star than Pluto is from our sun. They are so mysterious it’s not known if they are somehow associated with planet formation, or some unimagined, bizarre activity inside the disk.

Learn even more about AU Mic by joining the live Hubble Hangout discussion at 3:00 pm EDT on Thurs., Oct. 8 at http://hbbl.us/y6M.

The Veil Nebula by Hubble

Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant
Source: Hubblesite.org

Stunning.  I have tried to get an image of the Veil for a long time, so I have a great appreciation for this picture.  Then again this is from Hubble.

Click the image to see a zoomable version at Hubblesite.

Not long before the dawn of recorded human history, our distant ancestors would have witnessed what appeared to be a bright new star briefly blazing in the northern sky, rivaling the glow of our moon. In fact, it was the titanic detonation of a bloated star much more massive than our sun. Now, thousands of years later, the expanding remnant of that blast can be seen as the Cygnus Loop, a donut-shaped nebula that is six times the apparent diameter of the full moon. The Hubble Space Telescope was used to zoom into a small portion of that remnant, called the Veil Nebula. Hubble resolves tangled rope-like filaments of glowing gases. Supernovae enrich space with heavier elements used in the formation of future stars and planets — and possibly life.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Milky Way’s Black Hole is Getting Active

sagA

Is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way becoming more active?  It’s been getting some attention lately.  There is ten-fold increase of X-ray flares from Sagittarius A* since an object called G2 made a close approach.

Here’s the NASA  / Chandra press release:

Three orbiting X-ray space telescopes have detected an increased rate of X-ray flares from the usually quiet giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy after new long-term monitoring.

Scientists are trying to learn whether this is normal behavior that was unnoticed due to limited monitoring, or these flares are triggered by the recent close passage of a mysterious, dusty object.

Continue reading

Star Clusters in Andromeda

Star Clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy
Source: Hubblesite.org

The Andromeda galaxy is an easy telescope target it is a relatively bright magnitude 3.4 and very large. I am in a new location and seem to have pretty dark skies, could it be a binocular target? I’m soon to find out.

Hubble took a look and found open star clusters in Andromeda 2.5 million light-years away. Our own Milky Way has many star clusters and I have a favorite – the Double Cluster.

The image description from Hubblesite:

[Top] — This is a Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of 414 photographs of the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy (M31). The vast panorama was assembled from nearly 8,000 separate exposures taken in near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. Embedded within this view are 2,753 star clusters. The view is 61,600 light-years across and contains images of 117 million stars in the galaxy’s disk.

[Bottom-Left] — An enlargement of the boxed field in the top image reveals myriad stars and numerous open star clusters as bright blue knots. Hubble’s bird’s-eye view of M31 allowed astronomers to conduct a larger-than-ever sampling of star clusters that are all at the same distance from Earth, 2.5 million light-years. The view is 4,400 light-years across.

[Bottom-Right] — This is a view of six bright blue clusters extracted from the field. Hubble astronomers discovered that, for whatever reason, nature apparently cooks up stars with a consistent distribution from massive stars to small stars (blue supergiants to red dwarfs). This remains a constant across the galaxy, despite the fact that the clusters vary in mass by a factor of 10 and range in age from 4 million to 24 million years old. Each cluster square is 150 light-years across.

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler