Cosmic Cloud Mon R2


A beautiful image from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory.

See a larger version here at ESA.

Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/HOBYS Key Programme consortium

From ESA:

Fierce flashes of light ripple through delicate tendrils of gas in this new image, from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, which shows the dramatic heart of a large and dense cosmic cloud known as Mon R2. This cloud lies some 2700 light-years away and is studded with hot, newly-formed stars.

Packed into the bright centre of this region are several hot ‘bubbles’ of ionised hydrogen, associated with newborn stars situated nearby. Here, gas heated to a temperature of 10 000 °C quickly expands outwards, inflating and enlarging over time. Herschel has explored the bubbles in Mon R2, finding them to have grown over the course of 100 000 to 350 000 years.

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Weird Mountain on Ceres


Here’s a better look at that weird mountain on Ceres .  It looks even more like it was sculpted in this view from 1470 km / 915 miles taken from the Dawn spacecraft than it did the first time I saw it.


The mountain is 6 km / 4 mi tall and there is a significant lack of debris at the bottom. Weird, can’t wait to hear the explanation.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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JAXA Docking Replay

In case you missed the docking of JAXA’s ““Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5)” on Monday

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) arrived at the International Space Station on 24 Aug.

“Kounotori” was launched on 19 August from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.


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TayTay Crater


A look at TayTay crater and the surrounding area on Mars from the Mars Color Camera on India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. If you look quick the coloration might make TayTay look like a deep crater, a close look shows a more “typical” crater-like structure.

The image was taken on 13 August from an altitude of 3419 km / 2124 miles.

Image: ISRO

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Solar Flare


Yesterday morning at 07:40 UT / 03:40 ET the Solar Dynamics Observatory took this image of a mid-level solar flare.

I found about the flare at a little after 08:00 / 04:00. The flare was an M 5.6 so I thought it might give us an aurora especially given the geometry. So I real quick fed the cat and dog and went charging outside looked up and saw a black sky and not a star in sight.

The clouds were there to stay. Maybe next time.

Image: SDO

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Hubble’s View of WR 124

wr124bThe star in this image is around ten times the radius of our Sun and is about 9 times as massive. Even though it is losing mass thanks to those strong stellar winds the star could have enough mass left over to explode as a supernova in the next few hundred thousand years – or so. As for the sizes above, the values depend on distance. Distance is difficult and why missions like Gaia are so important.

Here’s the ESA/Hubble/NASA press release:

Here we see the spectacular cosmic pairing of the star Hen 2-427 — more commonly known as WR 124 — and the nebula M1-67 which surrounds it. Both objects, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope are found in the constellation of Sagittarius and lie 15,000 light-years away.

The star Hen 2-427 shines brightly at the very center of this explosive image and around the hot clumps of surrounding gas that are being ejected into space at over 93,210 miles (150,000 km) per hour.

Hen 2-427 is a Wolf–Rayet star, named after the astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet. Wolf–Rayet are super-hot stars characterized by a fierce ejection of mass.

The nebula M1-67 is estimated to be no more than 10,000 years old — just a baby in astronomical terms — but what a beautiful and magnificent sight it makes.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
Text credit: European Space Agency

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Here are a couple more images from Cassini’s final flyby of the Saturn moon Dione.

dionelandscapeThe image above was taken as Cassini was heading towards the moon. The impact basin on the lower right is called Evander and is about 350 km / 220 miles wide.

On the left you can see the bright Padua Chasma, reaching into the left side of the moon.

To the right we have a very nice close up of Dione from just 750 km / 470 miles giving a resolution of 45 meters per pixel. Click the thumbnail to see the bigger version, the picture gives a great sense of the icy make-up of the moon. North is down in this view.

mage Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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The 15 Minute Mission


Does this look like fun or what? It does to me. What we are looking at is engineers putting the final touches on the MOSES-2 sounding rocket payload.

The rocket will be launched from the US White Sands Missle Range in New Mexico tomorrow – if all goes well.

The payload is called the Multi-Order Solar EUV Spectrograph, or MOSES-2. The instrument will take images of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light. The flight will be quick, only 15 minutes but since the atomosphere blocks all extreme ultravoilet light, this is a good cost effective way of getting the job done.

The objective is to help answer one of the biggest mysteries in solar physics – why is the Sun’s atmosphere 1,000 times hotter than the surface? To help answer the question MOSES-2 will look at the transiition area where the photosphere becomes the corona.

Get more detail at the NASA Sounding Rocket Program page.

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