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The Daily Cosmos


The Daily Cosmos


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Cosmology - Astrophysics - Astronomy


Hubble Wallpaper - Awesome Hubble Images

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Comment by doone on Monday

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

The Horsehead Nebula from Blue to Infrared 
Image Credit & Copyright: Optical: Aldo Mottino & Carlos Colazo, OAC, Córdoba; Infrared: Hubble Legacy Archive

Explanation: One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Light takes about 1,500 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula. The above image is a digital combination of images taken in blue, green, red, and hydrogen-alpha light from the Argentina, and an image taken in infrared light by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

Comment by doone on July 23, 2014 at 2:11am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

IC 4603: Reflection Nebula in Ophiuchius 
Image Credit & Copyright: Rolf Olsen

Explanation: Why does this starfield photograph resemble an impressionistic painting? The effect is created not by digital trickery but by large amounts of interstellar dust. Dust, minute globs rich in carbon and similar in size to cigarette smoke, frequently starts in the outer atmospheres of large, cool, young stars. The dust is dispersed as the star dies and grows as things stick to it in the interstellar medium. Dense dust clouds are opaque to visible light and can completely hide background stars. For less dense clouds, the capacity of dust to preferentially reflect blue starlight becomes important, effectively blooming the stars blue light out and marking the surrounding dust. Nebular gas emissions, typically brightest in red light, can combine to form areas seemingly created on an artist's canvas. Photographed above is the central part of the nebula IC 4603 surrounding the bright star SAO 184376 (actually 8th magnitude) which mostly illuminates the blue reflection nebulaIC 4603 can be seen near the very bright star Antares (1st magnitude) toward the constellation of Ophiuchus.

Comment by doone on July 20, 2014 at 7:34am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

A Solar Filament Erupts 
Image Credit: NASA's GSFCSDO AIA Team

Explanation: What's happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual -- it just threw a filament. Toward the middle of 2012, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun's ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected.Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth's magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the ultraviolet image. Over the past week the number of sunspots visible on the Sun unexpectedly dropped to zero, causing speculation that the Sun has now passed a very unusual solar maximum, the time in the Sun's 11-year cycle when it is most active.

Comment by doone on July 19, 2014 at 8:48am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

3D Homunculus Nebula 
Science Credit: W. Steffen (UNAM), M. Teodoro, T.I. Madura, 
J.H. Groh, T.R. Gull, A. Mehner, M.F. Corcoran, A. Damineli, K. Ham...
Image Credit: NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center/SVS - Inset: NASA, ESA, Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Explanation: If you're looking for something to print with that new 3D printer, try out a copy of the Homunculus Nebula. The dusty, bipolar cosmic cloud is around 1 light-year across but is slightly scaled down for printing to about 1/4 light-nanosecond or 80 millimeters. The full scale Homunculus surrounds Eta Carinae, famously unstable massive stars in a binary system embedded in the extensive Carina Nebula about 7,500 light-years distant. Between 1838 and 1845, Eta Carinae underwent the Great Eruption becoming the second brightest star in planet Earth's night sky and ejecting the Homunculus Nebula. The new 3D model of the still expanding Homunculus was created by exploring the nebula with the European Southern Observatory's VLT/<href="http:"" fpatat="" 2009="" 01="" 19="" x-shooter-goes-on-sky-again-and-again-nights-2-3-and-4="" "="">X-Shooter. That instrument is capable of mapping the velocity of molecular hydrogen gas through the nebula's dust at a fine resolution. It reveals trenches, divots and protrusions, even in the dust obscured regions that face away from Earth. Eta Carinae itself still undergoes violent outbursts, a candidate to explode in a spectacular supernova in the next few million years.

Comment by doone on July 18, 2014 at 8:49am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Ou4: A Giant Squid Nebula 
Image Credit: Romano Corradi (IAC), 
Nicolas Grosso, Agnès Acker, Robert Greimel, Patrick Guillout

Explanation: A mysterious, squid-like apparition, this nebula is very faint, but also very large in planet Earth's sky. In the mosaic image, composed with narrowband data from the 2.5 meter Isaac Newton Telescope, it spans some 2.5 full moons toward the constellation Cepheus. Recently discovered by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the remarkable nebula's bipolar shape and emission are consistent with it being a planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star, but its actual distance and origin are unknown. A new investigation suggests Ou4 really lies within the emission region SH2-129 some 2,300 light-years away. Consistent with that scenario, the cosmic squid would represent a spectacular outflow of material driven by a triple system of hot, massive stars, cataloged as HR8119, seen near the center of the nebula. If so, this truly giant squid nebula would physically be nearly 50 light-years across.

Comment by doone on July 13, 2014 at 7:15am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Planetary Nebula NGC 2818 from Hubble 
Image Credit: NASAESAHubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

Explanation: NGC 2818 is a beautiful planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star. It could well offer a glimpse of the future that awaits our own Sun after spending another 5 billion years or so steadily using up hydrogen at its core, and then finally helium, as fuel for nuclear fusion. Curiously, NGC 2818 seems to lie within an open star cluster, NGC 2818A, that is some 10,000 light-years distant toward the southern constellation Pyxis (the Compass). At the distance of the star cluster, the nebula would be about 4 light-years across. But accurate velocity measurements show that the nebula's own velocity is very different from the cluster's member stars. The result is strong evidence that NGC 2818 is only by chance found along the line of sight to the star cluster and so may not share the cluster's distance or age. The Hubble image is a composite of exposures through narrow-band filters, presenting emission from nitrogenhydrogen, and oxygen atoms in the nebula as red, green, and blue hues.

Comment by doone on July 12, 2014 at 8:04am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

SN 1006 Supernova Remnant 
Image Credit: NASAESA, Zolt Levay (STScI)

Explanation: A new star, likely the brightest supernova in recorded human history, lit up planet Earth's sky in the year 1006 AD. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation of Lupus, still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, this composite view includes X-ray data in blue from theChandra Observatory, optical data in yellowish hues, and radio image data in red. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to be about 60 light-years across and is understood to represent the remains of a white dwarf star. Part of a binary star system, the compact white dwarf gradually captured material from its companion star. The buildup in mass finally triggered a thermonuclear explosion that destroyed the dwarf star. Because the distance to the supernova remnant is about 7,000 light-years, that explosion actually happened 7,000 years before the light reached Earth in 1006. Shockwaves in the remnant accelerate particles to extreme energies and are thought to be a source of the mysterious cosmic rays.

Comment by doone on July 11, 2014 at 6:20am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Spotty Sunrise over Brisbane 
Image Credit & CopyrightStephen Mudge

Explanation: In this composite cityscape, dawn's first colors backdrop the lights along Brisbane's skyline at the southeastern corner of Queensland, Australia, planet Earth. Using a solar filter, additional exposures made every 3.5 minutes follow the winter sunrise on July 8 as planet-sized sunspots cross the visible solar disk. The sunspots mark solar active regions with convoluted magnetic fields. Even as the maximum in the solar activity cycle begins to fade, the active regions produce intense solar flares and eruptions launching coronal mass ejections (CMEs), enormous clouds of energetic particles, into our fair solar system.

Comment by doone on July 10, 2014 at 6:21am

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Noctilucent Clouds over London 
Image Credit & CopyrightChristoph Malin (TWAN)

Explanation: This scene from the early morning hours of July 3 looks out across the River Thames from the Westminster Bridge. Part of a luminous timelapse video (vimeo), the frame captures a sight familiar in London, the nighttime glow of the London Eye. But a not-so-familiar sight is shining in the still dark sky above, widespread noctilucent clouds. From the edge of space, about 80 kilometers above Earth's surface, the icy clouds can still reflect sunlight even though the Sun itself is below the horizon as seen from the ground. Usually spotted at high latitudes in summer months the diaphanous apparitions are also known as polar mesospheric clouds. The seasonal clouds are understood to form as water vapor driven into the cold upper atmosphere condenses on the fine dust particles supplied by disintegrating meteors or volcanic ash. NASA's AIM mission provides daily projections of the noctilucent clouds as seen from space.

Comment by doone on July 6, 2014 at 6:51am

Galaxy of the Day from Astronomy Picture of the Day

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

M106 Across the Spectrum 
Image Credit: X-ray - NASA / CXC / Caltech / P.Ogle et al.
Optical - NASA/STScI, IR - NASA/JPL-Caltech, Radio - NSF/NRAO/VLA

Explanation: The spiral arms of bright, active galaxy M106 sprawl through this remarkable multiwavelength portrait, composed of image data from radio to X-rays, across the electromagnetic spectrum. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 can be found toward the northern constellation Canes Venatici. The well-measured distance to M106 is 23.5 million light-years, making this cosmic scene about 60,000 light-years across. Typical in grand spiral galaxies, dark dust lanes, youthful star clusters, and star forming regions trace spiral arms that converge on a bright nucleus. But this composite highlights two anomalous arms in radio (purple) and X-ray (blue) that seem to arise in the central region of M106, evidence of energetic jets of material blasting into the galaxy's disk. The jets are likely powered by matter falling into a massive central black hole.


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