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Latest Activity: 7 hours ago
Cosmology - Astrophysics - Astronomy
Hubble Wallpaper - Awesome Hubble Images
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“Einstein’s Greatest Blunder” was REALLY a blunder!
The Rise and Fall of Supersymmetry
Messier Monday: The Cigar Galaxy, M82
Weekend Diversion: The Top 10 Forests in the World
Where does an earthquake’s energy come from?
A pair of NASA space telescopes have captured a spectacular new photo of the Helix Nebula, a glowing celestial vision that resembles a giant cosmic eye.
The Helix Nebula (also known as NGC 7293) represents a dying star known as a planetary nebula. The new picture, released Wednesday (Oct. 3), combines data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which observes in long-wavelength infrared light, and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which picked out the short-wavelength ultraviolet light coming from the object.
The Helix Nebula is located about 650 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Aquarius. It provides a sneak peak at the future of our own sun, which is expected to turn into a planetary nebula in about 5 billion years.
This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away, in the constellation of Aquarius. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech
What could they be? Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it's transformed my idea of what it's like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I've thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air.
Explanation: A mere seven hundred light years from Earth, in the constellation Aquarius, a sun-like star is dying. Its last few thousand years have produced the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a well studied and nearby example of a Planetary Nebula, typical of this final phase of stellar evolution. A total of 58 hours of exposure time have gone in to creating this deep view of the nebula. Accumulating narrow band data from emission lines of hydrogen atoms in red and and oxygen atoms in blue-green hues, it shows remarkable details of the Helix's brighter inner region, about 3 light-years across, but also follows fainter outer halo features that give the nebula a span of well over six light-years. The white dot at the Helix's center is this Planetary Nebula's hot, central star. A simple looking nebula at first glance, the Helix is now understood to have a surprisingly complex geometry.
This time-lapse shows off our new telescope, the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), standing tall in Western Australia. ASKAP has been designed to be able to survey the whole sky extremely quickly. This in turn will make possible astronomy projects that could never have been done before.
ASKAP has 36 antennas that work together as one. They are quite spread out, so here only a few are visible together in one frame. For more information, visit the ASKAP homepage: http://ow.ly/e3EOS
Explanation: Sometimes it's hard to believe what you see in the sky. During the Shelios Expedition to Greenland in late August, even veteran sky enthusiasts saw auroras so colorful, so fast changing, and so unusual in form that they could remember nothing like it. As the ever changing auroras evolved, huge shapes spread across the sky morphed from one familiar form into another, including what looked to be the head of a goat (shown above), the head of an elephant, a strange green-tailed comet, and fingers on a celestial hand. Even without the aurora, the sky would be notable for the arching band of our Milky Way Galaxy and the interesting field of stars, nebulas, and galaxies. In contrast, in the foreground is a farm house in Tasiusaq, Kujalleq. Greenland. The Shelios project exists not only to observe auroras but to motivate students to consider a career in science.
Explanation: Fresh evidence of an ancient stream has been found on Mars. The robotic rover Curiosity has run across unusual surface features that carry a strong resemblance to stream banks on Earth. Visible in the above image, for example, is a small overhanging rock ledge that was quite possibly created by water erosion beneath. The texture of the ledge appears to be a sedimentary conglomerate, the dried remains of many smaller rocks stuck together. Beneath the ledge are numerous small pebbles, possibly made smooth by tumbling in and around the once-flowing stream. Pebbles in the streambed likely fell there as the bank eroded. Circled at the upper right is a larger rock possibly also made smooth by stream erosion. Curiosity has now discovered several indications of dried streambeds on Mars on its way to its present location where it will be exploring the unusual conjunction of three different types of landscape.
Neat video Adriana.
I posted this as a video on our main video site, it is SO good!
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