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The Daily Cosmos


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Comment by doone on August 22, 2014 at 10:40pm

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

In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula 
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy ArchiveNASAESA - Processing & LicenceJudy Schmidt

Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5,000 light yearsdistant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Comment by doone on August 13, 2014 at 5:45am

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

Rings Around the Ring Nebula 
Image Credit: HubbleLarge Binocular TelescopeSubaru TelescopeComposition & Copyright: Robert Gendler

Explanation: It is a familiar sight to sky enthusiasts with even a small telescope. There is much more to the Ring Nebula (M57), however, than can be seen through a small telescope. The easily visible central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably deep exposure - a collaborative effort combining data from three different large telescopes - explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from the nebula's central star. This remarkable composite image includes narrowband hydrogen image, visible light emission, and infrared light emission. Of course, in this well-studied example of a planetary nebula, the glowing material does not come from planets. Instead, the gaseous shroud represents outer layers expelled from a dying, sun-like star. The Ring Nebula is about 2,000 light-years away toward the musical constellation Lyra.

Comment by doone on August 12, 2014 at 7:42am

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

Collapse in Hebes Chasma on Mars 
Image Credit & CopyrightESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Explanation: What's happened in Hebes Chasma on Mars? Hebes Chasma is a depression just north of the enormous Valles Marineris canyon. Since the depression is unconnected to other surface features, it is unclear where the internal material went. Inside Hebes Chasma is Hebes Mensa, a 5 kilometer high mesa that appears to have undergone an unusual partial collapse -- a collapse that might be providing clues. The above image, taken by the robotic Mars Express spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, shows great details of the chasm and the unusual horseshoe shaped indentation in the central mesa. Material from the mesa appears to have flowed onto the floor of the chasm, while a possible dark layer appears to have pooled like ink on a downslope landing. A recent hypothesis holds that salty rock composes some lower layers in Hebes Chasma, with the salt dissolving in melted ice flows that drained through holes into an underground aquifer.

Comment by doone on August 8, 2014 at 5:36am

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

Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744 
Image Credit & CopyrightDon Goldman

Explanation: Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 6744 is nearly 175,000 light-years across, larger than our own Milky Way. It lies some 30 million light-years distant in the southern constellation Pavo. We see the disk of the nearby island universe tilted towards our line of sight. Orientation and composition give a strong sense of depth to this colorful galaxy portrait that covers an area about the angular size of the full moon. This giant galaxy's yellowish core is dominated by the light from old, cool stars. Beyond the core, spiral arms filled with young blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions sweep past a smaller satellite galaxy at the lower left, reminiscent of the Milky Way's satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Comment by doone on August 7, 2014 at 4:55am

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

Rosetta's Rendezvous 

Explanation: On August 3rd, the Rosetta spacecraft's narrow angle camera captured this stunning image of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After 10 years and 6.5 billion kilometers of travel along gravity assist trajectories looping through interplanetary space, Rosetta had approached to within 285 kilometers of its target. The curious double-lobed shape of the nucleus is revealed in amazing detail at an image resolution of 5.3 meters per pixel. About 4 kilometers across, the comet nucleus is presently just over 400 million kilometers from Earth, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Now the first spacecraft to achieve a delicate orbit around a comet, Rosetta will swing to within 50 kilometers and closer in the coming weeks, identifiying candidate sites for landing its probe Philae later this year.

Comment by doone on August 6, 2014 at 5:22pm

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

Saturn's Swirling Cloudscape 
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA

Explanation: Acquiring its first sunlit views of far northern Saturn in late 2012, the Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera recorded this stunning, false-color image of the ringed planet's north pole. The composite of near-infrared image data results in red hues for low clouds and green for high ones, giving the Saturnian cloudscape a vivid appearance. Enormous by terrestrial standards, Saturn's north polar hurricane-like storm is deep, red, and about 2,000 kilometers wide. Clouds at its outer edge travel at over 500 kilometers per hour. Other atmospheric vortices also swirl inside the large, yellowish green, six-sided jet stream known as the hexagon. Beyond the cloud tops at the upper right, arcs of the planet's eye-catching ringsappear bright blue.

Comment by doone on August 5, 2014 at 6:09am

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

Four Billion BCE: Battered Earth 
Illustration Credit: Simone Marchi (SwRI), SSERVINASA

Explanation: No place on Earth was safe. Four billion years ago, during the Hadean eon, our Solar System was a dangerous shooting gallery of large and dangerous rocks and ice chunks.Recent examination of lunar and Earth bombardment data indicate that the entire surface of the Earth underwent piecemeal upheavals, hiding our globe's ancient geologic history, and creating a battered world with no remaining familiar land masses. The rain of devastation made it difficult for any life to survive, although bacteria that could endure high temperatures had the best chance. Oceans thought to have formed during this epoch would boil away after particularly heavy impacts, only to reform again. The above artist's illustration depicts how Earth might have looked during this epoch, with circular impact features dotting the daylight side, and hot lava flows visible in the night. One billion years later, in a calmer Solar System, Earth's first supercontinent formed. 

Comment by doone on August 2, 2014 at 7:31am

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

NGC 7023: The Iris Nebula 
Image Credit & CopyrightJimmy Walker

Explanation: These clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula, NGC 7023 is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers, though. Still, this deep telescopic view shows off the Iris Nebula's range of colors and symmetries in impressive detail. Within the Iris, dusty nebular material surrounds a hot, young star. The dominant color of the brighter reflection nebula is blue, characteristic of dust grains reflecting starlight. Central filaments of the dusty clouds glow with a faint reddish photoluminesence as some dust grains effectively convert the star's invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Infraredobservations indicate that this nebula may contain complex carbon molecules known as PAHs. The pretty blue petals of the Iris Nebula span about six light-years.

Comment by doone on July 28, 2014 at 4:55am

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.


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