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Thread: Space Pics v.3

  1. #831
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 29 January 2019


    Moon and Venus Appulse over a Tree
    Image Credit & Copyright: Alex Dzierba
    What's that bright spot near the Moon? Venus. About a week ago, Earth's Moon appeared unusually close to the distant planet Venus, an angular coincidence known as an appulse. Similar to a conjunction, which is a coordinate term, an appulse refers more generally to when two celestial objects appear close together. This Moon and Venus appulse -- once as close as 0.05 degrees -- was captured rising during the early morning behind Koko crater on the island of O'ahu in Hawaii, USA. The Moon was in a crescent phase with its lower left reflecting direct sunlight, while the rest of the Moon is seen because of Earthshine, sunlight first reflected from the Earth. Some leaves and branches of a foreground kiawe tree are seen in silhouette in front of the bright crescent, while others, in front of a darker background, appear white because of forward scattering. Appulses involving the Moon typically occur several times a year: for example the Moon is expected to pass within 0.20 degrees of distant Saturn on March 1.
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    Cool image with a nice explanation. - ilan
    Last edited by ilan; 02-06-2019 at 01:26 PM.
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  2. #832
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 10 February 2019


    Venus Unveiled Image Credit: Venus (left):
    NASA, JPL, Magellan Project; Earth (right): NASA, Apollo 17
    What does Venus look like beneath its thick clouds? These clouds keep the planet's surface hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of Earth-bound astronomers. In the early 1990s, though, using imaging radar, NASA's Venus-orbiting Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the face of Venus and produced spectacular high resolution images of the planet's surface. Colors used in this computer generated picture of Magellan radar data are based on color images from the surface of Venus transmitted by the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 landers. The bright area running roughly across the middle represents the largest highland region of Venus known as Aphrodite Terra. Venus, on the left, is about the same size as our Earth, shown to the right for comparison.
    Last edited by ilan; 02-10-2019 at 07:12 PM.
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  3. #833
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 13 February 2019


    The Helix Nebula in Hydrogen and Oxygen
    Image Credit & Copyright: Andrew Campbell
    Is the Helix Nebula looking at you? No, not in any biological sense, but it does look quite like an eye. The Helix Nebula is so named because it also appears that you are looking down the axis of a helix. In actuality, it is now understood to have a surprisingly complex geometry, including radial filaments and extended outer loops. The Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293) is one of brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. The featured picture, taken in the light emitted by oxygen (shown in blue) and hydrogen (shown in red), was created from 74 hours of exposure over three months from a small telescope in a backyard of suburban Melbourne, Australia. A close-up of the inner edge of the Helix Nebula shows complex gas knots of unknown origin.
    _________________________________________

    Here's looking at you, kid. - Humphrey Bogart (in Casablanca) & ilan
    Last edited by ilan; 02-13-2019 at 02:57 PM.
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  4. #834
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 28 February 2019


    Magnetic Orion
    Image Credit & Copyright: NASA, SOFIA, D. Chuss et al. & ESO, M. McCaughrean et al.
    Can magnetism affect how stars form? Recent analysis of Orion data from the HAWC+ instrument on the airborne SOFIA observatory indicate that, at times, it can. HAWC+ is able to measure the polarization of far-infrared light which can reveal the alignment of dust grains by expansive ambient magnetic fields. In the featured image, these magnetic fields are shown as curvy lines superposed on an infrared image of the Orion Nebula taken by a Very Large Telescope in Chile. Orion's Kleinmann-Low Nebula is visible slightly to the upper right of the image center, while bright stars of the Trapezium cluster are visible just to the lower left of center. The Orion Nebula at about l300 light years distant is the nearest major star formation region to the Sun.
    Last edited by ilan; 02-28-2019 at 01:15 PM.
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  5. #835
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 6 March 2019


    A February without Sunspots Images Credit & Copyright: Alan Friedman
    Where have all the sunspots gone? Last month the total number of spots that crossed our Sun was ... zero. Well below of the long term monthly average, the Sun's surface has become as unusually passive this solar minimum just like it did 11 years ago during the last solar minimum. Such passivity is not just a visual spectacle, it correlates with the Sun being slightly dimmer, with holes in the Sun's corona being more stable, and with a reduced intensity in the outflowing solar wind. The reduced wind, in turn, cools and collapses Earth's outer atmosphere (the thermosphere), causing reduced drag on many Earth-orbiting satellites. Pictured in inverted black & white on the left, the Sun's busy surface is shown near solar maximum in 2012, in contrast to the image on the right, which shows the Sun's surface last August, already without spots (for a few days), as solar minimum was setting in. Effects of this unusually static solar minimum are being studied.
    ____________________________________________

    I thought something was dorked up with my filter or focuser last month because I wasn't picking up any sunspots over several days! - ilan
    Last edited by ilan; 03-06-2019 at 04:42 PM.
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  6. #836
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 9 March 2019


    Stardust and Starlight in M78
    Image Credit & Copyright: Richard S. Wright Jr.
    Interstellar dust clouds and bright nebulae abound in the fertile constellation of Orion. One of the brightest, M78, is near the center in this colorful telescopic view, covering an area north of Orion's belt. At a distance of about 1,500 light-years, the bluish nebula itself is about 5 light-years across. Its blue tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars in the region. Dark dust lanes and other nebulae can easily be traced through the gorgeous skyscape that includes many Herbig- Haro objects, energetic jets from stars in the process of formation. But missing from this image is McNeil's nebula. A major discovery only recognized in 2004, the enigmatic, variable nebula was found along the dark lane of dust above and right of larger M78. McNeil's nebula is associated with a protostar and seen to be sometimes present and sometimes absent in photos of the well-imaged region. McNeil's nebula faded from view late last year and is still absent in this deep image recorded in February 2019.
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  7. #837
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    Tracing the Cigar Galaxy’s Superwind
    Monica Young, Sky & Telescope | March 8, 2019

    NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory returns a striking far-infrared view of the Cigar Galaxy and its “galactic superwind.”

    A composite image of the Cigar Galaxy (M82) shows the magnetic field detected by the HAWC+ instrument onboard SOFIA. Displayed as streamlines, the magnetic field appears to follow the bipolar outflows (red) generated by the intense starbirth in the center of the galaxy. The image combines visible starlight (gray) and a tracing of hydrogen gas (red) observed from the Kitt Peak Observatory, with near-infrared and mid-infrared starlight and dust (yellow) observed by SOFIA and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
    NASA / SOFIA / E. Lopez-Rodiguez; NASA / Spitzer / J. Moustakas et al.
    The Cigar Galaxy (M82), a spiral galaxy viewed edge-on, is burning with new stars. They form at a rate ten times faster than the Milky Way and push dust and gas out of the galaxy in a “superwind.” This neat new image from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) shows how the wind is dragging the galaxy’s magnetic field right along with it.

    The Cigar Galaxy is the archetypal starburst galaxy, having experienced two recent spates of star formation. One occurred10 million years ago in its nucleus, and another sprang up 5 million years ago in a ring around the galaxy’s core. This froth of starbirth drives a so-called galactic superwind: dust, gas, and radiation that flow out of the galaxy and into intergalactic space.

    To observe this wind, Terry Jay Jones (University of Minnesota) and colleagues applied for time on NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory, which soars above much of the atmosphere that would absorb the infrared light it’s designed to collect. A modified Boeing 747 flies the 2.7-meter telescope in whatever careening trajectories are necessary to best view its targets that night.

    Jones and colleagues used the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-plus (HAWC+) instrument aboard SOFIA to observe far-infrared light (at wavelengths of 53 and 154 microns) coming from the Cigar Galaxy. Hot dust within giant, gaseous star-factory clouds emits this light. But dust isn’t perfectly spherical; dust grains tend to be oblong, and they tend to align with the ambient magnetic field that threads the galaxy. So the emission from these dust grains is polarized in a way that tells astronomers which way the magnetic field is pointing.

    What Jones’s team found was that within 2,000 light-years of the galaxy’s center, the wind that charges into intergalactic space carries the galaxy’s magnetic field along with it. The polarization in the image above shows that the magnetic field is pretty much vertical in this central region. Outside this region, the magnetic field is horizontal, threading the plane of the galaxy.

    None of this is a surprise — the observations fall in line with what Jones’s team expected to see. At the same time, the observations provide a valuable clue, as astronomers don’t understand exactly how galaxies blow out such winds. All starburst galaxies seem to have superwinds like the one coming from the Cigar, so the intense star formation must be involved but the mechanism remains unclear. These observations — in addition to providing a striking view of the Cigar Galaxy not available through your standard backyard telescope — will help astronomers puzzle apart wind-driving mechanisms.
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 18 March 2019


    Horsehead and Orion Nebulas
    Image Credit & Copyright: Mario Zauner
    The dark Horsehead Nebula and the glowing Orion Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, they appear in opposite corners of the above stunning two-panel mosaic. The familiar Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud on the lower left, a small silhouette notched against the glow of hydrogen (alpha) gas, here tinted orange. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and can be found to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right, surrounded by the blue glow of reflecting dust. Immediately to its left is a prominent reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man. Pervasive tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region.
    Last edited by ilan; 03-18-2019 at 12:24 PM.
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 4 April 2019


    Messier 2
    Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al.
    After the Crab Nebula, M1, this giant star cluster is the second entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous list of things with are not comets. M2 is one of the largest globular star clusters now known to roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though Messier originally described it a nebula without stars, this stunning Hubble image resolves stars across the central 40 light-years of M2. Its population of stars numbers close to 150,000, concentrated within a total diameter of around 175 light-years. About 55,000 light-years distant toward the constellation Aquarius, this ancient denizen of the Milky Way, also known as NGC 7089, is 13 billion years old.
    Last edited by ilan; 04-04-2019 at 12:10 PM.
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    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    NASA Release | 10 April 2019


    Martian Moon Phobos Crosses the Sun Video
    Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS, Curiosity Rover

    What's that passing in front of the Sun? It looks like a moon, but it can't be Earth's Moon, because it isn't round. It's the Martian moon Phobos. The featured video was taken from the surface of Mars late last month by the Curiosity rover. Phobos, at 11.5 kilometers across, is 150 times smaller than Luna (our moon) in diameter, but also 50 times closer to its parent planet. In fact, Phobos is so close to Mars that it is expected to break up and crash into Mars within the next 50 million years. In the near term, the low orbit of Phobos results in more rapid solar eclipses than seen from Earth. The featured video has been sped up -- the actual transit took about 35 seconds. A similar video was taken of Mars' smaller and most distant moon Diemos transiting the Sun. The videographer -- the robotic rover Curiosity -- continues to explore Gale crater, most recently an area with stunning vistas and unusual rocks dubbed Glen Torridon.
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