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Opportunity at Santa Maria Crater January 31, 2011

Posted by jtintle in Planets, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit:

Mars Exploration Rover Mission, NASA, JPL, Cornell; Image Processing: Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer

Explanation:

Celebrating 7 years on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars exploration rover Opportunity now stands near the rim of 90 meter wide Santa Maria crater. Remarkably, Opportunity and its fellow rover Spirit were initially intended for a 3 month long primary mission. Still exploring, the golf cart-sized robot and shadow (far right) appear in the foreground of this panoramic view of its current location. The mosaic was constructed using images from the rover’s navigation camera. On its 7 year anniversary, Opportunity can boast traversing a total of 26.7 kilometers along the martian surface. After investigating Santa Maria crater, controllers plan to have Opportunity resume a long-term trek toward Endeavour crater, a large, 22 kilometer diameter crater about 6 kilometers from Santa Maria. The rim of Endeavour is visible in the mosaic on the horizon at the right, just above the shadow of the rover’s mast. During coming days, communication with the rover will be more difficult as Mars moves close to alignment with the Sun as seen from planet Earth’s perspective.

Henize 2-10: A Surprisingly Close Look at the Early Cosmos January 29, 2011

Posted by jtintle in Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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Credit:

X-ray (NASA/CXC/Virginia/A.Reines et al); Radio (NRAO/AUI/NSF); Optical (NASA/STScI)

Description:

The combined observations from multiple telescopes of Henize 2-10, a dwarf starburst galaxy located about 30 million light years from Earth, has provided astronomers with a detailed new look at how galaxy and black hole formation may have occured in the early Universe. This image shows optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green and blue, X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple, and radio data from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array in yellow. A compact X-ray source at the center of the galaxy coincides with a radio source, giving evidence for an actively growing supermassive black hole with a mass of about one million times that of the Sun (please roll your mouse over the image for the location of the black hole).

Stars are forming in Henize 2-10 at a prodigious rate, giving the star clusters in this galaxy their blue appearance. This combination of a burst of star formation and a massive black hole is analogous to conditions in the early Universe. Since Henize 2-10 does not contain a significant bulge of stars in its center, these results show that supermassive black hole growth may precede the growth of bulges in galaxies. This differs from the relatively nearby Universe where the growth of galaxy bulges and supermassive black holes appears to occur in parallel.

A paper describing these results was published online in Nature on January 9th, 2011 by Amy Reines and Gregory Sivakoff of the University of Virginia, Kelsey Johnson of the University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia and Crystal Brogan also of NRAO in Virgina.

The Once and Future Stars of Andromeda January 28, 2011

Posted by jtintle in Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit and Copyright:

ESA/Herschel/ PACS/SPIRE/J.Fritz(U.Gent) / XMM-Newton/EPIC/W.Pietsch(MPE)

Explanation:

The big, beautiful Andromeda Galaxy, aka M31, is a spiral galaxy a mere 2.5 million light-years away. Two space-based observatories have combined to produce this intriguing composite image of Andromeda, at wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. The remarkable view follows the locations of this galaxy’s once and future stars. In reddish hues, image data from the large Herschel infrared observatory traces enormous lanes of dust, warmed by stars, sweeping along Andromeda’s spiral arms. The dust, in conjunction with the galaxy’s interstellar gas, comprises the raw material for future star formation. X-ray data from the XMM-Newton observatory in blue pinpoint Andromeda’s X-ray binary star systems. These systems likely contain neutron stars or stellar mass black holes that represent final stages in stellar evolution. More than twice the size of our own Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy is over 200,000 light-years across.

 

Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka January 27, 2011

Posted by jtintle in Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Image Credit & Copyright:

Sergi Verdugo Martínez

Explanation:

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (left to right) along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion’s well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower left. The famous Orion Nebula itself lies off the bottom of this colorful star field. Recorded last December with a modified digital SLR camera and small telescope, the well-planned, two frame mosaic spans about 4 degrees on the sky.

The Rippled Red Ribbons of SNR 0509 January 26, 2011

Posted by jtintle in Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit:

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: J. Hughes (Rutgers U.)

Explanation:

What is causing the picturesque ripples of supernova remnant SNR 0509-67.5? The ripples, as well as the greater nebula, were imaged in unprecedented detail by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006 and again late last year. The red color was recoded by a Hubble filter that left only the light emitted by energetic hydrogen. The precise reason for the ripples remains unknown, with two considered origin hypotheses relating them to relatively dense portions of either ejected or impacted gas. The reason for the broader red glowing ring is more clear, with expansion speed and light echos relating it to a classic Type Ia supernova explosion that must have occurred about 400 years earlier. SNR 0509 currently spans about 23 light years and lies about 160,000 light years away toward the constellation of the dolphinfish (Dorado) in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The expanding ring carries with it another great mystery, however: why wasn’t this supernova seen 400 years ago when light from the initial blast should have passed the Earth?

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