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Great Orion Nebulae November 11, 2008

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 & Copyright:

Tony Hallas

Explanation:

The Great Nebula in Orion, also known as M42, is one of the most famous nebulae in the sky. The star forming region’s glowing gas clouds and hot young stars are on the right in this sharp and colorful two frame mosaic that includes the smaller nebula M43 near center and dusty, bluish reflection nebulae NGC 1977 and friends on the left. Located at the edge of an otherwise invisible giant molecular cloud complex, these eye-catching nebulae represent only a small fraction of this galactic neighborhood’s wealth of interstellar material. Within the well-studied stellar nursery, astronomers have also identified what appear to be numerous infant solar systems. The gorgeous skyscape spans nearly two degrees or about 45 light-years at the Orion Nebula’s estimated distance of 1,500 light-years.

Editor’s Note: A version of the image with labels generated by Astrometry.net is available here.

Massive Stars in Open Cluster Pismis 24 November 10, 2008

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 J. M. Apellániz (IAA, Spain)

Explanation:

How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it a record holder. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the above image. Close inspection of images taken recently with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357, including several that appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon.

Spicules: Jets on the Sun November 9, 2008

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:

SST, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, LMSAL

Explanation:

Imagine a pipe as wide as a state and as long as half the Earth. Now imagine that this pipe is filled with hot gas moving 50,000 kilometers per hour. Further imagine that this pipe is not made of metal but a transparent magnetic field. You are envisioning just one of thousands of young spicules on the active Sun. Pictured above is perhaps the highest resolution image yet of these enigmatic solar flux tubes. Spicules dot the above frame of solar active region 10380 that crossed the Sun in 2004 June, but are particularly evident as a carpet of dark tubes on the right. Time-sequenced images have recently shown that spicules last about five minutes, starting out as tall tubes of rapidly rising gas but eventually fading as the gas peaks and falls back down to the Sun. These images also indicate that the ultimate cause of spicules is sound-like waves that flow over the Sun‘s surface but leak into the Sun‘s atmosphere.

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