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NGC 4449: Star Stream for a Dwarf Galaxy January 26, 2012

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See Explanation. Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version. Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution version available.

Image Credit & Copyright:

R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Obs.),

Insert:

Subaru/Suprime-Cam (NAOJ),

Collaboration:

David Martinez-Delgado (MPIA, IAC), et al.

Explanation:

A mere 12.5 million light-years from Earth, irregular dwarf galaxy NGC 4449 lies within the confines of Canes Venatici, the constellation of the Hunting Dogs. About the size of our Milky Way’s satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, NGC 4449 is undergoing an intense episode of star formation, evidenced by its wealth of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and obscuring dust clouds in this deep color portrait. It also holds the distinction of being the first dwarf galaxy with an identified tidal star stream, faintly seen at the lower right. Placing your cursor over the image reveals an inset of the stream resolved into red giant stars. The star stream represents the remains of a still smaller infalling satellite galaxy, disrupted by gravitational forces and destined to merge with NGC 4449. With relatively few stars, small galaxies are thought to possess extensive dark matter halos. But since dark matter interacts gravitationally, these observations offer a chance to examine the significant role of dark matter in galactic merger events. The interaction is likely responsible for NGC 4449’s burst of star formation and offers a tantalizing insight into how even small galaxies are assembled over time.

First Fire Images from VIIRS January 25, 2012

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First Fire Images from VIIRS
Southern California acquired January 19, 2012

Description:

Like a baby learning to walk, the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is slowly adjusting to its new space environment and is gradually taking steps toward full operations.

VIIRS was launched on October 28, 2011, on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite and produced its first image on November 21. By January 19, 2012, the sensor acquired its first measurements of fires. These measurements and others from VIIRS are still preliminary, and scientists and engineers will continue testing and calibrating the measurements over the coming weeks before data are released for public use.

It took longer to acquire the first VIIRS fire measurements because the sensor had to cool enough to accurately observe thermal infrared energy. These images show a few of the fires detected on January 19. The top image shows a smoky fire burning in the mountains east of San Diego, California.

The images indicate that the VIIRS sensor is in good health and that it appears to be detecting fires accurately. In both images, the fire detections line up with plumes of smoke. In the South Sudan image, the fires are burning in areas where black, charred ground points to recent fire activity. Flying over the same areas at about the same time, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite also detected fires in both California and South Sudan.

It is vital that VIIRS makes these measurements because vegetation fires are one of the most important elements of land cover change and nutrient recycling in the Earth system. Fires play a major role in the formation and maintenance of numerous ecosystems. Over the last millennia, naturally occurring fires were gradually offset by those set by humans for hunting, land clearing and maintenance, and fuel production (charcoal).

With the beginning of daily polar orbiting satellite data—which started in the early 1980s—and the routine monitoring of fire activity, it soon became clear that humans were quickly changing the natural fire regimes of large areas of the world. The fires have cascading effects on atmospheric composition (due to smoke) and alteration of climate conditions. Due to the widespread occurrence of fires, Earth satellites have become the primary resource for the monitoring of biomass burning and for timely information for fire managers and the science community.

NOTE: On January 25, the NPP satellite was renamed the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, in honor of Verner E. Suomi, “the father of satellite meteorology.”

Credit:

Ivan Csiszar, NOAA/NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research, and Wilfrid Schroeder, University of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek, Ivan Csiszar, and Wilfrid Schroeder.

Instrument:

Suomi NPP – VIIRS

The Eye of Issyk Kul January 25, 2012

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Issyk Kul

Description:

Kyrgyzstan is wedged in the mountainous wrinkles between Kazakhstan and China, created long ago when the land mass we now call India, propelled by plate tectonics, slammed into the Asian plate. Living there are a proud people with a rich history, surrounded by natural, high-altitude beauty.

Out of numerous Kyrgyz lakes, one in particular stands out—Lake Issyk Kul. When seen from orbit, Issyk Kul appears to be a giant eye, looking at us looking down at it. The snow-covered mountains become aged eyebrows. The lake itself, having a fairly high salt concentration, does not typically freeze over, thus reflecting wintertime light in such a way as to form a “pupil” that seems to track us as we orbit overhead.

Credit:

NASA,Don Pettit

PIA15283: Dunes in Noachis Terra Region of Mars January 25, 2012

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https://i1.wp.com/photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA15283_modest.jpg
Description:

This enhanced-color image shows sand dunes trapped in an impact crater in Noachis Terra, Mars. Dunes and sand ripples of various shapes and sizes display the natural beauty created by physical processes. The area covered in the image is about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) across.

Sand dunes are among the most widespread wind-formed features on Mars. Their distribution and shapes are affected by changes in wind direction and wind strength. Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain.

The image is one product from an observation by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera taken on Nov. 29, 2011, at 42 degrees south latitude, 42 degrees east longitude. Other image products from the same observation are at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_025042_1375.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter’s HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Image Addition Date:

2012-01-25

Barred Spiral Galaxy Swirls in the Night Sky January 24, 2012

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Barred Spiral Galaxy Swirls in the Night Sky

Description:

This image shows the swirling shape of galaxy NGC 2217, in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). In the central region of the galaxy is a distinctive bar of stars within an oval ring. Further out, a set of tightly wound spiral arms almost form a circular ring around the galaxy. NGC 2217 is therefore classified as a barred spiral galaxy, and its circular appearance indicates that we see it nearly face-on.

The outer spiral arms have a bluish colour, indicating the presence of hot, luminous, young stars, born out of clouds of interstellar gas. The central bulge and bar are yellower in appearance, due to the presence of older stars. Dark streaks can also be seen in places against the galaxy’s arms and central bulge, where lanes of cosmic dust block out some of the starlight.

The majority of spiral galaxies in the local Universe — including our own Milky Way — are thought to have a bar of some kind, and these structures play an important role in the development of a galaxy. They can, for example, funnel gas towards the centre of the galaxy, helping to feed a central black hole, or to form new stars.

Credit:

ESO

PIA15260: Herschel Sees Through Ghostly Pillars January 24, 2012

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click here for larger version for PIA15260 click here for larger version for PIA15260
Description:

This Herschel image of the Eagle nebula shows the self-emission of the intensely cold nebula’s gas and dust as never seen before. Each color shows a different temperature of dust, from around 10 degrees above absolute zero (10 Kelvin or minus 442 degrees Fahrenheit) for the red, up to around 40 Kelvin, or minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit, for the blue.

Herschel reveals the nebula’s intricate tendril nature, with vast cavities forming an almost cave-like surrounding to the famous pillars, which appear almost ghostly in this view. The gas and dust provide the material for the star formation that is still under way inside this enigmatic nebula.

Far-infrared light has been color-coded to 70 microns for blue and 160 microns for green using the Photodetector Array Camera, and 250 microns for red using the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver.

Figure 1 combines data from almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. Herschel captured longer-wavelength, or far, infrared light, and the space telescope XMM-Newton imaged X-rays. The X-ray data show the hot young stars in the center of the cloud, which are sculpting and interacting with the surrounding ultra-cool gas and dust, seen in infrared. Both wavelengths would be blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, so space telescopes such as these are critical to our understanding of the life cycle of stars.

Both Herschel and XMM-Newton are European Space Agency missions. NASA plays an important role in Herschel. NASA’s Herschel Project Office is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Image Credit:

Far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium; X-ray: ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC/XMM-Newton-SOC/Boulanger

Image Addition Date:

2012-01-18

PIA13954: NASA Spacecraft Images Some of Earth’s Newest “Real Estate” January 24, 2012

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In December, 2011, NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image of a new volcanic island forming in the Red Sea. This region is part of the Red Sea Rift where the African and Arabian tectonic plates are pulling apart.
Description:

In December 2011, a new volcanic island began forming in the Red Sea, accompanied by lava fountains reaching up to 30 meters (95 feet) tall. By Jan. 14, 2012, when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft captured this image (left), the island clearly showed a central crater, similar to the surrounding islands, and was well above the wave height. The right image is from Google Earth and shows the area before the creation of this new island. This region is part of the Red Sea Rift where the African and Arabian tectonic plates are pulling apart. The image covers an area of 5.6 by 9.3 kilometers (3.5 by 5.8 miles), and is located at 15.1 degrees north latitude, 42.1 degrees east longitude.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. The instrument was built by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The U.S. science team is located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Image Credit:

NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Image Addition Date:

2012-01-20

PIA15282: Opportunity’s Eighth Anniversary View From ‘Greeley Haven’ (False Color) January 24, 2012

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This false-color mosaic of images shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named 'Greeley Haven.'
Description:

This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named “Greeley Haven.”

Opportunity’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) took the component images as part of full-circle view being assembled from Greeley Haven.

The view includes sand ripples and other wind-sculpted features in the foreground and mid-field. The northern edge of the the “Cape York” segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater forms an arc across the upper half of the scene.

Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time and EST (Jan. 24, PST). It has driven 21.4 miles (34.4 kilometers) as of its eighth anniversary on the planet. In late 2011, the rover team drove Opportunity up onto Greeley Haven to take advantage of the outcrop’s sun-facing slope to boost output from the rover’s dusty solar panels during the Martian winter.

Research activities while at Greeley Haven include a radio-science investigation of the interior of Mars, inspections of mineral compositions and textures on the outcrop, and monitoring of wind-caused changes on scales from dunes to individual soil particles.

The image combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about Opportunity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

The Blending of Art and Science January 24, 2012

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The Blending of Art and Science
Additional Info:

Date acquired: October 06, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131772995
Image ID: 6793
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC filter: 7 (748 nanometers)
Center Latitude: -31.41°
Center Longitude: 326.4° E
Resolution: 2800 meters/pixel
Scale: The distance between Kuiper and Debussy is about 1940 km (1200 miles).

Description:

This image shows two of the most prominent rayed craters on the surface of Mercury. In the top center is Kuiper, named for Dutch-American planetary astronomer and Mariner 10 team member Gerard Kuiper (1905-1973). At the right edge is the 80-km diameter crater named for French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918). The impacts that formed these craters ejected target materials for great distances across the planet’s surface, and the image shows areas where the two sets of rays intersect. Another group of rays,entering the image from the top right, were deposited by the impact that formed Hokusai crater, far to the north. Hokusai was a Japanese artist who lived from 1760-1849.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MDIS is scheduled to acquire more than 75,000 images in support of MESSENGER’s science goals.

Credit:

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Montes Alpes and Montes Caucasus January 24, 2012

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Descriptions:

Montes Alpes is a mountain range in the northern part of the Moon‘s near side. It was named after the Alps in Europe. This range forms the northeastern border of the Mare Imbrium lunar mare. To the west of the range is the level and nearly featureless mare, while on the eastern face is a more rugged continental area with a higher albedo. The range begins about one crater diameter northwest of the crater Cassini, at the Promontorium Agassiz, then stretches about 50 kilometers to the northwest and continues in intermittent fashion to the eastern rim of the dark-floored crater Plato. In this last stretch can be found the system of rilles named Rimae Plato.

Montes Caucasus is a rugged range of mountains in the northeastern part of the Moon. It begins at a gap of level surface that joins the Mare Imbrium to the west with the Mare Serenitatis to the east, and extends in an irregular band to the north-northeast to the western side of the prominent crater Eudoxus. The range forms the northwestern boundary of the Mare Serenitatis. It forms a continuation of the Montes Apenninus range to the southwest.

Telescope:

Vixen NA 120 mm, Mount: Sky Watcher NEQ 6 Pro, Barlow: Tele Vue Powermate 5X, CCD TIS DMK 21AU04.AS, Filter: Baader Fringe killer
4 avi films 2500 frames 1/15 seg. Processing: RegiStax6, Fitswork, GIMP2, iMerge<

Submitted by: Sergi Torrents Gonzalez (SERGIT) (SERGIT)
Location: Montmeló (Barcelona-Spain)
Date: August 20 2011

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