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M51 Hubble Remix December 26, 2009

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

S. Beckwith (STScI), Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI/AURA), ESA, NASA
Additional Processing: Robert Gendler

Explanation:

The 51st entry in Charles Messier’s famous catalog is perhaps the original spiral nebula – a large galaxy with a well defined spiral structure also cataloged as NGC 5194. Over 60,000 light-years across, M51’s spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (right), NGC 5195. Image data from the Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys has been reprocessed to produce this alternative portrait of the well-known interacting galaxy pair. The processing has further sharpened details and enhanced color and contrast in otherwise faint areas, bringing out dust lanes and extended streams that cross the small companion, along with features in the surroundings and core of M51 itself. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant. Not far on the sky from the handle of the Big Dipper, they officially lie within the boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici.

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Orion Nebula: The Hubble View March 10, 2009

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

Credit:

NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (STScI/ESA) et al.

Description:

Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view – providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution. This detailed image of the Orion Nebula is the sharpest ever, constructed using data from the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Advanced Camera for Surveys and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla 2.2 meter telescope. The mosaic contains a billion pixels at full resolution and reveals about 3,000 stars.

Cat’s Eye Hubble Remix October 12, 2008

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Cat's Eye Nebula
Credit:

NASA, MAST, STScI, AURA and Vicent Peris (OAUV/PTeam)

Description:

Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat’s Eye Nebula lies 3,000 light-years from Earth. The Cat’s Eye (NGC 6543) represents a brief, yet glorious, phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebula’s dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood.

Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data have been reprocessed to create another look at the cosmic cat’s eye. Compared to well-known Hubble pictures, the alternative processing strives to sharpen and improve the visibility of details in light and dark areas of the nebula and also applies a more complex color palette. Of course, gazing into the Cat’s Eye, astronomers may well be seeing the fate of our sun, destined to enter its own planetary nebula phase of evolution … in about 5 billion years.

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SN 1006: A Supernova Ribbon from Hubble September 16, 2008

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

Credit: 

NASAESAHubble Heritage (STScI/AURA);

Acknowledgement: 

W. Blair et al. (JHU)

Explanation: 

What created this unusual space ribbon? Most assuredly, one of the most violent explosions ever witnessed by ancient humans. Back in the year 1006 AD, light reached Earth from a stellar explosion in the constellation of the Wolf (Lupus), creating a “guest star” in the sky that appeared brighter than Venus and lasted for over two years. The supernova, now cataloged at SN 1006, occurred about 7,000 light years away and has left a large remnant that continues to expand and fade today. Pictured above is a small part of that expanding supernova remnant dominated by a thin and outwardly moving shock front that heats and ionizes surrounding ambient gas. SN 1006 now has a diameter of nearly 60 light years. Within the past year, an even more powerful explosion occurred far across the universe that was visible to modern humans, without any optical aid, for a few seconds

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Active Galaxy NGC 1275 August 25, 2008

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

Credit:

NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA);
A. Fabian (IoA, Cambridge U.), L. Frattare (STScI), CXC, G. Taylor, NRAO,VLA

Explanation:

Active galaxy NGC 1275 is the central, dominant member of the large and relatively nearby Perseus Cluster of Galaxies. A prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission, NGC 1275 accretes matter as entire galaxies fall into it, ultimately feeding a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core. This stunning visible light image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows galactic debris and filaments of glowing gas, some up to 20,000 light-years long. The filaments persist in NGC 1275, even though the turmoil of galactic collisions should destroy them. What keeps the filaments together? Recent work indicates that the structures, pushed out from the galaxy’s center by the black hole’s activity, are held together by magnetic fields. To add x-ray data from the Chandra Observatory and radio data from the Very Large Array to the Hubble image, just slide your cursor over the picture. In the resulting composite, x-rays highlight the shells of hot gas surrounding the center of the galaxy, with radio emission filling giant bubble-shaped cavities. Also known as Perseus A, NGC 1275 spans over 100,000 light years and lies about 230 million light years away.

M87: A Nearby Galaxy Metropolis August 7, 2008

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M87
Credit:

X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/W. Forman et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/W. Cotton; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler

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Description:

This image is a composite of visible (or optical), radio, and X-ray data of the giant elliptical galaxy, M87. M87 lies at a distance of 60 million light years and is the largest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Bright jets moving at close to the speed of light are seen at all wavelengths coming from the massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. It has also been identified with the strong radio source, Virgo A, and is a powerful source of X-rays as it resides near the center of a hot, X-ray emitting cloud that extends over much of the Virgo cluster. The extended radio emission consists of plumes of fast-moving gas from the jets rising into the X-ray emitting cluster medium.

In X-rays, M87 also reveals evidence for a series of outbursts from the central supermassive black hole. The loops and bubbles in the hot, X-ray emitting gas are relics of small outbursts from close to the black hole. Other interesting features in M87 are narrow filaments of X-ray emission, which may be due to hot gas trapped by magnetic fields. One of these filaments is over 100,000 light years long, and extends below and to the right of the center of M87 in almost a straight line.

The optical data of M87 were obtained with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in visible and infrared filters (data courtesy of P. Cote, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, and E. Baltz, Stanford University). Wide-field optical data of the center of the Virgo Cluster were also provided by R. Gendler (Copyright Robert Gendler 2006). The X-ray data were acquired from the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), and were provided by W. Forman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) et al. The radio data were obtained by W. Cotton and also archive processing using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array (NRAO/VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico

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Bursting with Stars July 10, 2008

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galaxy Zw II 96

Image credit:

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)

Description:

The most active star-forming galaxy in the distant universe, nicknamed the “Baby Boom” galaxy, loosely resembles the galaxy shown here, called Zw II 96. While Zw II 96 is located about 500 million light-years away, Baby Boom lies 12.3 billion light-years away and appears in images as only a smudge.

Zw II 96 and the Baby Boom galaxy are both known as starbursts because they are producing loads of new stars every year. Zw II 96 is the result of multiple galaxies colliding together, triggering the birth of stars. Evidence from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope indicates Baby Boom is also the result of a galactic merger.

This picture was taken by Hubble. Baby Boom was discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble and several other telescopes.

› High-resolution TIFF (4Mb)

Stellar Jewel Box October 9, 2007

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Giant Nebula NGC 3603

Credit:

 NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Description:

Thousands of sparkling young stars are nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603, one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy.

NGC 3603, a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way about 20,000 light-years away, image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars.

Powerful ultraviolet radiation and fast winds from the bluest and hottest stars have blown a big bubble around the cluster. Moving into the surrounding nebula, this torrent of radiation sculpted the tall, dark stalks of dense gas, which are embedded in the walls of the nebula. These gaseous monoliths are a few light-years tall and point to the central cluster. The stalks may be incubators for new stars.

On a smaller scale, a cluster of dark clouds called “Bok” globules resides at the top, right corner. These clouds are composed of dense dust and gas and are about 10 to 50 times more massive than the sun. Resembling an insect’s cocoon, a Bok globule may be undergoing a gravitational collapse on its way to forming new stars.

The nebula was first discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834.

Hubble’s view of N90 star-forming region January 9, 2007

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High Res Jpg

Credit:

NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Description:

This Hubble image image depicts bright blue newly formed stars that are blowing a cavity in the centre of a fascinating star-forming region known as N90.

The high energy radiation blazing out from the hot young stars in N90 is eroding the outer portions of the nebula from the inside, as the diffuse outer reaches of the nebula prevent the energetic outflows from streaming away from the cluster directly. Because N90 is located far from the central body of the Small Magellanic Cloud, numerous background galaxies in this picture can be seen, delivering a grand backdrop for the stellar newcomers. The dust in the region gives these distant galaxies a reddish-brown tint.

A Cosmic Egg January 9, 2007

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Credit:

R. Sahai et al., Hubble Heritage Team/AURA, NASA

Description:

This cosmic egg (planetary nebula IC 418) is not the uniform spherical shell of gas blown off by a dying star that conventional theories expect.
Both the shell and the inner “yolk” (blue) are stretched along an axis, and both are finely divided into cells that are surrounded by glowing filaments of matter. The central star varies in brightness over several hours, and conventional theorists speculate that it may generate “chaotic winds” that might somehow crisscross to create the cells and filaments.
The Electric Universe sees a different egg. Shell and “yolk” are both composed of plasma, not of gas. The physics of electric currents apply, not the physics of winds. The shell is a plasma sheath, a “double layer” that acts like a capacitor, mediating the different electrical fields inside and outside the shell. Most of the voltage difference between the star and the surrounding galactic field is taken up in that thin, membrane-like double layer. The blue “yolk” is another, secondary, double layer that forms when the electric current feeding the central star reaches a threshold density.
As is typical with sheaths, currents flow along the surface. And as is typical with plasma, the currents pinch into filaments that pull in material from surrounding spaces. The double layers and their current filaments also respond to the electromagnetic forces of the interstellar current filament feeding the system and are thus elongated along the axis of that current. That larger current flows in a circuit that threads through the galaxy. It is invisible because of its lower current density, but the magnetic field it produces is detectable in the squeezing and stretching of the egg that derives from it.
That the power output of the central star varies over a few hours indicates that the power input is oscillating. Some feedback mechanism in the supply circuit has reached a resonant condition. That element of the circuit need not be in the star or nebula but could be far away, just as the circuit elements in a radio that generate the oscillating radio wave may be far removed from the antenna that radiates the energies.

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