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Old 12-11-2010, 07:43 PM   #261
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Twenty years ago, astronomers witnessed one of the brightest stellar explosions in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called SN 1987A, blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its discovery on Feb. 23, 1987. Observations of SN 1987A, made over the past 20 years by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and many other major ground- and space-based telescopes, have significantly changed astronomers’ views of how massive stars end their lives. Astronomers credit Hubble’s sharp vision with yielding important clues about the massive star’s demise
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"What if the alien encounter phenomenon were subtle in the sense that it may manifest in the physical world but derives from a source which by its very nature could not provide the kind of hard evidence that would satisfy skeptics for whom reality is limited to the material? What if we were to acknowledge that the phenomenon is beyond our present framework of knowledge?"- Dr John Mack.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:45 PM   #262
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In this detailed view from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the so-called Cat’s Eye Nebula looks like the penetrating eye of the disembodied sorcerer Sauron from the film adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings.” The nebula, formally cataloged NGC 6543, is every bit as inscrutable as the J.R.R. Tolkien phantom character. Though the Cat’s Eye Nebula was one of the first planetary nebulae to be discovered, it is one of the most complex such nebulae seen in space.
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"What if the alien encounter phenomenon were subtle in the sense that it may manifest in the physical world but derives from a source which by its very nature could not provide the kind of hard evidence that would satisfy skeptics for whom reality is limited to the material? What if we were to acknowledge that the phenomenon is beyond our present framework of knowledge?"- Dr John Mack.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:47 PM   #263
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So just what is in store for the Hubble Space Telescope? NASA hopes the iconic observatory will stay alive for at least another 5 years, to 2015, if not longer. It is now more powerful than ever before after its fifth and last overhaul in May 2009.
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Old 14-11-2010, 10:00 PM   #264
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Spiral Galaxy M66
Credit & Copyright: Russell Croman Explanation: Big beautiful spiral galaxy M66 lies a mere 35 million light-years away. About 100 thousand light-years across, the gorgeous island universe is well known to astronomers as a member of the Leo Triplet of galaxies. In M66, pronounced dust lanes and young, blue star clusters sweep along spiral arms dotted with the tell-tale glow of pink star forming regions. This colorful and deep view also reveals faint extensions beyond the brighter galactic disk. Of course, the bright, spiky stars lie in the foreground, within our own Milky Way Galaxy, but many, small, distant background galaxies can be seen in the cosmic snapshot. Gravitational interactions with its neighboring galaxies have likely influenced the shape of spiral galaxy M66.
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Old 22-11-2010, 09:50 PM   #265
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A Massive Star in NGC 6357
Credit: NASA, ESA and J. M. Apellániz (IAA, Spain) Explanation: For reasons unknown, NGC 6357 is forming some of the most massive stars ever discovered. One such massive star, near the center of NGC 6357, is framed above carving out its own interstellar castle with its energetic light from surrounding gas and dust. In the greater nebula, the intricate patterns are caused by between interstellar winds, , magnetic fields, and gravity. The overall glow of the nebula results from the emission of light from ionized gas. Near the more obvious Cat's Paw nebula, NGC 6357 houses the open star cluster Pismis 24, home to many of these tremendously bright and blue stars. The central part of NGC 6357 shown spans about 10 light years and lies about 8,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Scorpion.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:05 PM   #266
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Stephan's Quintet
Image Data: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing: Hunter Wilson Explanation: The first identified compact galaxy group, is featured in this eye-catching image constructed with data drawn from the extensive Hubble Legacy Archive. About 300 million light-years away, only four galaxies of the group are actually locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters. The odd man out is easy to spot, though. The four interacting galaxies (NGC 7319, 7318A, 7318B, and 7317) have an overall yellowish cast and tend to have distorted loops and tails, grown under the influence of disruptive gravitational tides. But the larger bluish galaxy, NGC 7320, is much closer than the others. Just 40 million light-years distant, it isn't part of the interacting group. In fact, individual stars in the foreground galaxy can be seen in the sharp Hubble view, hinting that it is much closer than the others. Stephan's Quintet lies within the boundaries of the high flying constellation Pegasus.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:13 PM   #267
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Nebulae in the Northern Cross
Credit & Copyright: Rolf Geissinger
Explanation: Explore a beautiful and complex region of nebulae strewn along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy in this widefield skyscape. The image emphasizes cosmic gas clouds in a 25 by 25 degree view centered on the Northern Cross, the famous asterism in the constellation Cygnus. Bright, hot, supergiant star Deneb at the top of the cross, Sadr near the center, and beautiful Albireo run diagonally through the scene. Popular telescopic tour destinations such as the North America and Pelican emission regions, the Butterfly Nebula (IC 1318), and the Crescent and Veil nebulae can be identified by placing your cursor over the image. Silhouetted by the glowing interstellar clouds and crowded star fields, the dark Northern Coal Sack also stands out, part of a series of obscuring dust clouds forming the Great Rift in the Milky Way. These Northern Cross nebulosities are all located about 2,000 light-years away. Along with the Sun, they lie within the Orion spiral arm of our galaxy.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:20 PM   #268
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Sisters of the Dusty Sky
Credit & Copyright: John Davis Explanation: Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud some 400 light-years away, the lovely Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae. In the dusty sky toward the constellation Taurus and the Orion Arm of our Milky Way Galaxy, this shows the famous star cluster at the upper left. But lesser known dusty nebulae lie along the region's fertile molecular cloud, within the 10 degree wide field, including the bird-like visage of LBN 777 near center. Small bluish reflection nebula VdB 27 at the lower right is associated with the young, variable star RY Tau. At the distance of the Pleiades, the 5 panel mosaic spans nearly 70 light-years.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:32 PM   #269
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Atoms-for-Peace Galaxy Collision
Credit: ESO Explanation: Is this what will become of our Milky Way Galaxy? Perhaps if we in a few billion years, it might. Pictured above is NGC 7252, a jumble of stars created by a between two large galaxies. The collision will take hundreds of millions of years and so is effectively caught frozen in time in the above image. The resulting pandemonium has been dubbed the galaxy because of its similarity to a cartoon of a large atom. The above image was taken recently by the MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope in . NGC 7252 spans about 600,000 light years and lies about 220 million light years away toward the constellation of the Water Bearer (). Since the sideways velocity of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is presently unknown, no one really knows for sure if the Milky Way will ever collide with M31.
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Old 27-11-2010, 03:07 PM   #270
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"What if the alien encounter phenomenon were subtle in the sense that it may manifest in the physical world but derives from a source which by its very nature could not provide the kind of hard evidence that would satisfy skeptics for whom reality is limited to the material? What if we were to acknowledge that the phenomenon is beyond our present framework of knowledge?"- Dr John Mack.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:49 PM   #271
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Stardust in Aries
Credit & Copyright: Alessandro Falesiedi Explanation: This composition in stardust covers almost 2 degrees on the sky, close to the border of the zodiacal constellation Aries and the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. At the lower right of the gorgeous skyscape is a dusty blue reflection nebula surrounding a bright star cataloged as van den Bergh 13 (vdB 13), about 1,000 light-years away. At that estimated distance, the cosmic canvas is over 30 light-years across. Also surrounded by scattered blue starlight, vdB 16 lies toward the upper left, while dark dusty nebulae sprawl across the scene. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, they can hide newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:50 PM   #272
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Flame Nebula Close-Up
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona Explanation: Of course, the Flame Nebula is not on fire. Also known as NGC 2024, the nebula's suggestive reddish color is due to the glow of hydrogen atoms at the edge of the giant Orion molecular cloud complex some 1,500 light-years away. The hydrogen atoms have been ionized, or stripped of their electrons, and glow as the atoms and electrons recombine. But what ionizes the hydrogen atoms? In this close-up view, the central dark lane of absorbing interstellar dust stands out in silhouette against the hydrogen glow and actually hides the true source of the Flame Nebula's energy from optical telescopes. Behind the dark lane lies a cluster of hot, young stars, seen at infrared wavelengths through the obscuring dust. A young, massive star in that cluster is the likely source of energetic ultraviolet radiation that ionizes the hydrogen gas in the Flame Nebula.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:51 PM   #273
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Star Streams of NGC 4216
Image Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.), Collaboration: David Martinez-Delgado (MPIA, IAC), et al.
Explanation: Some 40 million light-years distant, edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 4216 is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way. Found in the dense Virgo Galaxy Cluster, NGC 4216 is centered in this deep telescopic portrait flanked by fellow Virgo cluster members NGC 4206 (right) and NGC 4222. Like other large spirals, including the Milky Way, NGC 4216 has grown by cannibalizing smaller satellite galaxies. In fact, this view has caught it in the act, with still distinct satellite galaxies showing faint star streams extending for thousands of light-years into the halo of NGC 4216. Taken as part of a survey hunting for star streams in nearby spirals, the image was recorded with a small telescope and camera able to convincingly detect faint, extended features. Having trouble spotting the star streams? Slide your cursor over the image to see a composite negative view. The streams should more easily stand out as dark swaths against a white background.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:52 PM   #274
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Anticrepuscular Rays Over Colorado
Credit & Copyright: John Britton Explanation: What's happening over the horizon? Although the scene may appear somehow supernatural, nothing more unusual is occurring than a setting Sun and some well placed clouds. Pictured above are anticrepuscular rays. To understand them, start by picturing common crepuscular rays that are seen any time that sunlight pours though scattered clouds. Now although sunlight indeed travels along straight lines, the projections of these lines onto the spherical sky are . Therefore, the crepuscular rays from a setting (or rising) sun will appear to re-converge on the other side of the sky. At the anti-solar point 180 degrees around from the Sun, they are referred to as . Pictured above is a particularly striking set of photographed in 2001 from a moving car just outside of Boulder, , USA.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:52 PM   #275
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Dark Belt Reappearing on Jupiter
Credit: NASA's JPL, U. Oxford, UC Berkeley, Gemini Obs. (North), USC Philippines Explanation: Why are planet-circling clouds disappearing and reappearing on Jupiter? Although the ultimate cause remains unknown, planetary meteorologists are beginning to better understand what is happening. Earlier this year, unexpectedly, Jupiter's dark Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB) disappeared. The were first noted by amateurs dedicated to watching Jupiter full time. The South Equatorial Band has been seen to change colors before, although the change has never been recorded in such detail. Detailed professional observations revealed that high-flying light-colored -based clouds formed over the planet-circling dark belt. Now those light clouds are dissipating, again unveiling the lower dark clouds. Pictured above two weeks ago, far infrared images -- depicted in false-color red -- show a active above the returning dark belt. Continued observations of Jupiter's current , and our understanding of it, is sure to continue.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:53 PM   #276
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A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana
Credit & Copyright: Sean R. Heavey Explanation: Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a . Such systems center on -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in July west of Glasgow, , USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:53 PM   #277
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Martian Moon Phobos from Mars Express
Credit: G. Neukum (FU Berlin) et al., Mars Express, DLR, ESA; Acknowledgement: Peter Masek Explanation: Why is Phobos so dark? , the largest and innermost of two Martian moons, is the darkest moon in the entire Solar System. Its unusual orbit and color indicate that it may be a captured asteroid composed of a mixture of ice and dark rock. The above picture of Phobos near the limb of Mars was captured last month by the robot spacecraft Mars Express currently orbiting Mars. Phobos is a heavily cratered and barren moon, with its largest crater located on the far side. From images like this, Phobos has been determined to be covered by perhaps a meter of loose dust. Phobos so close to Mars that from some places it would appear to rise and set twice a day, but from other places it would not be visible at all. Phobos' orbit around Mars is continually decaying -- it will likely break up with pieces crashing to the Martian surface in about 50 million years.
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Old 02-12-2010, 11:54 PM   #278
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Hartley 2 Star Cluster Tour
Image Credit & Copyright: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST) Explanation: Early in November, small but active Comet Hartley 2 (103/P Hartley) became the fifth comet imaged close-up by a spacecraft from planet Earth. Continuing its own tour of the solar system with a 6 year orbital period, Hartley 2 is now appearing in the nautical constellation Puppis. Still a target for binoculars or small telescopes from dark sky locations, the comet is captured in this composite image from November 27, sharing the rich 2.5 degree wide field of view with some star clusters well known to earthbound skygazers. Below and right of the comet's alluring green coma lies bright M47, a young open star cluster some 80 milion years old, about 1,600 light-years away. Below and left open cluster M46 is older, around 300 million years of age, and 5,400 light-years distant. Hartley 2's short, faint tail even extends up and right toward another fainter star cluster in the scene, NGC 2423. On November 27, Comet Hartley 2 was about 2.25 light-minutes from Earth. Sweeping toward the bottom of this field, by November 28 the comet's path had carried it between M46 and M47.
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Old 20-12-2010, 12:07 AM   #279
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North America and the Pelican
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh Explanation: Here lie familiar shapes in unfamiliar locations. On the left is an emission nebula cataloged as NGC 7000, famous partly because it resembles our fair planet's continent of North America. The emission region to the right of the North America Nebula is IC 5070, also known for its suggestive outlines as the Pelican Nebula. Separated by a dark cloud of obscuring dust, the two bright nebulae are about 1,500 light-years away. At that distance, the 4 degree wide field of view spans 100 light-years. This spectacular cosmic portrait combines narrow band images of the region in a false-color palette to highlight bright ionization fronts with fine details of dark, dusty forms in silhouette. Emission from atomic hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen is captured in the narrow band data. with binoculars from a dark location. Look northeast of bright star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus the Swan.
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Old 20-12-2010, 12:08 AM   #280
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M81 and Arp's Loop
Image Credit & Copyright: R Jay GaBany - Collaboration: A. Sollima (IAC),
A. Gil de Paz (U. Complutense Madrid) D. Martínez-Delgado (IAC, MPIA), J.J. Gallego-Laborda (Fosca Nit Obs.), T. Hallas (Hallas Obs.) Explanation: One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky and similar in size to the Milky Way, big, beautiful spiral M81 lies 11.8 million light-years away in the northern constellation Ursa Major. This deep image of the region reveals details in the bright yellow core, but at the same time follows fainter features along the galaxy's gorgeous blue spiral arms and sweeping dust lanes. It also follows the expansive, arcing feature, known as Arp's loop, that seems to rise from the galaxy's disk at the right. Studied in the 1960s, Arp's loop has been thought to be a tidal tail, material pulled out of M81 by gravitational interaction with its large neighboring galaxy M82. But a recent investigation demonstrates that much of Arp's loop likely lies within our own galaxy. The loop's colors in visible and infrared light match the colors of pervasive clouds of dust, relatively unexplored galactic cirrus only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way. Along with the Milky Way's stars, the dust clouds lie in the foreground of this remarkable view. M81's dwarf companion galaxy, Holmberg IX, can be seen just above and left of the large spiral. On the sky, this image spans about 0.5 degrees, about the size of the Full Moon.
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