Stars and Dust in Corona Australis
Blue dust clouds and young, energetic stars inhabit
this telescopic vista,
less than 500 light-years away toward the northern boundary of
, the Southern Crown.
The dust clouds effectively block light
more distant background
But the striking complex of
NGC 6726, 6727, and IC 4812 produce a characteristic blue color as light
from the region's bright blue stars is
the cosmic dust.
from view stars
still in the process
At the left, smaller yellowish nebula NGC 6729
young variable star
Just below it, glowing
shocked by outflows from
embedded newborn stars are
identified as Herbig-Haro objects
On the sky this field of view spans about one degree,
corresponding to almost nine
at the estimated
distance of the nearby star forming region.
Haumea of the Outer Solar System
One of the strangest objects in the outer Solar System has recently been found to have a ring.
The object, named
the fifth designated
makes it quite unusual.
Along one direction,
Haumea is significantly longer than Pluto, while in another direction
has an extent very similar to Pluto, while in the
third direction is much smaller.
sometimes brings it closer to the
is further away.
, an artist visualizes Haumea as a cratered
surrounded by a uniform ring.
in 2003 and given the temporary designation of 2003 EL61,
Haumea was renamed
in 2008 by the
this year, Haumea has two
discovered in 2005, named
for daughters of the goddess.
On the Origin of Gold
Where did the
in your jewelry originate?
No one is completely sure
The relative average abundance in our
appears higher than can be made in the
, and even in typical
astronomers have suggested
, and many believe, that neutron-rich heavy
might be most easily
explosions such as the
of neutron stars
is an artist's illustration depicting two
spiraling in toward each other, just before they
Since neutron star collisions are also suggested as the origin of
it is possible that you already own a souvenir from one of the most
in the universe.
green and red
tinted auroral emission floods the sky
along the northern (top) horizon in this
fish-eye panorama projection from September 27.
On the mild, clear evening the Milky Way tracks through the zenith of
a southern Alberta sky and ends where the six-day-old Moon sets
in the southwest.
The odd, isolated, pink and whitish arc across the south
has come to be known as Steve.
The name was given to the phenomenon by the
Facebook group who had recorded
appearances of the aurora-like feature.
identified as a proton aurora or proton arc,
the mysterious Steve arcs seem associated with aurorae but
appear closer to the equator than the auroral curtains.
Widely documented by
and recently directly explored by a
Swarm mission satellite
Steve arcs have been measured as
thermal emission from flowing gas rather than
emission excited by energetic electrons.
Even though a reverse-engineered acronym that fits the
is Sudden Thermal Emission from Velocity Enhancement,
his origin is still mysterious.
Under the Galaxy
The Large Magellanic Cloud
a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, stands above
the southern horizon in
this telephoto view
from Las Campanas Observatory,
In the dark September skies of the
Chilean Atacama desert
the small galaxy has an impressive span of about 10 degrees
or 20 Full Moons.
The sensitive digital camera's panorama has also recorded a
faint, pervasive airglow, otherwise invisible to the eye.
Apparently bright terrestrial lights in the foreground
are actually very dim illumination from
the cluster of housing for the observatory
astronomers and engineers.
But the flattened mountain top along the horizon just under the galaxy
is Las Campanas peak, home to the future
Giant Magellan Telescope
NGC 1365: Majestic Island Universe
Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic
Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation
NGC 1365 is a
of the well-studied
sharp color image
star forming regions at the ends of the bar and along the
spiral arms, and details of dust lanes cutting
across the galaxy's bright core.
At the core lies a supermassive black hole.
prominent bar plays a crucial role in the
, drawing gas and dust into a
star-forming maelstrom and ultimately feeding material into the
central black hole
Star Cluster NGC 362 from Hubble
If our Sun were near the center of NGC 362, the
would glow like a jewel box of bright stars.
Hundreds of stars would
and in many different colors.
Although these stars could become part of breathtaking
constellations and intricate folklore
it would be difficult for planetary inhabitants there to see -- and hence understand -- the
is one of only about 170
of stars that exist in our Milky Way Galaxy.
This star cluster is one of the younger
forming likely well after our Galaxy.
can be found with the unaided eye
nearly in front
Small Magellanic Cloud
and angularly close to the second brightest globular cluster known,
The featured image
was taken with the
Hubble Space Telescope
how massive stars end up
near the center
of some globular clusters.
Milky Way and Zodiacal Light over Australian Pinnacles
What strange world is this?
In the foreground of the featured image are the
unusual rock spires in
Nambung National Park
Made of ancient sea shells
), how these human-sized
formed remains a
topic of research
The panorama was taken last month.
A ray of
sunlight reflected by dust grains orbiting between the planets in the
rises from the horizon near the image center.
Arching across the top is the central band of our
Milky Way Galaxy
, as well as several famous
are also visible in the background night sky.
Unusual Mountain Ahuna Mons on Asteroid Ceres
What created this unusual mountain?
is the largest mountain on the largest known asteroid in
our Solar System
which orbits our Sun in the
main asteroid belt
, though, is
that humanity has ever seen before.
For one thing, its slopes are garnished not with
but young vertical streaks.
Mons is an ice volcano that formed shortly after a large impact on the opposite side of the
loosened up the terrain through focused
The bright steaks may be high in
and therefore similar to other recently surfaced material such as visible in
Ceres' famous bright spots
The featured double-height digital image
was constructed from
surface maps taken of Ceres last year by the
robotic Dawn mission
Dark Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Where did all the stars go?
What used to be considered a hole in the sky
is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud
Here, a high concentration of
absorb practically all the visible light
emitted from background stars.
The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of
some of the coldest
s in the universe.
One of the most notable of these
dark absorption nebulae
is a cloud toward the constellation
That no stars are visible in the center indicates that
68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about
500 light-years away and half a light-year
but it is known that these clouds are themselves
for new stars to form
In fact, Barnard 68
likely to collapse and form a new star system.
It is possible to
look right through
the cloud in infrared
Global Aurora at Mars
A strong solar event last month triggered
intense global aurora at Mars
Before (left) and during (right) the solar storm,
these projections show the sudden increase in ultraviolet emission
from martian aurora, more than 25 times brighter
than auroral emission previously detected by the
With a sunlit crescent toward the right, data from MAVEN's
ultraviolet imaging spectrograph is projected in purple hues
on the night side of Mars globes
simulated to match the observation dates and times.
On Mars, solar storms can result in planet-wide aurora because,
the Red Planet isn't protected by a strong
that can funnel energetic charged particles toward the poles.
For all those
on the planet's surface during the solar storm,
dangerous radiation levels were double any previously measured
by the Curiosity rover.
MAVEN is studying whether Mars
lost its atmosphere
due to its lack of a global magnetic field.
Pluto's Bladed Terrain
the New Horizons spacecraft flyby in July 2015, Pluto's
bladed terrain is captured in this close-up of the distant world.
The bizarre texture
to fields of skyscraper-sized, jagged landforms
made almost entirely of methane ice, found at extreme altitudes
near Pluto's equator.
Casting dramatic shadows
the tall, knife-like ridges seem to have
been formed by sublimation.
By that process, condensed methane ice turns directly to methane gas
without passing through a liquid phase
during Pluto's warmer geological periods.
On planet Earth, sublimation can also produce standing fields of knife-like
ice sheets, found along the high plateau of the Andes mountain range.
Known as penitentes
those bladed structures are made of water ice and at most a few meters tall.
The Soul Nebula in Infrared from Herschel
Stars are forming in the Soul of the Queen of Aethopia.
More specifically, a large star forming region called the
can be found in the direction of the
, who Greek mythology credits as the
of a King who long ago ruled
The Soul Nebula
open clusters of stars
a large radio source known as
and huge evacuated bubbles formed by the winds of young massive stars.
Located about 6,500
the Soul Nebula spans about 100 light years and is usually
imaged next to
its celestial neighbor the
, impressively detailed, was taken last month in several bands of
by the orbiting
Herschel Space Observatory
Ice Ring around Nearby Star Fomalhaut
Why is there a large ice ring around Fomalhaut?
This interesting star
easily visible in the night sky -- lies only about 25
away and is known to be orbited by at least one planet,
as well as several inner dust disks.
More intriguing, perhaps, is an
first discovered about 20 years ago, that has an unusually sharp inner boundary.
The featured recent image
Atacama Large Millimeter Array
shows this outer ring with complete and unprecedented detail -- in pink -- superposed on a
image of the Fomalhaut system in blue.
A leading theory holds
that this ring resulted from numerous
involving icy comets
component objects of planets
while the ring boundaries are caused by the
of yet unseen planets.
If correct, any interior planets in the
are likely being continually pelted by large meteors and comets -- an onslaught last seen in
our own planetary system
four billion years ago in an episode called the
Late Heavy Bombardment
Two Comets and a Star Cluster
Two unusual spots are on the move near the famous Pleiades star cluster.
Shifting only a small amount per night,
in our nearby Solar System that by chance wandered
into the field of the
s distant stars.
On the far left is comet
ASAS-SN, a multi-kilometer
block of evaporating ice sporting a
of surrounding gas dominated by
shows a slight tail to its lower right.
Near the frame center is comet
C/2015 ER61 PanSTARRS
also a giant block of
but sporting a rather
to its right.
On the upper right is
dominated by bright blue stars illuminating
nearby reflecting dust
This exposure, taken about two weeks ago,
is so deep that the filamentary interstellar dust can be traced across the
The Pleiades is visible to the
, but it should require binoculars to
see the comets
Concept Plane: Supersonic Green Machine
What will passenger airplanes be like in the future?
To help brainstorm desirable and workable attributes, NASA sponsors
is an artist's depiction of a concept plane
that was suggested in 2010.
This futuristic plane would be expected to achieve
possibly surpassing the
planes that ran commercially in the late
In terms of noise reduction, the future aircraft has been drawn featuring an
stretched over its engines.
The structure is intended to
reduce the sound
from annoying sonic booms.
would aim to have relatively little
impact on our environment
on pollution and fuel consumption.
Aircraft utilizing similar design concepts
might well become operational by the 2030s.
Portrait of NGC 281
Look through the cosmic cloud cataloged as NGC 281
and you might miss the stars of open cluster
that cluster's young, massive stars
ultimately power the pervasive
The eye-catching shapes looming in
portrait of NGC 281
are sculpted columns and dense
seen in silhouette, eroded by intense, energetic winds and radiation
from the hot cluster stars.
If they survive long enough,
the dusty structures could also be sites of future star formation.
the Pacman Nebula because of its overall shape,
NGC 281 is about 10,000 light-years away in the constellation
This sharp composite image was made through
combining emission from the nebula's hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen
atoms in green, red, and blue hues.
It spans over 80 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 281.
Puppis A Supernova Remnant
by the explosion
of a massive star,
supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the
surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away.
At that distance,
colorful telescopic field
based on broadband and narrowband
optical image data is about 60 light-years across.
As the supernova remnant (upper right) expands into its
clumpy, non-uniform surroundings, shocked filaments
of oxygen atoms glow in green-blue hues.
Hydrogen and nitrogen are in red.
Light from the initial supernova itself, triggered by
the collapse of the massive
, would have reached
Earth about 3,700 years ago.
The Puppis A remnant is actually seen through
outlying emission from the closer but more ancient
Vela supernova remnant
, near the
crowded plane of our Milky Way galaxy.
Still glowing across the electromagnetic spectrum
Puppis A remains one of the brightest sources
in the X-ray sky
LIGO-Virgo GW170814 Skymap
From around planet Earth
three gravitational wave detectors
have now reported a joint detection of ripples in spacetime,
the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole merger in the
was recorded on 2017 August 14, and so christened GW170814,
by the LIGO
sites in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana,
and the more recently operational Virgo Observatory near Pisa, Italy.
The signal was emitted in the final moments of the
of 31 and 25
solar masses located about 1.8 billion light-years away.
the timing of the
gravitational wave detections at all
three sites allowed astronomers to vastly improve the location
of the signal's origin on the sky.
Just above the Magellanic clouds and generally toward the
constellation Eridanus, the only sky region consistent
with signals in all three detectors is indicated by
the yellow contour line in this all-sky map.
The all-sky projection includes the arc of our
Milky Way Galaxy
An improved three-detector location of the
source allowed rapid follow-up observations by other,
more conventional, electromagnetic wave observatories that
can search for potentially related signals.
The addition of the Virgo detector also allowed
the gravitational wave polarization to be measured,
a property that further confirms
Einstein's general relativity.
Layers of a Total Solar Eclipse
Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night can keep a space-based spacecraft
from watching the Sun
In fact, from its vantage point 1.5 million kilometers
sunward of planet Earth, NASA's
SOlar Heliospheric Observatory
(SOHO) can always
the Sun's outer atmosphere, or
But only during a total solar
can Earth-based observers also
see the lovely coronal
streamers and structures
the Moon briefly blocks the overwhelmingly
bright solar surface.
Then, it becomes possible to follow detailed
all the way down to the Sun's surface.
In the outside layer of this composite image,
SOHO's uninterrupted view of the
last month's eclipse
is shown in orange hues.
The middle, donut-shaped region is
as recorded by the
Williams College Eclipse Expedition
Simultaneously, the inner view is from NASA's Earth-orbiting
Solar Dynamics Observatory
, which, being
was able to image the face of the Sun in extreme
shown in gold.