Object Name: Antennae Galaxies Image Type: Astronomical…

Object Name: Antennae Galaxies

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA/ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

Acknowledgement: J. Whitmore (STSI) and James Long (ESA/HST)

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On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, a photographer in Harstad, Norway…

On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, a photographer in Harstad, Norway captured this image of the dancing northern lights. Auroras are created when fast-moving, magnetic solar material strikes Earth’s magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere. This collision rattles the magnetosphere in an event called a geomagnetic storm, sending trapped charged particles zooming down magnetic field lines towards the atmosphere, where they collide brilliantly with molecules in the air, creating auroras.

Though many geomagnetic storms are associated with clouds of solar material that explode from the sun in an event called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, this storm was caused by an especially fast stream of solar wind.

‘Geomagnetic storms caused by high-speed solar wind streams aren’t uncommon,’ said Leila Mays, a space physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. ‘Near solar minimum’”when solar activity like CMEs are less frequent’”these fast streams are actually the most common cause of geomagnetic storms that create auroras.’

Object Names: Auroras in Norway

Image Credit: Johnny Henriksen/ Spaceweather.com

Text Credit:  Sarah Frazier, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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Wind is one of the most active forces shaping Mars’…

Wind is one of the most active forces shaping Mars’ surface in today’s climate. The wind has carved the features we call “yardangs,” one of many in this scene, and deposited sand on the floor of shallow channels between them. On the sand, the wind forms ripples and small dunes. In Mars’ thin atmosphere, light is not scattered much, so theandnbsp;shadows cast by the yardangs are sharp and dark.

This image was acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Dec. 15, 2015, at 3:05 p.m. local Mars time.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace andamp; 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 NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Object Names: Yardangs on Mars

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/ Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Caption: Candy Hansen

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Wandering through this stunning field of view, Mars really is in…

Wandering through this stunning field of view, Mars really is in front of these colorful cosmic clouds. The mosaic contructed from telescopic images is about 5 degrees (10 full moons) across. It captures the planet’s position on August 26, over 7 light-minutes from Earth and very near the line-of-sight to bright star Antaresand the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. In the exposure yellow-hued Mars, above and left, is almost matched by Antares, also known as Alpha Scorpii, below center. Globular star cluster M4 shines just right of Antares, but M4 lies some 7,000 light-years away compared to Antares’ 500 light-year distance. Slightly closer than Antares, Rho Ophiuchi’s bluish starlight is reflected by the dusty molecular clouds near the top of the frame.

Object Names: Mars, Rho Ophiuchi

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit & Copyright: Sebastian Voltmer

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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows Messier 96, a…

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy just over 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is of about the same mass and size as the Milky Way. It was first discovered by astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781, and added to Charles Messier’s famous catalogue of astronomical objects just four days later.

The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

This group, named the M96 Group, also includes the bright galaxies Messier 105 and Messier 95, as well as a number of smaller and fainter galaxies. It is the nearest group containing both bright spirals and a bright elliptical galaxy (Messier 105).

Object Names: M96

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA and the LEGUS Team, Acknowledgement: R. Gendler
Text credit: European Space Agency

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To celebrate 25 years (1990-2015) of exploring the Universe from…

To celebrate 25 years (1990-2015) of exploring the Universe from low Earth orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope’s cameras were used to revisit its most iconic image. The result is this sharper, wider view of the region dubbed the Pillars of Creation, first imaged by Hubble in 1995. Stars are forming deep inside the towering structures. The light-years long columns of cold gas and dust are some 6,500 light-years distant in M16, the Eagle Nebula, toward the constellation Serpens. Sculpted and eroded by the energetic ultraviolet light and powerful winds from M16’s cluster of young, massive stars, the cosmic pillars themselves are destined for destruction. But the turbulent environment of star formation within M16, whose Image

Object Names: Pillars of Creation, M16/Eagle Nebula

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

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The magnificent galaxy NGC 2403 stands within the boundaries of…

The magnificent galaxy NGC 2403 stands within the boundaries of the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis. Some 10 million light-years distant and about 50,000 light-years across, the spiral galaxy also seems to have more than its fair share of giant star forming HII regions, marked by the telltale reddish glow of atomic hydrogen gas. The giant HII regions are energized by clusters of hot, massive stars that explode as bright supernovae at the end of their short and furious lives. A member of the M81 group of galaxies, NGC 2403 closely resembles another galaxy with an abundance of star forming regions that lies within our own local galaxy group, M33 the Triangulum Galaxy. Spiky in appearance, bright stars in this colorful galaxy portrait of NGC 2403 are in the foreground, within our own Milky Way.

Object Names: NGC 2403

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Eric Coles and Mel Helm (via APOD)

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Sweeping through northern skies, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10)…

Sweeping through northern skies, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) made its closest approach on January 17, passing about 6 light-minutes from our fair planet. Dust and ion tails clearly separated in this Earth-based view, the comet is also posed for a Messier moment, near the line-of-sight to M101, grand spiral galaxy in Ursa Major. A cosmic pinwheel at the lower left, M101 is nearly twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, but some 270 thousand light-centuries away. Both galaxy and comet are relatively bright, easy targets for binocular-equipped skygazers. But Comet Catalina is now outbound from the inner Solar System and will slowly fade in coming months.

Object Names: Comet Catalina (C/2013 US 10), M101

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Fritz Helmut Helmmerich

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The deepest infrared image of the Orion Nebula has uncovered a…

The deepest infrared image of the Orion Nebula has uncovered a bonanza of previously unknown low-mass stars and – quite possibly – free floating planets. The picturesque nebula is best known in visible light where it shows a many bright stars and bright glowing gas. Catalogued as M42, the Orion Nebula at a distance of 1300 light years is the closest major star forming region to Earth. One can peer into Orion’s pervasive dust in infrared light, as was done again recently with the sophisticated HAWK-I camera attached to one of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescopes in the high mountains of Chile. High resolution versions of the featured infrared deep image show many points of light, many of which are surely brown dwarf stars but some of which are best fit by an unexpectedly high abundance of free-floating planets. Understanding how these low mass objects formed is important to understanding star formation generally and may even help humanity to better understand the early years of our Solar System.

Object Names: Orion Nebula, M42

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: ESO,  VLT, HAWK-I, H. Drass et all

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Some 4 billion light-years away, galaxies of massive Abell S1063…

Some 4 billion light-years away, galaxies of massive Abell S1063 cluster near the center of this sharp Hubble Space Telescope snapshot. But the fainter bluish arcs are magnified images of galaxies that lie far beyond Abell S1063. About twice as distant, their otherwise undetected light is magnified and distorted by the cluster’s largely unseen gravitational mass, approximately 100 trillion times the mass of the Sun. Providing a tantalizing glimpse of galaxies in the early universe, the effect is known as gravitational lensing. A consequence of warped spacetime it was first predicted by Einstein a century ago. The Hubble image is part of the Frontier Fields program to explore the Final Frontier.

Object Names: Galaxy Cluster Abel S1063

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA, Jennifer Lotz (STScl)

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