Hubble photo's

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by syscom3, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I thought this picture was good enought o post for all to enjoy.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0606/08galaxyonedge/

    This is a unique Hubble Space Telescope view of the disk galaxy NGC 5866 tilted nearly edge-on to our line-of-sight.

    Hubble's sharp vision reveals a crisp dust lane dividing the galaxy into two halves. The image highlights the galaxy's structure: a subtle, reddish bulge surrounding a bright nucleus, a blue disk of stars running parallel to the dust lane, and a transparent outer halo.

    Some faint, wispy trails of dust can be seen meandering away from the disk of the galaxy out into the bulge and inner halo of the galaxy. The outer halo is dotted with numerous gravitationally bound clusters of nearly a million stars each, known as globular clusters. Background galaxies that are millions to billions of light-years farther away than NGC 5866 are also seen through the halo.
     

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  2. Tiger

    Tiger Member

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    That is an awesome shot! How much longer is Hubble going to be taking shots like this? It must be near ending its useful life.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Ive always been fascinated by this nebula. The remnants of a supernova in the year 1054.

    This is called the Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus
     

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  4. Clave

    Clave Well-Known Member

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    Woah! that is stunning 8)
     
  5. cheddar cheese

    cheddar cheese Active Member

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    I love spacey things, I used to be a keen astronomer when I was younger...great pics...
     
  6. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Great pics syscom! Hubble is being replaced (I think) by a newer teloscope that will be able to take even better photos, I for one look forward to seeing them.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Great Nebula of orion has always held a fascination for me.

    This is a stellar nursury with proto-stars being formed and lots of newly minted stars illuminating this grand object of the cosmos.


    This dramatic image offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light. These stars reside in a dramatic dust-and-gas landscape of plateaus, mountains, and valleys that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

    The Orion Nebula is a picture book of star formation, from the massive, young stars that are shaping the nebula to the pillars of dense gas that may be the homes of budding stars. The bright central region is the home of the four heftiest stars in the nebula. The stars are called the Trapezium because they are arranged in a trapezoid pattern. Ultraviolet light unleashed by these stars is carving a cavity in the nebula and disrupting the growth of hundreds of smaller stars. Located near the Trapezium stars are stars still young enough to have disks of material encircling them. These disks are called protoplanetary disks or "proplyds" and are too small to see clearly in this image. The disks are the building blocks of solar systems.

    The bright glow at upper left is from M43, a small region being shaped by a massive, young star's ultraviolet light. Astronomers call the region a miniature Orion Nebula because only one star is sculpting the landscape. The Orion Nebula has four such stars. Next to M43 are dense, dark pillars of dust and gas that point toward the Trapezium. These pillars are resisting erosion from the Trapezium's intense ultraviolet light. The glowing region on the right reveals arcs and bubbles formed when stellar winds - streams of charged particles ejected from the Trapezium stars — collide with material.

    The faint red stars near the bottom are the myriad brown dwarfs that Hubble spied for the first time in the nebula in visible light. Sometimes called "failed stars," brown dwarfs are cool objects that are too small to be ordinary stars because they cannot sustain nuclear fusion in their cores the way our Sun does. The dark red column, below, left, shows an illuminated edge of the cavity wall.

    The Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colors, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula. The ACS mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full moon.
     

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  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    NGC 3132 is a striking example of a planetary nebula. This expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star, is known to amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere as the "Eight-Burst" or the "Southern Ring" Nebula.

    The name "planetary nebula" refers only to the round shape that many of these objects show when examined through a small visual telescope. In reality, these nebulae have little or nothing to do with planets, but are instead huge shells of gas ejected by stars as they near the ends of their lifetimes. NGC 3132 is nearly half a light year in diameter, and at a distance of about 2000 light years is one of the nearer known planetary nebulae. The gases are expanding away from the central star at a speed of 9 miles per second.

    This image, captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, clearly shows two stars near the center of the nebula, a bright white one, and an adjacent, fainter companion to its upper right. (A third, unrelated star lies near the edge of the nebula.) The faint partner is actually the star that has ejected the nebula. This star is now smaller than our own Sun, but extremely hot. The flood of ultraviolet radiation from its surface makes the surrounding gases glow through fluorescence. The brighter star is in an earlier stage of stellar evolution, but in the future it will probably eject its own planetary nebula.

    In the Heritage Team's rendition of the Hubble image, the colors were chosen to represent the temperature of the gases. Blue represents the hottest gas, which is confined to the inner region of the nebula. Red represents the coolest gas, at the outer edge. The Hubble image also reveals a host of filaments, including one long one that resembles a waistband, made out of dust particles which have condensed out of the expanding gases. The dust particles are rich in elements such as carbon. Eons from now, these particles may be incorporated into new stars and planets when they form from interstellar gas and dust. Our own Sun may eject a similar planetary nebula some 6 billion years from now.
     

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  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    This active region of star formation in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), as photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, unveils wispy clouds of hydrogen and oxygen that swirl and mix with dust on a canvas of astronomical size. The LMC is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

    This particular region within the LMC, referred to as N 180B, contains some of the brightest known star clusters. The hottest blue stars can be brighter than a million of our Suns. Their intense energy output generates not only harsh ultraviolet radiation but also incredibly strong stellar "winds" of high-speed, charged particles that blow into space. The ultraviolet radiation ionizes the interstellar gas and makes it glow, while the winds can disperse the interstellar gas across tens or hundreds of light-years. Both actions are evident in N 180B.

    Also visible etched against the glowing hydrogen and oxygen gases are 100 light-year-long dust streamers that run the length of the nebula, intersecting the core of the cluster near the center of the image. Perpendicular to the direction of the dark streamers, bright orange rims of compact dust clouds appear near the bottom right of and top left corners of the image. These dark concentrations are on the order of a few light-years in size. Also visible among the dust clouds are so-called "elephant trunk" stalks of dust. If the pressure from the nearby stellar winds is great enough to compress this material and cause it to gravitationally contract, star formation might be triggered in these small dust clouds. These dust clouds are evidence that this is still a young star-formation region.

    This image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 1998 using filters that isolate light emitted by hydrogen and oxygen gas. To create a color composite, the data from the hydrogen filter were colorized red, the oxygen filter were colorized blue, and a combination of the two filters averaged together was colorized green. The amalgamation yields pink and orange hydrogen clouds set amid a field of soft blue oxygen gas. Dense dust clouds block starlight and glowing gas from our view point.
     

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  10. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/storie...ME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-10-31-10-13-16

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA will send a space shuttle to repair the 16-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, agency Administrator Michael Griffin announced Tuesday, reversing his predecessor's decision to nix the mission.

    Griffin's announcement was greeted eagerly by astronomers who feared Hubble would deteriorate before the end of the decade without new sensors and replacements for its aging batteries.

    The rehab mission, likely launching in May 2008 using space shuttle Discovery, would keep Hubble working until about 2013. Its estimate cost is $900 million.

    The Hubble telescope has captured some of the most spectacular images of the universe, popularizing astronomy while at the same time advancing our understanding of space.

    It has enabled direct observation of the universe as it was 12 billion years ago, discovered black holes at the center of many galaxies, provided measurements that helped establish the size and age of the universe and offered evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

    "The Hubble telescope has been the greatest telescope since Galileo invented the first one," said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., a fierce champion of Hubble, which is operated out of Maryland. "It has gone to look at places in the universe that we didn't know existed before."

    The repair mission crew will include three veterans of the last Hubble mission, in 2002, and four astronauts on their first space trip, Griffin said.

    Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe had canceled a Hubble repair mission in the wake of the Columbia shuttle disaster that killed seven astronauts in 2003. O'Keefe believed the risks were too great and the remaining shuttle missions should focus on completing construction of the international space station.

    Griffin, however, said Tuesday that he was convinced the Hubble mission could be conducted after the last three shuttle flights demonstrated astronauts' ability to inspect the spacecraft in-flight and make repairs, even in hard-to-reach places.

    "The safety of our crew conducting this mission will be as much as we can possibly do," Griffin said. "We're not going to risk a crew in order to do a Hubble mission."

    Unlike the remaining 14 shuttle flights needed to finish space station construction, astronauts going to Hubble wouldn't have a refuge in the event of a catastrophic problem like the one that doomed Columbia. NASA would have another shuttle on the launch pad, ready to make an emergency rescue trip in case of trouble.

    The Hubble mission would add two new camera instruments to the telescope, upgrade aging batteries and stabilizing equipment, add new guidance sensors and repair a light-separating spectrograph. Griffin named the crew members as veterans Scott Altman, John Grunsfeld and Michael Massimino, and rookies Greg Johnson, Andrew Feustel, Mike Good and Megan McArthur.

    Hubble was launched in 1990 with a faulty primary mirror that prevented it from focusing, and it quickly became the butt of jokes. Three years later, astronauts Endeavour fixed the telescope's blurred vision in the first of four repair trips.

    "The Hubble has been a roller coaster," said NASA Goddard Space Flight Center director Ed Weiler, Hubble's chief scientist from 1979 to 1998. "It really has."
     
  12. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    And I like this one. Rather humbling. I too read that NASA gave the go ahead to repair Hubble in 2008. Best $900 million they will ever spend.
     

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  13. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Here's some more pics (not hubble obviously). They offer somewhat of an understanding of how insignificant our little world is in the scheme of things. Now take the last pic and wrap your mind around my post above. Incomprehensible.8)
     

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  14. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Have no idea why it posted the pics left to right. Sorry.:rolleyes:
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    You will have to download the pic that's in this article yourself, as its way to big to be placed in this thread.

    click this link, or copy and paste for a nice big image of the picture whats at the end of this thread
    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA01322.jpg

    NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have teamed up to expose the chaos that baby stars are creating 1,500 light-years away in a cosmic cloud called the Orion nebula.

    This striking infrared and visible-light composite indicates that four monstrously massive stars at the center of the cloud may be the main culprits in the familiar Orion constellation. The stars are collectively called the "Trapezium." Their community can be identified as the yellow smudge near the center of the image.

    Swirls of green in Hubble's ultraviolet and visible-light view reveal hydrogen and sulfur gas that have been heated and ionized by intense ultraviolet radiation from the Trapezium's stars. Meanwhile, Spitzer's infrared view exposes carbon-rich molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the cloud. These organic molecules have been illuminated by the Trapezium's stars, and are shown in the composite as wisps of red and orange. On Earth, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found on burnt toast and in automobile exhaust.

    Together, the telescopes expose the stars in Orion as a rainbow of dots sprinkled throughout the image. Orange-yellow dots revealed by Spitzer are actually infant stars deeply embedded in a cocoon of dust and gas. Hubble showed less embedded stars as specks of green, and foreground stars as blue spots.

    Stellar winds from clusters of newborn stars scattered throughout the cloud etched all of the well-defined ridges and cavities in Orion. The large cavity near the right of the image was most likely carved by winds from the Trapezium's stars.

    Located 1,500 light-years away from Earth, the Orion nebula is the brightest spot in the sword of the Orion, or the "Hunter" constellation. The cosmic cloud is also our closest massive star-formation factory, and astronomers believe it contains more than 1,000 young stars.

    The Orion constellation is a familiar sight in the fall and winter night sky in the northern hemisphere. The nebula is invisible to the unaided eye, but can be resolved with binoculars or small telescopes.

    This image is a false-color composite where light detected at wavelengths of 0.43, 0.50, and 0.53 microns is blue. Light at wavelengths of 0.6, 0.65, and 0.91 microns is green. Light at 3.6 microns is orange, and 8.0 microns is red.
     

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  16. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The three iconic space pillars photographed by NASA's
    Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 might have met their
    demise, according to new evidence from NASA's Spitzer
    Space Telescope.

    A new, striking image from Spitzer shows the intact dust
    towers next to a giant cloud of hot dust thought to have
    been scorched by the blast of a star that exploded, or went
    supernova. Astronomers speculate that the supernova's
    shock wave could have already reached the dusty towers,
    causing them to topple about 6,000 years ago. However,
    because light from this region takes 7,000 years to reach
    Earth, we won't be able to capture photos of the destruction
    for another 1,000 years or so.

    Spitzer's view of the region shows the entire Eagle nebula,
    a vast and stormy community of stars set amid clouds
    and steep pillars made of gas and dust, including the
    three well-known "Pillars of Creation."

    "I remember seeing a photograph of these pillars more than
    a decade ago and being inspired to become an astronomer,"
    said Nicolas Flagey of The Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale
    in France. "Now, we have discovered something new about
    this region we thought we understood so well." Flagey, a
    visiting graduate student at NASA's Spitzer Science Center
    at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, presented
    the results at the American Astronomical Society meeting in
    Seattle.

    Astronomers have long predicted that a supernova blast
    wave would mean the end for the popular pillars. The region
    is littered with 20 or so stars ripe for exploding, so it was only
    a matter of time, they reasoned, before one would blow up.
    The new Spitzer observations suggest one of these stellar
    time bombs has in fact already detonated, an event humans
    most likely witnessed 1,000 to 2,000 years ago as an unusually
    bright star in the sky.

    Whenever the mighty pillars do crumble, gas and dust will be
    blown away, exposing newborn stars that were forming inside.
    A new generation of stars might also spring up from the dusty
    wreckage.

    Spitzer is a space telescope that detects infrared, longer-wavelength
    light that our eyes cannot see. This allows the observatory to
    both see the dust and see through it, depending on which infrared
    wavelength is being observed. In Spitzer's new look at the Eagle
    nebula, the three pillars appear small and ghostly transparent.
    They are colored green in this particular view. In the largest of
    the three columns, an embedded star is seen forming inside the tip.

    Above the pillars is the enormous cloud of hot dust, colored red
    in the picture, which astronomers think was seared by the blast
    wave of a supernova explosion. Flagey and his team say evidence
    for this scenario comes from similarities observed between this
    hot dust and dust around known supernova remnants. The dust
    also appears to have a shell-like shape, implying that a supernova
    blast wave is traveling outward and sculpting it.

    The mysterious dust was first revealed in previous images from
    the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory, but
    Spitzer's longer-wavelength infrared instrument was able to tentatively
    match the dust to a supernova event.

    "Something else besides starlight is heating this dust," said Dr.
    Alberto Noriega-Crespo, Flagey's advisor at the Spitzer Science Center.
    "With Spitzer, we now have the missing long-wavelength infrared
    data that are giving us an answer."

    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the
    Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission
    Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at
    the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    Spitzer's infrared array camera and multiband imaging photometer
    made the new observations. The infrared array camera was built
    by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The
    instrument's principal investigator is Giovanni Fazio of the
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The multiband imaging
    photometer for Spitzer was built by Ball Aerospace Corporation,
    Boulder, Colo.; the University of Arizona; and Boeing North American,
    Canoga Park, Calif. Its principal investigator is Dr. George Rieke
    of the University of Arizona, Tucson.
     

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  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Todays astronomy lesson.

    Celebrating supernova's 20th anniversary with Hubble
    SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
    Posted: February 22, 2007

    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.

    "The sharp pictures from the Hubble telescope help us ask and answer new questions about Supernova 1987A," said Robert Kirshner, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "In fact, without Hubble we wouldn't even know what to ask."

    Kirshner is the lead investigator of an international collaboration to study the doomed star. Studying supernovae like SN 1987A is important because the exploding stars create elements, such as carbon and iron, that make up new stars, galaxies, and even humans. The iron in a person's blood, for example, was manufactured in supernova explosions. SN 1987A ejected 20,000 Earth masses of radioactive iron. The core of the shredded star glows because of radioactive titanium that was cooked up in the explosion.

    The star is 163,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It actually blew up about 161,000 B.C., but its light reached the Earth in 1987.

    "The Hubble observations have helped us rewrite the textbooks on exploding stars. We found that the actual world is more complicated and interesting than anyone dared to imagine. There are mysterious triple rings of glowing gas and powerful blasts sent out from the explosion that are just having an impact now, 20 years later."

    Before SN 1987A, astronomers had a "simplified, idealized model of a supernova," Kirshner explained. "We thought the explosions were spherical and we didn't think much about the gas a star would exhale in the thousands of years before it exploded. The actual shreds of the star in SN 1987A are elongated-more like a jellybean than a gumball, and the fastest-moving debris is slamming into the gas that was already out there from previous millennia. Who would have guessed?"

    Hubble wasn't even around when astronomers first spotted the supernova in 1987. When Hubble was launched three years later, astronomers didn't waste any time in using the telescope to study the stellar blast. Its first peek was in 1990, the year the observatory launched. Since then, the telescope has taken hundreds of pictures of the doomed star.

    The Hubble studies have revealed the following details about the supernova:

    * A glowing ring, about a light-year in diameter, around the supernova. The ring was there at least 20,000 years before the star exploded. X-rays from the explosion energized the gas in the ring, making it glow for two decades.

    * Two outer loops of glowing gas that had not been identified in ground-based telescope images.

    * A dumbbell-shaped central structure that has now grown to one-tenth of a light-year long. The structure consists of two blobs of debris in the center of the supernova racing away from each other at roughly 20 million miles an hour.

    * The onrushing stellar shock wave from the stellar explosion is slamming into, heating up, and illuminating the inner regions of the narrow ring surrounding the doomed star.

    Hubble continues to watch as the blast debris moves through the ring. The light show makes the glowing ring look like a pearl necklace. Astronomers think the whole ring will be illuminated in a few years.

    The glowing ring is expected to become bright enough to illuminate the star's surroundings, which will provide astronomers with new information on how the star ejected material before the explosion.

    Astronomers are analyzing images by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to try to understand the fate of the dust that surrounds the exploded star and in the neighborhood around the blast.

    "We will learn more in the future when the shock wave moves through the inner ring and slams into the outer rings and illuminates them," Kirshner said. "It could lead to clues about the last 20,000 years of the star. But there are many things that are still a mystery. We still do not understand the evolution of the star before the explosion or how the three rings formed. We also think that the star may be part of a binary system."

    Astronomers also are still looking for evidence of a black hole or a neutron star left behind by the blast. The fiery death of massive stars usually creates these energetic objects. Most astronomers think a neutron star formed 20 years ago. Kirshner said the object could be obscured by dust or it could have become a black hole.

    He plans to use the infrared capabilities of the Wide Field Camera 3 - an instrument scheduled to be installed during the upcoming Hubble servicing mission - to hunt for a stellar remnant. Scientists will use another instrument scheduled for installment during the mission, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, to analyze the supernova's chemical composition and velocities.

    The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2013, will be able to see infrared light from the ring that is 10 times brighter than what astronomers see today. The debris inside the ring will begin to brighten, and astronomers will get another chance to study the interior of an exploded star.

    Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Celebrating supernova's 20th anniversary with Hubble
     

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  18. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Beauty of barred spiral galaxy shown by Hubble
    HUBBLE INFORMATION CENTER NEWS RELEASE
    Posted: April 5, 2007

    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has delivered an unrivalled snapshot of the nearby barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672. This remarkable image provides a high definition view of the galaxy's large bar, its fields of star-forming clouds and dark bands of interstellar dust.

    NGC 1672, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, is seen almost face on and shows regions of intense star formation. The greatest concentrations of star formation are found in the so-called starburst regions near the ends of the galaxy's strong galactic bar. NGC 1672 is a prototypical barred spiral galaxy and differs from normal spiral galaxies in that the spiral arms do not twist all the way into the centre. Instead, they are attached to the two ends of a straight bar of stars enclosing the nucleus.

    Astronomers believe that barred spirals have a unique mechanism that channels gas from the disk inwards towards the nucleus. This allows the bar portion of the galaxy to serve as an area of new star generation. It appears that the bars are short-lived, begging the question: will non-barred galaxies develop a bar in the future, or have they already hosted one that has disappeared?

    In the new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, clusters of hot young blue stars form along the spiral arms, and ionize surrounding clouds of hydrogen gas that glow red. Delicate curtains of dust partially obscure and redden the light of the stars behind them. NGC 1672's symmetric look is emphasized by the four principal arms, edged by eye-catching dust lanes that extend out from the center.

    Galaxies lying behind NGC 1672 give the illusion they are embedded in the foreground galaxy, even though they are really much farther away. They also appear reddened as they shine through NGC 1672's dust. A few bright foreground stars inside our own Milky Way Galaxy appear in the image as bright, diamond-like objects.

    NGC 1672 is a member of the family of Seyfert galaxies, named after the astronomer, Carl Keenan Seyfert, who studied a family of galaxies with active nuclei extensively in the 1940s. The energy output of these nuclei can sometimes outshine their host galaxies. The active galaxy family include the exotically named quasars and blazars. Although each type has distinctive characteristics, they are thought to be all driven by the same engine - supermassive black holes - but are viewed from different angles.

    The new Hubble observations, performed with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the observatory, have shed light on the process of starburst activity and on why some galaxies are ablaze with extremely active star formation.

    NGC 1672 is more than 60 million light-years away in the direction of the Southern constellation of Dorado. These observations of NGC 1672 were taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in August of 2005. This composite image contains filters that isolate light from the blue, green, and infrared portions of the spectrum, as well as emission from ionized hydrogen.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.
     

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  19. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Wow. Just dust in a cereal bowl. If we winked out tomorrow, would anyone notice?
     
  20. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    One of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's cameras has been released to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a 50 light-year-wide view of the tumultuous central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth - and death - is taking place.

    Hubble's new view of the Carina Nebula shows the process of star birth at a new level of detail. The bizarre landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. These stars are shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born.

    This immense nebula contains a dozen or more brilliant stars that are estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun. The most opulent is the star eta Carinae, seen at far left. Eta Carinae is in the final stages of its brief eruptive lifespan, as shown by two billowing lobes of gas and dust that presage its upcoming explosion as a titanic supernova.

    The fireworks in the Carina region started three million years ago when the nebula's first generation of newborn stars condensed and ignited in the middle of a huge cloud of cold molecular hydrogen. Radiation from these stars carved out an expanding bubble of hot gas. The island-like clumps of dark clouds scattered across the nebula are nodules of dust and gas that have so far resisted being eaten away by photoionisation.

    The hurricane-strength blast of stellar winds and blistering ultraviolet radiation within the cavity is now compressing the surrounding walls of cold hydrogen. This is triggering a second stage of new star formation.

    Our Sun and Solar System may have been born inside such a cosmic crucible 4.6 billion years ago. In looking at the Carina Nebula we are seeing star formation as it commonly occurs along the dense spiral arms of a galaxy.

    This immense nebula is an estimated 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina, the Keel of the old southern constellation Argo Navis, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts from Greek mythology.

    This image is an immense (29,566 x 14,321 pixels) mosaic of the Carina Nebula assembled from 48 frames taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were taken in the light of ionized hydrogen. Colour information was added with data taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter- American Observatory in Chile. Red corresponds to sulphur, green to hydrogen, and blue to oxygen emission.

    In its 17 years of exploring the heavens, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has made nearly 800,000 observations and snapped nearly 500,000 images of more than 25,000 celestial objects. Hubble does not travel to stars, planets and galaxies. It takes pictures of them as it whirls around Earth at 17,500 miles an hour. In its 17-year lifetime, the telescope has made nearly 100,000 trips around our planet. Those trips have racked up plenty of frequent-flier-miles, about 2.4 billion, which is the equivalent of a round trip to Saturn.

    The 17 years' worth of observations has produced more than 30 terabytes of data, equal to about 25 percent of the information stored in the Library of Congress.

    Each day the orbiting observatory generates about 10 gigabytes of data, enough information to fill the hard drive of a typical home computer in two weeks.

    The Hubble archive sends about 66 gigabytes of data each day to astronomers throughout the world.

    Astronomers using Hubble data have published nearly 7,000 scientific papers, making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.
     

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