It’s Full of Stars — One of the Densest Star Clusters Ever Discovered
This recently released photograph from the Hubble Telescope captures the spectacular glory of Messier 15 located about 35,000 light-years away. It might be hard to believe, but if you were to look up in the sky and locate the constellation Pegasus, this entire cluster of stars is located inside of it. It is one of the densest clusters of stars ever discovered. Via the ESA:
Both very hot blue stars and cooler golden stars can be seen swarming together in the image, becoming more concentrated towards the cluster’s bright centre. Messier 15 is one of the densest globular clusters known, with most of its mass concentrated at its core. As well as stars, Messier 15 was the first cluster known to host a planetary nebula, and it has been found to have a rare type of black hole at its centre.
Stars Become the Night
Australian photographer Lincoln Harrison captivated the world with his first Star Trails collection with surreal swirls of stars in the night sky, created using long-exposure techniques. Recently, Harrison added a new collection titled Nightscapes to his gallery and it’s just as breathtaking. In this series, the stars seem to be just out of reach, shining like suspended diamonds in a colorful night sky.
Harrison uses the same technique of long-exposure frames to capture the brilliant movements of the stars. He shoots the night sky separately with a creative zoom technique, and then layers the images in post-production. His entire collection can be viewed at his site.
10 Years of Incredible Photos from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope
For 10 years, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has been helping scientists on Earth learn more about the mysterious objects hiding in our star-studded skies. On August 25, 2003, the telescope, carrying a relatively small, 0.85-meter beryllium mirror, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since then, it’s been trailing the Earth on its orbit around the sun, like NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.
Spitzer stares at the heavens in infrared wavelengths, revealing the cold, distant, and dusty realms of the universe, normally invisible to eyes on Earth. In this gallery, ribbons of dust wind around massive stars, the cavities carved by hot, young stars open up like bottomless caverns, and the spiraling tendrils of a distant galaxy glisten behind a foreground nebula.
- Helix Nebula - About 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, the white dwarf star (visible in the very center), is the dead remnant of what was once a star like the sun. The bright red glow immediately around it is probably the dust kicked up by colliding comets that survived the death of their stellar host.
- The Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud - This is a region known as the “Wing” of the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the Milky Way’s satellite dwarf galaxies. Here, Chandra X-Ray Observatory data are in purple, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope are shown in red, green and blue, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope are shown in red.
- Zeta Ophiuchi - A giant star zooming through space at 54,000 miles per hour creates a bowshock — ripples that are the result of billowing stellar winds colliding with the dust ahead of it. About 370 light-years away, it is 80,000 times brighter than the sun. It would be one of the brightest stars in the sky, but it’s invisible from Earth obscured by dust and clouds.
- M81 - Messier 81, a relatively nearby galaxy that’s just 12 million light-years distant, is a gorgeous spiral located the northern sky in Ursa Major.
- Bright Superbubble - Massive stars grow quickly and die young, exploding in radiant supernovae. A large cluster of these hot, young stars will generate stellar winds and shock waves that carve superbubbles into the fabric of their nurseries, like the ones seen here, about 160,000 light-years away in NGC 1929.
- Galactic Merger - The cores of two merging galaxies form what appear to be giant blue eyes, peering out from behind a swirling red mask. Galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163, located about 140 million light-years from Earth, began merging relatively recently — about 40 million years ago. Eventually, the pair will form a giant cycloptic eye.
An Image of a New-Born Star Brought to Earth by ALMA
What you are seeing a new-born star. Think of it as a baby in a galactic nursery of unlimited babies. The ALMA observations (orange and green, lower right) of the newborn star reveal a large energetic jet moving away from us, though it’s mostly covered by dust and gas. To the left (in pink and purple) is the visible part of the jet, streaming partly towards us. This beautiful imagery is brought to you by ALMA, an important new facility in our ever-expanding exploration of space.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) is a collection of carefully arranged telescopes or mirror segments acting together to probe structures with higher resolution in space. ALMA is located at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. The antennas can be moved across the desert plateau over great distances which give ALMA a powerful variable “zoom.” The high sensitivity is mainly achieved through the large numbers of telescopes that make up the array. Because of this, we can now see amazing images of space in greater detail. ALMA is very important to space research and allows for pictures like the one above.
The Galaxy Garden
Scales models of the solar system, such as the Galaxy Garden, enable students to understand the distances between planets in our own solar system. The Galaxy Garden is located at the Paleaku Peace Gardens Sanctuary in Kona, Hawaii. This 9 acre, non-profit botanical garden contains many unique garden installations. The garden was conceived and designed by John Lomberg and built by him and Barbara DeFranco, Director of the Paleaku Peace Gardens Sanctuary. For many years Lomberg has been inspired by the concept of the Milky Way Galaxy, perhaps more than any other artist. His presentations have appeared in many media, including his Emmy Award-winning work for Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos.
Look Up! The Perseid Meteor Shower is Here
Skywatchers around the world are gearing up for the famous August Perseid meteor shower, which peaks August 11 through 13 and promises to be the best celestial fireworks show of the year.
The Perseids grace our skies when Earth plows into a stream of fragments—ranging in size from sand grains to boulders—left behind by a comet. These particles slam into the atmosphere at speeds of 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers) per hour, causing the meteors to burn up in the upper atmosphere, which produces a momentary streak across the overhead skies known as a shooting star.
"As the Earth passes through the dust trail of comets, it encounters debris—some of which can be the size of grapefruit or larger—which [then] can cause fireballs," said Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. "The chances of seeing fireballs always increase when there is a strong meteor shower like this one," he added.
Expectations this year are particularly high for the Perseids because the waxing crescent moon will set early, allowing even the fainter meteors to be seen, explained Samra.
The Span of 30 Doradus - A Nearby Galaxy
Also known as the Tarantula nebula, 30 Doradus is a region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (a nearby irregular galaxy and a satellite of the Milky Way) and is one of the most active areas of star formation in the night sky.
Image: UT/CTIO Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey [high-resolution]