(via APOD: 2013 February 6)
The Arms of M106
Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Robert Gendler, Jay Gabany, Processing - Robert Gendler
Two massive jets of hydrogen gas spiral “wrong” in relation to the motion of the rest M106’s spiral arms. The others show typical dust lanes, blue star cluster, pink star forming regions, and a central yellow area with older stars. The two tendrils spinning up and down are being blown out by the energy jets coming from the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole.

(via APOD: 2013 February 6)

The Arms of M106

Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Robert Gendler, Jay Gabany, Processing - Robert Gendler

Two massive jets of hydrogen gas spiral “wrong” in relation to the motion of the rest M106’s spiral arms. The others show typical dust lanes, blue star cluster, pink star forming regions, and a central yellow area with older stars. The two tendrils spinning up and down are being blown out by the energy jets coming from the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole.

(via APOD: 2013 February 3)
LL Ori and the Orion Nebula
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team
LL Orionis is a variable star (hence the “LL” designation) in the Orion nebula. It is a young star, with a more powerful solar wind than the Sun, and the shockwave at the front is due to it’s motion against the gas flowing slowly away from the hot central Trapezium cluster of stars.
Pretty much the entire Orion Nebula is full of these flows, shockwaves, and strange, fluid shapes. You can see it too! Well, OK, you can see it as a rather pink star in the scabbard stars hanging from Orion’s belt. You’ll need a good telescope to see the actual nebulosity of it.

(via APOD: 2013 February 3)

LL Ori and the Orion Nebula

Image Credit: NASAESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team

LL Orionis is a variable star (hence the “LL” designation) in the Orion nebula. It is a young star, with a more powerful solar wind than the Sun, and the shockwave at the front is due to it’s motion against the gas flowing slowly away from the hot central Trapezium cluster of stars.

Pretty much the entire Orion Nebula is full of these flows, shockwaves, and strange, fluid shapes. You can see it too! Well, OK, you can see it as a rather pink star in the scabbard stars hanging from Orion’s belt. You’ll need a good telescope to see the actual nebulosity of it.

(via Crab Nebula: Star dust confirmed to be made in exploding stars.)
So, gas and dust, found all over in our galaxy, are necessary for star formation, and they get generated by stars themselves. Remember that anything more complicated than hydrogen and a little bit of helium (oh, and some primordial lithium, but don’t worry too much about that) has to have been born in a star.
Oddly, it’s been hard to get good evidence from supernova explosions showing exactly how much dust of what types is expelled. Visual data tends to show us only very specific information, usually relating to how the cosmic dust is interacting with surrounding gas. We find out a lot more about the gas that’s being slammed into than about the dust.
Until now. We (humans) have managed to get some pretty powerful infrared telescopes up into space. In particular, the ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope is a really nice IR ‘scope. (NASA’s Spitzer is also good, even with the coolant having run out long ago.)
So, here’s Phil’s explanation from Bad Astronomy:



On the left is a Hubble image of the Crab Nebula, the rapidly expanding material from a star that went supernova back in 1054 (or, if you prefer, the light reached us on that date). As you can see, it lookslike an explosion! The filaments and fingers are extremely hot gas expanding at well over a thousand kilometers per second—that’s a thousand times faster than a rifle bullet. The Hubble image is in visible light, the kind we can see with our eyes (you can getjust the Hubble image aloneif you’d like, and I recommend getting thelimulidaenated 3864 x 3864 pixel image).


On the right is the same view using the European Space Agency’s Herschel observatory, a space telescope that sees way out into the infrared. In the past, telescopes in that wavelength have only gotten blurry, extremely low-resolution images of the Crab, but here you can actually trace many of the same structures in the Hubble image as in the one from Herschel. What looks red in the picture is dust at an incredibly chilly 28 Kelvins, about -245° Celsius (-410° F). Green and blue are slightly warmer, by just a few degrees.

The astronomers who took this observationvery carefully removed the influence of various non-dust sources of light (including things like atoms of carbon and oxygen, and radiation from atoms whipping around the strong magnetic fields inside the nebula; they used several other infrared observatories like WISE, Planck, Spitzer, and ISO to do this), until all that was left was infrared light from the dust. When they did, they found that the total mass of dust in the Crab is about 0.25 times the mass of the Sun.


A quarter of the Sun may not sound like much… but that means it’s enough dust to make 80,000 Earths! Imagine, 80,000 planets like our own, lined up side-by-side…they’d stretch for over a billion kilometers (600 million miles), more than the distance from the Sun to Jupiter! And that’s just from dust. The total mass of all the expanding shrapnel from the supernova is nearly five times that of the Sun. And mind you, this all came from a single exploding star. Before it blew up, it was far more massive than our own star.






That is a lot of dust, and that’s a lot of painstaking image-subtraction to get this information. 

(via Crab Nebula: Star dust confirmed to be made in exploding stars.)

So, gas and dust, found all over in our galaxy, are necessary for star formation, and they get generated by stars themselves. Remember that anything more complicated than hydrogen and a little bit of helium (oh, and some primordial lithium, but don’t worry too much about that) has to have been born in a star.

Oddly, it’s been hard to get good evidence from supernova explosions showing exactly how much dust of what types is expelled. Visual data tends to show us only very specific information, usually relating to how the cosmic dust is interacting with surrounding gas. We find out a lot more about the gas that’s being slammed into than about the dust.

Until now. We (humans) have managed to get some pretty powerful infrared telescopes up into space. In particular, the ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope is a really nice IR ‘scope. (NASA’s Spitzer is also good, even with the coolant having run out long ago.)

So, here’s Phil’s explanation from Bad Astronomy:

On the left is a Hubble image of the Crab Nebula, the rapidly expanding material from a star that went supernova back in 1054 (or, if you prefer, the light reached us on that date). As you can see, it lookslike an explosion! The filaments and fingers are extremely hot gas expanding at well over a thousand kilometers per second—that’s a thousand times faster than a rifle bullet. The Hubble image is in visible light, the kind we can see with our eyes (you can getjust the Hubble image aloneif you’d like, and I recommend getting thelimulidaenated 3864 x 3864 pixel image).

On the right is the same view using the European Space Agency’s Herschel observatory, a space telescope that sees way out into the infrared. In the past, telescopes in that wavelength have only gotten blurry, extremely low-resolution images of the Crab, but here you can actually trace many of the same structures in the Hubble image as in the one from Herschel. What looks red in the picture is dust at an incredibly chilly 28 Kelvins, about -245° Celsius (-410° F). Green and blue are slightly warmer, by just a few degrees.

The astronomers who took this observationvery carefully removed the influence of various non-dust sources of light (including things like atoms of carbon and oxygen, and radiation from atoms whipping around the strong magnetic fields inside the nebula; they used several other infrared observatories like WISE, Planck, Spitzer, and ISO to do this), until all that was left was infrared light from the dust. When they did, they found that the total mass of dust in the Crab is about 0.25 times the mass of the Sun.

A quarter of the Sun may not sound like much… but that means it’s enough dust to make 80,000 Earths! Imagine, 80,000 planets like our own, lined up side-by-side…they’d stretch for over a billion kilometers (600 million miles), more than the distance from the Sun to Jupiter! And that’s just from dust. The total mass of all the expanding shrapnel from the supernova is nearly five times that of the Sun. And mind you, this all came from a single exploding star. Before it blew up, it was far more massive than our own star.

That is a lot of dust, and that’s a lot of painstaking image-subtraction to get this information. 

(via APOD: 2012 October 24 - NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda)
NGC 206 is the star cluster in the center of the image. See those bright blue stars all clumped together? Yeah, that’s an open cluster (or galactic cluster) like the Pleiades or the stars in the Eagle Nebula…except a whole lot bigger. There’s nothing in our own galaxy to compare it to. At 4,000 light-years across, NGC 206 is comparable to the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud or NGC 604 in M33, the Triangulum Galaxy.

Tarantula Nebula, John P. Gleason

NGC 604, from Hubble Heritage
Stellar nurseries are amaaaaaaaazing.

(via APOD: 2012 October 24 - NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda)

NGC 206 is the star cluster in the center of the image. See those bright blue stars all clumped together? Yeah, that’s an open cluster (or galactic cluster) like the Pleiades or the stars in the Eagle Nebula…except a whole lot bigger. There’s nothing in our own galaxy to compare it to. At 4,000 light-years across, NGC 206 is comparable to the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud or NGC 604 in M33, the Triangulum Galaxy.

Tarantula NebulaJohn P. Gleason

NGC 604, from Hubble Heritage

Stellar nurseries are amaaaaaaaazing.

(via APOD: 2012 November 8 - Arp 188 and the Tadpole’s Tail)
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Bill Snyder (Heavens Mirror Observatory)
420 million light-years away, looking out in the direction of Draco, you can see this cosmic tadpole with a tail of star formation and a head made from a warped galaxy. Arp 188, the main focus of this image, had a gravitational encounter with the galaxy you can see slightly through it, in the upper-right spiral arms, another galaxy about 300,000 light-years behind Arp 188. Though seemingly far a way, that’s more than close enough for gravitational encounters, given that the Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across.

(via APOD: 2012 November 8 - Arp 188 and the Tadpole’s Tail)

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy ArchiveESANASAProcessing Bill Snyder (Heavens Mirror Observatory)

420 million light-years away, looking out in the direction of Draco, you can see this cosmic tadpole with a tail of star formation and a head made from a warped galaxy. Arp 188, the main focus of this image, had a gravitational encounter with the galaxy you can see slightly through it, in the upper-right spiral arms, another galaxy about 300,000 light-years behind Arp 188. Though seemingly far a way, that’s more than close enough for gravitational encounters, given that the Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across.

(via APOD: 2012 October 19 - Merging NGC 2623)
Merging NGC 2623 Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Martin Pugh
Explanation: NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer. The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within the nuclear region. The star formation and its active galactic nucleus make NGC 2623 bright across the spectrum. This sharp cosmic snapshot of NGC 2623 (aka Arp 243) is based on Hubble Legacy Archive image data that also reveals even more distant background galaxies scattered through the field of view.

(via APOD: 2012 October 19 - Merging NGC 2623)

Merging NGC 2623 
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy ArchiveESANASAProcessing Martin Pugh

Explanation: NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer. The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within the nuclear region. The star formation and its active galactic nucleus make NGC 2623 bright across the spectrum. This sharp cosmic snapshot of NGC 2623 (aka Arp 243) is based on Hubble Legacy Archive image data that also reveals even more distant background galaxies scattered through the field of view.

(via APOD: 2012 October 6 - At the Heart of Orion)
At the Heart of Orion Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Processing - Robert Gendler
I’ve come to love the fact that we’ll never quite get done parsing all of the Hubble data. We’ll always encounter people who are processing it in a slightly different way the provides new and interesting visuals.
This is the Trapezium cluster of stars in the heart of the Orion Nebula. They are very young (3 million years old), very hot, and very massive. Most of the visual glow you see in this image (you’ll note that the reflection aspect of the nebula is yellow, not the usual blue, because there is just so much light and radiation) comes from just those four stars. Now there’s a harsh ultraviolet environment for you.
Additionally, it would seem that the prior conditions of the nebula, smaller and more compact, created some runaway stellar collisions (massive stars being born very close to each other, falling into gravitational entanglement, keep merging and gravitationally attracting more of their massive neighbors) have created a hundred-solar-mass black hole. The Trapezium stars move quite fast, so this would explain their motion.
It would also put a black hole about 1500 light-years from us, the closest one known.

(via APOD: 2012 October 6 - At the Heart of Orion)

At the Heart of Orion 
Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy ArchiveProcessing - Robert Gendler

I’ve come to love the fact that we’ll never quite get done parsing all of the Hubble data. We’ll always encounter people who are processing it in a slightly different way the provides new and interesting visuals.

This is the Trapezium cluster of stars in the heart of the Orion Nebula. They are very young (3 million years old), very hot, and very massive. Most of the visual glow you see in this image (you’ll note that the reflection aspect of the nebula is yellow, not the usual blue, because there is just so much light and radiation) comes from just those four stars. Now there’s a harsh ultraviolet environment for you.

Additionally, it would seem that the prior conditions of the nebula, smaller and more compact, created some runaway stellar collisions (massive stars being born very close to each other, falling into gravitational entanglement, keep merging and gravitationally attracting more of their massive neighbors) have created a hundred-solar-mass black hole. The Trapezium stars move quite fast, so this would explain their motion.

It would also put a black hole about 1500 light-years from us, the closest one known.

(via APOD: 2012 September 30 - A Galaxy Collision in NGC 6745)
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration Acknowledgment: Roger Lynds (KPNO/NOAO) et al.
So, it would seem that Hubble snagged a shot of galactic collision aftermath. Here we see NGC 6745, who has just interacted with a smaller galaxy off the image to the lower right. In fact, you can see a tail of dust being pulled off in that direction.
It is likely that NGC 6745 used to be a regular spiral galaxy, but has been warped by this encounter.
Interestingly, stars are generally far enough apart that even when a whole galaxy collides with another, stars very rarely run into each other. However… the gas and dust in the interstellar medium, the magnetic fields being generated all over the place, even the dark matter, all of these things do interact, and sometimes “collide” in interesting ways.
Generally when dust and gas clouds collide, they end up compressing each other, and the gravitational tidal effects will create some interesting  pressure patters too. So, you end up with a burst of star formation in various places. You can see the bright spots of sudden and intense star formation in the “tail” of gas and dust being pulled along in the lower right.
Neat!

(via APOD: 2012 September 30 - A Galaxy Collision in NGC 6745)

Image Credit: NASAESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration 
Acknowledgment: Roger Lynds (KPNO/NOAOet al.

So, it would seem that Hubble snagged a shot of galactic collision aftermath. Here we see NGC 6745, who has just interacted with a smaller galaxy off the image to the lower right. In fact, you can see a tail of dust being pulled off in that direction.

It is likely that NGC 6745 used to be a regular spiral galaxy, but has been warped by this encounter.

Interestingly, stars are generally far enough apart that even when a whole galaxy collides with another, stars very rarely run into each other. However… the gas and dust in the interstellar medium, the magnetic fields being generated all over the place, even the dark matter, all of these things do interact, and sometimes “collide” in interesting ways.

Generally when dust and gas clouds collide, they end up compressing each other, and the gravitational tidal effects will create some interesting  pressure patters too. So, you end up with a burst of star formation in various places. You can see the bright spots of sudden and intense star formation in the “tail” of gas and dust being pulled along in the lower right.

Neat!

(via Revealing the Universe: the Hubble Extreme Deep Field | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine)
Almost everything you see in that picture is a galaxy (you can tell foreground stars by the diffraction spikes). This is old news, I’m sure, to some of you, but the Hubble team started with the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field (which I blogged about last night) and started adding data, and adding data, and just adding more and more data. The overall combined data is about 23 days worth of continuous observation!
There are about 5500 galaxies in that image. The light from some of them has been travelling for 13 billion years, and are, in this image, only about 500 million years old.
Baby galaxies, folks. Baby galaxies.

(via Revealing the Universe: the Hubble Extreme Deep Field | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine)

Almost everything you see in that picture is a galaxy (you can tell foreground stars by the diffraction spikes). This is old news, I’m sure, to some of you, but the Hubble team started with the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field (which I blogged about last night) and started adding data, and adding data, and just adding more and more data. The overall combined data is about 23 days worth of continuous observation!

There are about 5500 galaxies in that image. The light from some of them has been travelling for 13 billion years, and are, in this image, only about 500 million years old.

Baby galaxies, folks. Baby galaxies.