Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013: Astrophotographer Göran Strand sent in a photograph of the moon in Sweden seen between tree branches. He writes in an e-mail to…Read More »
SPACE.com: “The autumn has really started here in northern Sweden. The trees are full of colors, and the air is starting to get cold and clear. Here's a shot ... when the moon was behind a tree full of autumn colors. I think the crescent moon is at its best when visible during daylight against the blue sky.” Image taken Sept. 28, 2013.
Credit: NASA/ESA, Jeffrey Kenney (Yale University), Elizabeth Yale (Yale University)
Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013: Galaxy NGC 4438 lies in the Virgo Cluster, 50 million light-years from Earth, from where it blows huge bubbles of hot gas into…Read More »
space. Known as a peculiar galaxy because of its unusual shape, NGC 4438 contains at its center a supermassive black hole that consumes material swirling around it in an accretion disk, seen here as the white region below the bright bubble. Some of this material spews from the disk in opposite directions. The twin jets of matter sweep material out of their paths, slamming into a wall of dense, slow-moving gas travelling less than 223,000 mph (360,000 kph), producing the glowing material in the collision. The bubbles will continue to expand, eventually dissipating.
Monday, Oct. 7, 2013: Planetary nebula NGC 2452 lies in the southern constellation of Puppis. After a star like our sun has depleted all its fuel, it emanates…Read More »
a blue haze like that shown here. The core of the star loses stability and releases energetic particles that blow the star's atmosphere into space. At the center of the blue cloud sits what remains of the nebula's progenitor star. A pulsating white dwarf, this cool, dim, and extremely dense star varies in brightness over time as gravity makes waves that pulse throughout the small star's body. (Sir John Herschel created the term “planetary nebula” to describe NGC 2452 in 1847, when early telescopes did not possess enough power to establish these objects do not consist of planets.)
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013: The night sky over Chile appears filled with star trails, the result of the Earth's rotation during a camera’s long exposure.…Read More »
Beneath the light streaks lies the Paranal Residencia which houses staff and visitors to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, located high on Cerro Paranal in the Chilean desert. The four-story building, completed in 2002, sits with most of its structure buried underground. If the residence looks familiar, you may have seen it in the 2008 James Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace.”
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013: The center of the Milky Way (towards the constellation of Sagittarius) glows with many objects in this infrared image made by…Read More »
Hubble Space Telescope. This represents the best infrared image of this region ever taken with Hubble, using infrared archive data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, taken in September 2011. One thing that Hubble cannot see in this image remains hidden: the huge black hole called Sagittarius A* in the center of the galaxy. Astronomers have observed stars spinning around this supermassive black hole (located directly at the center of the image), and the black hole consuming clouds of dust with its enormous gravitational pull.
Friday, Oct. 11, 2013: Astrophotographer Jeff Johnson sent in an image of M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, which he produced with data obtained in 2012 and…Read More »
2013 from his home in Las Cruces, NM. Johnson tells SPACE.com in an e-mail that he combined H-alpha (Ha) data taken recently on Sept. 23, 2013, with LRGB data collected last year to show (in red/pink) areas of hydrogen emissions, indicating exploding stars and/or areas of star formation in M33.
Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013: Super star cluster Westerlund 1 glows in a new picture from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory. This extremely…Read More »
bright cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar). The cluster emcompasses hundreds of very massive and brilliant stars, all very young, just a few million years old. Our view of this cluster struggles with gas and dust preventing most of the visible light from the cluster's stars from arriving at Earth.
Astronomers discovered something unexpected in this cluster. One of the stars — known as W26, a red supergiant (possibly the biggest star known) — features clouds of surrounding glowing hydrogen gas, shown as green features in the new image. These clouds represent the first ionized nebula discovered around such a star. W26 itself doesn’t possess enough heat to make the gas glow. The ionizing radiation may either come from hot blue stars in the cluster, or possibly a fainter, but hotter, companion star to W26.
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013: Astrophotographer Christopher Georgia sent in a photo of a single moon dog in the sky taken on Oct. 9, 2013. He writes in an…Read More »
e-mail message to SPACE.com: “Have you ever witnessed a moon dog before? A moon dog or a ‘paraselene’ is a rare phenomena formed in a similar fashion to a moon halo. Bright moonlight refracting through hexagonal ice crystals in high atmospheric clouds, particularly cirrus and cirrostratus clouds, form these halos and moon dog(s). They generally form at 22 degrees around the moon. This image was pulled from a static time lapse as the moon set over a pond in Thornton, New Hampshire … “
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013: Tansen crater represents one of Mercury's smaller named craters at just 17 miles (27 km) in diameter. The ejecta rays formed by…Read More »
the impact appear prominently in this color mosaic, as does the fresh crater ejecta deposit at the top of the image. MESSENGER spacecraft acquired this image as a targeted high-resolution 11-color image set. Acquiring 11-color targets began recently, in March 2013, and the campaign utilizes all of the Wide Angle Camera’s 11 narrow-band color filters. Researchers can only target features of special scientific interest for imaging in all 11 colors, owing to the large data volume involved. The crater was first seen by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974, but has not been featured on MESSENGER's gallery until now. (The image was obtained on Sept. 9, 2013, but owing to the partial government shutdown it did not appear on NASA’s website until Oct. 17, 2013.)
Monday, Oct. 21, 2013: This mosaic synthesizes some of the best views the DAWN spacecraft possessed of the giant asteroid Vesta. Right now, NASA’s DAWN…Read More »
spacecraft continues travelling to its next destination, dwarf planet Ceres, but the spacecraft studied Vesta from from July 2011 to September 2012. A towering mountain at the south pole, more than twice the height of Mount Everest, stands visible at the bottom of the image. The three craters known as the "snowman" lie at the top left of the asteroid. These images represent the last in Dawn's Image of the Day series during the cruise to Dawn's second destination, Ceres.
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013: Beneath a starry southern hemisphere sky stands one of the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in…Read More »
the Atacama Desert of Chile. At the left side of the image, at about the level of the top of the telescope, shines Messier 31, or the Andromeda Galaxy, visible as a bright smudge. Up and to the right of Messier 31, the bright star Beta Andromedae (Mirach) glistens. Following the line created by the star and the galaxy leads to Messier 33 galaxy, almost at the top frame line. Messier 31 and Messier 33 may have interacted in the past, forming a bridge of hydrogen gas spanning the gap between them.
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013: A giant screen in NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA, displays the center of the Milky Way galaxy (our home) as…Read More »
imaged by Spitzer Space Telescope. The high definition LCD science visualization screen stretches 23 feet (7 meters) in width and contains a quarter of a billion pixels. [See our Spitzer Space Telescope image gallery.]
Friday, Oct. 25, 2013: Gaia spacecraft’s Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) underwent deployment testing in the S1B integration building at Europe's spaceport…Read More »
in Kourou, French Guiana, on Oct. 10, 2013. The shield has two purposes: to shade Gaia’s telescopes and cameras, and to provide power. Gaia spacecraft represents ESA’s billion-star surveyor, designed to provide a precise 3D map of the Milky Way galaxy in order to understand its composition, formation and evolution. The previously scheduled launch date for Gaia has been pushed back from Nov. 20, 2013, to the next available launch window from Dec. 17 to January 5, 2014.
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013: A magnetic filament of solar material erupted on the sun in late September 2013. The 200,000 mile long (322,000 kilometers) filament…Read More »
tore the sun's atmosphere, the corona, marking it with something appearing like a canyon of fire. The canyon outlines the channel where magnetic fields held the filament up before the violent outburst. The sun does not consist of fire, but actually contains plasma, a gas-like substance of charged particles that interacts with magnetic fields. This image were captured on Sept. 29-30, 2013, by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013: NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft obtained this image of planet Mercury’s horizon, while looking out from the shadows toward the sunlit…Read More »
side of the planet on Oct. 2, 2013. A 75-mi. (120-km) impact crater stands out near the center. Chains of secondary craters gouge linear tracks radially away from the unnamed crater. This crater does not seem particularly fresh (its rays have faded), it does appear to posssess more prominent secondary crater chains than many other nearby.
Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013: An eerie red glow hangs in the night sky over Chile’s Atacama Desert. In the foreground stand three of the four VLT Auxiliary…Read More »
Telescopes of the Paranal Observatory. The four 1.8-meter telescopes work together in concert to form a single giant interferometer, the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer, allowing astronomers to see details up to 25 times more finely than with the individual telescopes. The red light in the sky is known as airglow, caused by light-emitting chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Airglow occurs constantly, but usually remains very faint. On the night this photo was taken, airglow emissions radiated especially brightly.
Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013: Happy Halloween from SPACE.com! Just in time for Halloween, astrophotographer Fred Herrmann sent in a photo of the "Witch's Broom,"…Read More »
NGC 6960, part of the Veil Nebula. The nebula appeared when a massive star exploded roughly ten thousand years ago, leaving behind a dim glowing cloud. It stretches 35 light years, lying 1400 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus. The Veil Nebula is so large, sections of it received individual names, as in the Western Veil, also known as the Witch’s Broom or NGC 6960. The glowing light stems from the shock wave of the star explosion exciting interstellar material. The star at the center, 52 Cygni does not relate the nebula, and appears visible to the unaided eye from dark locations. Herrmann took the photo from his Owl Mountain Observatory on Blue Mountain in Huntsville, AL. Photo dated 2013.
Tom Chao has contributed to SPACE.com as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.