Image of the Day: November 2011

My Dark Life

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: Lynds' Dark Nebula (LDN) 1622 demonstrates the evolution of stars. Star formation results from the collapse of giant clouds of molecular gas and dust. The stars eventually emerge into visibility with their blue light scattering and reflecting off dust particles present in the gas. LDN 1622 lies near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, close on the sky to Barnard's Loop. LDN 1622 is situated perhaps only 500 light-years away.

— Tom Chao

The Dunes

NASA/JPL/Arizona State University

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: The THEMIS instrument on Mars Odyssey spacecraft captured this image of dunes in Lohse Crater on September 4, 2011. In December 2010, Odyssey became the longest-serving spacecraft at Mars.

— Tom Chao

The Magnetic Fields


Thursday, November 3, 2011: This Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) image of the sun shows three active regions that rorated into view, giving a great show on October 21-23, 2011. SDO observed the activity in extreme ultraviolet light. The magnetic forces of the active regions made numerous vigorous loopng connections for the duration of the activity.

— Tom Chao

So Young, So Young

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Friday, November 4, 2011: IRAS 10082-5647, a young Herbig Ae/Be star, shines at the center of this Hubble Space Telescope image, with a reflection nebula glowing around it. Stars only spend around 1% of their lives in this pre-main sequence phase. Eventually, hydrogen fusion will begin, propelling the star into the main sequence phase, and adulthood.

— Tom Chao

Early One Morning

NASA/Kim Shiflett

Monday, November 7, 2011: Before a dawn sky, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) nestles inside its payload fairing. At the Vertical Integration Facility building, the spacecraft was raised and attached to the Atlas 5 rocket that will launch on November 25, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. MSL's components include a rover, Curiosity, possessing 10 science instruments designed to search for evidence of former and present environments favorable to microbial life.

— Tom Chao

Dynamite with a Laser Beam

ESO/G. Hüdepohl (

Tuesday, November 8, 2011: A laser beams out of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. The laser energises sodium atoms high in the Earth's mesosphere, causing them to glow and create a laser guide star, an artificial star 90 km above the surface of the Earth. Observations of how this "star" twinkles are fed into the Very Large Telescope’s adaptive optics system, controlling a deformable mirror in the telescope to restore the image of the star to a sharp point.

— Tom Chao

Mind the Gap

Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Wednesday, November 9, 2011: Saturn's moon Titan hangs dimly in the background of this photograph, which also shows the bright moon Dione in the foreground. Pandora, another moon, floats at the right, just outside the narrow sliver of Saturn's rings visible in this image. A fourth moon, Pan, almost imperceptibly makes it into this image in the dark Encke Gap of Saturn's A ring at left.

— Tom Chao


NASA, ESA, G. Kriss (STScI), and J. de Plaa (SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research)

Thursday, November 10, 2011: Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 took this photograph of galaxy Markarian 509 (Mrk 509), 500 million light-years away, in April 2007. A supermassive black hole lies at the center of Mrk 509 containing 300 million times the mass of the sun. Data from several spacecraft including Hubble uncovered new details in the surroundings of the black hole. Observations reveal huge bullets of gas flinging from the gravitational monstrosity and a corona of very hot gas hovering above the disk of matter falling into the black hole.

— Tom Chao

Veteran's Day Salute

Missile Defense Agency/U.S. Department of Defense

Friday, November 11, 2011: would like to salute the men and women of the US military on Veterans Day. This photograph captures the launch of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii on October 5, 2011. The test was conducted by the Ballistic Missile Defense System Operational Test Agency with the support of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. THAAD is a mobile interceptor missile designed to intercept short to medium range ballistic missiles inside or just outside the earth's atmosphere.

— Tom Chao

Things Fall Apart

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Monday, November 14, 2011: Tharsis Tholus, a giant Martian volcano towering almost 5 miles (8 km) in height, shows signs of much dramatic activity in its four-billion-year history. At least two large sections have collapsed around its eastern and western flanks, as evidenced by scarps up to several miles high. Researches believe that the volcano emptied its magma chamber during eruptions and, as the lava escaped, the chamber roof could no longer support its own weight. Thus, the volcano collapsed, forming the large caldera.

— Tom Chao

Stopping by Launch Pad on Snowy Evening

NASA/Carla Cioffi

Tuesday, November 15, 2011: In the thick of a powerful snow storm, a Soyuz TMA-22 rocket carrying Expedition 29 crew members to the International Space Station awaits launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011.

— Tom Chao

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