dust lanes

Stephan’s Quintet

This spectacular image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the group of galaxies called Stephan’s Quintet has provided a detailed view of one of the most exciting star forming regions in the local Universe. Stephan’s Quintet is a favoured object for amateur astronomers and has earned a reputation as a challenging target for good hobby telescopes. The quintet is a prototype of a class of objects known as compact groups of galaxies and has been studied intensively for decades. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a close-up view of the central part of Stephan’s Quintet, giving a magnificent view of a gigantic cosmic collision. Weird, highly distorted features, dust lanes crossing between galaxies and long filaments of stars and gas extending far beyond the central regions all suggest galaxies twisted by violent encounters. The galaxies float through space, distorted shapes moulded by tidal interactions, weaving together in the intricate figures of an immense cosmic dance, choreographed by gravity.

Credit: NASA/ESA, Jayanne English (University of Manitoba), Sally Hunsberger (Pennsylvania State University), Zolt Levay ( Space Telescope Science Institute), Sarah Gallagher (Pennsylvania State University), and Jane Charlton (Pennsylvania State University)

(NASA)  Most bright stars in our Milky Way Galaxy reside in a disk. Since our Sun also resides in this disk, these stars appear to us as a diffuse band that circles the sky. The above panorama of a northern band of the Milky Way’s disk covers 90 degrees and is a digitally created mosaic of several independent exposures. Visible are many bright stars, dark dust lanes, red emission nebulae, blue reflection nebulae, and clusters of stars. In addition to all this matter that we can see, astronomers suspect there exists even more dark matter that we cannot see.

NGC 2841

Hubble reveals a majestic disk of stars and dust lanes in this view of the spiral galaxy NGC 2841. A bright cusp of starlight marks the galaxy’s center. Spiraling outward are dust lanes silhouetted against a population of middle-aged stars. Much younger blue stars trace the spiral arms. Learn more

Credit to Hubble Telescope & Heritage Team, NASA and ESA

Worlds within worlds, by BenCoffman

*If you’re interested in learning more about my night-sky photography techniques, I’ll be doing a workshop this summer at Crater Lake National Park. Contact me or check out my website for details.* This photo was taken this summer at the West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. I don’t often drag my kids with me for this type of photography, but it was just my five-year-old son and I on this portion of the trip. He’s often a willing participant in photographic endeavors, but after spending several days watching black bears and buffalo amble about, he was a little hesitant to hike around in the darkness. My goal here was to get one of the West Thumb Geyser Basin’s colorful, steaming pools with the Milky Way overhead. As is often the case I had a couple of things working against me: a) For several reasons, my movement was restricted to the boardwalks, so my compositions were limited, b) the colors in the pools just didn’t render well in my low-light long exposures, and c) the steam coming from some of the more exuberant pools (which were the ones I really wanted to photograph) pretty much completely obscured the Milky Way, which kind of defeated the whole purpose of the shot. So I ended up shooting this rather plain little pool instead. I’m sure it was warm, since the water was affected by the same geothermal conditions, but it wasn’t hot-tub temperature. This allowed me to keep a good view of the Milky Way, while still giving the photograph a sense of place.

Hubble Spies Cosmic Dust Bunnies

Like dust bunnies that lurk in corners and under beds, surprisingly complex loops and blobs of cosmic dust lie hidden in the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 1316. This image made from data obtained with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the dust lanes and star clusters of this giant galaxy that give evidence that it was formed from a past merger of two gas-rich galaxies.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)
Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo0511a/

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I love the idea that there’s a version of the universe in which tiny drag shows premiere original Stephen Sondheim songs.

Messier 104 - The Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo

Discovered in 1781 by Pierre Méchain, M103 has had a fascinating history and continues to delight both professional and amateur astronomers alike. The galaxy remained unconnected with the stellar catalogue of Charles Messier until 1921, when it was realised that this was an object mentioned in Messiers personal notes. M103 hosts a supermassive black hole in its centre, which produces a signature which is readily accessible to astronomers. As one of the most strikingly beautiful galaxies ever discovered, it continues to spark the human imagination.

Top: Wide-Field - James Maxwell/Nick Webb

Bottom: Close-Up - NASA/ESA/STScl/AURA

NGC 3314 is actually two large spiral galaxies which just happen to almost exactly line up. The foreground spiral is viewed nearly face-on, its pinwheel shape defined by young bright star clusters. But against the glow of the background galaxy, dark swirling lanes of interstellar dust appear to dominate the face-on spiral’s structure. The dust lanes are surprisingly pervasive, and this remarkable pair of overlapping galaxies is one of a small number of systems in which absorption of light from beyond a galaxy’s own stars can be used to directly explore its distribution of dust. NGC 3314 is about 140 million light-years (background galaxy) and 117 million light-years (foreground galaxy) away in the multi-headed constellation Hydra. The background galaxy would span nearly 70,000 light-years at its estimated distance. A synthetic third channel was created to construct this dramatic new composite of the overlapping galaxies from two color image data in the Hubble Legacy Archive.

Secrets at the heart of NGC 5793

This new Hubble image is centred on NGC 5793, a spiral galaxy over 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Libra. This galaxy has two particularly striking features: a beautiful dust lane and an intensely bright centre — much brighter than that of our own galaxy, or indeed those of most spiral galaxies we observe.

NGC 5793 is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have incredibly luminous centres that are thought to be caused by hungry supermassive black holes — black holes that can be billions of times the size of the Sun — that pull in and devour gas and dust from their surroundings.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Perlman (Florida Institute of Technology)
Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1411a/

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of NGC 7049 in the constellation of Indus, in the southern sky. A family of globular clusters appears as glittering spots dusted around the galaxy halo. Astronomers study the globular clusters in NGC 7049 to learn more about its formation and evolution. The dust lanes, which appear as a lacy web, are dramatically backlit by the millions of stars in the halo of NGC 7049.

This image shows the most detailed view ever of the core of Messier 82 (M 82), also known as the Cigar Galaxy. Rich with dust, young stars and glowing gas, M 82 is both unusually bright and relatively close to Earth. The starburst galaxy is located around 12 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).

Using filters transparent only to the wavelengths emitted by specific chemical elements, as in this image, isolates the light from glowing gas clouds, while blocking out much of the starlight. This explains why the stars appear faint in this image, and why the dust lanes are sharply silhouetted against the brightly glowing gas clouds.

The image shows the light emitted by sulfur (shown in red), visible and ultraviolet light from oxygen (shown green and blue, respectively), and light from hydrogen (cyan).

credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA