As spring comes to planet Earth’s northern hemisphere, familiar winter
constellation Orion sets in early evening skies and budding trees
frame the Hunter’s stars.
The yellowish hue of cool red supergiant
the great star Betelgeuse, mingles with the branches at the top of
Orion’s alpha star is joined on the far right by
Also known as Aldebaran and also a giant star cooler than the Sun,
it shines with a yellow light at the head of Taurus, the Bull.
Contrasting blue supergiant Rigel,
is Orion’s other dominant star though, and marks
the Hunter’s foot below center.
Of course, the sword of Orion hangs from the Hunter’s three blue belt
stars near picture center, but the middle star in the sword is not a
star at all.
A slightly fuzzy pinkish glow hints at its true nature, a
visible to the unaided eye known as
the Orion Nebula.
The search for alien life doesn’t end within the boundaries of our solar system. Scientists are now search for moons orbiting alien planets that might play host to extraterrestrial life.
A new project called the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) is the first systematic search for exomoons, or moons that circle planets outside our solar system.HEK astronomers, led by David Kipping at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, simulate billions of possible star-planet-moon arrangements using NASA’s Pleiades Supercomputer.
They then compare the results with actual data taken with NASA’s Kepler telescope, which monitors the brightness of stars in an effort to find exoplanets that could harbor life. If one of the simulated combinations matches the Kepler data, that area warrants further exploration.
Argentina: “This is a single 30 seconds exposure. Mountains have been illuminated by the raising Moon at first hidden behind the mountain to the right … hence the light and better than I expected exposure of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy,” says Greg Boratyn.
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.
The telescope has been involved in several breakthrough astronomical observations including the discovery of merging neutron stars as the possible origin of gamma-ray bursts (eso0533) and finding an exoplanet only five times more massive than the Earth (eso0603).
Above the telescope, our home galaxy the Milky Way stretches across the sky with the bright central bulge aligned with the dome of the telescope.
In the background to the right you can spot the dome which once held theMarLy 1-metre telescope. The telescope saw first light in 1996 and was decommissioned in 2009. Before the MarLy, this dome hosted the 40-centimetre Grand Prisme Objectif, a photographic astrograph. In front of the MarLy dome, the enclosure of the small Marseille 0.36-metre telecopeis visible.