astrophotography

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Google honors Sally Ride

May 26th is the birthday of Sally Ride, who was an American physicist and astronaut. She was the first American woman and the youngest American astronaut to travel space. She also served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, being the only person to participate on both.

Ride was also the first known LGBT astronaut.

Sally Ride passed away July 23, 2012, at the age of 61.

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photos by harun mehmedinovic from arizona’s vermillion cliffs national monument and grand canyon national park. the former hosts some of the most unique landscapes on the planet, from its ferrous coloured petrified sand dunes, smoothed and wave like from ancient flash flooding (and hence known as the wave), to the jurassic era petrified sandstone of white pocket, known for it’s so called cauliflower rocks, formed as sand was lithified into rock from ancient earthquakes (hence ‘sandstone’). 

From this carefully chosen perspective in Salamanca, Spain, photographer César Vega Toledano lines branches of a tree to be continuous with dust lanes in our Milky Way galaxy. It’s an incredible composition. 

But what I personally love about the perspective of this picture is that it reminds me of our place within the Milky Way. I get a sense of orbit, not around the Sun but around the center of our galaxy. It can be easy to forget that we are in a remote corner of a massive collection of stars and dust measuring 100,000 light years across. Traveling at an average speed of 515,000 mph, it takes the Sun about 250 million years to complete one rotation around the Milky Way’s core. The last time the Solar System was in this position, there were dinosaurs on Earth. The scales are unfathomable to our everyday experiences. Astronomy is so incredibly humbling.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2015 May 26

Starburst Galaxy M94

What could cause the center of M94 to be so bright? Spiral galaxy M94 has a ring of newly formed stars surrounding its nucleus, giving it not only an unusual appearance but also a strong interior glow. A leading progenitor hypothesis holds that an elongated knot of stars known as a bar rotates in M94 and has generated a burst of star formation in the inner ring. Recent observations have revealed the outer, fainter ring is not closed and relatively complex. M94, pictured here spans about 30,000 light years, lies about 15 million light years away, and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici).

In the Heart of the Tarantula Nebula
Credit: ESA, NASA, ESO, & Danny LaCrue

Explanation: In the heart of monstrous Tarantula Nebula lies huge bubbles of energetic gas, long filaments of dark dust, and unusually massive stars. In the center of this heart, is a knot of stars so dense that it was once thought to be a single star. This star cluster, labeled as R136 or NGC 2070, is visible just above the center of theabove image and home to a great number of hot young stars. The energetic light from these stars continually ionizes nebula gas, while their energetic particle windblows bubbles and defines intricate filaments. The above representative-color picture of this great LMC nebula details its tumultuous center. The Tarantula Nebula, also known as the 30 Doradus nebula, is one of the largest star-formation regions known, and has been creating unusually strong episodes of star formation every few million years.

Starburst Galaxy M94

(via APOD; Image Credit & Copyright: Leonardo Orazi )

What could cause the center of M94 to be so bright? Spiral galaxy M94 has a ring of newly formed stars surrounding its nucleus, giving it not only an unusual appearance but also a strong interior glow. A leading progenitor hypothesis holds that an elongated knot of stars known as a bar rotates in M94 and has generated a burst of star formation in the inner ring. Recent observations have revealed the outer, fainter ring is not closed and relatively complex. M94, pictured here spans about 30,000 light years, lies about 15 million light years away, and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici).