dust lanes

The SWEEPS Field - A Massive Star Survey 

The Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search, or SWEEPS, was a 2006 astronomical survey project using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys - Wide Field Channel to monitor 180,000 stars for seven days to detect extrasolar planets via the transit method.

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The stars that were monitored in this astronomical survey were all located in the Sagittarius-I Window, a rare transparent view to the Milky Way’s central bulge stars in the Sagittarius constellation as our view to most of the galaxy’s central stars is blocked by lanes of dust. These stars in the galaxy’s central bulge region are approximately 27,000 light years from Earth.

Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Clarkson (Indiana University and UCLA), and K. Sahu (STScI)

(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.

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Twists of NGC 3718 by Mark Hanson

A careful look at this colorful cosmic snapshot reveals a surprising number of galaxies both near and far toward the constellation Ursa Major.

The most striking is NGC 3718, the warped spiral galaxy near picture center. NGC 3718’s spiral arms look twisted and extended, mottled with young blue star clusters. Drawn out dust lanes obscure its yellowish central regions. A mere 150 thousand light-years to the right is another large spiral galaxy, NGC 3729.

The two are likely interacting gravitationally, accounting for the peculiar appearance of NGC 3718. While this galaxy pair lies about 52 million light-years away, the remarkable Hickson Group 56 can also be seen clustered above NGC 3718, near the top of the frame. Hickson Group 56 consists of five interacting galaxies and lies over 400 million light-years away.

There are over 5000 galaxies in this image down to 24th magnitude.

Grand Spiral Galaxy  - M 100

Known as a grand design spiral galaxy, M100 is a large galaxy of over 100 billion stars with spiral arms that are like our own Milky Way Galaxy. This Hubble Space Telescope image of M100 was made in 2009 and reveals bright blue star clusters and intricate winding dust lanes which are hallmarks of this class of galaxies. Studies of variable stars in M100 have played an important role in determining the size and age of the Universe.

Credit: NASA/APOD

Milky Way - Tenerife 29/05/2016

I have just got back from Tenerife and had perfect astro conditions for 5 nights. If you are obsessed with the Milky Way, as am I, then you need to go. You can make out a lot of detail with the naked eye but even more so when imaging it. Taken with a Canon 6D and 50mm lens on the side of El Teide mountain. 

Milky Way Over the Spanish Peaks : Thats not lightning, and it did not strike between those mountains. The diagonal band is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while the twin peaks are actually called the Spanish Peaks but located in Colorado, USA. Although each Spanish peak is composed of a slightly different type of rock, both are approximately 25 million years old. This serene yet spirited image composite was meticulously created by merging a series of images all taken from the same location on one night and early last month. In the first series of exposures, the background sky was built up, with great detail being revealed in the Milky Way dust lanes as well as the large colorful region surrounding the star Rho Ophiuchus just right of center. One sky image, though, was taken using a fogging filter so that brighter stars would appear more spread out and so more prominent. As a bonus, the planets Mars and Saturn are placed right above peaks and make an orange triangle with the bright star Antares. Later that night, after the moonrise, the Moon itself naturally illuminated the snow covered mountain tops. via NASA

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The Supermassive Black Hole in Galaxy Centaurus A

“Centaurus A is the fifth brightest galaxy in the sky – making it an ideal target for amateur astronomers – and is famous for the dust lane across its middle (bottom image) and a giant jet blasting away from the supermassive black hole at its center (top image).” Centaurus A is an active galaxy about 12 million light years from Earth located in the constellation Centaurus.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Hubble

The Active Galactic Core of Galaxy NGC 1433

This detailed view shows the central parts of the nearby active galaxy NGC 1433. The dim blue background image, showing the central dust lanes of this galaxy, comes from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The coloured structures near the centre are from recent ALMA observations that have revealed a spiral shape, as well as an unexpected outflow, for the first time.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/NASA/ESA/F. Combes

Pelican Nebula

One of the most impressive regions of the summer sky is the large area just south of the bright star Deneb (α-Cyg, mag 1.33) and where one will find two massive emission nebulae, namely the North American Nebula (NGC 7000) and the Pelican Nebula (IC 5067 and IC 5070), separated by a thin dark dust lane. The Pelican Nebula lies at a distance of 1,900 light-years away and spans 15 light-years in diameter. It is often depicted in two forms; the larger widefield version encompasses the complete nebula and is designated as IC 5070 whereas a smaller region with protruding tendrils and near the neck of the “pelican” is also often referred to by the same name but under a different designation within the IC catalog (IC 5067). The rich emission is associated with star formation and it is expected that this area of the sky will look dramatically different in a few million years owing to a plethora of new stars and a significantly reduced amount of hydrogen. 

Credit: Anthony Ayiomamitis

Centaurus A : What’s the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A’s fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A. via NASA

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Zooming in on the Lagoon Nebula

Zooming on an image of the Lagoon Nebula taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This spectacular object is named after the wide lagoon-shaped dust lane that crosses the glowing gas of the nebula. The Lagoon Nebula is around four to five thousand light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.

Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO/Digitised Sky Survey 2, S. Brunier and S. Guisard