Ancient Oceans on Mars

It is now widely accepted that Mars was once a very wet place. About four billion years ago Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep. It is likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres. This artist’s impression shows what the planet may have looked like with its ancient ocean. Imagine: could life have lived in such a place?

Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

The Wonders of the Carina Nebula

“This broad image of the Carina Nebula, a region of massive star formation in the southern skies, was taken in infrared light using the HAWK-I camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Many previously hidden features, scattered across a spectacular celestial landscape of gas, dust and young stars, have emerged.”

Credit: ESO/ESO top 100

The Great Tarantula Nebula

This spidery nebula, known as the Tarantula Nebula, is seen in the top center of this cosmic image. If you look to the lower right of the Great Nebula, a web of filaments contain the famous supernova SN 1987A - with its remnants now illuminating these regions. Many other reddish nebulae are visible in the image, as well as a cluster of young stars on the left, known as NGC 2100.

Credit: ESO/R. Fosbury (ST-ECF)

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Stars in a Pink Haze - A Stellar Nursery

Here, within the stellar nursery IC 2944, we see a group of thick clouds of dust known as the Thackeray globules (a more specific Bok Globule) silhouetted against the pale pink glowing gas of the nebula. These globules are under fierce bombardment from the ultraviolet radiation from nearby hot young stars within the surrounding emission-type nebula. They are both being eroded away and also fragmenting, rather like lumps of butter dropped onto a hot frying pan. Due to this process, it is likely that Thackeray’s globules will be destroyed before they can collapse and form new stars.

Credit: ESO

p.s. I’m trying a new thing. I’m going to do some inline links to extra sources, let me know how you like it!