frosty landscape

There’s something interesting around every turn at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. You’ll see colorful rock formations, a mind-blowing collection of fossils, wildlife like bighorn sheep, bison and prairie dogs, and sunrises that will inspire you. In sunlight or snow, the park’s 244,000 acres offer a tempting reason for you to get outside and explore. Photo by National Park Service.

Cosmic ‘Winter’ Wonderland

Although there are no seasons in space, this cosmic vista invokes thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. It is, in fact, a region called NGC 6357 where radiation from hot, young stars is energizing the cooler gas in the cloud that surrounds them. 

Located in our galaxy about 5,500 light years from Earth, NGC 6357 is actually a “cluster of clusters,” containing at least three clusters of young stars, including many hot, massive, luminous stars. The X-rays from Chandra and ROSAT reveal hundreds of point sources, which are the young stars in NGC 6357, as well as diffuse X-ray emission from hot gas. There are bubbles, or cavities, that have been created by radiation and material blowing away from the surfaces of massive stars, plus supernova explosions.

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L. Townsley et al; Optical: UKIRT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Horsford Woods 06/12/2016 by Matthew Dartford
Via Flickr:

Cosmic Winter Wonderland : Although there are no seasons in space, this cosmic vista invokes thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. It is, in fact, a region called NGC 6357 where radiation from hot, young stars is energizing the cooler gas in the cloud that surrounds them.

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Holiday Lights from the Universe

Although there are no seasons in space, some cosmic vistas invoke thoughts of a frosty winter landscape. Here are a few stellar images of holiday wonderlands from across the galaxy…

Located in our galaxy about 5,500 light years from Earth, this region is actually a “cluster of clusters,” containing at least three clusters of young stars, including many hot, massive, luminous stars.

The outstretched “wings” of this nebula looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central star. This hot gas creates the “wings” of our angel. A ring of dust and gas orbiting the star acts like a belt, clinching the expanding nebula into an “hourglass” shape.

At this time of year, holiday parties often include festive lights. When galaxies get together, they also may be surrounded by a spectacular light show. This pair of spiral galaxies has been caught in a grazing encounter. This region has hosted three supernova explosions in the past 15 years and has produced one of the most bountiful collections of super-bright X-ray lights known.

What do the following things have in common: a cone, the fur of a fox and a Christmas tree? Answer: they all occur in the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros). Pictured as a star forming region, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years away.

Resembling festive lights on a holiday wreath, this Hubble Space Telescope image of a nearby spiral galaxy is an iconic reminder of the impending season. Bright knots of glowing gas light up the spiral arms, indicating a rich environment of star formation.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured two festive-looking nebulas, situated so as to appear as one. Intense radiation from the brilliant central stars is heating hydrogen in each of the nebulas, causing them to glow red…like a holiday light.

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