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ripples: Crab Nebula, photographed by Hubble, autumn 2005.

10 images in 558 nm (green) light, September-December 2005.

The Crab Nebula is a cloud of gas 11 light years across, created by the collapse and explosion of a giant star in 1054 AD (a Type II supernova). At the centre of the nebula is a neutron star, the Crab Pulsar, the incredibly dense remnant of the original star; 1.5 to 2 times the mass of the Sun, but only 30 km across. Intense solar wind from the pulsar creates visible ripples in the surrounding nebula.

From Proposal 10526. Some more gifs of the Crab Nebula seen by Hubble.

Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Pillars of Creation in Visible and in Near-Infrared Light

“Pillars of Creation” is a photograph taken by the Hubble Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, some 7,000 light years from Earth. They are so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars, while also being eroded by photoevaporation from the ultraviolet light of relatively close and hot stars that have recently formed.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Mystic Mountain in Visible and in Near-Infrared Light

Mystic Mountain is a term for a region within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. 

The visible-light view shows how scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. The colors in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulfur (red).

The near-infrared-light image shows a plethora of stars behind the gaseous veil of the nebula’s background wall of hydrogen, laced with dust. The foreground pillar becomes semi-transparent because infrared light from background stars penetrates through much of the dust. A few stars inside the pillar also become visible.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio(STScI)

Butterfly emerges from stellar demise

This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.

What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to nearly 20 000 degrees Celsius. The gas is tearing across space at more than 950 000 kilometres per hour — fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes!

A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing a stream of ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope.

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910h/

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Saturn’s Rings at Maximum Tilt

In March 2003, Saturn’s rings were at maximum tilt toward Earth, a special event occurring every 15 years. With the rings fully tilted, astronomers get the best views of the planet’s Southern Hemisphere. They took advantage of the rings’ unique alignment by using Hubble to capture some stunning images.

Credit: NASA, ESA, E. Karkoschka, G. Bacon (STScI)