interstellar clouds

Saturn and Mars visit Milky Way Star Clouds : Planets, stars, nebulas and a galaxy this impressive image has them all. Closest to home are the two planets Mars , visible as the two bright orange spots in the upper half of the featured image. On the central right are the colorful Rho Ophiuchus star clouds featuring the bright orange star Antares lined up below Mars. These interstellar clouds contain both red emission nebulas and blue reflection nebulas. At the top right of the image is the Blue Horsehead reflection nebula. On the lower left are many dark absorption nebulas that extend from the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. The featured deep composite was composed of multiple deep exposures taken last month from Brazil. Although you need a telescope to see the nebulosities, Saturn and Mars will remain visible to the unaided eye this month toward the east, just after sunset. via NASA

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The beautiful Andromeda Galaxy is often imaged by planet Earth-based astronomers. Also known as M31, the nearest large spiral galaxy is a familiar sight with spiral arms traced by blue starlight. In a mosaic of well-exposed broad and narrow-band image data, faint reddish clouds of glowing ionized hydrogen gas lie in the same wide field of view. Still, the ionized hydrogen clouds likely lie in the foreground of the scene, well within our Milky Way Galaxy. They could be associated with the pervasive, dusty interstellar cirrus clouds scattered hundreds of light-years above our own galactic plane. If they were located at the 2.5 million light-year distance of the Andromeda Galaxy they would be enormous, since the Andromeda Galaxy itself is 200,000 or so light-years across.

Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

The Tulip in the Swan : Framing a bright emission region this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of the composite image. Red, green, and blue hues map emission from ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ultraviolet radiation from young, energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018, ionizes the atoms and powers the visible light emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star very near the blue arc at the center of the cosmic tulip. via NASA

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Framing a bright emission region, this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the reddish glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharplessas Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of this composite image. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018,ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star near the center of the nebula. Also framed in the field of view is microquasar Cygnus X-1, one of the strongest X-ray sources in planet Earth’s sky. Driven by powerful jets from a black hole accretion disk, its fainter visible curved shock front lies above and right, just beyond the cosmic Tulip’s petals.

Image Credit &Copyright:Ivan Eder

Time And Space

The W in Cassiopeia : A familiar, zigzag, W pattern in northern constellation Cassiopeia is traced by five bright stars in this colorful and broad mosaic. Stretching about 15 degrees across rich starfields, the celestial scene includes dark clouds, bright nebulae, and star clusters along the Milky Way. In yellow-orange hues Cassiopeias alpha star Shedar is a standout though. The yellowish giant star is cooler than the Sun, over 40 times the solar diameter, and so luminous it shines brightly in Earths night from 230 light-years away. A massive, rapidly rotating star at the center of the W, bright Gamma Cas is about 550 light-years distant. Bluish Gamma Cas is much hotter than the Sun. Its intense, invisible ultraviolet radiation ionizes hydrogen atoms in nearby interstellar clouds to produce visible red H-alpha emission as the atoms recombine with electrons. Of course, night skygazers in the Alpha Centauri star system would also see the recognizable outline traced by Cassiopeias bright stars. But from their perspective a mere 4.3 light-years away they would see our Sun as a sixth bright star in Cassiopeia, extending the zigzag pattern just beyond the left edge of this frame. via NASA

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The beautiful Andromeda Galaxy is often imaged by planet Earth-based astronomers. Also known as M31, the nearest large spiral galaxy is a familiar sight with dark dust lanes, bright yellowish core, and spiral arms traced by blue starlight. A mosaic of well-exposed broad and narrow-band image data, this colorful, premier portrait of our neighboring island universe offers strikingly unfamiliar features though, faint reddish clouds of glowing ionized hydrogen gas in the same wide field of view. Still, the ionized hydrogen clouds likely lie in the foreground of the scene, well within our Milky Way Galaxy. They could be associated with the pervasive, dusty interstellar cirrus clouds scattered hundreds of light-years above our own galactic plane. If they were located at the 2.5 million light-year distance of the Andromeda Galaxy they would be enormous, since the Andromeda Galaxy itself is 200,000 or so light-years across.

Image Credit &Copyright:Rogelio BernalAndreo(Deep Sky Colors)

Time And Space

The recognizable profile of the Pelican Nebula soars nearly 2,000 light-years away in the high flying constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Also known as IC 5070, this interstellar cloud of gas and dust is appropriately found just off the “east coast” of the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), another surprisingly familiar looking emission nebula in Cygnus. Both Pelican and North America nebulae are part of the same large and complex star forming region, almost as nearby as the better-known Orion Nebula. From our vantage point, dark dust clouds (upper left) help define the Pelican’s eye and long bill, while a bright front of ionized gas suggests the curved shape of the head and neck. This striking synthesized color view utilizes narrowband image data recording the emission of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the cosmic cloud. The scene spans some 30 light-years at the estimated distance of the Pelican Nebula.

Credit: Steve Richards (via NASA APOD)

Time And Space

(NASA)  Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion’s well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous Orion Nebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful star field. The well-framed, wide-field telescopic image spans about 4 degrees on the sky.

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The Science of how Solar Systems begin

“These central regions first glow in infrared light, while the material surrounding the center “pancakes” into a disk shape. The disk rotates, and tiny densities imperfections form within it. In the densest regions, mass begins to clump together, creating the first protoplanets.”

It takes a lot of work to make a solar system from the raw materials of an interstellar molecular cloud, but the Universe is up to the challenge. We had a theoretical picture that held for a long time, but thanks to the array of modern telescopes that humanity has constructed, we’ve finally been able to put that picture to the test. Would protostars form from gravitational collapse? Would they wind up with protoplanetary disks around them? Would those disks develop asymmetries and, later, gaps where young planets formed? And then, would the central star ignite and burn off the rest of the materials, where only the planetary survivors would persist?

We’ve now got the evidence for all of this, and the answer is a resounding, overwhelming yes! Come see for yourself.

A runaway star lights the Flaming Star Nebula in this cosmic scene. Otherwise known as IC 405, the Flaming Star Nebula’s billowing interstellar clouds of gas and dust lie about 1,500 light-years away toward the constellation of Auriga.AE Aurigae, the bright star at upper left in the frame, is a massive and intensely hot O-type star moving rapidly through space, likely ejected from a collision of multiple star-systems in the vicinity of the Orion Nebula millions of years ago. Now close to IC 405, the high-speed star’s ionizing ultraviolet radiation powers the visible reddish glow as the nebula’s hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons and recombine. Its intense blue starlight is reflected by the nebula’s dusty filaments. Like all massive stars AE Aurigae will be short-lived though, furiously burning through its supply of fuel for nuclear fusion and exploding as a supernova. The colorful telescopic snapshot spans about 5 light-years at the estimated distance of the Flaming Star Nebula.
For image credit and copyright guidance, please visit the image websitehttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap161201.html

Time And Space

8

Great Nebula of our Galaxy

A Nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases located within our cosmos. Long ago Nebula was used as a term for any diffuse astronomical object, including galaxies beyond the Milky Way. As our knowledge of the universe expanded, so did our knowledge of Nebulae.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Image sources

IC 4603 - The Turbulent Heart of the Scorpion

This image shows the core region of the Rho Ophiuchi Complex, centered around the prominent blue reflection nebula IC 4603. This is one of the nearest star forming regions and the intricacies of the dense interstellar dust clouds in the area provide a spectacular display of light and shade; the contrasting hues making this one of the most dramatic and colourful patches of the entire night sky.

Credit: Rolf Olsen

Like a July 4 fireworks display, a young, glittering collection of stars looks like an aerial burst. The cluster is surrounded by clouds of interstellar gas and dust—the raw material for new star formation. The nebula, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars, called NGC 3603.

Herschels Eagle Nebula : A now famous picture from the Hubble Space Telescope featured Pillars of Creation, star forming columns of cold gas and dust light-years long inside M16, the Eagle Nebula. This false-color composite image views the nearby stellar nursery using data from the Herschel Space Observatorys panoramic exploration of interstellar clouds along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Herschels far infrared detectors record the emission from the regions cold dust directly. The famous pillars are included near the center of the scene. While the central group of hot young stars is not apparent at these infrared wavelengths, the stars radiation and winds carve the shapes within the interstellar clouds. Scattered white spots are denser knots of gas and dust, clumps of material collapsing to form new stars. The Eagle Nebula is some 6,500 light-years distant, an easy target for binoculars or small telescopes in a nebula rich part of the sky toward the split constellation Serpens Cauda . via NASA

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A frighteningly shaped reflection nebula, this cosmic crone is about 800 light-years away though. Its malevolent visage seems to glare toward nearby bright star Rigel in Orion, just off the right edge of this frame. More formally known as IC 2118, the interstellar cloud of dust and gas is nearly 70 light-years across, its dust grains reflecting Rigel’s starlight. In this composite portrait, the nebula’s color is caused not only by the star’s intense bluish light but because the dust grains scatter blue light more efficiently than red. The same physical process causes Earth’s daytime sky to appear blue, although the scatterers in planet Earth’s atmosphere are molecules of nitrogen and oxygen

Planets, stars, nebulas and a galaxy – all your favourite things all in this image. Mars (right) and Saturn (center) are visible as the two bright orange spots in the upper half of the image. The colorful Rho Ophiuchus star clouds featuring the bright orange star Antares lined up below Mars, on the central right part of the image. These interstellar clouds contain both red emission nebulas and blue reflection nebulas. At the top right of the image is the Blue Horsehead reflection nebula. On the lower left are many dark absorption nebulas that extend from the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. The featured deep composite was composed of multiple deep exposures taken last month from Brazil.

Saturn and Mars will remain visible to the unaided eye this month toward the east, just after sunset. Everything else in this image unfortunately requires the use of a telescope to see.

Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Eduardo Fairbairn ; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt

The Witch Head Nebula : Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble . maybe Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula. A frighteningly shaped reflection nebula, this cosmic crone is about 800 light-years away though. Its malevolent visage seems to glare toward nearby bright star Rigel in Orion, just off the right edge of this frame. More formally known as IC 2118, the interstellar cloud of dust and gas is nearly 70 light-years across, its dust grains reflecting Rigels starlight. In this composite portrait, the nebulas color is caused not only by the stars intense bluish light but because the dust grains scatter blue light more efficiently than red. The same physical process causes Earths daytime sky to appear blue, although the scatterers in planet Earths atmosphere are molecules of nitrogen and oxygen. via NASA

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NASA looks to solve mystery behind the presence of dark matter in massive M31 galaxy

A spiral galaxy, Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, might hint towards the presence of dark matter, currently defined as as an unidentified form of matter.

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Around 85% of the mass in the universe comprises dark matter, according to scientists.

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In 2014, NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Observatory detected a gamma signal in the Milky Way galaxy. Gamma rays are the most energetic form of rays produced in the universe, NASA stated.

These rays are produced by particles moving at almost the speed of light interacting with starlight and interstellar gas clouds.

“We expect dark matter to accumulate in the innermost regions of the Milky Way and other galaxies, which is why finding such a compact signal is very exciting,” said Pierrick Martin, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Scientific Research and the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France, according to Seeker.

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“M31 will be a key to understanding what this means for both Andromeda and the Milky Way galaxies,” Martin added.

A concentration of pulsars (neutron stars) present in the centre of M31 is also assumed to be the reason behind the strong gamma ray emissions. The pulsars weigh almost twice as much as the Sun and are said to be among the densest celestial bodies in the universe.

A teaspoon of pulsars matter is likely to weigh around a billion tons on Earth. It’s also found that some of these neutron stars emit most of their energy via gamma rays. Detecting pulsars in M31, however, is a tough task as it’s situated 2.5 million years away.

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To detect the exact source of the gamma rays, researchers will use previously accumulated data about pulsars in the Milky Way, and compare that with Andromeda’s new X-ray and radio observations.

The gamma rays in both the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies were discovered by Fermi. This can help researchers solve the mystery behind their origins.

“We don’t fully understand the roles cosmic rays play in galaxies, or how they travel through them,” said Xian Hou, an astrophysicist at Chinese Academy of Sciences, as reported by Seeker.

“M31 lets us see how cosmic rays behave under conditions different from those in our own galaxy,” Hou said further.

Both galaxies — Milky Way and M31 — can be used as models by space scientists to investigate them further and analyse them.

This observation is crucial in order to explore both galaxies, as well as dark matter.

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