magellanic clouds

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I never like videos that boomerang but still had to share this one - stars rotating over a dead, undecomposed tree in Sossusvlei, Namibia - you can clearly make out the large and small Magellanic Clouds - two minor galaxies close to the Milky Way.

In parts of Antarctica, not only is it winter, but the Sun can spend weeks below the horizon.At China's Zhongshan Station, people sometimes venture out into the cold to photograph a spectacular night sky.The featured image from one such outing was taken in mid-July, just before the end of this polar night.Pointing up, the wide angle lens captured not only the ground at the bottom, but at the top as well. In the foreground is a colleague also taking pictures.In the distance, a spherical satellite receiver and several windmills are visible.Numerous stars dot the night sky, including Sirius and Canopus.Far in the background, stretching overhead from horizon to horizon, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.Even further in the distance, visible as extended smudges near the top, are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies near our huge Milky Way Galaxy.

Credit: NASA

Time And Space

Hubble's front row seat when galaxies collide

This delicate smudge in deep space is far more turbulent than it first appears. Known as IRAS 14348-1447 – a name derived in part from that of its discoverer, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS for short) – this celestial object is actually a combination of two gas-rich spiral galaxies. This doomed duo approached one another too closely in the past, gravity causing them to affect and tug at each other and slowly, destructively, merge into one. The image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

IRAS 14348-1447 is located over a billion light-years away from us. It is one of the most gas-rich examples known of an ultraluminous infrared galaxy, a class of cosmic objects that shine characteristically – and incredibly – brightly in the infrared part of the spectrum. Almost 95% of the energy emitted by IRAS 14348-1447 is in the far-infrared! The huge amount of molecular gas within IRAS 14348-1447 fuels its emission, and undergoes a number of dynamical processes as it interacts and moves around; these very same mechanisms are responsible for IRAS 14348-1447’s own whirling and ethereal appearance, creating prominent tails and wisps extending away from the main body of the galaxy.

Galaxies from the Altiplano : The central bulge of our Milky Way Galaxy rises over the northern Chilean Atacama altiplano in this postcard from planet Earth. At an altitude of 4500 meters, the strange beauty of the desolate landscape could almost belong to another world though. Brownish red and yellow tinted sulfuric patches lie along the whitish salt flat beaches of the Salar de Aguas Calientes region. In the distance along the Argentina border is the stratovolcano Lastarria, its peak at 5700 meters . In the clear, dark sky above, stars, nebulae, and cosmic dust clouds in the Milky Way echo the colors of the altiplano at night. Extending the view across extragalactic space, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, shine near the horizon through a faint greenish airglow. via NASA

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This delicate blue group of stars ‘” actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 ‘” sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin).

It may seem to have no discernable structure, but IC 3583 has been found to have a bar of stars running through its center. These structures are common throughout the Universe, and are found within the majority of spiral, many irregular, and some lenticular galaxies. Two of our closest cosmic neighbors, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, are barred, indicating that they may have once been barred spiral galaxies that were disrupted or torn apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way.

Researchers at the University of Leicester, England note there are two types of irregular galaxy. Type I’s are usually single galaxies of peculiar appearance. They contain a large fraction of young stars, and show the luminous nebulae that are also visible in spiral galaxies. Type II irregulars include the group known as interacting or disrupting galaxies, in which the strange appearance is due to two or more galaxies colliding, merging or otherwise interacting gravitationally.

Something similar might be happening with IC 3583. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbors, the spiral Messier 90. Together, the duo form a pairing known as Arp 76. It’s still unclear whether these flirtations are the cause of IC 3583’s irregular appearance '” but whatever the cause, the galaxy makes for a strikingly delicate sight in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, glimmering in the blackness of space.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble andamp; NASA
Text Credit: European Space Agency: Hubble Space Telescope

Time And Space

Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula : Halloweens origin is ancient and astronomical. Since the fifth century BC, Halloween has been celebrated as a cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an equinox . With a modern calendar however, even though Halloween occurs tomorrow, the real cross-quarter day will occur next week. Another cross-quarter day is Groundhog Day. Halloweens modern celebration retains historic roots in dressing to scare away the spirits of the dead. Perhaps a fitting tribute to this ancient holiday is this view of the Ghost Head Nebula taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Similar to the icon of a fictional ghost, NGC 2080 is actually a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way Galaxy. The Ghost Head Nebula spans about 50 light-years and is shown in representative colors. via NASA

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Airglow above European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Here are gorgeous fulldome views above different telescopes of ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. The red and green hues are produced by airglow, waves of alternating air pressure which are caused by various processes in the upper atmosphere. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are also visible while Milky Way cuts across the sky.

Credit: P. Horálek/ESO

Puzzling a Sky over Argentina : Can you find the comet? True, a careful eye can find thousands of stars, tens of constellations, four planets, three galaxies, and the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy all visible in the sky of this spectacular 180-degree panorama. Also, if you know what to look for, you can identify pervasive green airglow, an earthly cloud, the south celestial pole, and even a distant cluster of stars. But these are all easier to find than Comet 252P/LINEAR. The featured image, taken in el Leoncito National Park, Argentina in early April, also features the dome of the Jorge Sahade telescope on the hill on the far right. Have you found the comet yet? If so, good for you , but really the harder thing to find is Small Cloud of Magellan. via NASA

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Polar Mapping of Structures in the Universe.

This image represents a flight through Space and Time. We start (from top to bottom) at the most distant Galaxies seen when the Universe was very young (Hubble Deep Field), then an interacting pair of Galaxies, the Magellanic Cloud, a Star Cluster, two Planetary Nebulae (Helix and Cat’s Eye) and finally at the bottom a Human Eye. Polar mapping is used in order to ‘unwrap’ Spherical objects into a horizontal band. Each pair of objects is joined together by a similar Structure represented as a bright horizontal band. The three bands then correspond to the Galactic Center of a Galaxy in the Hubble Field and the Interacting Galaxy, the Center of a Bright Star in the Magellanic Cloud and a Star Cluster and the last band corresponds to the White Dwarf in the Helix and Cat’s Eye Nebulae.