planetary art


The Juno spacecraft continues to send back incredible photos of Jupiter’s atmosphere. This video animates images from the sixth close pass of Jupiter to give you a sense of what Juno sees as it swoops by our system’s largest planet. The trajectory passes from the north pole to the south, showing Jupiter’s whitish zones, dark belts, and massive storms. Up close Jupiter looks like an Impressionist painting, all vortices and shear instabilities. The large white spots you see are enormous counterclockwise rotating vortices known as anticyclones – many of them larger than our entire planet. (Video credit:  NASA / SwRI / MSSS / G. Eichstädt / S. Doran)

No time to take it slow
By now I’m sure you know

Technological advance is an inherently iterative process. One does not simply take sand from the beach and produce a Dataprobe. We use crude tools to fashion better tools, and then our better tools to fashion more precise tools, and so on. Each minor refinement is a step in the process, and all of the steps must be taken.

This close-up, visible-light view by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals new details of the Ring Nebula.

The object is tilted toward Earth so that astronomers see the ring face-on. The Hubble observations reveal that the nebula’s shape is more complicated than astronomers thought. The blue gas in the nebula’s center is actually a football-shaped structure that pierces the red doughnut-shaped material. Hubble also uncovers the detailed structure of the dark, irregular knots of dense gas embedded along the inner rim of the ring. The knots look like spokes in a bicycle. The Hubble images have allowed the research team to match up the knots with the spikes of light around the bright, main ring, which are a shadow effect.

The Ring Nebula is a well-known planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a Sun-like star. The tiny white dot in the center of the nebula is the star’s hot core, called a white dwarf.

The nebula is about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. The structure measures roughly one light-year across.

The Hubble observations were taken Sept. 19, 2011, by the Wide Field Camera 3. In the image, the deep blue color in the center represents helium; the cyan color of the inner ring is the glow of hydrogen and oxygen; and the reddish color of the outer ring is from nitrogen and sulfur.

Object Names: Ring Nebula, M57, NGC 6720

Image Type: Astronomical

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

Time And Space