MLB: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel headline 19 Hall of Fame ballot newcomers (ESPN)

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Where is the best landing spot for Giancarlo Stanton? - Dan Szymborski (ESPN)

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Behold! Observing the Sun


A broad hole in the corona was the Sun's dominant feature November 7-9, 2017. via NASA http://ift.tt/2jH94NM

Curiosity Rover Takes Selfie on Mars


Yes, but have you ever taken a selfie on Mars? The Curiosity rover on Mars has. This selfie was compiled from many smaller images -- which is why the mechanical arm holding the camera is not visible. (Although its shadow is!) Taken in mid-2015, the featured image shows not only the adventurous rover, but dark layered rocks, the light colored peak of Mount Sharp, and the rusting red sand that pervades Mars. If you look closely, you can even see that a small rock is stuck into one of Curiosity's aging wheels. Now nearing the end of 2017, Curiosity continues to explore the layers of sedimentary rocks it has discovered on Vera Rubin Ridge in order to better understand, generally, the ancient geologic history of Mars and, specifically, why these types of rocks exist there. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zQUhGy

NGC 7822: Stars and Dust Pillars in Infrared


Young stars themselves are clearing out their nursery in NGC 7822. Within the nebula, bright edges and complex dust sculptures dominate this detailed skyscape taken in infrared light by NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. NGC 7822 lies at the edge of a giant molecular cloud toward the northern constellation Cepheus, a glowing star forming region that lies about 3,000 light-years away. The atomic emission of light by the nebula's gas is powered by energetic radiation from the hot stars, whose powerful winds and light also sculpt and erode the denser pillar shapes. Stars could still be forming inside the pillars by gravitational collapse, but as the pillars are eroded away, any forming stars will ultimately be cut off from their reservoir of star stuff. This field spans around 40 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 7822. via NASA http://ift.tt/2yWIbIj

Friday the Moon Smiled


Friday, an old Moon smiled for early morning risers. Its waning sunlit crescent is captured in this atmospheric scene from clear skies near Bursa, Turkey, planet Earth. In the subtle twilight hues nearby celestial lights are Jupiter (top) and Venus shining close to the eastern horizon. But today, Saturday, the Moon will be new and early next week its waxing crescent will follow the setting Sun as it sinks in the west. Then, a young Moon's smile will join Saturn and Mercury in early evening skies. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zKPtT8

Rumor Central: Giants discussing J.D. Martinez in free agency - San Francisco Chronicle (ESPN)

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Jovian Tempest


This color-enhanced image of a massive, raging storm in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2A7ToKr

Major Fireball Meteor


The sky glows with soft pinkish colors of fading twilight in this serendipitous mountaintop vista. Taken in subfreezing temperatures, the thoughtfully composed photo shows snowy, rugged peaks seen from a mountain pass on November 14. Below lies the village of La Villa, Alta Badia in Italy's Dolomite Alps. Above the nestled village lights, the constellation Ursa Major hangs over the northern horizon. But most stunning is the intense fireball meteor. It was captured during the camera's exposure by chance as it flashed east to west across the northern horizon, under Ursa Major's familiar Big Dipper asterism. In fact, sightings of this major fireball meteor were widely reported in European skies, the most reported fireball event ever for planet Earth's American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization. The meteor's measured track over Germany is consistent with its origin near the active radiant of November's Taurid Meteor Shower. Taurid meteors are associated with dust from Encke's comet. via NASA http://ift.tt/2yQ2HKV

Sunrise Flight to the Space Station


Orbital ATK's Cygnus resupply ship with its cymbal-ike UltraFlex solar arrays approaches the International Space Station on Nov. 14, 2017. via NASA http://ift.tt/2z9ouRN

The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter, a giant star forming region within nearby satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 180 thousand light-years away. The largest, most violent star forming region known in the whole Local Group of galaxies, the cosmic arachnid sprawls across this spectacular view composed with narrowband data centered on emission from ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are other star forming regions with young star clusters, filaments, and blown-out bubble-shaped clouds. In fact, the frame includes the site of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A, right of center. The rich field of view spans about 1 degree or 2 full moons, in the southern constellation Dorado. But were the Tarantula Nebula closer, say 1,500 light-years distant like the local star forming Orion Nebula, it would take up half the sky. via NASA http://ift.tt/2AJQWqN

How to See the Atmosphere


How can you see the atmosphere? The answer is blowing in the wind. via NASA http://ift.tt/2z3kqCD

NGC 7789: Caroline's Rose


Found among the rich starfields of the Milky Way, star cluster NGC 7789 lies about 8,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. A late 18th century deep sky discovery of astronomer Caroline Lucretia Herschel, the cluster is also known as Caroline's Rose. Its flowery visual appearance in small telescopes is created by the cluster's nestled complex of stars and voids. Now estimated to be 1.6 billion years young, the galactic or open cluster of stars also shows its age. All the stars in the cluster were likely born at the same time, but the brighter and more massive ones have more rapidly exhausted the hydrogen fuel in their cores. These have evolved from main sequence stars like the Sun into the many red giant stars shown with a yellowish cast in this lovely color composite. Using measured color and brightness, astronomers can model the mass and hence the age of the cluster stars just starting to "turn off" the main sequence and become red giants. Over 50 light-years across, Caroline's Rose spans about half a degree (the angular size of the Moon) near the center of the wide-field telescopic image. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zzTXMu

Giants considering moving OF Hunter Pence to part-time role (ESPN)

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Mariner 9 Sees Shield Volcano on Mars


On November 14, 1971, Mariner ( took this image of a shield volcano on Mars. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zW0Sjy

Comet Machholz Approaches the Sun


Why is Comet Maccholz so depleted of carbon-containing chemicals? Comet 96P/Machholz's original fame derives from its getting closer to the Sun than any other short period comet -- half as close as Mercury -- and doing so every five years. To better understand this unusual comet, NASA's Sun-monitoring SOHO spacecraft tracked the comet during its latest approach to the Sun in October. The featured image composite shows the tail-enhanced comet swooping past the Sun. The Sun's bright surface is hidden from view behind a dark occulter, although parts of the Sun's extended corona are visible. Neighboring stars dot the background. One hypothesis holds that these close solar approaches somehow cause Comet Machholz to shed its carbon, while another hypothesis posits that the comet formed with this composition far away -- possibly even in another star system. via NASA http://ift.tt/2iOfVAW

Liftoff! Orbital Antares Rocket Launches From Wallops Flight Facility


The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 via NASA http://ift.tt/2ji3l0C

Rumor Central: Giants' Jae-gyun Hwang heading back to Korea - NBC Sports Bay Area (ESPN)

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Astronaut Jack Fischer With Honor Flight Veterans


NASA astronaut Jack Fischer talks with veterans at the World War II Memorial who traveled to Washington, DC with the Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight. Fischer, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, wrote, "Few things can compare to the honor of meeting WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets today--thank you for your sacrifices to keep us all free." via NASA http://ift.tt/2iKZW6A

Williamina Fleming s Triangular Wisp


Chaotic in appearance, these tangled filaments of shocked, glowing gas are spread across planet Earth's sky toward the constellation of Cygnus as part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock waves plow through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into the glow of ionized hydrogen atoms shown in red and oxygen in blue hues. Also known as the Cygnus Loop, the Veil Nebula now spans nearly 3 degrees or about 6 times the diameter of the full Moon. While that translates to over 70 light-years at its estimated distance of 1,500 light-years, this field of view spans less than one third that distance. Often identified as Pickering's Triangle for a director of Harvard College Observatory, the the complex of filaments is cataloged as NGC 6979. It is also known for its discoverer, astronomer Williamina Fleming, as Fleming's Triangular Wisp. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zIS7cI

Giants C Buster Posey wins Silver Slugger Award (ESPN)

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Earth as Viewed From 10,000 Miles


On November 9, 1969, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. via NASA http://ift.tt/2m8w1ua

NGC 1055 Close up


Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 1055 is a dominant member of a small galaxy group a mere 60 million light-years away toward the aquatically intimidating constellation Cetus. Seen edge-on, the island universe spans over 100,000 light-years, a little larger than our own Milky Way. The colorful stars in this cosmic close-up of NGC 1055 are in the foreground, well within the Milky Way. But the telltale pinkish star forming regions are scattered through winding dust lanes along the distant galaxy's thin disk. With a smattering of even more distant background galaxies, the deep image also reveals a boxy halo that extends far above and below the central bluge and disk of NGC 1055. The halo itself is laced with faint, narrow structures, and could represent the mixed and spread out debris from a satellite galaxy disrupted by the larger spiral some 10 billion years ago. via NASA http://ift.tt/2AsB3oa

Rare Encircling Filament


NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory came across an oddity that the spacecraft has rarely observed before: a dark filament encircling an active region (Oct. 29-31, 2017). Solar filaments are clouds of charged particles that float above the sun, tethered to it by magnetic forces. via NASA http://ift.tt/2yhGPrr

NGC 2261: Hubble s Variable Nebula


What causes Hubble's Variable Nebula to vary? The unusual nebula featured here changes its appearance noticeably in just a few weeks. Discovered over 200 years ago and subsequently cataloged as NGC 2661, the remarkable nebula is named for Edwin Hubble, who studied it early last century. Fitting, perhaps, the featured image was taken by another namesake of Hubble: the Space Telescope. Hubble's Variable Nebula is a reflection nebula made of gas and fine dust fanning out from the star R Monocerotis. The faint nebula is about one light-year across and lies about 2500 light-years away towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monocerotis). The leading variability explanation for Hubble's Variable Nebula holds that dense knots of opaque dust pass close to R Mon and cast moving shadows onto the reflecting dust seen in the rest of the nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hNWlVH

Giants SS Brandon Crawford wins Gold Glove (ESPN)

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Space Station Crew Sees Lots of Clouds


Expedition 53 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed cloudy skies over Sudan during an International Space Station flyover on Oct. 22, 2017. Nespoli shared the image with his followers on social media on Nov. 6, writing, "#EarthFromSpace means also... Lots of clouds! How do they look from below?" via NASA http://ift.tt/2AhQv5K

NL West Offseason Preview: Who can afford to keep up with the Dodgers? (ESPN)

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The Prague Astronomical Clock


In the center of Prague there's a clock the size of a building. During the day, crowds gather to watch the show when it chimes in a new hour. The Prague Astronomical Clock's face is impressively complex, giving not only the expected time with respect to the Sun (solar time), but the time relative to the stars (sidereal time), the times of sunrise and sunset, the time at the equator, the phase of the Moon, and much more. The clock began operation in 1410, and even though much of its inner workings have been modernized several times, original parts remain. Below the clock is a nearly-equal sized, but static, solar calendar. Pictured, the Prague Astronomical Clock was photographed alone during an early morning in 2009 March. The Prague Astronomical Clock and the Old Town Tower behind it are currently being renovated once again, with the clock expected to be restarted in 2018 June. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ixnLyT

Giants exercise contract options on Madison Bumgarner, Matt Moore (ESPN)

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Pandora, the Would-Be Perturber


As Cassini hurtled toward its fatal encounter with Saturn, the spacecraft turned to catch this final look at Saturn's moon Pandora next to the thin line of the F ring. via NASA http://ift.tt/2AdCOF7

A Dust Jet from the Surface of Comet 67P


Where do comet tails come from? There are no obvious places on the nuclei of comets from which the jets that create comet tails emanate. Last year, though, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft not only imaged a jet emerging from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but flew right through it. Featured is a telling picture showing a bright plume emerging from a small circular dip bounded on one side by a 10-meter high wall. Analyses of Rosetta data shows that the jet was composed of both dust and water-ice. The mundane terrain indicates that something likely happened far under the porous surface to create the plume. This image was taken last July, about two months before Rosetta's mission ended with a controlled impact onto Comet 67P's surface. via NASA http://ift.tt/2j1W7O4

Johnny Cueto will remain with Giants after deciding not to opt out of final four years of contract (ESPN)

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A Year of Full Moons


Do all full moons look the same? No. To see the slight differences, consider this grid of twelve full moons. From upper left to lower right, the images represent every lunation from 2016 November through 2017 October, as imaged from Pakistan. The consecutive full moons are all shown at the same scale, so unlike the famous Moon Illusion, the change in apparent size seen here is real. The change is caused by the variation in lunar distance due to the Moon's significantly non-circular orbit. The dark notch at the bottom of the full moon of 2017 August is the shadow of the Earth -- making this a partial lunar eclipse. Besides the sometimes exaggerated coloring, a subtler change in appearance can also be noticed on close examination, as the Moon seems to wobble slightly from one full moon to the next. This effect, known as libration, is more dramatic and easier to see in this lunation video highlighting all of the ways that the Moon appears to change over a month (moon-th). via NASA http://ift.tt/2lPBaHp

Tests Ensure Astronaut, Ground Crew Safety Before Orion Launches


NASA is performing a series of tests to evaluate how astronauts and ground crew involved in final preparations before Orion missions will quickly get out of the spacecraft, if an emergency were to occur on the pad prior to launch. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zhQOR2

A 2017 U1: An Interstellar Visitor


Traveling at high velocity along an extreme hyperbolic orbit and making a hairpin turn as it swung past the Sun, the now designated A/2017 U1 is the first known small body from interstellar space. A point of light centered in this 5 minute exposure recorded with the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands on October 28, the interstellar visitor is asteroid-like with no signs of cometary activity. Faint background stars appear streaked because the massive 4.2 meter diameter telescope is tracking the rapidly moving A/2017 U1 in the field of view. Astronomer Rob Weryk (IfA) first recognized the moving object in nightly Pan-STARRS sky survey data on October 19. A/2017 is presently outbound, never to return to the Solar System, and already only visible from planet Earth in large optical telescopes. Though an interstellar origin has been established based on its orbit, it is still unknown how long the object could have drifted among the stars of the Milky Way. But its interstellar cruise speed would be about 26 kilometers per second. By comparison humanity's Voyager 1 spacecraft travels about 17 kilometers per second through interstellar space. via NASA http://ift.tt/2A8SLNC

Revealing What Lies Beneath


This false-color image demonstrates how use of special filters available on the Curiosity Mars rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam) can reveal the presence of certain minerals in target rocks. T via NASA http://ift.tt/2ioVgTK

From Hot to Hottest


This sequence of images shows the Sun from its surface to its upper atmosphere all taken at about the same time on Oct. 27, 2017. via NASA http://ift.tt/2iURKVn

Thors Helmet Emission Nebula


This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor's Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet spans about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind -- from the bright star near the center of the bubble's blue-hued region -- sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. This star, a Wolf-Rayet star, is a massive and extremely hot giant star thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the emission nebula is located about 12,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major). The sharp image, made using broadband and narrowband filters, captures striking details of the nebula's filamentary gas and dust structures. The blue color originates from strong emission from oxygen atoms in the nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zS1WkA

Learning to Walk Before Heading to Space


Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen is suspended over a mock-up of the International Space Station during a microgravity simulation. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xGWGjb

Dark Matter in a Simulated Universe


Is our universe haunted? It might look that way on this dark matter map. The gravity of unseen dark matter is the leading explanation for why galaxies rotate so fast, why galaxies orbit clusters so fast, why gravitational lenses so strongly deflect light, and why visible matter is distributed as it is both in the local universe and on the cosmic microwave background. The featured image from the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium Space Show Dark Universe highlights one example of how pervasive dark matter might haunt our universe. In this frame from a detailed computer simulation, complex filaments of dark matter, shown in black, are strewn about the universe like spider webs, while the relatively rare clumps of familiar baryonic matter are colored orange. These simulations are good statistical matches to astronomical observations. In what is perhaps a scarier turn of events, dark matter -- although quite strange and in an unknown form -- is no longer thought to be the strangest source of gravity in the universe. That honor now falls to dark energy, a more uniform source of repulsive gravity that seems to now dominate the expansion of the entire universe. via NASA http://ift.tt/2A0FhDC

Viewing Australia's Great Sandy Desert From Space


Flying hundreds miles above, astronauts aboard the International Space Station photographed Lake Hazlett and Lake Willis in Western Australia's Great Sandy Desert. Hundreds of ephemeral salt lakes are peppered throughout the arid Australian Outback. via NASA http://ift.tt/2luBT0C

Orionid Meteors from Orion


Meteors have been shooting out from the constellation of Orion. This was expected, as October is the time of year for the Orionids Meteor Shower. Pictured here, over a dozen meteors were caught in successively added exposures last weekend over Wulan Hada volcano in Inner Mongolia, China. The featured image shows multiple meteor streaks that can all be connected to a single small region on the sky called the radiant, here visible just above and to the left of the belt of Orion, The Orionids meteors started as sand sized bits expelled from Comet Halley during one of its trips to the inner Solar System. Comet Halley is actually responsible for two known meteor showers, the other known as the Eta Aquarids and visible every May. Next month, the Leonids Meteor Shower from Comet Tempel-Tuttle should also result in some bright meteor streaks. via NASA http://ift.tt/2lr5sQj

Night on a Spooky Planet


What spooky planet is this? Planet Earth of course, on a dark and stormy night in 2013 at Hverir, a geothermally active area along the volcanic landscape in northeastern Iceland. Geomagnetic storms produced the auroral display in the starry night sky while ghostly towers of steam and gas venting from fumaroles danced against the eerie greenish light. Tonight, there is also a chance for geomagnetic storms triggered by recent solar activity, so high-latitude skygazers should beware. Ghostly shapes may dance in your neighborhood pretty soon, too. via NASA http://ift.tt/2iEW1Mp

NGC 6369: The Little Ghost Nebula


Wraithlike NGC 6369 is a faint apparition in night skies popularly known as the Little Ghost Nebula. It was discovered by 18th century astronomer Sir William Herschel as he used a telescope to explore the medicinal constellation Ophiucus. Herschel historically classified the round and planet-shaped nebula as a Planetary Nebula. But planetary nebulae in general are not at all related to planets. Instead they are gaseous shrouds created at the end of a sun-like star's life, the dying star's outer layers expanding into space while its core shrinks to become a white dwarf. The transformed white dwarf star, seen near the center, radiates strongly at ultraviolet wavelengths and powers the expanding nebula's glow. Surprisingly complex details and structures of NGC 6369 are revealed in this tantalizing image composed from Hubble Space Telescope data. The nebula's main round structure is about a light-year across and the glow from ionized oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen atoms are colored blue, green, and red respectively. Over 2,000 light-years away, the Little Ghost Nebula offers a glimpse of the fate of our Sun, which could produce its own planetary nebula about 5 billion years from now. via NASA http://ift.tt/2z9c1x2

Hubble Digs into Cosmic Archaeology


This Hubble infrared image is part of an observing program that imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters to find the brightest distant galaxies for theJames Webb Space Telescope to study. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zIrErL

Mirach s Ghost


As far as ghosts go, Mirach's Ghost isn't really that scary. Mirach's Ghost is just a faint, fuzzy galaxy, well known to astronomers, that happens to be seen nearly along the line-of-sight to Mirach, a bright star. Centered in this star field, Mirach is also called Beta Andromedae. About 200 light-years distant, Mirach is a red giant star, cooler than the Sun but much larger and so intrinsically much brighter than our parent star. In most telescopic views, glare and diffraction spikes tend to hide things that lie near Mirach and make the faint, fuzzy galaxy look like a ghostly internal reflection of the almost overwhelming starlight. Still, appearing in this sharp image just above and to the left of Mirach, Mirach's Ghost is cataloged as galaxy NGC 404 and is estimated to be some 10 million light-years away. via NASA http://ift.tt/2i7IzMS

Studying the Genetics of Organisms in Space


At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, organisms in a Petri plate are exposed to blue excitation lighting in a Spectrum prototype unit. NASA scientists and engineers are developing experiments to determine how different organisms, such as plants, microbes or worms, develop under conditions of microgravity. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ySUIzn

NGC 7635: Bubble in a Cosmic Sea


Adrift in a cosmic sea of stars and glowing gas the delicate, floating apparition left of center in this widefield view is cataloged as NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula. A mere 10 light-years wide, the tiny Bubble Nebula was blown by the winds of a massive star. It lies within a larger complex of interstellar gas and dust clouds found about 11,000 light-years distant, straddling the boundary between the parental constellations Cepheus and Cassiopeia. Included in the breathtaking vista is open star cluster M52 (lower left), some 5,000 light-years away. Above and right of the Bubble Nebula is an emission region identified as Sh2-157, also known as the Claw Nebula. Constructed from 47 hours of narrow-band and broad-band exposures, this image spans about 3 degrees on the sky. That corresponds to a width of 500 light-years at the estimated distance of the Bubble Nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2i2Uk7E

NASA Astronauts on Third and Final Spacewalk in October Series


NASA astronauts Joe Acaba (left) and Randy Bresnik (right) at work outside the International Space Station on Oct. 20, 2017, in the third of a series of three planned spacewalks. The two astronauts successfully completed the 6 hour, 49 minute spacewalk at 2:36 p.m. EDT. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zFnj8q

Remembering Astronaut Paul Weitz


In this June 1973 photo, astronaut Paul J. Weitz, Skylab 2 pilot, mans the control and display console of the Apollo Telescope Mount. Weitz, who also commanded the STS-6 shuttle mission and served as Deputy Director of Johnson Space Center, passed away this week at the age of 85. via NASA http://ift.tt/2z2GxbS

Where Your Elements Came From


The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the Big Bang. There are no other appreciable sources of hydrogen in the universe. The carbon in your body was made by nuclear fusion in the interior of stars, as was the oxygen. Much of the iron in your body was made during supernovas of stars that occurred long ago and far away. The gold in your jewelry was likely made from neutron stars during collisions that may have been visible as short-duration gamma-ray bursts or gravitational wave events. Elements like phosphorus and copper are present in our bodies in only small amounts but are essential to the functioning of all known life. The featured periodic table is color coded to indicate humanity's best guess as to the nuclear origin of all known elements. The sites of nuclear creation of some elements, such as copper, are not really well known and are continuing topics of observational and computational research. via NASA http://ift.tt/2zIV0GZ

The Grace of Saturn


Saturn's graceful lanes of orbiting ice -- its iconic rings -- wind their way around the planet to pass beyond the horizon in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2xglHRL

NGC 4993: The Galactic Home of an Historic Explosion


That reddish dot -- it wasn't there before. It's the dot to the upper left of galaxy NGC 4993's center, do you see it? When scanning the large field of possible locations of an optical counterpart to the unprecedented gravitational wave event GW170817 in August, the appearance of this fading dot quickly became of historic importance. It pinpointed GW170817's exact location, thereby enabling humanity's major telescopes to examine the first ever electromagnetic wave counterpart to a gravitational wave event, an event giving strong evidence of being a short gamma-ray burst kilonova, the element-forming explosion that occurs after two neutron stars merge. The featured image of lenticular galaxy NGC 4993 by Hubble shows the fading dot several days after it was discovered. Analyses, continuing, include the physics of the explosion, what heavy elements formed, the similarity of the speeds of gravitational radiation and light, and calibrating a new method for determining the distance scale of our universe. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gXzCWG

Two Black Holes Dancing in 3C 75


What's happening at the center of active galaxy 3C 75? The two bright sources at the center of this composite x-ray (blue)/ radio (pink) image are co-orbiting supermassive black holes powering the giant radio source 3C 75. Surrounded by multimillion degree x-ray emitting gas, and blasting out jets of relativistic particles the supermassive black holes are separated by 25,000 light-years. At the cores of two merging galaxies in the Abell 400 galaxy cluster they are some 300 million light-years away. Astronomers conclude that these two supermassive black holes are bound together by gravity in a binary system in part because the jets' consistent swept back appearance is most likely due to their common motion as they speed through the hot cluster gas at 1200 kilometers per second. Such spectacular cosmic mergers are thought to be common in crowded galaxy cluster environments in the distant universe. In their final stages the mergers are expected to be intense sources of gravitational waves. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gWCW4t

Lynds Dark Nebula 183


Beverly Lynds Dark Nebula 183 lies a mere 325 light-years away, drifting high above the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Obscuring the starlight behind it when viewed at optical wavelengths, the dark, dusty molecular cloud itself seems starless. But far infrared explorations reveal dense clumps within, likely stars in the early stages of formation as enhanced regions of the cloud undergo gravitational collapse. One of the closest molecular clouds, it is seen toward the constellation Serpens Caput. This sharp cosmic cloud portrait spans about half a degree on the sky. That's about 3 light-years at the estimated distance of Lynds Dark Nebula 183. via NASA http://ift.tt/2x9BMbW

Hubble Unravels a Twisted Cosmic Knot


This Hubble image shows what happens when two galaxies become one. The twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 — or Arp 243 — and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab). via NASA http://ift.tt/2xTIy5i

Jovian Moon Shadow


Jupiter’s moon Amalthea casts a shadow on the gas giant planet in this image captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. via NASA http://ift.tt/2yDDMwL

M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy


Find the Big Dipper and follow the handle away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you'll come upon this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier's famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (bottom), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici. Though M51 looks faint and fuzzy to the eye, deep images like this one can reveal striking colors and the faint tidal debris around the smaller galaxy via NASA http://ift.tt/2yQWhyI