GW Orionis: A Star System with Titled Rings


Triple star system GW Orionis appears to demonstrate that planets can form and orbit in multiple planes. In contrast, all the planets and moons in our Solar System orbit in nearly the same plane. The picturesque system has three prominent stars, a warped disk, and inner tilted rings of gas and grit. The featured animation characterizes the GW Ori system from observations with the European Southern Observatory's VLT and ALMA telescopes in Chile. The first part of the illustrative video shows a grand vista of the entire system from a distant orbit, while the second sequence takes you inside the tilted rings to resolve the three central co-orbiting stars. Computer simulations indicate that multiple stars in systems like GW Ori could warp and break-up disks into unaligned, exoplanet-forming rings. via NASA https://ift.tt/3n8oCqj

Soyuz MS-16 Spacecraft Docked to the Space Station


Pictured is the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship, currently docked to the International Space Station's Poisk module. via NASA https://ift.tt/34a42Ni

Filaments of the Cygnus Loop


What lies at the edge of an expanding supernova? Subtle and delicate in appearance, these ribbons of shocked interstellar gas are part of a blast wave at the expanding edge of a violent stellar explosion that would have been easily visible to humans during the late stone age, about 20,000 years ago. The featured image was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope and is a closeup of the outer edge of a supernova remnant known as the Cygnus Loop or Veil Nebula. The filamentary shock front is moving toward the top of the frame at about 170 kilometers per second, while glowing in light emitted by atoms of excited hydrogen gas. The distances to stars thought to be interacting with the Cygnus Loop have recently been found by the Gaia mission to be about 2400 light years distant. The whole Cygnus Loop spans six full Moons across the sky, corresponding to about 130 light years, and parts can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). via NASA https://ift.tt/2S73H8F

Lightning over Colorado


Have you ever watched a lightning storm in awe? Join the crowd. Oddly, details about how lightning is produced remains a topic of research. What is known is that updrafts carry light ice crystals into collisions with larger and softer ice balls, causing the smaller crystals to become positively charged. After enough charge becomes separated, the rapid electrical discharge that is lightning occurs. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun. The resulting shock wave starts supersonically and decays into the loud sound known as thunder. Lightning bolts are common in clouds during rainstorms, and on average 44 lightning bolts occur on the Earth every second. Pictured, over 60 images were stacked to capture the flow of lightning-producing storm clouds in July over Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. via NASA https://ift.tt/36bxzJ2

Moon Pairs and the Synodic Month


Observe the Moon each night and its visible sunlit portion will gradually change. In phases progressing from New Moon to Full Moon to New Moon again, a lunar cycle or synodic month is completed in about 29.5 days. They look full, but top left to bottom right these panels do show the range of lunar phases for a complete synodic month during August 2019 from Ragusa, Sicily, Italy, planet Earth. For this lunar cycle project the panels organize images of the lunar phases in pairs. Each individual image is paired with another image separated by about 15 days, or approximately half a synodic month. As a result the opposite sunlit portions complete the lunar disk and the shadow line at the boundary of lunar night and day, the terminator, steadily marches across the Moon's familiar nearside. For extra credit, what lunar phase would you pair with the Moon tonight? via NASA https://ift.tt/2EEYzFK

Hubble Shoots the Moon


This image from 1991 shows Earth's Moon, with its dark basaltic mare, clearly visible in great detail. via NASA https://ift.tt/33UAinC

Moon over Andromeda


The Great Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda (also known as M31), a mere 2.5 million light-years distant, is the closest large spiral to our own Milky Way. Andromeda is visible to the unaided eye as a small, faint, fuzzy patch, but because its surface brightness is so low, casual skygazers can't appreciate the galaxy's impressive extent in planet Earth's sky. This entertaining composite image compares the angular size of the nearby galaxy to a brighter, more familiar celestial sight. In it, a deep exposure of Andromeda, tracing beautiful blue star clusters in spiral arms far beyond the bright yellow core, is combined with a typical view of a nearly full Moon. Shown at the same angular scale, the Moon covers about 1/2 degree on the sky, while the galaxy is clearly several times that size. The deep Andromeda exposure also includes two bright satellite galaxies, M32 and M110 (below and right). via NASA https://ift.tt/365QNQw

NASA Has Eyes on the Universe


Humanity has "eyes" that can detect all different types of light through telescopes around the globe and a fleet of observatories in space. via NASA https://ift.tt/2RTThcv

Enceladus in Infrared


One of our Solar System's most tantalizing worlds, icy Saturnian moon Enceladus appears in these detailed hemisphere views from the Cassini spacecraft. In false color, the five panels present 13 years of infrared image data from Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer and Imaging Science Subsystem. Fresh ice is colored red, and the most dramatic features look like long gashes in the 500 kilometer diameter moon's south polar region. They correspond to the location of tiger stripes, surface fractures that likely connect to an ocean beneath the Enceladus ice shell. The fractures are the source of the moon's icy plumes that continuously spew into space. The plumes were discovered by by Cassini in 2005. Now, reddish hues in the northern half of the leading hemisphere view also indicate a recent resurfacing of other regions of the geologically active moon, a world that may hold conditions suitable for life. via NASA https://ift.tt/32TPYZ0

Cyclones of Color at Jupiter’s North Pole


Cyclones at the north pole of Jupiter appear as swirls of striking colors in this extreme false color rendering of an image from NASA’s Juno mission. via NASA https://ift.tt/330xeqZ

ISS Transits Mars


Yes, but have you ever seen the space station do this? If you know when and where to look, watching the bright International Space Station (ISS) drift across your night sky is a fascinating sight -- but not very unusual. Images of the ISS crossing in front of the half-degree Moon or Sun do exist, but are somewhat rare as they take planning, timing, and patience to acquire. Catching the ISS crossing in front of minuscule Mars, though, is on another level. Using online software, the featured photographer learned that the unusual transit would be visible only momentarily along a very narrow stretch of nearby land spanning just 90 meters. Within this stretch, the equivalent ground velocity of the passing ISS image would be a quick 7.4 kilometers per second. However, with a standard camera, a small telescope, an exact location to set up his equipment, an exact direction to point the telescope, and sub-millisecond timing -- he created a video from which the featured 0.00035 second exposure was extracted. In the resulting image capture, details on both Mars and the ISS are visible simultaneously. The featured image was acquired last Monday at 05:15:47 local time from just northeast of San Diego, California, USA. Although typically much smaller, angularly, than the ISS, Mars is approaching its maximum angular size in the next few weeks, because the blue planet (Earth) is set to pass its closest to the red planet (Mars) in their respective orbits around the Sun. via NASA https://ift.tt/33S59RF

Ellen Ochoa Shakes Hands with First Humanoid Robot to Head to Station


Then-NASA Johnson Space Center deputy director Ellen Ochoa poses for a photo with Robonaut 2 (R2) during media day in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility on Aug. 4, 2010. via NASA https://ift.tt/3mCJOo1

Equinox in the Sky


Does the Sun set in the same direction every day? No, the direction of sunset depends on the time of the year. Although the Sun always sets approximately toward the west, on an equinox like today the Sun sets directly toward the west. After today's September equinox, the Sun will set increasingly toward the southwest, reaching its maximum displacement at the December solstice. Before today's September equinox, the Sun had set toward the northwest, reaching its maximum displacement at the June solstice. The featured time-lapse image shows seven bands of the Sun setting one day each month from 2019 December through 2020 June. These image sequences were taken from Alberta, Canada -- well north of the Earth's equator -- and feature the city of Edmonton in the foreground. The middle band shows the Sun setting during the last equinox -- in March. From this location, the Sun will set along this same equinox band again today. via NASA https://ift.tt/33Smb2h

Omega Sunrise


Capturing this sunrise required both luck and timing. First and foremost, precise timing was needed to capture a sailboat crossing right in front of a rising Sun. Additionally, by a lucky coincidence, the background Sun itself appears unusual -- it looks like the Greek letter Omega (Ω). In reality, the Sun remained its circular self -- the Omega illusion was created by sunlight refracting through warm air just above the water. Optically, the feet of the capital Omega are actually an inverted image of the Sun region just above it. Although somewhat rare, optical effects caused by the Earth's atmosphere can make distant objects near the horizon -- including the Sun and Moon -- look quite unusual. This single exposure image was taken over the Mediterranean Sea just over two weeks ago near Valencia, Spain. via NASA https://ift.tt/35SpHMD

Breaking Distant Light


In the distant universe, time appears to run slowly. Since time-dilated light appears shifted toward the red end of the spectrum (redshifted), astronomers are able to use cosmological time-slowing to help measure vast distances in the universe. Featured, the light from distant galaxies has been broken up into its constituent colors (spectra), allowing astronomers to measure the cosmological redshift of known spectral lines. The novelty of the featured image is that the distance to hundreds of galaxies can be measured from a single frame, in this case one taken by the Visible MultiObject Spectrograph (VIMOS) operating at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array in Chile. Analyzing the space distribution of distant objects will allow insight into when and how stars and galaxies formed, clustered, and evolved in the early universe. via NASA https://ift.tt/2RF1voA

Orion in Depth


Orion is a familiar constellation. The apparent positions of its stars in two dimensions create a well-known pattern on the bowl of planet Earth's night sky. Orion may not look quite so familiar in this 3D view though. The illustration reconstructs the relative positions of Orion's bright stars, including data from the Hipparcus catalog of parallax distances. The most distant star shown is Alnilam. The middle one in the projected line of three that make up Orion's belt when viewed from planet Earth, Alnilam is nearly 2,000 light-years away, almost 3 times as far as fellow belt stars Alnitak and Mintaka. Though Rigel and Betelgeuse apparently shine brighter in planet Earth's sky, that makes more distant Alnilam intrinsically (in absolute magnitude) the brightest of the familiar stars in Orion. In the Hipparcus catalog, errors in measured parallaxes for Orion's stars can translate in to distance errors of a 100 light-years or so. via NASA https://ift.tt/32L2BFH

Arp 78: Peculiar Galaxy in Aries


(xxxedit and linkxxx) Peculiar spiral galaxy Arp 78 is found within the boundaries of the head strong constellation Aries, some 100 million light-years beyond the stars and nebulae of our Milky Way galaxy. Also known as NGC 772, the island universe is over 100,000 light-years across and sports a single prominent outer spiral arm in this detailed cosmic portrait. Its brightest companion galaxy, compact NGC 770, is toward the upper right of the larger spiral. NGC 770's fuzzy, elliptical appearance contrasts nicely with a spiky foreground Milky Way star in matching yellowish hues. Tracking along sweeping dust lanes and lined with young blue star clusters, Arp 78's large spiral arm is likely due to gravitational tidal interactions. Faint streams of material seem to connect Arp 78 with its nearby companion galaxies. via NASA https://ift.tt/3mzKslW

A New View of Jupiter's Storms


A unique and exciting detail of Hubble’s snapshot appears at mid-northern latitudes as a bright, white, stretched-out storm traveling around the planet at 350 miles per hour. via NASA https://ift.tt/2ZKuI5U

Solar Cycle 25 Begins


The general trend of monthly sunspot data now confirms that the minimum of the approximately 11 year cycle of solar activity occurred in December 2019, marking the start of Solar Cycle 25. That quiet Sun, at minimum activity, appears on the right of this split hemispherical view. In contrast, the left side shows the active Sun at the recognized maximum of Solar Cycle 24, captured in April 2014. The extreme ultraviolet images from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory highlight coronal loops and active regions in the light of highly ionized iron atoms. Driving the space weather around our fair planet, Solar Cycle 24 was a relatively calm one and predictions are that cycle 25 will be calm too. The cycle 25 activity maximum is expected in July 2025. Solar Cycle 1, the first solar cycle determined from early records of sunspot data, is considered to begin with a minimum in February 1755. via NASA https://ift.tt/35IRTRP

NASA Image Shows Fires, Hurricanes Across the U.S.


NASA's Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the United States on Sep. 15, 2020, showing the fires in the West, the smoke from those fires drifting over the country, several hurricanes converging from different angles. via NASA https://ift.tt/3iFZmoo

Gravel Ejected from Asteroid Bennu


Why does asteroid Bennu eject gravel into space? No one is sure. The discovery, occurring during several episodes by NASA's visiting ORISIS-REx spacecraft, was unexpected. Leading ejection hypotheses include impacts by Sun-orbiting meteoroids, sudden thermal fractures of internal structures, and the sudden release of a water vapor jet. The featured two-image composite shows an ejection event that occurred in early 2019, with sun-reflecting ejecta seen on the right. Data and simulations show that large gravel typically falls right back to the rotating 500-meter asteroid, while smaller rocks skip around the surface, and the smallest rocks completely escape the low gravity of the Earth approaching, diamond-shaped asteroid. Jets and surface ejection events were thought to be predominantly the domain of comets, responsible for their tails, comas, and later meteor showers on Earth. Robotic OSIRIS-REx arrived at 101955 Bennu in late 2018, and is planned to touchdown to collect a surface sample in October 2020. If all goes well, this sample will then be returned to Earth for a detailed analysis during 2023. Bennu was chosen as the destination for OSIRIS-REx in part because its surface shows potential to reveal organic compounds from the early days of our Solar System, compounds that could have been the building blocks for life on Earth. via NASA https://ift.tt/2FoQKEz

Frank Rubio: From Pilot to Doctor to Astronaut


Dr. Frank Rubio was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for a mission assignment. via NASA https://ift.tt/35FzCFg

Biomarker Phosphine Discovered in the Atmosphere of Venus


Could there be life floating in the atmosphere of Venus? Although Earth's planetary neighbor has a surface considered too extreme for any known lifeform, Venus' upper atmosphere may be sufficiently mild for tiny airborne microbes. This usually disfavored prospect took an unexpected upturn yesterday with the announcement of the discovery of Venusian phosphine. The chemical phosphine (PH3) is a considered a biomarker because it seems so hard to create from routine chemical processes thought to occur on or around a rocky world such as Venus -- but it is known to be created by microbial life on Earth. The featured image of Venus and its thick clouds was taken in two bands of ultraviolet light by the Venus-orbing Akatsuki, a Japanese robotic satellite that has been orbiting the cloud-shrouded world since 2015. The phosphine finding, if confirmed, may set off renewed interest in searching for other indications of life floating high in the atmosphere of our Solar System's second planet out from the Sun. via NASA https://ift.tt/3mmwKD3

She's Back: Kate Rubins Set to Return to Space Station


During her first mission to space and to the International Space Station, Kate Rubins became the first person to sequence DNA in space. via NASA https://ift.tt/3it1ZKc

Corn Moon Rising


A rising moon can be a dramatic sight. A rising Full Corn Moon was captured early this month in time-lapse with a telephoto lens from nearly 30 kilometers away -- making Earth's ascending half-degree companion appear unusually impressive. The image was captured from Portugal, although much of the foreground -- including lights from the village of Puebla de Guzmán -- is in Spain. A Full Corn Moon is the name attributed to a full moon at this time of year by cultures of some northern indigenous peoples of the Americas, as it coincides with the ripening of corn. Note that the Moon does not appear larger when it is nearer the horizon -- its seemingly larger size there is only an illusion. The next full moon -- occurring at the beginning of next month -- will be known as the Full Harvest Moon as it occurs nearest in time to the northern autumnal equinox and the northern field harvests. via NASA https://ift.tt/3kcNbzU

M2 9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula


Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die? Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured here, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expended gas frequently forms an impressive display called a planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousands of years. M2-9, a butterfly planetary nebula 2100 light-years away shown in representative colors, has wings that tell a strange but incomplete tale. In the center, two stars orbit inside a gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto. The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the disk creating the bipolar appearance. Much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause and shape planetary nebulae. via NASA https://ift.tt/3kaHqmi

Hubble Stows a Pocketful of Stars


Globular cluster NGC 1805, a tight grouping of thousands of stars is, located near the edge of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way. In the dense center of one of these clusters, stars are 100 to 1,000 times closer together than the nearest stars are to our Sun. via NASA https://ift.tt/3iqlYJy

The Reappearance of Mars


Mars reappears just beyond the Moon's dark limb in this stack of sharp video frames captured on September 6. Of course to reappear it had to disappear in the first place. It did that over an hour earlier when the sunlit southern edge of the waning gibbous Moon passed in front of the Red Planet as seen from Maceio, Brazil. The lunar occultation came as the Moon was near apogee, about 400,000 kilometers away. Mars was almost 180 times more distant. It was the fourth lunar occultation of Mars visible from planet Earth in 2020. Visible from some southern latitudes, the fifth lunar occultation of Mars in 2020 will take place on October 3 when the Moon and Mars are both nearly opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. via NASA https://ift.tt/2GKtkJP

Be a NASA Flight Director


Not every flight director is a legend, but some are. Take Eugene Kranz, for example. via NASA https://ift.tt/33f8zxE

Jupiter s Swimming Storm


A bright storm head with a long turbulent wake swims across Jupiter in these sharp telescopic images of the Solar System's ruling gas giant. Captured on August 26, 28, and September 1 (left to right) the storm approximately doubles in length during that period. Stretching along the jetstream of the planet's North Temperate Belt it travels eastward in successive frames, passing the Great Red Spot and whitish Oval BA, famous storms in Jupiter's southern hemisphere. Galilean moons Callisto and Io are caught in the middle frame. In fact, telescopic skygazers following Jupiter in planet Earth's night have reported dramatic fast moving storm outbreaks over the past few weeks in Jupiter's North Temperate Belt. via NASA https://ift.tt/32bVZjo

California's Creek Fire at Night


This NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite image from Sept. 7, 2020, shows the night band image of the Creek Fire at night as well as the smoke from the fire causing lights at night to diffuse or "bloom." via NASA https://ift.tt/33bCZRt

Pleiades: The Seven Sisters Star Cluster


Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Even if you have, you probably have never seen it as large and clear as this. Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the bright stars of the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. With a long exposure from a dark location, though, the dust cloud surrounding the Pleiades star cluster becomes very evident. The featured exposure covers a sky area several times the size of the full moon. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades lies about 400 light years away toward the constellation of the Bull (Taurus). A common legend with a modern twist is that one of the brighter stars faded since the cluster was named, leaving only six of the sister stars visible to the unaided eye. The actual number of Pleiades stars visible, however, may be more or less than seven, depending on the darkness of the surrounding sky and the clarity of the observer's eyesight. via NASA https://ift.tt/3k0p2fP

Star Trek and NASA: 54 Years and Counting


Star Trek debuted 54 years ago on Sept. 8, 1966. via NASA https://ift.tt/3jY79OE

GW190521: Unexpected Black Holes Collide


How do black holes like this form? The two black holes that spiraled together to produce the gravitational wave event GW190521 were not only the most massive black holes ever seen by LIGO and VIRGO so far, their masses -- 66 and 85 solar masses -- were unprecedented and unexpected. Lower mass black holes, below about 65 solar masses are known to form in supernova explosions. Conversely, higher mass black holes, above about 135 solar masses, are thought to be created by very massive stars imploding after they use up their weight-bearing nuclear-fusion-producing elements. How such intermediate mass black holes came to exist is yet unknown, although one hypothesis holds that they result from consecutive collisions of stars and black holes in dense star clusters. Featured is an illustration of the black holes just before collision, annotated with arrows indicating their spin axes. In the illustration, the spiral waves indicate the production of gravitational radiation, while the surrounding stars highlight the possibility that the merger occurred in a star cluster. Seen last year but emanating from an epoch when the universe was only about half its present age (z ~ 0.8), black hole merger GW190521 is the farthest yet detected, to within measurement errors. via NASA https://ift.tt/2ZiZuTn

The Milky Way over St Michaels Mount


Where do land and sky converge? On every horizon -- but in this case the path on the ground leads to St Michael's Mount (Cornish: Karrek Loos yn Koos), a small historic island in Cornwall, England. The Mount is usually surrounded by shallow water, but at low tide is spanned by a human-constructed causeway. The path on the sky, actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, also appears to lead to St Michael's Mount, but really lies far in the distance. The red nebula in the Milky Way, just above the castle, is the Lagoon Nebula, while bright Jupiter shines to the left, and a luminous meteor flashes to the right. The foreground and background images of this featured composite were taken on the same July night and from the same location. Although meteors are fleeting and the Milky Way disk shifts in the night as the Earth turns, Jupiter will remain prominent in the sunset sky into December. via NASA https://ift.tt/3lUdEUt

M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble


This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The featured image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presentedi in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second. via NASA https://ift.tt/35e9ssP

A Falcon 9 Moon


Illuminating planet Earth's night, full moons can have many names. This year the last full moon of northern hemisphere summer was on September 2, known to some as the Full Corn Moon. A few days earlier on August 30 this almost full moon rose just before sunset though, shining through cloudy skies over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida's Space Coast. A well-timed snapshot caught the glare of rocket engines firing below the lunar disk, a Falcon 9 rocket's first stage successfully returning to Cape Canaveral's landing zone 1. About 9 minutes earlier, the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had launched the SAOCOM 1B satellite toward polar orbit. The fourth launch for this reusable Falcon 9 first stage, it was the first launch to a polar orbit from Cape Canaveral since 1969. via NASA https://ift.tt/32U1faw

Completing the Roman Telescope's Primary Mirror


The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s primary mirror, which will collect and focus light from cosmic objects near and far, has been completed. via NASA https://ift.tt/350wOlI

The Wizard Nebula


Open star cluster NGC 7380 is still embedded in its natal cloud of interstellar gas and dust popularly known as the Wizard Nebula. Seen on the left, with foreground and background stars along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy it lies some 8,000 light-years distant, toward the constellation Cepheus. In apparent size on the sky, a full moon would cover the 4 million year young cluster and associated nebula, normally much too faint to be seen by eye. Made with telescope and camera firmly planted on Earth, the image reveals multi light-year sized shapes and structures of cosmic gas and dust within the Wizard though, in a color palette made popular in Hubble Space Telescope images. Recorded with narrowband filters, the visible wavelength light from the nebula's hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur atoms is transformed into green, blue, and red colors in the final digital composite. via NASA https://ift.tt/31W39YK

Booster Test for Future Space Launch System Flights


The first solid rocket booster test for Space Launch System (SLS) missions beyond Artemis III seen here during a two-minute hot fire test, Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at the T-97 Northrop Grumman test facility in Promontory, Utah. via NASA https://ift.tt/3hP00j4

A Halo for Andromeda


M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is the closest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way. Some 2.5 million light-years distant it shines in Earth's night sky as a small, faint, elongated cloud just visible to the unaided eye. Invisible to the eye though, its enormous halo of hot ionized gas is represented in purplish hues for this digital illustration of our neighboring galaxy above rocky terrain. Mapped by Hubble Space Telescope observations of the absorption of ultraviolet light against distant quasars, the extent and make-up of Andromeda's gaseous halo has been recently determined by the AMIGA project. A reservoir of material for future star formation, Andromeda's halo of diffuse plasma was measured to extend around 1.3 million light-years or more from the galaxy. That's about half way to the Milky Way, likely putting it in contact with the diffuse gaseous halo of our own galaxy. via NASA https://ift.tt/3jE5lu7

Mars's Twin Peaks


NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission landed on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997. It's tiny rover, named Sojourner after abolitionist Sojourner Truth, spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain. via NASA https://ift.tt/2YXyQiF

How many moons do you see? Many people would say one, referring to the Earth's Moon, prominent on the lower left. But take a closer look at the object on the upper right. That seeming-star is actually the planet Jupiter, and your closer look might reveal that it is not alone – it is surrounded by some of its largest moons. From left to right these Galilean Moons are Io, Ganymende, Europa and Callisto. These moons orbit the Jovian world just like the planets of our Solar System orbit the Sun, in a line when seen from the side. The featured single shot was captured from Cancun, Mexico last week as Luna, in its orbit around the Earth, glided past the distant planet. Even better views of Jupiter are currently being captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft, now in a looping orbit around the Solar System's largest planet. Earth's Moon will continue to pass nearly in front of both Jupiter and Saturn once a month (moon-th) as the two giant planets approach their own great conjunction in December. via NASA https://ift.tt/2EOSHJR

Skylab Commander Jerry Carr Trains for His Mission


Carr passed away on Aug. 26, 2020. “NASA and the nation have lost a pioneer of long duration spaceflight," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Read the statement. via NASA https://ift.tt/2YVhuD1

Salt Water Remnants on Ceres


Does Ceres have underground pockets of water? Ceres, the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, was thought to be composed of rock and ice. At the same time, Ceres was known to have unusual bright spots on its surface. These bright spots were clearly imaged during Dawn's exciting approach in 2015. Analyses of Dawn images and spectra indicated that the bright spots arise from the residue of highly-reflective salt water that used to exist on Ceres' surface but evaporated. Recent analysis indicates that some of this water may have originated from deep inside Ceres, indicating Ceres to be a kindred spirit with several Solar System moons, also thought to harbor deep water pockets. The featured video shows in false-color pink the bright evaporated brine named Cerealia Facula in Occator Crater. In 2018, the mission-successful but fuel-depleted Dawn spacecraft was placed in a distant parking orbit, keeping it away from the Ceres' surface for at least 20 years to avoid interfering with any life that might there exist. via NASA https://ift.tt/2Dm7Ula

Sunrise Shadows Over the Philippine Sea


As the International Space Station orbited more than 200 miles above our home planet, the crew caught this glimpse of the sunrise casting long shadows over a cloudy Philippine Sea. via NASA https://ift.tt/2ELAaOm

SS 433 is one of the most exotic star systems known. Its unremarkable name stems from its inclusion in a catalog of Milky Way stars which emit radiation characteristic of atomic hydrogen. Its remarkable behavior stems from a compact object, a black hole or neutron star, which has produced an accretion disk with jets. Because the disk and jets from SS 433 resemble those surrounding supermassive black holes in the centers of distant galaxies, SS 433 is considered a micro-quasar. As illustrated in the animated featured video based on observational data, a massive, hot, normal star is locked in orbit with the compact object. As the video starts, material is shown being gravitationally ripped from the normal star and falling onto an accretion disk. The central star also blasts out jets of ionized gas in opposite directions – each at about 1/4 the speed of light. The video then pans out to show a top view of the precessing jets producing an expanding spiral. From even greater distances, the dissipating jets are then visualized near the heart of supernova remnant W50. Two years ago, SS 433 was unexpectedly found by the HAWC detector array in Mexico to emit unusually high energy (TeV-range) gamma-rays. Surprises continue, as a recent analysis of archival data taken by NASA's Fermi satellite find a gamma-ray source -- separated from the central stars as shown -- that pulses in gamma-rays with a period of 162 days – the same as SS 433's jet precession period – for reasons yet unknown. via NASA https://ift.tt/2EwsCiR

NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars


How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it one of the most massive stars known. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the featured image. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357. Appearing perhaps like a Gothic cathedral, energetic stars near the center appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon. via NASA https://ift.tt/31D4Lqn

Martian Chiaroscuro


Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface. Recorded on January 24, 2014 by the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers. From 250 kilometers above the Red Planet the camera is looking down at a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was about 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests were caught in full sunlight. A long, cold winter was coming to the southern hemisphere and bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, one of the oldest operating spacecraft at the Red Planet, celebrated the 15th anniversary of its launch from planet Earth on August 12. via NASA https://ift.tt/3lvjsna

Hubble Views Edge of Stellar Blast


This Hubble Space Telescope image depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, the result of the "death" of a star 20 times more massive than our Sun 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Light from this supernova takes around 2,400 years to reach Earth. via NASA https://ift.tt/3gzjyqd