Passing Asteroid Arrokoth


What would it look like to pass asteroid Arrokoth? The robotic New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past Arrokoth in January, 3.5 years after the spacecraft passed Pluto. If this object's name doesn't sound familiar, that may be because the distant, double-lobed, Kuiper-belt object was unofficially dubbed Ultima Thule until recently receiving its official name: 486958 Arrokoth. The featured black and white video animates images of Arrokoth taken by New Horizons at different angles as it zoomed by. The video clearly shows Arrokoth's two lobes, and even hints that the larger lobe is significantly flattened. New Horizons found that Arrokoth is different from any known asteroid in the inner Solar System and is likely composed of two joined planetesimals -- the building blocks of planets as they existed billions of years ago. New Horizons continues to speed out of our Solar System gaining about three additional Earth-Sun separations every year. via NASA https://ift.tt/2Kvz1KO

Young Stars in the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud


How do stars form? To help find out, astronomers created this tantalizing false-color composition of dust clouds and embedded newborn stars in infrared wavelengths with WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. The cosmic canvas features one of the closest star forming regions, part of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex some 400 light-years distant near the southern edge of the pronounceable constellation Ophiuchus. After forming along a large cloud of cold molecular hydrogen gas, young stars heat the surrounding dust to produce the infrared glow. Stars in the process of formation, called young stellar objects or YSOs, are embedded in the compact pinkish nebulae seen here, but are otherwise hidden from the prying eyes of optical telescopes. An exploration of the region in penetrating infrared light has detected emerging and newly formed stars whose average age is estimated to be a mere 300,000 years. That's extremely young compared to the Sun's age of 5 billion years. The prominent reddish nebula at the lower right surrounding the star Sigma Scorpii is a reflection nebula produced by dust scattering starlight. This view from WISE, released in 2012, spans almost 2 degrees and covers about 14 light-years at the estimated distance of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud. via NASA https://ift.tt/358m3KP

The Star Streams of NGC 5907


Grand tidal streams of stars seem to surround galaxy NGC 5907. The arcing structures form tenuous loops extending more than 150,000 light-years from the narrow, edge-on spiral, also known as the Splinter or Knife Edge Galaxy. Recorded only in very deep exposures, the streams likely represent the ghostly trail of a dwarf galaxy - debris left along the orbit of a smaller satellite galaxy that was gradually torn apart and merged with NGC 5907 over four billion years ago. Ultimately this remarkable discovery image, from a small robotic observatory in New Mexico, supports the cosmological scenario in which large spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, were formed by the accretion of smaller ones. NGC 5907 lies about 40 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Draco. via NASA https://ift.tt/359zxG2

Hubble Spots a Curious Spiral


Many galaxies we see through telescopes such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the source of this beautiful image, look relatively similar: spiraling arms, a glowing center, and a mixture of bright specks of star formation and dark ripples of cosmic dust weaving throughout. This galaxy, a spiral galaxy named NGC 772, is no exception. via NASA https://ift.tt/2rNn1Om