galactic

From National Geographic:

Supernova’s Speeding Bullet

Image courtesy NASA/CXC/Penn State and STScI/UIUC

When a dying star exploded, it shot out a “bullet” of matter that’s speeding away at about five million miles (eight million kilometers) an hour, as seen in a new picture of the supernova remnant N49.

The image, released Monday, combines visible-light data from the Hubble Space Telescope (yellow) and x-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue). Rich in silicon, sulfur, and neon, the bullet appears to be traveling away from a bright source of light near the top of the remnant, which astronomers say might be the neutron star left over after the massive star collapsed and exploded.

“Drifter” Galaxy

Image courtesy Travis Rector, Gemini Observatory/University of Alaska

Light from bubbles, shock waves, and clusters of newborn stars spangles the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 1313 in a composite picture released May 25 by the Gemini Observatory.

The image contains data on three wavelengths of visible light, as seen by the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Red represents ionized hydrogen, green shows ionized oxygen, and blue shows ionized helium.

NGC 1313 is a starburst galaxy, or one that shows an unusually high rate of star formation. Normally galaxies get a star-making boost from interactions with their neighbors—close galactic encounters can create gravitational effects that ignite stellar birth. But NGC 1313 is a drifter, far from other galaxy groups, so the reason for its starburst activity is a mystery.

More, here.

Heart and Soul

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

A new infrared picture is giving astronomers an unprecedented glimpse into the “heart” and “soul” of the Perseus Arm, one of the spiral arms of our Milky Way galaxy.

The Heart nebula (right) was named for its resemblance to a human heart. Like its neighbor the Soul nebula, the swirling cloud of gas and dust is a star-forming region. Intense radiation and winds from the newborn stars inside have carved giant bubbles in these two clouds, giving the nebulae their distinctive shapes.

The new picture, released May 24 by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, offers a glimpse into the cooler, dustier crevices of the clouds, where gas and dust are just beginning to coalesce into new stars.

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