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  • richardmitnick 8:07 am on March 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Kitt Peak National Observatory, ,   

    From ESA: “Eye-catching celestial helix” 2003 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    29/04/2003

    In one of the largest and most detailed celestial images ever, astronomers today unveil the coil-shaped Helix Nebula to celebrate Astronomy Day.

    helix
    Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO)
    Instrument ACS

    NASA Hubble ACS
    Advanced Camera for Surveys

    This ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a fine web of filamentary ‘bicycle-spoke’ features embedded in the colourful red and blue gas ring, which is one of the nearest planetary nebulae to Earth. The nebula is nearby so it is nearly half the size of the diameter of the full Moon. Hubble astronomers took several exposures with the Advanced Camera for Surveys to capture most of it. They then combined Hubble views with a wider photo taken by Kitt Peak’s Mosaic Camera.

    mosaic
    Mosiac

    Another view
    ano
    This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix Nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye.

    The nebula, located about 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, belongs to a class of objects called planetary nebulae. Discovered in the 18th century, these colorful beauties were named for their resemblance to gas-giant planets like Jupiter.

    Planetary nebulae are the remains of stars that once looked a lot like our sun. When sun-like stars die, they puff out their outer gaseous layers. These layers are heated by the hot core of the dead star, called a white dwarf, and shine with infrared and visible colors. Our own sun will blossom into a planetary nebula when it dies in about five billion years.

    In Spitzer’s infrared view of the Helix nebula, the eye looks more like that of a green monster’s. Infrared light from the outer gaseous layers is represented in blues and greens. The white dwarf is visible as a tiny white dot in the center of the picture. The red color in the middle of the eye denotes the final layers of gas blown out when the star died.

    The brighter red circle in the very center is the glow of a dusty disk circling the white dwarf (the disk itself is too small to be resolved). This dust, discovered by Spitzer’s infrared heat-seeking vision, was most likely kicked up by comets that survived the death of their star. Before the star died, its comets and possibly planets would have orbited the star in an orderly fashion. But when the star blew off its outer layers, the icy bodies and outer planets would have been tossed about and into each other, resulting in an ongoing cosmic dust storm. Any inner planets in the system would have burned up or been swallowed as their dying star expanded.

    So far, the Helix nebula is one of only a few dead-star systems in which evidence for comet survivors has been found.
    This image is made up of data from Spitzer’s infrared array camera and multiband imaging photometer. Blue shows infrared light of 3.6 to 4.5 microns; green shows infrared light of 5.8 to 8 microns; and red shows infrared light of 24 microns.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.


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  • richardmitnick 6:08 am on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Kitt Peak National Observatory,   

    From NOAO: “M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, seen with new ODI Camera on WIYN Telescope” 

    NOAO Banner

    NOAO News

    July 25, 2013
    Media Contact:
    Dr. Katy Garmany
    Deputy Press Officer
    National Optical Astronomy Observatory
    950 N Cherry Ave
    Tucson AZ 85719 USA
    +1 520-318-8526
    E-mail: kgarmany@noao.edu

    “The Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) has been a popular night sky target for astronomers for centuries. Charles Messier first identified it in 1773 and listed it as number 51 in his catalog. To him, it looked like a faint, fuzzy object that might be a comet. William Parsons, the 3rd Earl of Rosse, used his 72-inch telescope ‘Leviathan’ to observe the Whirlpool in 1845. Since then, Messier 51 has likely been targeted by virtually every telescope in the northern hemisphere. It is found in the constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) and is a classic example of a spiral galaxy.

    pool
    Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51)

    Now, a new camera on the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory has imaged the Whirlpool Galaxy anew. The wide field of the One Degree Imager (ODI) camera makes it possible to capture the entire galaxy and its companion in one pointing, something that even the Hubble Space Telescope cannot do.

    Indiana University (IU) astronomy professor Katherine Rhode led this effort as part of an imaging survey of spiral and elliptical galaxies. The survey is aimed at understanding how these so-called ‘giant galaxies’ form and evolve.

    ‘The WIYN telescope is an ideal telescope for the survey because of its wide field and because it produces some of the sharpest, highest-quality images possible with a ground-based telescope’, explained Rhode. ‘WIYN’s 3.5-meter mirror is also very efficient at gathering light from astronomical objects, so it allows us to image faint objects, like individual star clusters within the galaxies.'”

    See the full article here.

    NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach.

    Our core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers via peer-review to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

    In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    To communicate the excitement of such world-class scientific research and technology development, NOAO has developed a nationally recognized Education and Public Outreach program. The main goals of the NOAO EPO program are to inspire young people to become explorers in science and research-based technology, and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been historically under-represented in the physics and astronomy science enterprise.

    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is proud to be a US National Node in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009.

    About Our Observatories:
    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO)

    Kitt Peak

    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) has its headquarters in Tucson and operates the Mayall 4-meter, the 3.5-meter WIYN , the 2.1-meter and Coudé Feed, and the 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak Mountain, about 55 miles southwest of the city.

    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

    NOAO Cerro Tolo

    The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is located in northern Chile. CTIO operates the 4-meter, 1.5-meter, 0.9-meter, and Curtis Schmidt telescopes at this site.

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC)

    Gemini North
    Gemini North

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC) at NOAO is the gateway for the U.S. astronomical community to the International Gemini Project: twin 8.1 meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile that provide unprecendented coverage (northern and southern skies) and details of our universe.

    NOAO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.

     
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