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  • richardmitnick 6:01 am on March 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “A young star takes centre stage” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    2 March 2015

    1
    Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble
    Karl Stapelfeldt (GSFC), B. Stecklum and A. Choudhary (Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany)
    Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2

    NASA Hubble WFPC2

    With its helical appearance resembling a snail’s shell, this reflection nebula seems to spiral out from a luminous central star in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

    The star in the centre, known as V1331 Cyg and located in the dark cloud LDN 981 — or, more commonly, Lynds 981 — had previously been defined as a T Tauri star. A T Tauri is a young star — or Young Stellar Object — that is starting to contract to become a main sequence star similar to the Sun.

    What makes V1331Cyg special is the fact that we look almost exactly at one of its poles. Usually, the view of a young star is obscured by the dust from the circumstellar disc and the envelope that surround it. However, with V1331Cyg we are actually looking in the exact direction of a jet driven by the star that is clearing the dust and giving us this magnificent view.

    This view provides an almost undisturbed view of the star and its immediate surroundings allowing astronomers to study it in greater detail and look for features that might suggest the formation of a very low-mass object in the outer circumstellar disc.

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 4:58 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “New fulldome clips for planetariums” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    24 February 2015
    Georgia Bladon
    ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6855
    Cell: +44 7816291261
    E-mail: gbladon@partner.eso.org

    1

    ESA/Hubble is releasing a series of stunning fulldome clips, freely available to planetariums across the globe as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. The clips are in 4k and 8k fulldome format and rendered for uni-directional domes.

    Today the first four clips have been released and can be downloaded from the website. Another clip will be released on the 24th of each month until the end of the year, so don’t forget to keep checking.

    The clips released today are:

    A zoom into Hubble’s iconic view of RS Puppis.
    An artist’s impression of Hubble rising over the Earth.
    An exploration of the huge galaxy cluster Abell 2218.
    A pan of the famous Carina Nebula, or “Mystic Mountain”.

    If you don’t want to miss any of our fulldome videos, we recommend that you subscribe to our fulldome RSS feeds:

    http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/feed/category/dome/
    http://www.eso.org/public/videos/feed/category/fulldome/

    Links

    Hubble anniversary fulldome clips web page.
    Free Fulldome clips at ESA/Hubble (4k and 8k)
    Information on other Hubble 25th anniversary activities.
    ESO’s free fulldome clips and shows (4k and 8k)
    ESO’s free 3D models
    ESO’s free fulldome stills
    ESO’s free 360 degree panoramas

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 4:21 am on February 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “A galactic cloak for an exploding star” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    23 February 2015

    1

    The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4424, located in the constellation of Virgo. It is not visible with the naked eye but has been captured here with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

    Although it may not be obvious from this image, NGC 4424 is in fact a spiral galaxy. In this image it is seen more or less edge on, but from above you would be able to see the arms of the galaxy wrapping around its centre to give the characteristic spiral form .

    In 2012 astronomers observed a supernova in NGC 4424 — a violent explosion marking the end of a star’s life. During a supernova explosion, a single star can often outshine an entire galaxy. However, the supernova in NGC 4424, dubbed SN 2012cg, cannot be seen here as the image was taken ten years prior to the explosion. Along the central region of the galaxy, clouds of dust block the light from distant stars and create dark patches.

    To the left of NGC 4424 there are two bright objects in the frame. The brightest is another, smaller galaxy known as LEDA 213994 and the object closer to NGC 4424 is an anonymous star in our Milky Way.

    A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Gilles Chapdelaine.

    Credit:

    ESA/Hubble & NASA
    Acknowledgement: Gilles Chapdelaine

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 4:11 am on February 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “Hubble Gets Best View of Circumstellar Debris Disk Distorted by Planet” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    February 19, 2015
    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    1
    The 2012 image (bottom) is the most detailed picture to date of a large, edge-on, gas-and-dust disk encircling the 20-million year-old star Beta Pictoris. The 1997 Hubble image (top) shows the disk’s dust distribution has barely changed over 15 years. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, University of Arizona

    Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to take the most detailed edge on picture to date of a large disk of gas and dust encircling the 20 million-year-old star Beta Pictoris.

    Beta Pictoris is the only star to date where astronomers have detected an embedded giant planet in a directly-imaged debris disk. The planet, which was discovered in 2009, goes around the star once every 18 to 20 years. This allows scientists to study in a comparably short time how a large planet distorts the massive gas and dust encircling the star. These observations should yield new insights into how planets are born around young stars.

    The new visible-light Hubble image traces the disk to within about 650 million miles of the star. The giant planet orbits at 900 million miles, and was directly imaged in infrared light by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope six years ago.

    2
    A team of French astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered an object located very close to the star Beta Pictoris, and which apparently lies inside its disc. With a projected distance from the star of only 8 times the Earth-Sun distance, this object is most likely the giant planet suspected from the peculiar shape of the disc and the previously observed infall of comets onto the star. It would then be the first image of a planet that is as close to its host star as Saturn is to the Sun.

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO/VLT

    “Some computer simulations predicted a complicated structure for the inner disk due to the gravitational pull by the giant planet. The new images reveal the inner disk and confirm the predicted structures. This finding validates models that will help us to deduce the presence of other exoplanets in other disks,” said Daniel Apai of the University of Arizona, Tucson. These structures include a warp in the inner disk caused by the giant planet.

    When comparing the latest 2012 images to Hubble images taken in 1997, astronomers find that the disk’s dust distribution has barely changed over 15 years despite the fact that the entire structure is orbiting the star like a carousel. This means the disk’s structure is smooth and continuous, at least over the interval between the Hubble observations.

    In 1984 Beta Pictoris was the very first star discovered to be surrounded by a bright disk of dust and debris. Since then, Beta Pictoris has been an object of intense scrutiny with Hubble and ground-based telescopes.

    The disk is easily seen because of its edge-on angle, and is especially bright due to a very large amount of starlight-scattering dust. What’s more, Beta Pictoris is 63 light-years away, closer to Earth than most of the other known disk systems.

    Though nearly all of the approximately two-dozen known light-scattering circumstellar disks have been viewed by Hubble to date, Beta Pictoris is the first and best example of what a young planetary system looks like.

    For one thing, the Beta Pictoris disk is exceptionally dusty. This may be due to recent major collisions among unseen planet and asteroid-sized objects embedded within the disk. In particular, a bright lobe of dust and gas on the southwestern side of the disk may be the result of the pulverization of a Mars-sized object in a giant collision.

    Both the 1997 and 2012 images were taken in visible light with Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in its coronagraphic imaging mode. A coronagraph blocks out the glare of the central star so that the disk can be seen.

    NASA Hubble Imaging Spectrograph
    NASA Hubble STIS
    STIS

    For images and more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

    http://hubblesite.org/news/2015/06

    http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 7:48 am on February 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From BBC: “Hubble’s star refuses to fade” 

    BBC
    BBC

    17 February 2015
    Jonathan Amos

    1
    Hubble has wowed us all with its stunning views of the cosmos

    Scientists say they have every hope that the Hubble Space Telescope will keep working for at least another five years, perhaps more.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    The famous observatory is about to celebrate its 25th birthday.

    Key figures on the mission told a major conference in California that the instruments it uses to detect objects on the sky are all in perfect health.

    A big portion of Hubble’s time is now dedicated to finding the very first stars to shine in the Universe.

    After its ignominious start in 1990 when it launched with a mirror that could not focus properly, the space telescope has gone on to notch a list of remarkable discoveries.

    From confirming there were gigantic black holes in space to refining the age of the Universe – Hubble has had a part in many of the big breakthroughs in modern astronomy.

    The fact that it still does peerless science is down to all those visits from astronauts who repaired and upgraded its systems.

    After the retirement of the space shuttle, those sorts of interventions are no longer possible but Hubble is said to be in superb shape.

    “The last servicing mission was in 2009 and the astronauts did an incredible job,” said Dr Jennifer Wiseman, Nasa’s Hubble project scientist.

    “They put in new instruments that we had developed, and batteries and gyroscopes – they basically refreshed the observatory to a terrific state.”

    In the past, Hubble suffered from degradation in its six gyroscopes – the spinning devices that allow it to point very precisely in space. Five years on from the installation of the current batch, only one is showing particular signs of wear.

    Electronics in space must cope with a very harsh radiation environment, and a major malfunction could happen at any moment. But right now, the future for Hubble looks very strong.

    “At whatever point that it’s no longer able to produce science, or to produce very good science – we’ll have to make that heart-wrenching decision to stop operating the observatory, but we don’t see any reason why that should be anytime soon,” Dr Wiseman said.

    She was speaking with other panellists at a special Hubble 25th anniversary session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    2
    The Butterfly Nebula [NGC 6302]: One of the first pictures to be released following the final astronaut servicing mission

    The conference was told that the big desire is to see Hubble operate alongside its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, for at least a couple of years.

    NASA James Webb Telescope
    NASA/WEbb

    Webb is due to launch in 2018, so at the moment that objective looks well within reach and would allow for a smooth transition.

    Hubble is currently engaged in what is called the Frontier Fields programme.

    By looking towards large galaxy clusters, it can use their gravity to zoom in on even more distant objects in the Universe.

    This so-called “gravitational lensing” technique allows the telescope to probe galaxies it could not normally see – targets that are 10-50 times intrinsically fainter than any seen before.

    Some of these are likely to be the founding galaxies in the Universe, which came together just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    Dr Frank Summers from the Space Telescope Science Institute said the project was considered such a high priority that a large chunk of Hubble’s observing opportunity had been reserved for it.

    “Frontier Fields is using 840 orbits on Hubble. We have 3,000 orbits a year to give away, so that is a tonne of time,” he told the meeting.

    Although Hubble has to use a “zoom lens” to see these distant objects, James Webb will not. Its larger mirror and advanced infrared detectors mean it will see them directly. But Hubble has been asked blaze the trail, and the longer it can work the more targets it will find for Webb to follow up.

    3
    For its 25th birthday, Hubble has returned to what has probably become its signature image – the Eagle Nebula, aka the “Pillars of Creation

    Eagle Nebula
    Eagle Nebula, showing the location of the Pillars

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 5:48 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “Panta rhei — motion in the Milky Way” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    16 February 2015

    1

    Panta rhei is a simplified version of the famous greek philosopher Heraclitus’ teachings. It basically means, everything flows. And everything in the Universe is indeed continually on the move, spiralling and shifting through space.

    Some cosmic objects move a little further than others — take the subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, a globular cluster of stars known as Palomar 12.

    Although it currently lies on the outskirts of the Milky Way’s halo, Palomar 12 was not born here. When astronomers first studied this cluster, they were puzzled by its strangely young age when compared to the other clusters in the galaxy. It appeared to be around 30% younger than other Milky Way globulars. Surely if it had been born within our galaxy, it would have sprung to life at a similar time to its cluster companions?

    A bit more digging revealed that Palomar 12 was actually ripped from its initial home, the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical galaxy, around 1.7 billion years ago via tidal interactions between its former home and our galaxy. The dwarf galaxy that Palomar 12 once called home is a satellite galaxy to ours, and closely orbits around us — even occasionally passing through the plane of our galaxy. In fact, it is being slowly torn apart and consumed by the Milky Way.

    The sparkling stars in this picture were imaged by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.

    NASA Hubble ACS

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 6:34 pm on February 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “A smiling lens” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    9 February 2015

    1

    In the centre of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 — and it seems to be smiling.

    You can make out its two orange eyes and white button nose. In the case of this “happy face”, the two eyes are very bright galaxies and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

    Galaxy clusters are the most massive structures in the Universe and exert such a powerful gravitational pull that they warp the spacetime around them and act as cosmic lenses which can magnify, distort and bend the light behind them. This phenomenon, crucial to many of Hubble’s discoveries, can be explained by [Albert] Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    In this special case of gravitational lensing, a ring — known as an Einstein Ring — is produced from this bending of light, a consequence of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer and resulting in the ring-like structure we see here.

    Hubble has provided astronomers with the tools to probe these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects, allowing us to peer further into the early Universe than ever before. This object was studied by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of a survey of strong lenses.

    NASA Hubble WFPC2
    WFPC2 (no longer in service)

    NASA Hubble WFC3
    WFC3

    A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on February 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “March of the moons” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    5 February 2015
    Georgia Bladon
    ESA/Hubble Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +44 7816291261
    Email: gbladon@partner.eso.org

    These new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images capture a rare occurrence as three of Jupiter’s largest moons parade across the giant gas planet’s banded face. Hubble took a string of images of the event which show the three satellites — Europa, Callisto and Io — in action.

    1

    There are four Galilean satellites — named after the 17th century scientist Galileo Galilei who discovered them [1]. They complete orbits around Jupiter ranging from two to seventeen days in duration. The moons can commonly be seen transiting the face of Jupiter and casting shadows onto its layers of cloud. However, seeing three of them transiting the face of Jupiter at the same time is rare, occurring only once or twice a decade.

    The image on the left shows the Hubble observation at the beginning of the event. On the left is the moon Callisto and on the right, Io. The shadows from Callisto, Io and Europa are strung out from left to right. Europa itself cannot be seen in the image.

    The image on the right shows the end of the event, just over 40 minutes later. Europa has entered the frame at lower left with slower-moving Callisto above and to the right of it. Meanwhile Io — which orbits significantly closer to Jupiter and so moves much more quickly — is approaching the eastern limb of the planet. Whilst Callisto’s shadow seems hardly to have moved, Io’s has set over the planet’s eastern edge and Europa’s has risen further in the west. The event is also shown from start to finish in a video.

    Missing from this sequence is the Galilean moon Ganymede which was outside Hubble’s field of view.

    The moons of Jupiter have very distinctive colours. The smooth icy surface of Europa is yellow-white, the volcanic sulphur surface of Io is orange and the surface of Callisto, which is one of the oldest and most cratered surfaces known in the Solar System, is a brownish colour.

    The images were taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 in visible light on 23 January 2015.

    NASA Hubble WFC3
    WFC3

    Whilst Hubble captures these moons in great clarity they can also be seen with a small telescope or even a decent pair of binoculars. Why not try it at home?

    Notes

    [1] These were among the first observations ever made using a telescope. They revolutionised our understanding of the Universe, and finally laid to rest the theory that the Earth is the centre of the Solar System.

    See the full article here.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 5:48 pm on February 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Hubble: “Dancing on the edge” 

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Hubble

    2 February 2015

    Galaxies can take many shapes and be oriented any way relative to us in the sky. This can make it hard to figure out their actual morphology, as a galaxy can look very different from different viewpoints. A special case is when we are lucky enough to observe a spiral galaxy directly from its edge, providing us with a spectacular view like the one seen in this picture of the week.

    1

    This is NGC 7814, also known as the “Little Sombrero”. Its larger namesake the Sombrero Galaxy is another stunning example of an edge-on galaxy — in fact, the “Little Sombrero” is about the same size as its bright namesake at about 60 000 light-years across, but as it lies further away, it appears smaller in the sky.

    NGC 7814 has a bright central bulge and a bright halo of glowing gas extending outwards into space. The dusty spiral arms appear as dark streaks. they consist of dusty material that absorbs and blocks light from the galactic centre behind it. The field of view of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image would be very impressive even without NGC 7814 in front; nearly all the objects seen in this image are galaxies as well.

    A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Josh Barrington.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 4:18 pm on February 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “XMM-Newton and Hubble view of Jupiter’s Ghost” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    02/02/2015
    No Writer Credit

    1

    Copyright ESA/XMM-Newton & Y.-H. Chu/R.A. Gruendl/M.A. Guerrero/N. Ruiz (X-ray); NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope & A. Hajian/B. Balick (optical)

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA HUbble

    Names of astronomical objects are often ambiguous, especially when the historical designation of a certain class of celestial body preceded their physical understanding and was based on their appearance in the sky.

    A notoriously abstruse case of nomenclature is that of planetary nebulas, the picturesque remains of low- and intermediate-mass stars. In contrast to what happens to their more massive counterparts, stars with masses from 0.8 to 8 times that of the Sun do not end their life exploding as powerful supernovas but peacefully puff up, releasing their outer layers in the surrounding space and creating beautifully shaped clouds in the process.

    Although these stellar demises have nothing to do with planets, astronomers in the 18th century, who first noticed them, were baffled by their roundish appearance, and gave them the misleading name of planetary nebulas.

    And just to make it more complicated, the planetary nebula shown in this image carries an even more peculiar name. Since it spans a disc on the sky roughly as large as that covered by the planet Jupiter, it received the curious moniker Jupiter’s Ghost. Of course, this object is also known through its catalogue designations, the most recent of which, since the late 19th century, is NGC 3242.

    The image reveals how mighty winds released by the dying star – the white dwarf star at the centre – are shaping the double-shell structure of the nebula. The blue glow filling the inner bubble represents X-ray emission from hot gas, heated up to over two million degrees by shocks in the fast stellar winds, gusting at about 2400 km/s against the ambient gas.

    The green glow marks cooler concentrations of gas seen in optical light through the emission of oxygen, revealing the edge of the inner shell in contrast to the more diffuse gas making up the outer shell. The two flame-shaped features, visible in red to the upper right and lower left of the inner bubble, are pockets of even cooler gas, seen also in optical light through the emission of nitrogen.

    Jupiter’s Ghost lies some 3000 light-years away, and it is visible in the southern constellation Hydra, the water snake.

    This image combines X-ray data collected in 2003 by ESA’s XMM-Newton (blue) with optical observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (green and red). It was first published on the XMM-Newton image gallery.

    See the full article here.

    Another view:

    2
    A Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of NGC 3242
    17 December 1997
    Author Bruce Balick and Jason Alexander (University of Washington), Arsen Hajian (U.S. Naval Observatory), Yervant Terzian (Cornell University ), , Mario Perinotto (University of Florence), Patrizio Patriarchi (Arcetri Observatory) and NASA/ESA

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    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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