Astronomy Picture of the Day

 
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LT Олег Фадин #17.01.2004 23:47
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An Intermediate Polar Binary System



How can two stars create such a strange and intricate structure? Most stars are members of multiple-star systems. Some stars are members of close binary systems where material from one star swirls around the other in an accretion disk. Only a handful of stars, however, are members of an intermediate polar, a system featuring a white dwarf star with a magnetic field that significantly pushes out the inner accretion disk, only allowing material to fall down its magnetic poles. Shown above is an artist's depiction of an intermediate polar system, also known as a DQ Hercules system. The foreground white dwarf is so close to the normal star that it strips away its outer atmosphere. As the white dwarf spins, the columns of infalling gas rotate with it. The name intermediate polar derives from observations of emitted light polarized at a level intermediate to non-disk binary systems known as polars. Intermediate polars are a type of cataclysmic variable star system.
 
LT Олег Фадин #17.01.2004 23:50
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Structure in N63A



Explanation: Shells and arcs abound in this false-color, multiwavelength view of supernova remnant N63A, the debris of a massive stellar explosion. The x-ray emission (blue), is from gas heated to 10 million degrees C as knots of fast moving material from the cosmic blast sweep up surrounding interstellar matter. Radio (red) and optical emission (green) are brighter near the central regions where the x-rays seem to be absorbed by denser, cooler material on the side of the expanding debris cloud facing the Earth. Located in the neighboring galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, the apparent age of this supernova remnant is between 2,000 and 5,000 years, its extended glow spanning about 60 light-years. The intriguing image is a composite of x-ray data from the orbiting Chandra Observatory, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope, and radio from the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

 
LT Олег Фадин #17.01.2004 23:52
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Our Galaxy in Stars, Gas, and Dust



The disk of our Milky Way Galaxy is home to hot nebulae, cold dust, and billions of stars. The red nebulae visible in the above contrast-enhanced picture are primarily emission nebulae, glowing clouds of hydrogen gas heated by nearby, bright, young stars. The blue nebulae are primarily reflection nebulae, clouds of gas and fine dust reflecting the light of nearby bright stars. Perhaps the most striking, though, are the areas of darkness, including the Pipe Nebula visible on the image top left. These are lanes of thick dust, many times containing relatively cold molecular clouds of gas. Dust is so plentiful that it obscures the Galactic Center in visible light, hiding its true direction until discovered early last century. The diffuse glow comes from billions of older, fainter stars like our Sun, which are typically much older than any of the nebulae. Most of the mass of our Galaxy remains in a form currently unknown.

 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:05
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NGC 2440: Cocoon of a New White Dwarf



Like a butterfly, a white dwarf star begins its life by casting off a cocoon that enclosed its former self. In this analogy, however, the Sun would be a caterpillar and the ejected shell of gas would become the prettiest of all! The above cocoon, the planetary nebula designated NGC 2440, contains one of the hottest white dwarf stars known. The white dwarf can be seen as the bright dot near the photo's center. Our Sun will eventually become a "white dwarf butterfly", but not for another 5 billion years. The above false color image and was post-processed by Forrest Hamilton.

 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:09
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Spiral Galaxy NGC 3982 Before Supernova



What do stars look like just before they explode? To find out, astronomers are taking detailed images of nearby galaxies now, before any supernova is visible. Hopefully, a star in one of the hundreds of high resolution galaxy images will explode in the coming years. If so, archival images like that taken above by the Hubble Space Telescope can be inspected to find what the star looked like originally. This information is likely important for better understanding of how and why supernovas occur, as well as why some supernovas appear brighter than others. Pictured above, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 3982 displays numerous spiral arms filled with bright stars, blue star clusters, and dark dust lanes. NGC 3982, which spans about 30,000 light years, lies about 60 million light years from Earth and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Ursa Major.

 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:13
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 Flare Well AR 10486



Almost out of view from our fair planet, rotating around the Sun's western edge, giant sunspot region AR 10486 lashed out with another intense solar flare followed by a large coronal mass ejection (CME) on Tuesday, November 4th at about 1950 Universal Time. The flare itself is seen here at the lower right in an extreme ultraviolet image from the sun-staring SOHO spacecraft's EIT camera. Saturating the EIT camera pixels and detectors on other satellites, this giant X-class flare was among the most powerful ever recorded since the 1970s, the third such historic blast from AR 10486 within the last two weeks. While energetic particle radiation from the flare did cause substantial radio interference, the associated CME is not expected to trigger extremely widespread aurorae as it glances off the magnetosphere, unlike the direct hits from last week's CMEs. Say farewell to the mighty AR 10486, for now. For the next two weeks, the sunspot region will be on the Sun's far side.


 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:14
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A Giant Starspot on HD 12545



What could cause a star to have such a large spot? Our Sun itself frequently has sunspots, relatively cool dark magnetic depressions that move across its surface. HD 12545, however, exhibits the largest starspots yet observed. Doppler imaging - the use of slight changes in color caused by the rotation of the star - was used to create this false-color image. The vertical bar on the right gives a temperature scale in kelvins. This giant, binary, RS CVn star, also known as XX Trianguli, is visible with binoculars in the constellation of Triangulum. The starspot is thought to be caused by large magnetic fields that inhibit hot matter from flowing to the surface.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:16
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A Powerful Solar Flare



Yesterday, our Sun produced one of the most powerful solar flares in recorded history. Seen across the electromagnetic spectrum, the Sun briefly became over 100 times brighter in X-rays than normal. Over the next few days, as energetic particles emitted from these regions strike the Earth, satellite communications might be affected and auroras might develop. The flare and resulting CME, emitted from giant sunspot group 10486, was captured above as it happened by the by the LASCO instrument aboard the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite. The disk of the Sun is covered to accentuate surrounding areas. The time-lapse movie shows the tremendous explosion in frames separated in real time by about 30 minutes each. The frames appear progressively noisier as protons from the CME begin to strike the detector. The SOHO satellite has been put in a temporary safe mode to avoid damage from the solar particle storm.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:22
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Lunation



Our Moon's appearance changes nightly. This time-lapse sequence shows what our Moon looks like during a lunation, a complete lunar cycle. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the half illuminated by the Sun first becomes increasingly visible, then decreasingly visible. The Moon always keeps the same face toward the Earth. The Moon's apparent size changes slightly, though, and a slight wobble called a libration is discernable as it progresses along its elliptical orbit. During the cycle, sunlight reflects from the Moon at different angles, and so illuminates different features differently. A full lunation takes about 29.5 days, just under a month (moon-th).
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:23
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Surveyor Slides



Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot and the second human to walk on the Moon, described the lunar landscape as "a magnificent desolation". Dramatic pictures from the Apollo missions to the lunar surface testify to this apt turn of phrase. Near the Apollo 17 landing site, Family Mountain (center background) and the edge of South Massif (left) frame the lunarscape in this photo of astronaut Harrison Schmitt working alongside the lunar roving vehicle. Schmitt and fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan were the last to walk on this magnificent desolation.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:25
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Apollo 11: Catching Some Sun



Bright sunlight glints and long dark shadows dramatize this image of the lunar surface taken by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first to walk on the Moon. Pictured is the mission's lunar module, the Eagle, and spacesuited lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin unfurling a long sheet of foil also known as the Solar Wind Collector. Exposed facing the Sun, the foil trapped atoms streaming outward in the solar wind, ultimately catching a sample of material from the Sun itself. Along with moon rocks and lunar soil samples, the solar wind collector was returned for analysis in earthbound laboratories.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:26
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Apollo 12 Visits Surveyor 3



Apollo 12 was the second mission to land humans on the Moon. The landing site was picked to be near the location of Surveyor 3, a robot spacecraft that had landed on the Moon three years earlier. In the above photograph, taken by lunar module pilot Alan Bean, mission commander Pete Conrad jiggles the Surveyor spacecraft to see how firmly it is situated. The lunar module is visible in the distance. Apollo 12 brought back many photographs and moon rocks. Among the milestones achieved by Apollo 12 was the deployment of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, which carried out many experiments including one that measured the solar wind.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:28
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Apollo 17 Lunarscape: A Magnificent Desolation



Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot and the second human to walk on the Moon, described the lunar landscape as "a magnificent desolation". Dramatic pictures from the Apollo missions to the lunar surface testify to this apt turn of phrase. Near the Apollo 17 landing site, Family Mountain (center background) and the edge of South Massif (left) frame the lunarscape in this photo of astronaut Harrison Schmitt working alongside the lunar roving vehicle. Schmitt and fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan were the last to walk on this magnificent desolation.
 
LT Олег Фадин #18.01.2004 00:30
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The Eagle Soars



On July 21, 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. lifted off the lunar surface in the ascent stage of their lunar module dubbed "The Eagle" — after becoming the first to walk on the moon. Seen here the Eagle soars towards a rendezvous with the orbiting Command Module piloted by Michael Collins. The smooth, dark mare area on the surface below is Mare Smithii located just below the equator on the extreme eastern edge of the lunar nearside. The Earth is visible hanging above the moon's western horizon.
 
UA SergeVLazarev #16.08.2004 14:54
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SergeVLazarev

опытный

Очень красивые снимки туманностей.
Не верится, что это не 3Д.
Хотелось бы знать, что там среди этих туманостей есть разумная жизнь.
И вообще, здорово. Спасибо, Олег.
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LT Олег Фадин #23.10.2004 06:38
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LT Олег Фадин #23.10.2004 22:16
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Cassini approaches Saturn



Cassini, a robot spacecraft launched in 1997 by NASA, is close enough now to resolve many rings and moons of its destination planet: Saturn. The spacecraft has now closed to within a single Earth-Sun separation from the ringed giant. Early last month, Cassini snapped the contrast-enhanced color composite pictured above. Many features of Saturn's rings and cloud-tops now show considerable detail. When arriving at Saturn in July 2004, the Cassini orbiter will begin to circle and study the Saturnian system. Several months later, a probe named Huygens will separate and attempt to land on the surface of Titan.
 
Это сообщение редактировалось 09.01.2005 в 08:22
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:13
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On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Cassini will pass within 1,200 km (746 miles) of Saturn's giant moon Titan.


The historic flyby will be the closest approach to Titan to date.


NASA TV coverage begins Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. (PST).

###

Warning, 6 Mb PDF
 
Это сообщение редактировалось 09.01.2005 в 08:21
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:20
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Cassini captured Dione against the globe of Saturn as it approached the icy moon for its close rendezvous on Dec. 14, 2004. This natural color view shows the moon has strong variations in brightness across its surface, but a remarkable lack of color, compared to the warm hues of Saturn's atmosphere. Several oval-shaped storms are present in the planet's atmosphere, along with ripples and waves in the cloud bands.

The images used to create this view were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 603,000 kilometers (375,000 miles) from Dione through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of ultraviolet light centered at 338 nanometers. The Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle is 34 degrees. The image scale is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) per pixel.
 
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:24
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N159 and the Papillon Nebula



In a search for massive stars, the Hubble Space Telescope has peered into yet another spectacular region of star formation. This nebula, known as N159, spans over 150 light-years and is located in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, about 170,000 light years distant. Visible in the above picture are bright newborn stars, dark filaments of dust, and red-glowing hydrogen gas. The aptly named Papillon Nebula (French for butterfly), is the unusual central compact cloud, highlighted in the inset. Reasons for the bipolar shape of the Papillon Nebula are currently unknown, but might indicate the presence of unseen high-mass stars and a thick gaseous disk.

 
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:46
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Spiral Galaxy NGC 1232



Galaxies are fascinating not only for what is visible, but for what is invisible. Grand spiral galaxy NGC 1232, captured in detail by one of the new Very Large Telescopes, is a good example. The visible is dominated by millions of bright stars and dark dust, caught up in a gravitational swirl of spiral arms rotating about the center. Open clusters containing bright blue stars can be seen sprinkled along these spiral arms, while dark lanes of dense interstellar dust can be seen sprinkled between them. Less visible, but detectable, are billions of dim normal stars and vast tracts of interstellar gas, together wielding such high mass that they dominate the dynamics of the inner galaxy. Invisible are even greater amounts of matter in a form we don't yet know - pervasive dark matter needed to explain the motions of the visible in the outer galaxy. What's out there?

 
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:50
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M64: The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy



The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and released last week. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy where the resultant mix has not yet settled down.
 
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:51
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NGC 613: Spiral of Dust and Stars



When morning twilight came to the Paranal Observatory in Chile, astronomers Mark Neeser and Peter Barthel interrupted their search for faint quasars, billions of light-years away. And just for a moment, they used Very Large Telescopes at the European Southern Observatory to appreciate the beauty of the nearby Universe. One result was this stunning view of beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 613, a mere 65 million light-years away in the southern constellation Sculptor. Over 100 thousand light-years across, NGC 613 seems to have more than its fair share of spiral arms laced with cosmic dust clouds and bright star forming regions near the ends of a dominant central bar. Radio emission indicates the presence of a massive black hole at the center of NGC 613.
 
LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:52
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The Spiral Arms of NGC 4622



While stirring a morning cup of coffee and thinking cosmic thoughts many astronomers would glance at this Hubble Space Telescope image of spiral galaxy NGC 4622 and assume that the galaxy was rotating counterclockwise in the picture. One hundred million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus, NGC 4622's gorgeous outer spiral arms, traced by bright bluish star clusters and dark dust lanes, should be winding up like ... well, like swirls in a cup of coffee. But a closer look at this galaxy reveals that a pronounced inner spiral arm winds in the opposite direction. So which way is this galaxy rotating? Evidence combining ground-based spectroscopy and the sharp Hubble image data surprisingly indicates that the galaxy is likely rotating clockwise in the picture, its outer spiral arms opening outward in the direction of rotation. There are further indications that a past collision with a smaller companion galaxy has contributed to NGC 4622's bizarre rotational arrangement of spiral arms, essentially unique among known large spiral galaxies.
 
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LT Олег Фадин #09.01.2005 08:54
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SN1987A's Cosmic Pearls



In February 1987, light from the brightest stellar explosion seen in modern times reached Earth — supernova SN1987A. This Hubble Space Telescope image from the sharp Advanced Camera for Surveys taken in November 2003 shows the explosion site over 16 years later. The snap shot indicates that the supernova blast wave continues to impact a pre-existing, one light-year wide ring of material, and the nascent central supernova remnant continues to expand. Like pearls on a cosmic necklace, bright hot spots produced as the blast wave heats material up to millions of degrees began to appear on the ring in the mid 1990s and have been followed across the spectrum by astronomers ever since. Supernova SN1987A lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy some 170,000 light-years away. That really does mean that the explosive event - the core collapse and detonation of a star about 20 times as massive as the Sun - occurred 170,000 years before February 1987.
 
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