The most detailed image yet of the well-known Carina nebula has been caught by a European telescope, unveiling previously hidden features of an exquisite star nursery. The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) spied the cosmic landscape of gas, dust and young stars in the majestic Carina nebula, which is located about 7,500 light-years away from Earth. The lively star nursery lies deep in the heart of the southern Milky Way, in the constellation of Carina (The Keel).
Thanks to the presence of a natural “zoom lens” in space, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope got a uniquely close-up look at the brightest “magnified” galaxy yet discovered. In this image the light from a distant galaxy, nearly 10 billion light-years away, has been warped into a nearly 90-degree arc of light in the galaxy cluster RCS2 032727-132623. The galaxy cluster lies 5 billion light-years away. So-called gravitational lens is produced when space is warped by a massive foreground object, whether it is the sun, a black hole or an entire cluster of galaxies.
A potentially habitable alien planet has been found around a nearby star. The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface. According to Guillem Anglada-Escudé this planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life. The researchers estimate that the planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, which makes it a so-called super-Earth.
The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory has imaged a region of star formation called NGC 3324. The intense radiation from several of NGC 3324’s massive, blue-white stars has carved out a cavity in the surrounding gas and dust. The hotbed of star birth is full of hot young stars, whose ultraviolet radiation is making the gas clouds glow. The stellar wind and radiation from the newborn stars has also punched out a cavity in the surrounding gas and dust.
On Tuesday, January 31, asteroid 433 Eros will come closer to Earth than it has in 37 years, traveling across the night sky in the constellations Leo, Sextans and Hydra.
Astronomers have combined observations from the LABOCA camera on the ESO-operated 12-meter Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope with measurements made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and others, to look at the way that bright, distant galaxies are gathered together in groups or clusters. The more closely the galaxies are clustered, the more massive are their halos of dark matter, the invisible material that makes up the vast majority of a galaxy’s mass. The new results are the most accurate clustering measurements ever made for this type of galaxy.
Suomi NPP, NASA’s newest Earth-watching satellite, has taken a high resolution image of Earth, one of the most beautiful such images ever created. The satellite, named after the “father of satellite meteorology,” Verner E. Suomi, is designed to create fabulous images of Earth, monitor for natural disasters and improve weather forecasts as well as our understanding of long-term climate changes. The image is a composite, created using a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. It echoes the legendary “Blue Marble” photograph, taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on December 7, 1972.
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings, leaving Pluto as the only outer planet without rings. But PSI Senior Scientist Henry Throop would love to change that. Using both giant telescopes on Earth, and a small spacecraft currently on its way to Pluto, Throop is searching for signs that Pluto may have rings orbiting it, just like its neighbors. Astronomers expect that Pluto could well have rings, they’ve just never been discovered. Until now astronomers haven’t found any rings. Throop is working with NASA’s New Horizons mission, which is sending a spacecraft to Pluto, to arrive in 2015.
The Helix Nebula glows like a giant golden eye in the sky in the image, released on January 19, 2012 by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, and brings to light a rich background of stars and galaxies. The picture was captured by ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The Helix Nebula is one of the closest and most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The Helix Nebula lies in the constellation of Aquarius, about 700 light-years away from Earth. This strange object formed when a star like the sun was in the final stages of its life.