• Where do stars form when galaxies collide? To help find out, astronomers imaged the nearby galaxy merger >NGC 2623 in high resolution with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007. Analysis of this Hubble image and images of NGC 2623 in >infrared light by the >Spitzer Space Telescope, in >X-ray light by XMM-Newton, and in >ultraviolet light by GALEX, indicate that
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  • M7 is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars on the sky. The cluster, dominated by bright blue stars, can be seen with the naked eye in a dark sky in the tail of the constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius). M7 contains about 100 stars in total, is about 200 million years old, spans 25 light-years across, and
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  • Stickney Crater, the largest crater on the martian moon Phobos, is named for Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall, mathematician and wife of astronomer Asaph Hall. Asaph Hall discovered both the Red Planet’s moons in 1877. Over 9 kilometers across, Stickney is nearly half the diameter of Phobos itself, so large that the impact that blasted out the crater likely came close
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  • A familiar sight to sky enthusiasts with even a small telescope, the Ring Nebula (M57) is some 2,000 light-years away in the musical constellation Lyra. The central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably deep exposure – a collaborative effort combining data from three different telescopes – explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from
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  • Illuminating the landscape all through the night of November 2nd, this week’s bright Full Moon was known in the northern hemisphere as a Hunter’s Moon. But this dramatic view of the shining lunar orb, from Sobreda, Portugal, was captured just a few nights earlier, on Halloween. In the spirit of the season, the image plays a little trick. The picture
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  • Our Sun may look like all soft and fluffy, but it’s not. Our Sun is an extremely large ball of bubbling hot gas, mostly hydrogen gas. The above picture of our Sun was taken last month in a specific red color of light emitted by hydrogen gas called Hydrogen-alpha and then color inverted to appear blue. In this light, details
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  • On the upper right, dressed in blue, is the Pleiades. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and most easily visible open clusters on the sky. The Pleiades contains over 3,000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Surrounding the stars is a spectacular blue reflection
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  • Last week, NASA test fired a new rocket. The Ares 1-X was the first non-shuttle rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center since the Saturn launched humans to Earth orbit and the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s. NASA is testing Ares as a prelude to replacing the aging space shuttle fleet. The tremendous thrust of the Ares 1-X can bring
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  • What color is the universe? More precisely, if the entire sky was smeared out, what color would the final mix be? This whimsical question came up when trying to determine what stars are commonplace in nearby galaxies. The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige. To determine this, astronomers computationally averaged the light emitted by one of
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  • Described as a “dusty curtain” or “ghostly apparition”, mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away. Also cataloged as Ced 201, it lies along the northern Milky Way in the royal constellation Cepheus. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, pockets of
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  • To the eye, this cosmic composition nicely balances the Bubble Nebula at the upper right with open star cluster M52. The pair would be lopsided on other scales, though. Embedded in a complex of interstellar dust and gas and blown by the winds from a single, massive O-type star, the Bubble Nebula (aka NGC 7635) is a mere 10 light-years
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  • An unusual triangle of light is visible this time of year just before dawn, in the northern hemisphere. Once considered a false dawn, this triangle of light is actually Zodiacal Light, light reflected from interplanetary dust particles. The bright reflecting triangle is clearly visible on the right of the above image taken from Laguna Verde near Valparaíso, Chile in late
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  • What if we could see back to the beginning of the universe? We can — since it takes the age of the universe for light to cross the universe. Peering at distant objects, therefore, tells us about how the universe used to be, even near its beginning. Since telescopes are therefore also time portals, observations of distant clusters can be
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  • In cosmic brush strokes of glowing hydrogen gas, this beautiful skyscape unfolds across the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy and the center of the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. Recorded from a premier remote observatory site (ROSA) in southern France, the image spans about 6 degrees. Bright supergiant star Gamma Cygni near image center lies in the foreground of
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  • You, too, can Zoo. The Galaxy Zoo project has been enabling citizen scientists — inquisitive people like yourself armed with only a web browser– to sort through the universe. Specifically, after a brief training session, volunteers are asked to use the superior image-processing power of their minds to classify and measure properties of galaxies in the vast Sloan Digital Sky
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