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An Infrared view of the Orion Nebula

"This wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.The new telescope’s huge field of view allows the whole nebula and its surroundings to be imaged in a single picture and its infrared vision also means that it can peer deep into the normally hidden dusty regions and reveal the curious antics of the very active young stars buried there."

Credit: VISTA/ESO

Hubble captures Planetary Nebula NGC 6751

Planetary nebulae do look simple, round, and planet-like in small telescopes. But images from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope have become well known for showing these fluorescent gas shrouds of dying Sun-like stars to possess a staggering variety of detailed symmetries and shapes. This composite color Hubble image of NGC 6751 is a beautiful example of a classic planetary nebula with complex features and was selected to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hubble in orbit. The colors were chosen to represent the relative temperature of the gas - blue, orange, and red indicating the hottest to coolest gas. Winds and radiation from the intensely hot central star (140,000 degrees Celsius) have apparently created the nebula’s streamer-like features. The nebula’s actual diameter is approximately 0.8 light-years or about 600 times the size of our solar system. NGC 6751 is 6,500 light-years distant in the constellation Aquila.

Credit: NASA/Hubble

Westerlund 2 in X-ray

Westerlund 2 is a young massive obscured star cluster with an estimated age of about one or two million years. It contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars known. The cluster contains a dozen of O stars, of which at least three are eclipsing binaries

Credit: NASA/Chandra

Cygnus OB2

Cygnus OB2 is an OB association that is home to some of the most massive and most luminous stars known, including Cyg OB2 #8 and Cyg OB2 #12. It also includes one of the largest known stars, NML Cygni.The region is embedded within a wider region of star formation known as Cygnus X, which is one of the most luminous objects in the sky at radio wavelengths. The region is approximately 1,400 parsecs from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus.

The young cluster is one of the largest known, and the largest in the northern hemisphere with some authors classifying it as a young globular cluster similar to those present in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Although it is over ten times more massive than the famous Orion Nebula, Cygnus OB2 is much less well known due to its location behind a massive dust cloud known as the Cygnus Rift, which obscures many of the stars in it; this means that, despite the consensus of its large size, it’s hard to determine its actual properties with its estimated number of massive stars ranging, according to different scientists, for example, from 50 to 100 of spectral type O and its total mass having been calculated as 3*104 solar masses.

Credit: NASA/Chandra

The Crab Nebula (M1) in X-ray

This image gives the first clear view of the faint boundary of the Crab Nebula’s X-ray-emitting pulsar wind nebula. The nebula is powered by a rapidly rotating, highly magnetized neutron star, or pulsar (white dot near the center). The combination of rapid rotating and strong magnetic field generates an intense electromagnetic field that creates jets of matter and anti-matter moving away from the north and south poles of the pulsar, and an intense wind flowing out in the equatorial direction.

The inner X-ray ring is thought to be a shock wave that marks the boundary between the surrounding nebula and the flow of matter and antimatter particles from the pulsar. Energetic electrons and positrons (antielectrons) move outward from this ring to brighten the outer ring and produce an extended X-ray glow.

Credit: NASA/Harvard/Chandra

ageofdestruction:

eagle: Earthrise, photographed from Apollo 11, July 1969.
23 Hasselblad photographs taken from lunar orbit, sometime 19th-22nd July.
Image credit: NASA/JSC, c/o LPI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.
ageofdestruction:

eagle: Earthrise, photographed from Apollo 11, July 1969.
23 Hasselblad photographs taken from lunar orbit, sometime 19th-22nd July.
Image credit: NASA/JSC, c/o LPI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

ageofdestruction:

eagle: Earthrise, photographed from Apollo 11, July 1969.

23 Hasselblad photographs taken from lunar orbit, sometime 19th-22nd July.

Image credit: NASA/JSC, c/o LPI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

(via piepieninja)

The Coyote Head Nebula

When searching for the nicest nebulae in the sky it’s nice when your friends help you out. This striking star formation region, mapped in infrared light by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, was recently spotted by one of Spitzer’s Twitter followers searching through the GLIMPSE360 panorama of our Milky Way galaxy.

One of multitudes of star-forming nebulas scattered across the sky, this area had been a bit of a “dirty” secret, tucked away behind a veil of dust that blocks our view in visible light. That obscuring veil fades away under Spitzer’s infrared gaze revealing a collection of young stars bursting out of the dusty gas clouds in which they formed. Astronomers identify this area only by a collection of catalog numbers like IRAS 15541-5349.

Credit: NASA/Spitzer

The Trifid Nebula - M20

The massive star factory known as the Trifid Nebula was captured in all its glory with the Wide-Field Imager camera attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. The nebula is named after the dark dust bands that trisect its glowing heart, the Trifid Nebula is a rare combination of three nebulae types that reveal the fury of freshly formed stars and point to more star birth in the future.

Credit: ESO/MPG

A Rose in Space - NGC 2237

This flower-shaped nebula, also known by the less romantic name NGC 2237, is a huge star-forming cloud of dust and gas in our Milky Way galaxy. Estimates of the nebula’s distance vary from 4,500 to 5,000 light-years away.

At the center of the flower is a cluster of young stars called NGC 2244. The most massive stars produce huge amounts of ultraviolet radiation, and blow strong winds that erode away the nearby gas and dust, creating a large, central hole. The radiation also strips electrons from the surrounding hydrogen gas, ionizing it and creating what astronomers call an HII region.

Credit: NASA/JPL

A Stellar Storm in NGC 3603

This infrared image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows a star-forming cloud teeming with gas, dust and massive newborn stars. The inset reveals the very center of the cloud, a cluster of stars called NGC 3603. It was taken in visible light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

WISE, which is surveying the whole sky in infrared light, is particularly sensitive to the warm dust that permeates star-forming clouds like this one. In this way, WISE complements visible-light observations.

The mission also complements Hubble and other telescopes by showing the ‘big picture,” providing context for more detailed observations. For example, the WISE picture here is 2,500 times larger than the Hubble inset. While the Hubble view shows the details of the hot young star cluster, the WISE picture shows the effects that this stellar powerhouse has on its neighborhood.

Credit: NASA/JPL