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Dark Matter Distribution in the Abell 901/902 Supercluster

Astronomers assembled this photo by combining a visible-light image of the Abell 901/902 supercluster taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, with a dark matter map derived from observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The magenta-tinted clumps represent a map of the dark matter in the cluster. Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the universe’s mass. The image shows that the supercluster galaxies lie within the clumps of dark matter.

Hubble cannot see the dark matter directly. Astronomers inferred its location by analyzing the effect of so-called weak gravitational lensing, where light from more than 60,000 galaxies behind Abell 901/902 is distorted by intervening matter within the cluster. Researchers used the observed, subtle distortion of the galaxies’ shapes to reconstruct the dark matter distribution in the supercluster.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

A peek into the Tarantula Nebula - 30 Doradus

Like lifting a giant veil, the near-infrared vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope uncovers a dazzling new view deep inside the Tarantula Nebula. Hubble reveals a glittering treasure trove of more than 800,000 stars and protostars embedded inside the nebula.

These observations were obtained as part of the Hubble Tarantula Treasury Program. When complete, the program will produce a large catalog of stellar properties, which will allow astronomers to study a wide range of important topics related to star formation.

Credit: NASA/Hubble

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and it’s Companion Galaxy

The graceful, winding arms of the majestic spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) appear like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust.

This sharpest-ever image of the Whirlpool Galaxy, taken in January 2005 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, illustrates a spiral galaxy’s grand design, from its curving spiral arms, where young stars reside, to its yellowish central core, a home of older stars. The galaxy is nicknamed the Whirlpool because of its swirling structure.

Credit: NASA/Hubble

The Beautiful Rings of Saturn

The Saturn system reveals tantalizing vistas. NASA’s robotic spacecraft named Cassini carries with it 12 instruments designed to take precise measurements of Saturn and its surroundings, including Titan, other icy moons, and the rings, as well as the magnetic environment.

For many of us, however, the images are what put us there, at Saturn, almost a billion miles away from home. Some of those images unveil overwhelming beauty. Others show tricks of light and seemingly magical oddities. Some reveal events from the distant past that have been preserved for eons, while other views depict processes that are changing now, like live news.

Credit: NASA/Cassini

Night over the Atacama Desert near ESO

A view from the Chilean Atacama Desert, showing the Milky Way shining brightly overhead. In the background, the quiet beauty of the Atacama sky is enhanced by a orange/yellow aurora-like shimmer, called airglow, which is caused by light-emitting chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Normally, those emissions are not so strong, but the night this image was taken they were unusually bright, producing this unusual picture.

This scene was captured close to the European Southern Observatory’s  VLT (Very Large Telescopr ) and VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy).

Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

The SWEEPS Field - A Massive Star Survey 

The Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search, or SWEEPS, was a 2006 astronomical survey project using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys - Wide Field Channel to monitor 180,000 stars for seven days to detect extrasolar planets via the transit method.

The stars that were monitored in this astronomical survey were all located in the Sagittarius-I Window, a rare transparent view to the Milky Way’s central bulge stars in the Sagittarius constellation as our view to most of the galaxy’s central stars is blocked by lanes of dust. These stars in the galaxy’s central bulge region are approximately 27,000 light years from Earth.

Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Clarkson (Indiana University and UCLA), and K. Sahu (STScI)

Comet Lovejoy - Seen from the International Space Station

Comet Lovejoy, formally designated C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), is a long-period comet and Kreutz Sungrazer. It was discovered in November 2011 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. The comet’s perihelion (point of of closest distance to the sun) took it through the Sun’s corona on 16 December 2011, after which it emerged intact, though greatly impacted by the event

Credit: NASA/Astronaught Dan Burbank


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(if you guys don’t know who Richard Feyman is what one of his videos (this one if you are more scientific) (this one if you are more philosophical))

A Close-up of Star Formation

This very detailed enhanced-colour image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the dramatic effects of very young stars on the dust and gas from which they were born in the star-forming region NGC 6729. The baby stars are invisible in this picture, being hidden behind dust clouds at the upper left of the picture, but material they are ejecting is crashing into the surroundings at speeds of that can be as high as one million kilometres per hour. This picture was taken by the FORS1 instrument and records the scene in the light of glowing hydrogen and sulphur.

Credit: ESO/Sergey Stepanenko

The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51, also known as NGC 5194 or the Whirlpool Galaxy, is having a close encounter with a nearby companion galaxy, NGC 5195, just off the upper edge of this image. The companion’s gravitational pull is triggering star formation in the main galaxy, as seen in brilliant detail by numerous, luminous clusters of young and energetic stars. The bright clusters are highlighted in red by their associated emission from glowing hydrogen gas.

The Whirlpool galaxy, M51, has been one of the most photogenic galaxies in amateur and professional astronomy. Easily photographed and viewed by smaller telescopes, this celestial beauty is studied extensively in a range of wavelengths by large ground- and space-based observatories. This Hubble composite image shows visible starlight as well as light from the emission of glowing hydrogen, which is associated with the most luminous young stars in the spiral arms.

Credit: NASA/Hubble