Astronomy Picture of the Day | A rose made of galaxies

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

This image of a pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273 was released to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The distorted shape of the larger of the two galaxies shows signs of tidal interactions with the smaller of the two. It is thought that the smaller galaxy has actually passed through the larger one.


Astronomy Picture of the Day – A Lunar Eclipse on Solstice Day

A Lunar Eclipse on Solstice Day
Credit & Copyright: Jerry Lodriguss
(Catching the Light)

Astronomy Picture of the Day | Mirach's Ghost

Mirach’s Ghost

Credit & Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis (TWAN)

Explanation: As far as ghosts go, Mirach’s Ghost isn’t really that scary. In fact, Mirach’s Ghost is just a faint, fuzzy galaxy, well known to astronomers, that happens to be seen nearly along the line-of-sight to Mirach, a bright star. Centered in this star field, Mirach is also called Beta Andromedae. About 200 light-years distant, Mirach is a red giant star, cooler than the Sun but much larger and so intrinsically much brighter than our parent star. In most telescopic views, glare and diffraction spikes tend to hide things that lie near Mirach and make the faint, fuzzy galaxy look like a ghostly internal reflection of the almost overwhelming starlight. Still, appearing in this sharp image just above and to the right of Mirach, Mirach’s Ghost is cataloged as galaxy NGC 404 and is estimated to be some 10 million light-years away.

Credit: Mac Hunter

Mirach’s ghost is, in itself, not a very interesting galaxy. A small plain looking E-S0 type galaxy. However, its postion about 7 arc minutes from the 2nd magnitude M0 star beta And – known as Mirach – makes it into an interesting photographic target.

Gliese 581g – The next "Earth"?

The fact that we’ve found a habitable planet candidate so soon after starting our search has important implications for the number of habitable planets that may exist in our galaxy – which was estimated to be around 10 billion. 

Having found Gliese 581g so soon though, may mean one of two things. Either we were very lucky, or there are more planets out there than we thought. Based on this discovery, it’s possible that we may have many more habitable planets than originally thought.

Perhaps 20 to 30 billion stars in our galaxy may have conditions suitable for life.

Astronomy Picture Of The Day | NGC 2683: Spiral Edge-On

NGC 2683: Spiral Edge-On

Credit: Data: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing: Nikolaus Sulzenauer

Explanation: Does spiral galaxy NGC 2683 have a bar across its center? Being so nearly like our own barred Milky Way Galaxy, one might guess it has. Being so nearly edge-on, however, it is hard to tell. Either way, this gorgeous island universe, cataloged as NGC 2683, lies a mere 20 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the Cat (Lynx). NGC 2683 is seen nearly edge-on in this cosmic vista, with more distant galaxies scattered in the background. Blended light from a large population of old yellowish stars forms the remarkably bright galactic core. Starlight silhouettes the dust lanes along winding spiral arms, dotted with the telltale blue glow of young star clusters in this galaxy‘s star forming regions.

NGC 2683 was discovered by William Herschel on February 5, 1788.

This spiral galaxy is viewed nearly edge-on from our perspective. Because of its appearance, it was nicknamed the “UFO Galaxy” by the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory site. Note the small yellowish core in the center of the galaxy, consisting of older stars. Also note the fine details of the spiral structure, traced by dark dust in the brighter part of the disk (particularly well visible in the larger image.

The UFO is receding from us at 410 km/s, and from the Galactic Center at 375 km/s. This indicates that it is probably one of the nearby galaxies, perhaps at about 16 million light years.

The image in this page was obtained by Dick Stone when participating in the Kitt Peak Visitor Center’s Advanced Observing Program. It is a composite of 4 CCD images: Luminance = 42 min, Red = 20 min, Green = 20 min, Blue = 40 min.


A Universe From Nothing

Lawrence Krauss at the Atheist Alliance International 2009, gives a talk on our current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing. Krauss is the author of many bestselling books on Physics and Cosmology, including “The Physics of Star Trek.”

This is, by far, the best talk I’ve had the pleasure to listen to. It is a bit long so, if you don’t have much time to listen to the whole talk now, at least listen to this excerpt, it’s just one minute long.

Neil deGrasse Tyson at UB: What NASA Means to America's Future

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a Distinguished Speaker at the University at Buffalo, answered a student’s question about federal cutbacks to NASA funding. Tyson is host of the PBS series NOVA scienceNOW and director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium.