Fuck Yeah Stars & Shit

"We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
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N44C: A Nebular Mystery
N44C is the designation for a fascinating region of ionized hydrogen gas surrounding an association of young stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby, small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the Southern Hemisphere. It stretches over an expanse of space that would take 125 years to cross if you were traveling at light-speed.
N44C is peculiar because the star mainly responsible for illuminating the nebula is unusually hot. The most massive stars, ranging from 10-50 times more massive than the Sun, have maximum temperatures of 30,000 to 50,000 degrees Kelvin. The star illuminating N44C appears to be significantly hotter, with a temperature of about 75,000 degrees Kelvin!
Ideas proposed to explain this unusually high temperature include the possibility of a neutron star or black hole that intermittently produces X-rays but is now “switched off.”
Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Acknowledgment: D. Garnett (University of Arizona)
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A luminous night

What shines in the world at night? Just visible to the eye, a rare electric blue glow spread along the shores of Victoria Lake on January 16, 2013. Against reflections of a light near the horizon, this digitally stacked long exposure recorded the bioluminescence of noctiluca scintillans, plankton stimulated by the lapping waves. Above, the night skies of the Gippsland Lakes region, Victoria, Australia shine with a fainter greenish airglow. Oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere, initially excited by ultraviolet sunlight, produce the more widely seen fading atmospheric chemiluminescence. Washed out by the Earth’s rotation, the faint band of the southern summer Milky Way stretches from the horizon as star trails circle the South Celestial Pole.

Image credit & copyright: Phil Hart
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night sky  

Saturn’s shadows

It may seem odd to think of planets casting shadows out in the inky blackness of space, but it is a common phenomenon. Earth’s shadow obscures the Moon during a lunar eclipse, and Jupiter’s moons cast small shadows onto their parent planet.  
One of the best places in our Solar System to spot intriguing and beautiful celestial shadows is at Saturn. On 1 July, the international Cassini mission celebrates 10 years of exploring Saturn, its rings and its moons, an endeavour that has produced invaluable science but also stunning images like this.
Drifting along in the foreground, small and serene, is Saturn’s icy moon Mimas. The blue backdrop may at first appear to be the gas giant’s famous and impressive set of rings, with pale and dark regions separated by long inky black slashes, but it is actually the northern hemisphere of Saturn itself. The dark lines slicing across the frame are shadows cast by the rings onto the planet.
Although we may not associate the colour blue with Saturn, when Cassini arrived at the planet the northernmost regions displayed the delicate blue palette shown in this image. As this region of Saturn is generally quite free of cloud, scattering by molecules in the atmosphere causes sunlight to take a longer path through the atmosphere. The light is scattered predominantly at shorter – bluer – wavelengths. This is similar to why the sky on Earth appears blue to our eyes.
Seasonal changes over the years since this photo was taken have turned the blue into Saturn’s more familiar golden hue. The reverse is occurring in the south, which is slowly becoming bluer.

Image credit & copyright: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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Titan aka the Mermaid Moon
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Dark Dust
This wide field image shows extensive dust and small clumps of star formation in part of the Taurus star formation region. A faint star at the centre of this picture is the young binary star system HK Tauri. ALMA observations of this system have provided the clearest picture ever of protoplanetary discs in a double star. The new result demonstrates one possible way to explain why so many exoplanets — unlike the planets in the Solar System — came to have strange, eccentric or inclined orbits. This picture was created from images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2
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This is the Tarantula Nebula. Learn some quick facts about it here: http://bit.ly/1l4mOH3
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apocalyptic version
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Astronomy Photo of the Day: 7/20/14 - New Look at the Eyes

This stunning image was captured in astounding quality using  the FORS2 instrument on the ESO’s “Very Large Telescope.” It gives us an opportunity to look deeper into the processes impacting two interacting galaxies — NGC 4438 and NGC 4435  — that comprise Arp 120 or the Eyes (from afar, we see that the galaxies resemble a percentage sign) Both can be found approximately 50 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Virgo.

 The deeper look shows us that one member of the pair — NGC 4438, the one pictured near the top — was once a spiral galaxy by designation. At least it use to be until something cataclysmic happened many millions of years ago.  the galaxy so thoroughly, it essentially made it unrecognizable. The changes are likely the result of a nearby gravitational encounter, The tidal tails that  extend between the two galaxies and ultimately bridge them support that notion.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1nKuGxa

Image Credit: ESO
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