Space Observatories

This image shows Sh 2-106, or S106 for short. This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the surrounding gas cloud’s hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is coloured blue in this image. The image combines observations from the Hubble Space Telescope (in the centre) with images from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope to extend the field of view around the edges of the image. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and NAOJ
 
 
Hubble/Subaru composite of star-forming region S 106
This image from Hubble shows Sh 2-106, or S106 for short. This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the surrounding gas cloud’s hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is coloured blue in this image. Credit: NASA & ESA
 
 
Hubble view of star-forming region S106
About 3,700 years ago people on Earth would have seen a brand-new bright star in the sky. As it slowly dimmed out of sight, it was eventually forgotten, until modern astronomers found its remains -- called Puppis A. Seen as a red dusty cloud in this image from WISE, Puppis A is the remnant of a supernova explosion. This image was made from observations by all four infrared detectors aboard WISE. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is primarily from stars, the hottest objects pictured. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is primarily from warm dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
Ancient Supernova Revealed
 galaxy being stretched out of shape has been imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Known as NGC 2146, it has been severely warped and deformed so that an immense dusty arm of glittering material now lies directly in front of the centre of the galaxy, as seen in the image. This picture was created from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through a near-infrared filter (F814W, coloured blue and orange/brown) were combined with images taken in a filter that isolates the glow from hydrogen gas (F658N, coloured red). An additional green colour channel was also created by combining the two to help to create a realistic colour rendition for the final picture from this unusual filter combination. The total exposure times were 120 s and 700 s respectively and the field of view is covers 2.6 x 1.6 arcminutes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Feeling the Strain
The Necklace Nebula is located 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagitta (the Arrow). In this composite image, taken on July 2, 2011, Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 captured the glow of hydrogen (blue), oxygen (green), and nitrogen (red). Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
 
 
The Necklace Planetary Nebula
The magnificent reflection nebula NGC 2023 lies nearly 1500 light-years from Earth. It is located within the constellation of Orion (The Hunter), in a prestigious area of the sky close to the well-known Flame and Horsehead Nebulae. The entire structure of NGC 2023 is vast, at four light-years across. This Hubble Space Telescope picture just takes in the southern part, with the subtle shades of colour closely resembling those of a sunset on Earth. This picture was created from multiple images taken with the Wide Field Camera of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Exposures through a blue filter (F475W) are coloured blue, exposures through a yellow filter (F625W) are coloured green and images through a near-infrared filter (F850LP) are shown as red. The total exposure times per filter are 800 s, 800 s and 1200 s, respectively, and the field of view spans 3.2 arcminutes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Sunset Glow in Orion
These four images of Neptune were taken by Hubble during the planet's 16-hour rotation. The snapshots were taken at roughly four-hour intervals, offering a full view of the blue-green planet. Today marks Neptune's first orbit around the Sun since it was discovered nearly 165 years ago. These images were taken to commemorate the event.

The Hubble images, taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on June 25-26, reveal high-altitude clouds in the northern and southern hemispheres. The clouds are composed of methane ice crystals. In the Hubble images, absorption of red light by methane in Neptune's atmosphere gives the planet its distinctive aqua color. The clouds look pink because they are reflecting near-infrared light. A faint, dark band near the bottom of the southern hemisphere is probably caused by a decrease in the hazes in the atmosphere that scatter blue light. The band was imaged by Voyager 2 in 1989, and may be tied to circumpolar circulation created by high-velocity winds in that region. Neptune is the most distant major planet in our solar system. German astronomer Johann Galle discovered the planet on September 23, 1846. At the time, the discovery doubled the size of the known solar system. The planet is 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers) from the Sun, 30 times farther than Earth. Under the Sun's weak pull at that distance, Neptune plods along in its huge orbit, slowly completing one revolution approximately every 165 years.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
 
 
Neptune Completes Its First Circuit Around The Sun Since Its Discovery
Looking like an elegant abstract art piece painted by talented hands, this picture is actually a Hubble image of a small section of the Carina Nebula. The Carina Nebula itself is a star-forming region about 7500 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Carina (The Keel: part of Jason's ship the Argo). Infant stars blaze with a ferocity so severe that the radiation emitted carves away at the surrounding gas, sculpting it into strange structures. The dust clumps towards the upper right of the image, looking like ink dropped into milk, were formed in this way. It has been suggested that they are cocoons for newly forming stars. This picture was created from images taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Images through a blue filter (F450W) were coloured blue and images through a yellow/orange filter (F606W) were coloured red. The field of view is 2.4 by 1.3 arcminutes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Return to the Carina Nebula
In this Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 7479 -- created from observations at visible and near-infrared wavelengths -- the tightly wound arms of the spiral galaxy create an inverted 'S', as they spin in an anticlockwise direction. However, at radio wavelengths, this galaxy, sometimes nicknamed the Propeller Galaxy, spins the other way, with a jet of radiation that bends in the opposite direction to the stars and dust in the arms of the galaxy. This picture was created from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through a yellow filter (F555W, coloured blue) were combined with images taken in the near-infrared (F814W, coloured red). The total exposure times were 520 s per filter and the field of view is 2.7 arcminutes across. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Spiral Spins Both Ways
Centaurus A, also known as NGC 5128, is well known for its dramatic dusty lanes of dark material. Hubble's new observations, using its most advanced instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, are the most detailed ever made of this galaxy. They have been combined here in a multi-wavelength image which reveals never-before-seen detail in the dusty portion of the galaxy. As well as features in the visible spectrum, this composite shows ultraviolet light, which comes from young stars, and near-infrared light, which lets us glimpse some of the detail otherwise obscured by the dust. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgment: R. O'Connell (University of Virginia) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee
 
 
Spectacular Hubble view of Centaurus A
Named RCW 120, this region of hot gas and glowing dust can be found in the murky clouds encircled by the tail of the constellation Scorpius. The ring of dust is actually glowing in infrared colors that our eyes cannot see, but show up brightly when viewed by Spitzer's infrared detectors. At the center of this ring are a couple of giant stars whose intense ultraviolet light has carved out the bubble, though they blend in with other stars when viewed in infrared.

The green ring is where dust is being hit by winds and intense light from the massive stars. The green color represents infrared light coming from tiny dust grains called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These small grains have been destroyed inside the bubble. The red color inside the ring shows slightly larger, hotter dust grains, heated by the massive stars.

This is a three-color composite that shows infrared observations from two Spitzer instruments. Blue represents 3.6-micron light and green shows light of 8 microns, both captured by Spitzer's infrared array camera. Red is 24-micron light detected by Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 
 
In the Blackest Night, a Green Ring Nebula
NGC 634 was discovered back in the nineteenth century by French astronomer Édouard Jean-Marie Stephan, but in 2008 it became a prime target for observations thanks to the violent demise of a white dwarf star. The type Ia supernova known as SN2008a was spotted in the galaxy and briefly rivalled the brilliance of its entire host galaxy but, despite the energy of the explosion, it can no longer be seen this Hubble image, which was taken around a year and a half later. This picture was created from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through a yellow filter (F555W, coloured blue) have been combined with images through red (F625W, coloured green) and near-infrared (F775W, coloured red) filters. The total exposure times per filter were 3750 s, 3530 s and 2484 s, respectively and the field of view is 2.5 x 1.5 arcminutes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
A Perfect Spiral with an Explosive Secret
This image from Spitzer shows what lies near the sword of the constellation Orion -- an active stellar nursery containing thousands of young stars and developing protostars. Many will turn out like our sun. Some are even more massive. These massive stars light up the Orion nebula, which is seen here as the bright region near the center of the image. To the north of the Orion nebula is a dark filamentary cloud of cold dust and gas, over 5 light-years in length, containing ruby red protostars that jewel the hilt of Orion's sword. These are the newest generation of stars in this stellar nursery. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Megeath (University of Toledo, Ohio)
 
 
Stars Adorn Orion's Sword
This close-up Hubble view of the Meathook Galaxy (NGC 2442) focuses on the more compact of its two asymmetric spiral arms as well as the central regions. The spiral arm was the location of a supernova that exploded in 1999. These Hubble observations were made in 2006 in order to study the aftermath of this supernova. Ground-based data from MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope were used to fill out parts of the edges of this image. Credit: NASA, ESA
 
 
Hubble image of the Meathook Galaxy
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.

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
 
 
A rose made of galaxies
In Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter whose vanity was so great that he angered the goddess Artemis. As his punishment, Artemis banished the hunter to the sky where he can be seen as the famous constellation Orion. In the constellation, Orion's head is represented by the star Lamdba Orionis (fuzzy red dot in middle). When viewed in infrared light, WISE shows a giant nebula around Lambda Orionis, inflating Orion's head to huge proportions. Color in this image represents specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent 3.4- and 4.6-microns, primarily light emitted by hot stars. Green and red represent 12- and 22-micron light, which is mainly radiation from warm dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
Orion's Big Head Revealed in Infrared
Astronomers have used Hubble to study the young open star cluster IC 1590, which is found within the star formation region NGC 281 -- nicknamed the Pacman Nebula due to its resemblance to the famous arcade game character. This image only shows the central part of the nebula, where the brightest stars at the core of the cluster are found, with part of the Pacman's hungry mouth visible as the dark region below. But Pacman isn't gobbling up these stars. Instead, the nebula's gas and dust are being used as raw ingredients to make new stars. However, the stars in IC 1590 are still plotting their escape from the Pacman Nebula, as open clusters are only loosely bound together and the grouping will eventually disperse within a few tens of millions of years. IC 1590 lies about ten thousand light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia (The Queen). Through small telescopes the core of the cluster that appears at the top of this picture shows up as a triple star, but the nebula that surrounds it is much fainter and very hard to see. The eagle-eyed American astronomer E. E. Barnard, using a 15 cm telescope, first recorded it in the late nineteenth century. This picture was created from images taken using the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images though yellow (F550M, coloured blue), orange (F660N, coloured green) and red (F658N) filters were combined. The F658N filter isolates light from glowing hydrogen gas. The total exposure times per filter were 450 s, 1017 s and 678 s, respectively and the field of view is about 3.3 arcminutes across. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Arcade Adventure for Young Stars
In the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, opposite the galactic center, lies the nebula SH 2-235. As seen in visible light, SH 2-235 appears to be a small amber-colored dust cloud that spans about a tenth the size of the full moon. In infrared light, WISE reveals SH 2-235 to be a huge star formation complex -- more than 100 light-years across -- as seen in this new view. This image covers an area of the sky nearly five times as high and wide as the full moon (2.44 by 2.44 degrees).

Color in this image represents specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent 3.4- and 4.6-micron wavelengths, which is primarily light emitted from hot stars. Green and red represent 12- and 22-micron wavelengths, which is mostly light from warm dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
WISE Eyes Evolution of Massive Stars
Hubble has taken a close-up view of an outer part of the Orion Nebula's little brother, Messier 43. This nebula, which is sometimes referred to as De Mairan's Nebula after its discoverer, is separated from the famous Orion Nebula (Messier 42) by only a dark lane of dust. Both nebulae are part of the massive stellar nursery called the Orion molecular cloud complex, which includes several other nebulae, such as the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) and the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024). This picture was created from images taken using the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through yellow (F555W, coloured blue) and near-infrared (F814W, coloured red) filters were combined. The exposure times were 1000 s per filter and the field of view is about 3.3 arcminutes across. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Orion's Lesser-known Nebula Takes Centre Stage
The Hubble Space Telescope has produced this finely detailed image of the beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 6384. This galaxy lies in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), not far from the centre of the Milky Way on the sky. The positioning of NGC 6384 means that we have to peer at it past many dazzling foreground Milky Way stars that are scattered across this image.

This picture was created from images take with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. An image taken through a blue filter (F435W, coloured blue) was combined with an image taken through a near-infrared filter (F814W, coloured red). The total exposure times were 1050 s through each filter and the field of view is about 3 x 1.5 arcminutes.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Perfect Spiral Overlaid with Milky Way Gems
Star formation is one of the most important processes in shaping the Universe; it plays a pivotal role in the evolution of galaxies and it is also in the earliest stages of star formation that planetary systems first appear.

Yet there is still much that astronomers don’t understand, such as how do the properties of stellar nurseries vary according to the composition and density of gas present, and what triggers star formation in the first place? The driving force behind star formation is particularly unclear for a type of galaxy called a flocculent spiral, such as NGC 2841 shown here, which features short spiral arms rather than prominent and well-defined galactic limbs.

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration Acknowledgment: M. Crockett and S. Kaviraj (Oxford University, UK), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), B. Whitmore (STScI) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee
 
 
Flocculent spiral NGC 2841
The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a violent stellar nursery called NGC 2174, in which stars are born in a first-come-first-served feeding frenzy for survival. The problem is that star formation is a very inefficient process; most of the ingredients to make stars are wasted as the cloud of gas and dust, or nebula, gradually disperses. In NGC 2174, the rate at which the nebula disperses is further speeded up by the presence of hot young stars, which create high velocity winds that blow the gas outwards.

This picture was created from images from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on Hubble. Images through four different filters were combined to make the view shown here. Images through a filter isolating the glow from ionised oxygen (F502N) were coloured blue and images through a filter showing glowing hydrogen (F656N) are green. Glowing ionised sulphur (F673N) and the view through a near-infrared filter (F814W) are both coloured red. The total exposure times per filter were 2600 s, 2600 s, 2600 s and 1000 s  respectively and the field of view is about 1.8 arcminutes across.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Fiery Young Stars Wreak Havoc in Stellar Nursery
The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. When seen in visible light it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust. However, in this infrared image taken with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, a completely different view emerges. Zeta Ophiuchi is actually a very massive, hot, bright blue star plowing its way through a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
Zeta Ophiuchi -- Runaway Star Plowing through Space Dust
This image from WISE features two stunning galaxies engaged in an intergalactic dance. The galaxies, Messier 81 and Messier 82, swept by each other a few hundred million years ago, and will likely continue to twirl around each other multiple times before eventually merging into a single galaxy. The relatively recent encounter triggered a spectacular burst of star formation visible in both galaxies.

Messier 81 (bottom of image) is a prototypical
 
 
WISE Beholds a Pair of Dancing Galaxies
In this image by Hubble, an unusual, ghostly green blob of gas appears to float near a normal-looking spiral galaxy.

The bizarre object, dubbed Hanny’s Voorwerp (Hanny’s Object in Dutch), is the only visible part of a streamer of gas stretching 300 000 light-years around the galaxy, called IC 2497. The greenish Voorwerp is visible because a searchlight beam of light from the galaxy’s core has illuminated it. This beam came from a quasar, a bright, energetic object that is powered by a black hole. The quasar may have turned off in the last 200 000 years.

This Hubble view uncovers a pocket of star clusters, the yellowish-orange area at the tip of Hanny’s Voorwerp. The star clusters are confined to an area that is a few thousand light-years wide. The youngest stars are a couple of million years old. The Voorwerp is the size of the Milky Way, and its bright green colour is from glowing oxygen.

The image was made by combining data from the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) onboard Hubble, with data from the WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA. The ACS exposures were taken 12 April 2010; the WFC3 data, 4 April 2010.

Credit: NASA, ESA, William Keel (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa), and the Galaxy Zoo team
 
 
Hubble Snaps Image of Space Oddity
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This colorful picture is a mosaic of the Lagoon nebula taken by WISE. Also known as Messier 8, or simply M8, the Lagoon nebula is seen here as a large circular cloud in the center of the image, surrounded by innumerable stars. All four of WISE's infrared detectors were used to take this image. The colors used represent specific wavelengths of infrared radiation. Blue and blue-green (cyan) represent 3.4- and 4.6-micron light, respectively. These wavelengths are mainly emitted by hot stars within the Milky Way. Green represents 12-micron light, which is emitted by the warm gas of the nebulae. Red represents the longest-wavelenth, 22-micron light emitted by cooler dust within the nebulae. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
WISE Catches the Lagoon Nebula in Center of Action
This is the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken at far-infrared wavelengths. The Herschel infrared space telescope captured the image during Christmas 2010. The large rings of dust that encircle the centre of the galaxy may be the result of a smaller galaxy having collided with Andromeda some time in the past. Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/J. Fritz, U. Gent
 
 
Most Detailed Image of Andromeda Galaxy at Far-Infrared Wavelengths
A spectacular section of the well-known Eagle Nebula has been targeted by Hubble. This collection of dazzling stars is called NGC 6611, an open star cluster that formed about 5.5 million years ago and is found approximately 6500 light-years from the Earth. It is a very young cluster, containing many hot, blue stars, whose fierce ultraviolet glow make the surrounding Eagle Nebula glow brightly. The cluster and the associated nebula together are also known as Messier 16.

This picture was created from images from Hubble's Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys through the unusual combination of two near-infrared filters (F775W, coloured blue, and F850LP, coloured red). The image has also been subtly colourised using a ground-based image taken through more conventional filters. The Hubble exposure times were 2000 s in both cases and the field of view is about 3.2 arcminutes across.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Stellar Powerhouses in the Eagle Nebula
The galaxy captured in this image, called UGC 12158, certainly isn't camera-shy: this spiral stunner is posing face-on to Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, revealing its structure in fine detail. This picture was created from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through blue (F475W, coloured blue), yellow (F606W, coloured green) and red (F814W, coloured red) as well as a filter that isolates the light from glowing hydrogen (F658W, also coloured red) have been included. The exposure times were 1160 s, 700 s, 700 s and 1200 s respectively. The field of view is about 2.3 arcminutes across. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
 
 
Barred Spiral Bares All
This oddly colorful nebula is the supernova remnant IC 443 as seen WISE. Also known as the Jellyfish nebula, IC 443 is particularly interesting because it provides a look into how stellar explosions interact with their environment. IC 443 can be found near the star Eta Geminorum, which lies near Castor, one of the twins in the constellation Gemini.

What is unusual about the IC 443 is that its shell-like form has two halves that have different radii, structures and emissions. The larger northeastern shell, seen here as the violet-colored semi-circle on the top left of the supernova remnant, is composed of sheet-like filaments that are emitting light from iron, neon, silicon and oxygen gas atoms, in addition to dust particles, all heated by the blast from the supernova. The smaller southern shell, seen here in a bright cyan color on the bottom half of the image, is constructed of denser clumps and knots primarily emitting light from hydrogen gas and heated dust. These clumps are part of a molecular cloud, which can be seen in this image as the greenish cloud cutting across IC 443 from the northwest to southeast. The color differences seen in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared emission.

The differences in color are also the result of differences in the energies of the shock waves hitting the interstellar medium. The northeastern shell was probably created by a fast shock wave (100 kilometers per second or 223,700 miles per hour), whereas the southern shell was probably created by a slow shock wave (30 kilometers per second or 67,100 miles per hour).

Blue represents 3.4-micron light, cyan represents 4.6-micron light, green represents 12-micron light and red represents 22-micron light. In this image, we see a mixing of blue and cyan in the southern ridge that is not often seen in other WISE images. The northeastern shell appears violet, indicating a mixture of longer infrared wavelengths from cooler dust (red) and shorter infrared wavelengths from luminescent gas (blue).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
 
 
An Explosion of Infrared Color
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