NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken this incredible picture of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located near the center of our galaxy. The cluster, located some 25,000 light years away, is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but Hubble has captured more than 250,000 individual stars there. Globular clusters are believed to have emerged when the galaxy was quite young, and the stars that make up Messier 9 are calculated to be around twice as old as our sun.
Centaurus A Click here for ginormous closeup NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgment: R. O’Connell (University of Virginia) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee
Centaurus A, a.k.a. NGC 5128, is only 11 million light years from Earth, and as such it is a popular, brightly-lit target for amateur stargazers. You can even see it fairly well with common binoculars. But you can’t see it like this. Hubble has gathered the most detailed image ever taken of the nearby galaxy, showing up close the characteristic lanes of dust and dark material that obscure the region.
This composite, captured with the advanced Wide Field Camera 3, shows us Centaurus A in the visible spectrum, the UV spectrum, and in near-infrared, offering a glimpse of the galaxy that even the best earth-bound optical telescopes can’t reproduce. The glow of young stars around the fringes and the abundance of dark, obscuring debris make it look like the aftermath of some kind of cosmic explosion. And that’s actually not so far off.
Features of the galactic disc that lay outside the frame of this close-up suggest that Centaurus A collided with and then merged with another galaxy at some point in the past, generating huge clouds of hydrogen gas and kicking off an intense period of prodigious star birth. You wouldn’t have wanted to be very close to NGC 5128 when that happened, but here Hubble gets us just close enough to take in the dazzling leftovers of this galactic merger.
Star Factory Shows Off Three Kinds of Nebulae
Captured by the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, this image shows off the three distinct types of nebulae found in the Trifid. The bluish patch in the upper left is known as a reflection nebula because it scatters light from nearby stars. The largest of these stars, which were all born in the Trifid, can be seen shining in the center of the reflection nebula. It radiates hot blue light in the visible spectrum and gives the cloud a bluish tinge.
The bright pink circle in the lower half of the photo is an emission nebula, which glows red because it contains a core of hydrogen gas heated by hundreds of super-hot new stars. At the bottom of the emission nebula, a finger-shaped projection of gas points up at the Trifid’s central star. Known as an evaporating gaseous globule, or EGG, this dense blob of gas is a birthplace for new stars.
The Trifid’s third kind of nebula can be seen in the dark stripes that criss-cross the rest of the image. Called dark nebulae because of their light-obscuring properties, these clouds of gas and dust contain the remnants of previous star births. As higher pressure and temperatures build up inside the streaks of gas, nuclear fusion will lead to the formation of yet more stars.
wah i miss astronomy