A mysterious, squid-like apparition, this nebula is very faint, but also very large in planet Earth’s sky. In the mosaic image, composed with narrowband data from the 2.5 meter Isaac Newton Telescope, it spans some 2.5 full moons toward the constellation Cepheus. Recently discovered by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the remarkable nebula’s bipolar shape and emission are consistent with it being a planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star, but its actual distance and origin are unknown. A new investigation suggests Ou4 really lies within the emission region SH2-129 some 2,300 light-years away. Consistent with that scenario, the cosmic squid would represent a spectacular outflow of material driven by a triple system of hot, massive stars, cataloged as HR8119, seen near the center of the nebula. If so, this truly giant squid nebula would physically be nearly 50 light-years across.
Image Credit: Romano Corradi (IAC), Nicolas Grosso, Agnès Acker, Robert Greimel, Patrick Guillout
Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat’s Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat’s Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured above is a deep field image of the Cat’s Paw nebula.
Image Credit & Copyright: Roberto Colombari and SONEAR Obs.; Color data: Robert Gendler & Ryan Hannahoe
Just something to think about:
"Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." - Carl Sagan
Cruising through the outer solar system, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune on August 25, 1989, the only spacecraft to visit the most distant gas giant. Based on the images recorded during its close encounter and in the following days, this inspired composited scene covers the dim outer planet, largest moon Triton, and faint system of rings. From just beyond Neptune’s orbit, the interplanetary perspective looks back toward the Sun, capturing the planet and Triton as thin sunlit crescents. Cirrus clouds and a dark band circle Neptune’s south polar region, with a cloudy vortex above the pole itself. Parts of the very faint ring system along with the three bright ring arcs were first imaged by Voyager during the fly-by, though the faintest segments are modeled in this composited picture. Spanning 7.5 degrees, the background starfield is composed from sky survey data centered on the constellation Camelopardalis, corresponding to the outbound Voyager’s view of the magnificent Neptunian system.
Composite Image Credit & Copyright: Assembly/Processing - Rolf Olsen, Data - Voyager 2, NASA Planetary Data System
The Flame Nebula stands out in this optical image of the dusty, crowded star forming regions toward Orion’s belt, a mere 1,400 light-years away. X-ray data from the Chandra Observatory and infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope can take you inside the glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds though. Swiping your cursor (or clicking the image) will reveal many stars of the recently formed, embedded cluster NGC 2024, ranging in age from 200,000 years to 1.5 million years young. The X-ray/infrared composite image overlay spans about 15 light-years across the Flame’s center. The X-ray/infrared data also indicate that the youngest stars are concentrated near the middle of the cluster. That’s the opposite of the simplest models of star formation for the stellar nursery. They predict star formation to begin first in the denser center and progressively move outward toward the edges leaving the older stars, not the younger ones, in the center of the Flame Nebula.
Image Credit: Optical: DSS; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/ K.Getman, E.Feigelson, M.Kuhn & the MYStIX team
Just a little reminder of all the amazing and wonderful things happening in our universe!
Sometimes it is hard to believe what you see in the sky. While leading his annual aurora tour last month near Fairbanks in central Alaska, astrophotographer John Chumack and his company saw a most unusual aurora. This bright aurora appeared to change into the shape of a jumping dog, complete with a curly tail. He was able to capture the fleeting natural apparition in the above image with a 15-second exposure through a wide-angle lens. By coincidence, he also captured a background sky filled with familiar highlights. Planets visible include bright Jupiter through the dog’s front legs and reddish Mars below the dog’s hind legs. Stars visible include the Big Dipper stars above the dog’s midsection and reddish Betelgeuse shining on the far right. This dog would not be following him home, however, and within a few minutes morphed into other shapes before the geomagnetic storm particles that created it shifted to strike the Earth elsewhere.
Image Credit & Copyright: John Chumack
It’s eclipse season, and on April 29 around 06:00 UT the shadow of the new Moon will reach out and touch planet Earth, though only just. Still, if you’re standing on the continent of Antarctica within a few hundred kilometers of 79 degrees 38.7 minutes South latitude and 131 degrees 15.6 minutes East longitude you could see an annular solar eclipse with the Sun just above the horizon. Because the Moon will be approaching apogee, the most distant point in the elliptical lunar orbit, its apparent size will be too small to completely cover the solar disk. A rare, off-center eclipse, the annular phase will last at most 49 seconds. At its maximum it could look something like this “ring of fire” image from last May’s annular solar eclipse, captured by a webcast team operating near Coen, Australia. Otherwise, a partial eclipse with the Moon covering at least some part of the Sun will be seen across a much broader region in the southern hemipshere, including Australia in the afternoon.
Image Credit & Copyright: Cameron McCarty, Matthew Bartow, Michael Johnson - MWV Observatory, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus State University Eclipse Team
What does this newly discovered exoplanet mean for us humans?
Well it could mean a couple things.
If the planet can support life, then there may be intelligent life roaming the planet as we speak. Of course we never be able to interact with this civilization due to the fact that it takes light 500 years to travel to this planet. A lot of things can happen in 500 years.
Another scenario is that maybe the planet used to have life on it, but a mass extinction caused life to no longer exist.
It could also be like the early Earth, where things like stromatolites and cyanobacteria are currently ruling the planet, preparing it for life to begin.
A rather unlikely scenario; the planet could be uninhabited, and have the perfect conditions to support human life, but no intelligent life has ever existed or will ever exist there. In that case, if humans found a way, we could call that planet our new home!
Or, this planet could be just like all the other ones and not have the ability to support any kind of life.
But lets stay positive and hope for the best possible scenario!!
How far is the new exoplanet from us?
Its about 500 light years away, meaning that if you were to travel at the speed of light (300 000 000 m/s), it would take you 500 years to reach it!
Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet that is Earth-like this week!
It is one of the more massive galaxies known. A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way and captured by this composite image merging exposures from the orbiting 2.4-meter Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope. X-ray images suggest that resulting winds and stellar explosions create plumes of hot gas extending into a halo around NGC 2841.
Image Credit: Hubble, Subaru; Composition & Copyright: Robert Gendler