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The expanding debris cloud from the explosion of a massive star is captured in this multiwavelength composite, combining x-ray and optical images from the Chandra and Hubble telescopes.  Identified as E0102-72, the supernova remnant lies about 190,000 light-years away in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.  A strong cosmic source of x-rays, E0102 was imaged by the Chandra X-ray Observatory shortly after its launch in 1999.  In celebration of Chandra’s 10th anniversary, this colorful view of E0102 and its environs was created, including additional Chandra data.  An analysis of all the data indicates that the overall shape of E0102 is most likely a cylinder that is viewed end-on rather than a spherical bubble.  The intriguing result implies that the massive star’s explosion has produced a shape similar to what is seen in some planetary nebulae associated with lower mass stars.  At the distance of the Small Magellanic Cloud, this field of view spans about 150 light-years.

The expanding debris cloud from the explosion of a massive star is captured in this multiwavelength composite, combining x-ray and optical images from the Chandra and Hubble telescopes. Identified as E0102-72, the supernova remnant lies about 190,000 light-years away in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud. A strong cosmic source of x-rays, E0102 was imaged by the Chandra X-ray Observatory shortly after its launch in 1999. In celebration of Chandra’s 10th anniversary, this colorful view of E0102 and its environs was created, including additional Chandra data. An analysis of all the data indicates that the overall shape of E0102 is most likely a cylinder that is viewed end-on rather than a spherical bubble. The intriguing result implies that the massive star’s explosion has produced a shape similar to what is seen in some planetary nebulae associated with lower mass stars. At the distance of the Small Magellanic Cloud, this field of view spans about 150 light-years.

What are those strange blue objects?    Many of the brightest blue images are of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like  galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant  cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here typically appear yellow and — together with the cluster’s dark matter —  act as a gravitational lens.    A gravitational lens can create several images of  background galaxies, analogous to the many points of light  one would see while looking through a wine glass at a distant street light.   The distinctive shape of this background galaxy —  which is probably just forming — has allowed  astronomers to deduce that it has separate images at 4, 10, 11, and 12   o’clock,  from the center of the cluster.   A blue smudge near the cluster center is likely  another image of the same background galaxy.   In all, a recent analysis postulated that at least 33 images of 11 separate background galaxies are discernable.   This spectacular photo of galaxy cluster CL0024+1654 from the Hubble Space Telescope was taken in November 2004.

What are those strange blue objects? Many of the brightest blue images are of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here typically appear yellow and — together with the cluster’s dark matter — act as a gravitational lens. A gravitational lens can create several images of background galaxies, analogous to the many points of light one would see while looking through a wine glass at a distant street light. The distinctive shape of this background galaxy — which is probably just forming — has allowed astronomers to deduce that it has separate images at 4, 10, 11, and 12 o’clock, from the center of the cluster. A blue smudge near the cluster center is likely another image of the same background galaxy. In all, a recent analysis postulated that at least 33 images of 11 separate background galaxies are discernable. This spectacular photo of galaxy cluster CL0024+1654 from the Hubble Space Telescope was taken in November 2004.

Named for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum (1924-1960), The Gum Nebula is so large and close it is actually hard to see.  In fact, we are only about 450 light-years from the front edge and 1,500 light-years from the back edge of this cosmic cloud of glowing hydrogen gas.  Covered in this 41 degree-wide mosaic of H-alpha images, the faint emission region is otherwise easy to lose against the background of Milky Way stars.  The complex nebula is thought to be a supernova remnant over a million years old, sprawling across the southern constellations Vela and Puppis.

Named for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum (1924-1960), The Gum Nebula is so large and close it is actually hard to see. In fact, we are only about 450 light-years from the front edge and 1,500 light-years from the back edge of this cosmic cloud of glowing hydrogen gas. Covered in this 41 degree-wide mosaic of H-alpha images, the faint emission region is otherwise easy to lose against the background of Milky Way stars. The complex nebula is thought to be a supernova remnant over a million years old, sprawling across the southern constellations Vela and Puppis.

NGC 4631 is a big beautiful spiral galaxy  seen edge-on (top right) only 25 million light-years away towards the small northern constellation Canes Venatici.  This galaxy’s slightly distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others the popular moniker of The Whale Galaxy.  Either way, it is similar in size to our own Milky Way.  In this gorgeous color image, the Whale’s dark interstellar dust clouds, yellowish core, and young blue star clusters are easy to spot.  A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627, appears above the Whale Galaxy.  At the lower left is another distorted galaxy, the hockey stick-shaped NGC 4656.  The distortions and mingling trails of gas detected at other wavelengths suggest that all three galaxies have had close encounters with each other in their past.  The Whale Galaxy is also known to have spouted a halo of hot gas glowing in x-rays.

NGC 4631 is a big beautiful spiral galaxy seen edge-on (top right) only 25 million light-years away towards the small northern constellation Canes Venatici. This galaxy’s slightly distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others the popular moniker of The Whale Galaxy. Either way, it is similar in size to our own Milky Way. In this gorgeous color image, the Whale’s dark interstellar dust clouds, yellowish core, and young blue star clusters are easy to spot. A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627, appears above the Whale Galaxy. At the lower left is another distorted galaxy, the hockey stick-shaped NGC 4656. The distortions and mingling trails of gas detected at other wavelengths suggest that all three galaxies have had close encounters with each other in their past. The Whale Galaxy is also known to have spouted a halo of hot gas glowing in x-rays.

  During July 22nd’s solar eclipse, the Moon’s dark shadow traced a narrow path as it raced eastward across India and China and on into the Pacific.  Hong Kong was south of the shadow’s path, so a total eclipse was not visible there, but a partial eclipse was still enjoyed by inhabitants of the populous city.  And while many were (safely!) watching the sky, images of the partially eclipsed Sun adorned the city itself.  In this downlooking photo, taken at 9:40am local time, a remarkable array of solar eclipse views was created by reflection in a grid of eastward facing skyscraper windows.  The photographer’s location was the 27th floor of Two Pacific Place.

During July 22nd’s solar eclipse, the Moon’s dark shadow traced a narrow path as it raced eastward across India and China and on into the Pacific. Hong Kong was south of the shadow’s path, so a total eclipse was not visible there, but a partial eclipse was still enjoyed by inhabitants of the populous city. And while many were (safely!) watching the sky, images of the partially eclipsed Sun adorned the city itself. In this downlooking photo, taken at 9:40am local time, a remarkable array of solar eclipse views was created by reflection in a grid of eastward facing skyscraper windows. The photographer’s location was the 27th floor of Two Pacific Place.

Sprawling across hundreds of light-years, emission nebula IC 1396, visible on the upper right, mixes glowing cosmic gas and dark dust clouds.  Stars are forming in this area, only about 3,000 light-years from Earth.  This wide angle view also captures surrounding emission and absorption nebula.    The red glow in IC 1396 and across the image is created by cosmic hydrogen gas recapturing electrons knocked away by energetic starlight.  The dark dust clouds are dense groups of smoke-like particles common in the disks of spiral galaxies.  Among the intriguing dark shapes within IC 1396, the winding Elephant’s Trunk nebula lies just right of the nebula’s center.  IC 1396 lies in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus.

Sprawling across hundreds of light-years, emission nebula IC 1396, visible on the upper right, mixes glowing cosmic gas and dark dust clouds. Stars are forming in this area, only about 3,000 light-years from Earth. This wide angle view also captures surrounding emission and absorption nebula. The red glow in IC 1396 and across the image is created by cosmic hydrogen gas recapturing electrons knocked away by energetic starlight. The dark dust clouds are dense groups of smoke-like particles common in the disks of spiral galaxies. Among the intriguing dark shapes within IC 1396, the winding Elephant’s Trunk nebula lies just right of the nebula’s center. IC 1396 lies in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus.

Why take a picture of just the Badlands when you can take one that also shows the spectacular sky above it?  Just such a picture, actually a digital stitched panorama of four images, was taken in late June near midnight, looking southwest.  In the foreground, the unusual buttes of the Badlands Wall, part of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA, were momentarily illuminated by flashlight during a long duration exposure of the background night sky.  The mountain-like buttes visible are composed of soft rock that show sharp erosion features from wind and water.  The South Dakota Badlands also contain ancient beds rich with easy-to-find fossils.    Some fossils are over 25 million years old and hold clues to the evolutionary origins of the horse and the saber-toothed tiger.   Bright Jupiter dominates the sky on the left just above the buttes, while the spectacular Milky Way Galaxy runs down the image right.

Why take a picture of just the Badlands when you can take one that also shows the spectacular sky above it? Just such a picture, actually a digital stitched panorama of four images, was taken in late June near midnight, looking southwest. In the foreground, the unusual buttes of the Badlands Wall, part of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA, were momentarily illuminated by flashlight during a long duration exposure of the background night sky. The mountain-like buttes visible are composed of soft rock that show sharp erosion features from wind and water. The South Dakota Badlands also contain ancient beds rich with easy-to-find fossils. Some fossils are over 25 million years old and hold clues to the evolutionary origins of the horse and the saber-toothed tiger. Bright Jupiter dominates the sky on the left just above the buttes, while the spectacular Milky Way Galaxy runs down the image right.

This image of the Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

This image of the Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

The Vredefort Dome in South Africa is possibly the oldest and largest clearly visible asteroid impact on Earth. The 155-mile crater is approximately 60 miles southwest of Johannesburg and was formed around 2 billion years ago.

The Vredefort Dome in South Africa is possibly the oldest and largest clearly visible asteroid impact on Earth. The 155-mile crater is approximately 60 miles southwest of Johannesburg and was formed around 2 billion years ago.