Tuesday, July 23, 2019
M82: GALAXY WITH A SUPERGALACTIC WIND Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing & Copyright: Daniel Nobre
Why is the Cigar Galaxy billowing red smoke? M82, as this starburst galaxy is also known, was stirred up by a recent pass near large spiral galaxy M81. This doesn't fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas and dust, however. Evidence indicates that this gas and dust is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. The dust particles are thought to originate in M82's interstellar medium and are actually similar in size to particles in cigar smoke. The featured photographic mosaic highlights a specific color of red light strongly emitted by ionized hydrogen gas, showing detailed filaments of this gas and dust. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. The 12-million light-year distant Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light, and can be seen in visible light with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).
Monday, July 22, 2019
What could create such a large circular shadow on the Moon? The Earth. Last week's full Moon -- the Buck Moon -- was so full that it fell almost exactly in a line with the Sun and the Earth. When that happens the Earth casts its shadow onto the Moon. The circularity of the Earth's shadow on the Moon was commented on by Aristotle and so has been noticed since at least the 4th century BC. What's new is humanity's ability to record this shadow with such high dynamic range (HDR). The featured HDR composite of last week's partial lunar eclipse combines 15 images and include an exposure as short as 1/400th of a second -- so as not to overexpose the brightest part -- and an exposure that lasted five seconds -- to bring up the dimmest part. This dimmest part -- inside Earth's umbra -- is not completely dark because some light is refracted through the Earth's atmosphere onto the Moon. A total lunar eclipse will occur next in 2021 May.
Sunday, July 21, 2019
"Que el recuerdo de aquel gran paso para la humanidad pueda despertar el deseo de progresar juntos hacia metas aún mayores: más dignidad para los débiles, más justicia entre los pueblos y más futuro para nuestra casa común, EL PLANETA TIERRA"
Saturday, July 20, 2019
Friday, July 19, 2019
On July 16 the Moon celebrated the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 with a lunar eclipse visible from much of planet Earth. In this view part of the lunar disk is immersed in Earth's dark, reddened umbral shadow. Near the maximum eclipse phase, it just touches down along a mountain ridge. The rugged Tyrolean nightscape was recorded after moonrise south of Innsbruck, Austria with a dramatically lit communication tower along the ridgeline. Of course eclipses rarely travel alone. This partial lunar eclipse was at the Full Moon following July 2nd's New Moon and total eclipse of the Sun.
That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no solar panels. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots occur on the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, in this recent two-image composite, the Sun lacked any real sunspots. The featured picture combines two images -- one capturing the space station transiting the Sun -- and another taken consecutively capturing details of the Sun's surface. Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low.