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Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2008
As we head into the traditional western Holiday Season, I'd like to present this Hubble Space Telescope imagery Advent Calendar. Every day, for the next 25 days, a new photo will be revealed here from the amazing Hubble Space Telescope. As I take this chance to share these images of our amazing Universe with you, I wish for a Happy Holiday to all those who will celebrate, and for Peace on Earth to everyone. - Alan (25 photos total -
1 In January 2002, a dull star in an obscure constellation suddenly became 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun, temporarily making it the brightest star in our galaxy. The star, called V838 Monocerotis, has long since faded back to obscurity, but observations of a phenomenon called a "light echo" around the star have uncovered remarkable new features over the following years (this animation covers two years' time). The light echo is light from the earlier explosion echoing off dust surrounding the star. Light from the outburst traveled to the dust and then was reflected to Earth. Because of this indirect path, the light arrived at Earth months after light from the star that traveled directly from the star. (NASA, ESA)More(see this on Google Sky)
2In early January of 2000, Hubble took this image of Galaxy Cluster Abell 2218, and its massive amount of "gravitational lensing". Abell 2218 lies some 2 billion light-years away in the Draco constellation and is so massive that its enormous gravitational field deflects light rays passing through it, much as an optical lens bends light to form an image. These magnifying powers provides a powerful "zoom lens" for viewing distant galaxies that could not normally be observed with the largest telescopes. The visible "arcs" are the distorted images of very distant galaxies, which lie 5 to 10 times farther away than the lensing cluster itself. (NASA, Andrew Fruchter and the ERO Team, STScI) More(see this on Google Sky)
3About 55 million years ago, a star near the dusty lenticular galaxy NGC 4526 exploded into a supernova, seen as a bright spot at lower left. In 1994, the Hubble Space telescope caught the weeks-long explosion as the light from it finally reached the Earth, and we called it Supernova 1994D, a fairly typical stellar explosion. The host galaxy also known as the Lost Galaxy lies in the background and is part of the Virgo Cluster. (NASA, ESA) More(see this on Google Sky)
4Also around 55 million light-years distant, we see here the colliding Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039) - a pair of interacting galaxies that lie in the constellation Corvus. The two spiral galaxies started to fuse together a few hundred million years ago making the Antenna galaxies the nearest and youngest example of a pair of colliding galaxies. Nearly half of the faint objects in the Antennae are young clusters containing tens of thousands of stars. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team) More(see this on Google Sky)
5This image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), represents a small section of a larger mosaic - the sharpest view ever taken of the Orion Nebula - a picture book of star formation with massive young stars that are shaping the nebula and pillars of dense gas that may be the homes of budding stars. The bright glow at left is from M43, a small region being shaped by ultraviolet light from a massive young star. Astronomers call the region a miniature Orion Nebula because only one star is sculpting the landscape. The Orion Nebula has four such stars. The Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. (NASA, ESA, M. Robberto - STScI) More (see this on Google Sky)
6A nearly perfect ring of hot, blue stars pinwheels about the yellow nucleus of an unusual galaxy known as Hoag's Object. This image captures a face-on view of the galaxy's ring of stars, revealing more detail than any existing photo of this object. The entire galaxy is about 120,000 light-years wide, which is slightly larger than our Milky Way Galaxy. The blue ring, which is dominated by clusters of young, massive stars, contrasts sharply with the yellow nucleus of mostly older stars. What appears to be a gap separating the two stellar populations may actually contain some star clusters that are almost too faint to see. Curiously, an object that bears an uncanny resemblance to Hoag's Object can be seen in the gap at the one o'clock position. The object is probably a background ring galaxy. (NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA) More (see this on Google Sky)
7Called I Zwicky 18, this galaxy - some 59 million light-years distant - has a youthful appearance that resembles galaxies typically found only in the early universe. Hubble has now found faint, older stars within this galaxy, suggesting that the galaxy may have formed at the same time as most other galaxies. I Zwicky 18 is classified as a dwarf irregular galaxy and is much smaller than our Milky Way Galaxy. The concentrated bluish-white knots embedded in the heart of the galaxy are two major starburst regions where stars are forming at a furious rate. The wispy blue filaments surrounding the central starburst regions are bubbles of gas that have been blown away by stellar winds and supernovae explosions from a previous generation of hot, young stars. A companion galaxy lies just above and to the left and may be interacting with I Zwicky 18. (NASA, ESA, and A. Aloisi STScI) More
8Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula some 1,500 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Orion. The Hubble Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain this colour image. (NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team - STScI) More (see this on Google Sky)
9This image of the ancient open star cluster NGC 6791 was taken in early 2008. Studying the dimmest stars in the cluster, astronomers uncovered three different age groups of stars. Two of the populations are burned-out stars called white dwarfs. One group of these low-wattage stellar remnants appears to be 6 billion years old, another appears to be 4 billion years old. The ages are problematically out of sync with those of the cluster's normal stars, which are 8 billion years old. Located 13,300 light-years away in the constellation Lyra, NGC 6791 is one of the oldest and largest open clusters known, containing roughly 10,000 stars. Also interesting to note are the numerous distant galaxies far beyond our Milky Way Galaxy that are visible between the crowded mass of stars. (NASA, ESA, and L. Bedin, STScI) More (see this on Google Sky)
10This object is a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula. 7,000 light-years distant from us, the soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers tall. Stars in the Eagle Nebula are born in clouds of cold hydrogen gas that reside in chaotic neighbourhoods, where energy from young stars sculpts fantasy-like landscapes in the gas. The tower may be a giant incubator for those newborn stars. A torrent of ultraviolet light from a band of massive, hot, young stars [off the top of the image] is eroding the pillar. The column is silhouetted against the background glow of more distant gas. The bumps and fingers of material in the center of the tower are examples of stellar birthing areas. These regions may look small but they are roughly the size of our solar system. The blue colour at the top is from glowing oxygen, the red color in the lower region is from glowing hydrogen. This image was taken in November 2004 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA) More (see this on Google Sky)
11This is the sharpest image ever made of the large "grand design" spiral galaxy M81, or Bode's Galaxy made with Hubble data acquired over a two-year period. A spiral-shaped system of stars, dust, and gas clouds, the galaxy's arms wind all the way down into the nucleus. Though the galaxy is located 11.6 million light-years away, the Hubble Space Telescope's view is so sharp that it can resolve individual stars, along with open star clusters, globular star clusters, and even glowing regions of fluorescent gas. Bode's galaxy is about 70,000 light-years across - slightly smaller than our own Milky Way, estimated to be 100,000 light-years in diameter. (NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)More (see this on Google Sky)
Originally posted by Wingz
Isn't the universe incredible?
12The "Retina Nebula" is in fact, a dying star named IC 4406. The left and right halves of the Hubble image are nearly mirror images of the other. If we could fly around IC 4406 in a starship, we would see that the gas and dust form a vast donut of material streaming outward from the dying star. From Earth, we are viewing the donut from the side. This side view allows us to see the intricate tendrils of dust that have been compared to the eye's retina. Gas on the inside of the donut is ionized by light from the central star and glows brightly. Light from oxygen atoms is rendered blue in this image; hydrogen is shown as green, and nitrogen as red. One of the most interesting features here is the irregular lattice of dark lanes that criss-cross the center of the nebula. These lanes are about 24 billion kilometers wide, and are like an open mesh veil that has been wrapped around the bright donut. (NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team - STScI/AURA) More (see this on Google Sky)
13This image shows a handful of Bok globules (dark clouds of dense dust and gas) within a larger mosaic image of the Carina Nebula assembled in April of 2007. The clumps of dark clouds are nodules of dust and gas that have resisted being completely photoionized by the strong ultraviolet radiation of nearby young, bright stars. The globule at right is nicknamed "the caterpillar" - its glowing edge indicating that it is in the process of photoionization by the hottest stars in the cluster. the Carina nebula lies some 7,500 light-years away from Earth. (NASA, ESA, N. Smith - UC Berkeley, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA) More(see this on Google Sky)
14Resembling a rippling pool illuminated by underwater lights, the Egg Nebula offers astronomers a special look at the normally invisible dust shells swaddling an aging star. These dust layers, extending over one-tenth of a light-year from the star, have an onionskin structure that forms concentric rings around the star. A thicker dust belt, running almost vertically through the image, blocks off light from the central star. Twin beams of light radiate from the hidden star and illuminate the pitch-black dust, like a shining flashlight in a smoky room. The Egg Nebula is located 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. This image was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in September and October 2002. (NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA) More (see this on Google Sky)
15The gas giant Saturn, seen at full-tilt in November of 1999. Saturn's orbit lies some 1.2 billion kilometers (about 67 light-minutes) away from earth. The planet itself is roughly 9.5 times wider than Earth and its rings - composed of 93 percent water ice - extend out to 120,000 km above its equator, averaging approximately 20 meters in thickness. (NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA) More
16The tattered remains of a supernova explosion known as Cassiopeia A (Cas A), the youngest known remnant from a supernova explosion in the Milky Way. This composite image shows the Cas A remnant as a broken ring of bright filamentary and clumpy stellar ejecta. These huge swirls of debris glow with the heat generated by the passage of a shockwave from the supernova blast. The various colours of the gaseous shards indicate differences in chemical composition. Bright green filaments are rich in oxygen, red and purple are sulphur, and blue are composed mostly of hydrogen and nitrogen. Cas A is located ten thousand light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA) More (see this on Google Sky)
17"The Grasshopper", or UGC 4881, is a stunning system consisting of two colliding galaxies. It has a bright curly tail containing a remarkable number of star clusters. The galaxies are thought to be halfway through a merger - the cores of the parent galaxies are still clearly separated, but their discs are overlapping. A supernova exploded in this system in 1999 and astronomers believe that a vigorous burst of star formation may have just started. This notable object is located in the constellation of Lynx, some 500 million light-years away from Earth. UGC 4881 is the 55th galaxy in Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on the occasion of its 18th anniversary on April 24th, 2008. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA and A. Evans, University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University) More