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N 1.4K B 60.1K C 43 E May 21, 2015 F May 21, 2015
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Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it “Nasty 1,” a play on its catalog name of NaSt1. The star may represent a brief transitory stage in the evolution of extremely massive stars.

First discovered several decades ago, Nasty 1 was identified as a Wolf-Rayet star, a rapidly evolving star that is much more massive than our sun. The star loses its hydrogen-filled outer layers quickly, exposing its super-hot and extremely bright helium-burning core.

But Nasty 1 doesn’t look like a typical Wolf-Rayet star. The astronomers using Hubble had expected to see twin lobes of gas flowing from opposite sides of the star, perhaps similar to those emanating from the massive star Eta Carinae, which is a Wolf-Rayet candidate.

Instead, Hubble revealed a pancake-shaped disk of gas encircling the star. The vast disk is nearly 2 trillion miles wide, and may have formed from an unseen companion star that snacked on the outer envelope of the newly formed Wolf-Rayet. Based on current estimates, the nebula surrounding the stars is just a few thousand years old, and as close as 3,000 light-years from Earth.

Read more: www.nasa.gov/feature/hubble-observes-one-of-a-kind-star-n...

Credits: NASA/Hubble

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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Tags:   HUBBLE Hubble Space Telescope HST NASA NASA Goddard

N 299 B 28.6K C 12 E May 11, 2015 F May 15, 2015
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The glowing object in this Hubble Space Telescope image is an elliptical galaxy called NGC 3923. It is located over 90 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra.

NGC 3923 is an example of a shell galaxy where the stars in its halo are arranged in layers.

Finding concentric shells of stars enclosing a galaxy is quite common and is observed in many elliptical galaxies. In fact, every tenth elliptical galaxy exhibits this onion-like structure, which has never been observed in spiral galaxies. The shell-like structures are thought to develop as a consequence of galactic cannibalism, when a larger galaxy ingests a smaller companion. As the two centers approach, they initially oscillate about a common center, and this oscillation ripples outwards forming the shells of stars just as ripples on a pond spread when the surface is disturbed.

NGC 3923 has over twenty shells, with only a few of the outer ones visible in this image, and its shells are much more subtle than those of other shell galaxies. The shells of this galaxy are also interestingly symmetrical, while other shell galaxies are more skewed.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Tags:   NGC 3923 HUBBLE HST Hubble Space Telescope NASA NASA Goddard

N 496 B 30.3K C 5 E May 4, 2015 F May 14, 2015
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Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have captured for the first time snapshots of fledging white dwarf stars beginning their slow-paced, 40-million-year migration from the crowded center of an ancient star cluster to the less populated suburbs.

White dwarfs are the burned-out relics of stars that rapidly lose mass, cool down and shut off their nuclear furnaces. As these glowing carcasses age and shed weight, their orbits begin to expand outward from the star cluster’s packed downtown. This migration is caused by a gravitational tussle among stars inside the cluster. Globular star clusters sort out stars according to their mass, governed by a gravitational billiard ball game where lower mass stars rob momentum from more massive stars. The result is that heavier stars slow down and sink to the cluster's core, while lighter stars pick up speed and move across the cluster to the edge. This process is known as "mass segregation." Until these Hubble observations, astronomers had never definitively seen the dynamical conveyor belt in action.

Astronomers used Hubble to watch the white-dwarf exodus in the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, a dense swarm of hundreds of thousands of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The cluster resides 16,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Tucana.

Read more: www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/hubble-catches-stellar-exodu...

Credits: NASA, ESA, and H. Richer and J. Heyl (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada); acknowledgement: J. Mack (STScI) and G. Piotto (University of Padova, Italy)

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Tags:   HUBBLE HST Hubble Space Telescope NASA NASA Goddard space Galaxy star

N 405 B 33.5K C 9 E May 4, 2015 F May 8, 2015
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This image provides the clearest ever view of galaxy NGC 949, which lies over 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum. The galaxy has an unusual shape, made more obscure due to its inclination. From our point of view, it is difficult to discern exactly what type of galaxy NGC 949 is, but it is certainly a disk galaxy of some kind, most likely a spiral.

NGC 949 was first discovered by Sir William Herschel on September 21, 1786, using an 18.7-inch reflecting telescope. The galaxy was one of about 3,000 objects Herschel cataloged as "nebulae" during an intense and systematic deep sky survey, the results of which eventually formed the bulk of the New General Catalogue (NGC).

Taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), this image shows extraordinary detail. This detail allows us to see a strange asymmetric alignment in the dark lanes of dust that snake across the galaxy. The top-right half of the galaxy appears considerably more marbled with dust in this image; a curious observation explained by stars tending to favor locations towards the center of a galaxy, and dust preferring almost invariably to reside along the galactic plane.

When a galaxy is inclined as NGC 949 is, some regions — in this case the top-right — are tipped toward us and the light from the stars we see in these regions has had to travel through more dust. This causes the light to appear redder — the result of the same process that gives the sun’s light a red hue at dusk — or else disappear entirely, making the dust appear more prominent on that side of the galaxy.

In the part tipped away from us, the light from the stars has had to pass through much less dust to reach us, so it appears brighter, and the dust is much less prominent. Were it possible to view NGC 949 from the opposite side, the apparent alignment of the dust would be reversed.

The scientific advantages of this effect were recently displayed in suitably stunning style in the M31 PHAT mosaic, which allowed astronomers to produce a partial three-dimensional dust map of M31 four times clearer than any previously attempted.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Tags:   NGC 949 H HUBBLE NASA NASA Goddard space Galaxy

N 750 B 67.3K C 23 E May 8, 2015 F May 8, 2015
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Decades of satellite observations and astronaut photographs show that clouds dominate space-based views of Earth. One study based on nearly a decade of satellite data estimated that about 67 percent of Earth’s surface is typically covered by clouds. This is especially the case over the oceans, where other research shows less than 10 percent of the sky is completely clear of clouds at any one time. Over land, 30 percent of skies are completely cloud free.

Earth’s cloudy nature is unmistakable in this global cloud fraction map, based on data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite. While MODIS collects enough data to make a new global map of cloudiness every day, this version of the map shows an average of all of the satellite’s cloud observations between July 2002 and April 2015. Colors range from dark blue (no clouds) to light blue (some clouds) to white (frequent clouds).

Read more here: 1.usa.gov/1P6lbMU

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Tags:   earth NASA N NASA Goddard clouds cloud


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