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N 161 B 3.7K C 4 E Oct 24, 2014 F Oct 24, 2014
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On Oct. 18, 2014, a sunspot rotated over the left side of the sun, and soon grew to be the largest active region seen in the current solar cycle, which began in 2008. Currently, the sunspot is almost 80,000 miles across -- ten Earth's could be laid across its diameter.

Sunspots point to relatively cooler areas on the sun with intense and complex magnetic fields poking out through the sun's surface. Such areas can be the source of solar eruptions such as flares or coronal mass ejections. So far, this active region – labeled AR 12192 -- has produced several significant solar flares: an X-class flare on Oct. 19, an M-class flare on Oct. 21, and an X-class flare on Oct. 22, 2014.

The largest sunspot on record occurred in 1947 and was almost three times as large as the current one.

Active regions are more common at the moment as we are in what's called solar maximum, which is the peak of the sun's activity, occurring approximately every 11 years.

Credit: NASA/SDO

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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:   sun spot sun sdo space nasa NASA Goddard

N 263 B 4.7K C 8 E Oct 20, 2014 F Oct 24, 2014
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This neat little galaxy is known as NGC 4526. Its dark lanes of dust and bright diffuse glow make the galaxy appear to hang like a halo in the emptiness of space in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Although this image paints a picture of serenity, the galaxy is anything but. It is one of the brightest lenticular galaxies known, a category that lies somewhere between spirals and ellipticals. It has hosted two known supernova explosions, one in 1969 and another in 1994, and is known to have a colossal supermassive black hole at its center that has the mass of 450 million suns.

NGC 4526 is part of the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Ground-based observations of galaxies in this cluster have revealed that a quarter of these galaxies seem to have rapidly rotating disks of gas at their centers.

The most spectacular of these is this galaxy, NGC 4526, and its spinning disk of gas, dust, and stars reaches out uniquely far from its heart, spanning some seven percent of the galaxy's entire radius.

This disk is moving incredibly fast, spinning at more than 250 kilometers per second. The dynamics of this quickly whirling region were actually used to infer the mass of NGC 4526’s central black hole — a technique that had not been used before to constrain a galaxy’s central black hole.

This image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Tags:   NGC 4526 HUBBLE HST Hubble Space Telescope Galaxy space NASA NASA Goddard

N 31 B 3.2K C 1 E Oct 24, 2014 F Oct 24, 2014
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This image shows how a partial solar eclipse darkened clouds over the Yukon and British Columbia in western Canada. It was taken on Oct. 23 at 21:20 UTC (5:20 p.m. EDT) by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.

Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
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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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N 61 B 4.7K C 2 E Oct 24, 2014 F Oct 24, 2014
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This image shows how the partial solar eclipse darkened clouds over Alaska. It was taken on Oct. 23 at 21:10 UTC (5:10 p.m. EDT) by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.

Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

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:   Sun Eclipse Solar Eclipse nasa NASA Goddard

N 259 B 9.5K C 11 E Oct 23, 2014 F Oct 23, 2014
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This composite NASA Hubble Space Telescope Image captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014. The comet passed by Mars at approximately 87,000 miles (about one-third of the distance between Earth and the Moon). At that time, the comet and Mars were approximately 149 million miles from Earth.

The comet image shown here is a composite of Hubble exposures taken between Oct. 18, 8:06 a.m. EDT to Oct. 19, 11:17 p.m. EDT. Hubble took a separate photograph of Mars at 10:37 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18.

The Mars and comet images have been added together to create a single picture to illustrate the angular separation, or distance, between the comet and Mars at closest approach. The separation is approximately 1.5 arc minutes, or one-twentieth of the angular diameter of the full Moon. The background starfield in this composite image is synthesized from ground-based telescope data provided by the Palomar Digital Sky Survey, which has been reprocessed to approximate Hubble’s resolution. The solid icy comet nucleus is too small to be resolved in the Hubble picture. The comet’s bright coma, a diffuse cloud of dust enshrouding the nucleus, and a dusty tail, are clearly visible.

This is a composite image because a single exposure of the stellar background, comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic. Mars is actually 10,000 times brighter than the comet, and so could not be properly exposed to show detail in the Red Planet. The comet and Mars were also moving with respect to each other and so could not be imaged simultaneously in one exposure without one of the objects being motion blurred. Hubble had to be programmed to track on the comet and Mars separately in two different observations.

The images were taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Credit: NASA, ESA, PSI, JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

Credit: NASA, ESA, PSI, JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

Tags:   Comet Sliding Spring Mars Hubble NASA space Goddard


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