Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Dark Spots on Neptune
Neptune has spots. The Solar System's outermost gas giant shows a nearly uniform blue hue created by small amounts of methane drifting in a thick atmosphere of nearly colorless hydrogen and helium. Dark spots do appear, however, that are anti-cyclones: large high-pressure systems that swirl in Neptune's cold cloud tops.
The Lagoon Nebula in Three Colors
The bright Lagoon Nebula is home to a diverse array of astronomical objects. Particularly interesting sources include a bright open cluster of stars and several energetic star-forming regions. When viewed by eye, cluster light...
Mercury: A Cratered Inferno
Mercury's surface looks similar to our Moon's. Each is heavily cratered and made of rock. Mercury's diameter is about 4800 km, while the Moon's is slightly less at about 3500 km (compared with about 12,700 km for the Earth). But Mercury is unique in many ways.
Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars
Mars, the red planet named for the Roman god of war, has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, whose names are derived from the Greek for Fear and Panic. These Martian moons may well...
The 47 Ursae Majoris System
Watching and waiting, astronomers have uncovered the presence of more than 70 planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. So far almost all these extrasolar planets have crazy elongated orbits, lie uncomfortably close to their parent stars, or are found in bizarre, inhospitable systems.
Centaurus A: X Rays from an Active Galaxy
Its core hidden from optical view by a thick lane of dust, the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A was among the first objects observed by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. Astronomers were not disappointed, as Centaurus A's appearance in x-rays makes its classification as an active galaxy easy to appreciate.
Mars: 3 D Dunes
Get out your red/blue glasses and treat yourself to this dramatic 3-D view of sand dunes on Mars! The field of undulating dunes is found in Nili Patera, a volcanic depression in central Syrtis Major, the most prominent dark feature on the Red Planet.
X-Rays from the Galactic Plane
In February 2000, the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory spent 27 hours staring into the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Its target was a spot in the small constellation Scutum, within the Milky Way's zone of avoidance where galactic gas and dust clouds block visible light, making a poor window for optical telescopes.
A Piece of Interplanetary Dust
The dust that pervades our Solar System is not the dust that pervades our homes. Solar System dust comes from comets and asteroids, whereas house dust is most likely lint or dead cells. Pictured above is a piece of interplanetary dust caught by a high-flying U2-type aircraft.
Eagle EGGs in M16
Star forming regions known as "EGGs" are uncovered at the end of this giant pillar of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula (M16). EGGs, short for evaporating gaseous globules, are dense regions of mostly molecular hydrogen gas that fragment and gravitationally collapse to form stars.