Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)The Year of Distant Supernovae
Distant supernovae were among topics at the forefront of astronomy during 1998. Two independent groups raced to deploy large telescopes to scan the sky, discovering and analyzing far-off supernovae with the promise of calibrating the geometry of our universe.
Supernova 1994D and the Unexpected Universe
Far away, long ago, a star exploded. Supernova 1994D, visible as the bright spot on the lower left, occurred in the outskirts of disk galaxy NGC 4526. Supernova 1994D was not of interest for how different it was, but rather for how similar it was to other supernovae.
A Geminid from Gemini
The Leonid meteor shower was not the only good meteor shower this season. Earlier this month, the annual Geminids meteor shower peaked, featuring as many as 140 meteors per hour from some locations. Geminid meteors can be seen streaking away from the constellation of Gemini, as depicted in the above all-sky photograph.
NEAR to Asteroid Eros
On December 23, the NEAR spacecraft flew by asteroid 433 Eros. NEAR was originally scheduled to brake and orbit Eros, but an unexpected shutdown of its main engine caused this plan to be aborted. NEAR will now be reset and attempt to return to orbit Eros in early 2000.
M2 9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula
Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die? Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured above, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes.
Gamma Ray Quasar
The bright object in the center of the false color image above is quasar 3C279 viewed in gamma-rays, photons with more than 40 million times the energy of visible light. Like all quasars, 3C279 is a nondescript, faint, star-like object in the visible sky.
Nebulae For Christmas
If our Galaxy were a Christmas tree, planetary nebulae would adorn it like colorful lighted ornaments twinkling on a cosmic scale. Glowing shrouds of gas ejected by red giant stars, planetary nebulae like...
Mars Climate Orbiter Launches
Looking down from atop a Delta II rocket blasting skyward, solid fuel boosters fall away (left) and the Earth's limb slides into view. These pictures from the launch of the Mars Climate Orbiter were taken as it climbed away from Cape Canaveral Air Station Space Launch Complex 17 on December 11.
Ring Around the Galaxy
It is difficult to hide one galaxy far behind another. The closer galaxy's gravity will act like a huge lens, pulling images of the background galaxy around both sides. This is just...
Dawn of the Leonids
Many of the 1998 Leonid shower meteors were so bright they could be seen even during sunrise. The above photograph was taken near the dawn of November 16 close to Hong Kong, China. However, most meteors are fainter and are not associated with any particular meteor shower.