Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula
The Butterfly Nebula is only thousands of years old. As a central star of a binary system aged, it threw off its outer envelopes of gas in a strong stellar wind. The remaining stellar core is so hot it ionizes the previously ejected gas, causing it to glow.
Solar Flares Cause Sun Quakes
An 11th magnitude quake has been recorded on the Sun, immediately following a moderate solar flare. The quake was the first ever recorded on the Sun, but only because astronomers have only recently figured out when and how to find them using the orbiting SOHO spacecraft.
Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars
Phobos is doomed. 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...
Water (Dihydrogen Oxide, H2O) is a truly remarkable chemical compound, fundamental to life on Earth. Earth is the only planet in the Solar System where the present surface temperature and pressure allow the three forms of water, solid (ice), liquid (ocean), and gas (water vapor condensing in clouds) to exist simultaneously.
An Extrasolar Planet?
This infrared Hubble Space Telescope view may contain the first ever direct image of a planet outside our own solar system. The picture shows a very young double star located about 450 light-years away toward the constellation of Taurus.
This sequence of three false color X-ray pictures from the Italian/Dutch BeppoSAX satellite follows the fading glow from a gamma-ray burster. This burster triggered orbiting gamma-ray observatories on December 14, 1997 and within 6.5 hours the sensitive X-ray cameras onboard BeppoSAX had been turned to record the first image (left) of the afterglow.
What do you call a neutron star with a super-strong magnetic field? You guessed it ... a Magnetar. Imagine a star with more mass than the sun, the density of a neutron, and a magnetic field about a thousand trillion (a one followed by 15 zeroes) times stronger than Earth's.
A Seemingly Square Sun
Isn't the Sun round? Yes, but in the above picture, the Earth's atmosphere makes it appear almost square. Here a layer of air near the Earth was so warm it acted like a giant lens, creating increasingly distorted paths for sunlight to reach the camera.
M83: A Barred Spiral Galaxy
M83 is a bright spiral galaxy that can be found with a small telescope in the constellation of Hydra. M83 is a member of the Centaurus group of galaxies, a nearby group dominated by the massive galaxy Centaurus A. It takes light about 15 million years to reach us from M83.
A High Energy Fleet
Looking like a fleet of futuristic starcruisers, NASA's highly successful series of High Energy Astrophysical Observatory (HEAO) spacecraft appear poised over planet Earth. Labeled A, B, and C in this vintage illustration, the spacebased telescopes were known as HEAO-1, HEAO-2, and HEAO-3 respectively.