Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)An Intermediate Polar Binary System
How can two stars create such a strange and intricate structure? Most stars are members of multiple-star systems. Some stars are members of close binary systems where material from one star swirls around the other in an accretion disk.
Elliptical Galaxy M87
In spiral galaxies, majestic winding arms of young stars and interstellar gas and dust rotate in a flat disk around a bulging galactic nucleus. But elliptical galaxies seem to be simpler. Lacking gas and dust to form new stars, their randomly swarming older stars, give them an ellipsoidal (egg-like) shape.
The Gum Nebula
Named for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum (1924-1960), The Gum Nebula is so large and close it is actually hard to see. In fact, we are only about 450 light-years from the front edge and 1,500 light-years from the back edge of this cosmic cloud of glowing hydrogen gas.
Shell Game in the LMC
An alluring sight in dark southern skies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here through a narrow filter that transmits only the red light of hydrogen atoms. Ionized by energetic starlight, a hydrogen atom emits the characteristic red H-alpha light as its single electron is recaptured and transitions to lower energy states.
The Host Galaxies of Long Duration GRBs
What causes the powerful explosions knows as gamma-ray bursts? Astrophysicists still aren't sure, but the longest duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) seem to involve very massive stars. A new clue indicating this was uncovered recently by a series of images taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
The International Space Station from Above
The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Last August, the station was visited and resupplied by space shuttle Discovery. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 13 crew, consisting a Russian and an American astronaut.
Volcanic Bumpy Boulder on Mars
What created this unusually textured rock on Mars? Most probably: a volcano. Dubbed Bumpy Boulder, the strange stone measuring just under a half-meter high was found by the robotic Spirit rover currently rolling across Mars.
The Very Large Array of Radio Telescopes
The most photogenic array of radio telescopes in the world has also been one of the most productive. Each of the 27 radio telescopes in the Very Large Array (VLA) is the size of a house and can be moved on train tracks.
This false-color mosaic of crumbling comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 spans about 6 degrees (12 full moons) along the comet's orbit. Recorded on May 4-6 by an infrared camera on board the Spitzer Space Telescope, the picture captures about 45 of the 60 or more alphabetically cataloged large comet fragments.
Comet Meets Ring Nebula: Part II
Moving rapidly through planet Earth's night sky, Fragment C of crumbling comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 passed almost directly in front of M57 - the Ring Nebula, and faint spiral galaxy IC 1296 on May 8.