August 2016: Picture of the Month

ngc7129

Our Sun is most likely formed some five billion years ago in a similar stellar nursery such as NGC7129, located some 3000 light-years away toward the constellation Cepheus. Noticeable in the image are the lovely bluish clouds that reflect the youthful starlight. The compact, deep red crescent shapes mark energetic, young stellar objects. Known as the Herbig-Haro objects, the shape and color of these objects are the characteristic of glowing hydrogen gas streaming away from newborn stars. The paler, reddish filaments are caused by the process of photoluminescence, where dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet starlight to visible red light.

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June 2016: Picture of the Month

crescent_view_pluto

This view of the night side of Pluto was captured by New Horizons last July when the spacecraft was 21000 kilometres from the planet (or 19 minutes after its closest approach). The photo also reveals the complex layers of the Plutonian’s hazy atmosphere. The landscape seen in the crescent view includes the southern areas of the nitrogen ice plains known as Sputnik Planum and the Norgay Montes.

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May 2016: Picture of the Month

may_potd_ng5078

Two bright galaxies can be observed in this sharp telescopic field of view; barred spiral galaxy, NGC 5101 (top right), and the edge-on galaxy, NGC 5708 (bottom left). The two galaxies are separated by about 0.5 degrees (or the full width of the moon). Found within the constellation Hydra, both galaxies are estimated to be around 90 million light-years away and similar in size to that of our own galaxy.

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April 2016: Picture of the Month

SDP81_alma_9602

The foreground galaxy, (shown in blue) taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, acts as a gravitational lens. Surrounding it is the background galaxy, taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, (shown in red). The alignment is so precise that the distant galaxy is distorted into a ring around the foreground galaxy; the ring formation known as an Einstein ring.

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