Spiral Galaxy NGC 6503

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Spiral galaxy NGC 6503 is in a lonely position, at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. The Local Void is a stretch of space at least 150 million light-years across that seems completely empty of stars or galaxies. Dark dust lanes snake across the galaxy's bright arms and center, giving it a mottled appearance. Bright red patches of gas can be seen scattered through the galaxy's swirling arms, mixed with bright blue regions that contain newly forming stars.

Release Date: June 23, 2015

Credit: NASAESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Westerlund 2 (Detail)

Westerlund 2 is surrounded by the star-forming region Gum 29. The heaviest cluster stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-force winds streaming with charged particles, etching away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud from where the cluster formed. The nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges, valleys, and reddish-brown filaments of dense gas and dust. The brightest stars in the image are Milky Way foreground stars not associated with Westerlund 2.

The pillars in the star-forming region surrounding Westerlund 2, composed of dense gas, are a few light-years tall and point to the central cluster. They are thought to be incubators for new stars. Besides sculpting the gaseous terrain, intense radiation from the most brilliant of the cluster stars is creating a successive generation of baby stars. The bluish haze is an indicator of oxygen gas in the nebula.

Release Date: April 23, 2015

Credit: NASAESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

Westerlund 2

Hubble's 25th anniversary image features a giant, sparkling cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.

Release Date: April 23, 2015

Credit: NASAESA, A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

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Blind Renaissance

Since 1972, Blind Renaissance has an extensive history of creating the strong visual identity and cohesive media presence demanded by the sophistication of marketing environments. We design engaging, client-specific promotional materials by combining an educated artistic sensibility, knowledge of advertising trends in multiple industries and the ability to appropriately utilize new design, web and printing technology.

Spiral Galaxy NGC 1309

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Release Date: August 6, 2014

Credit: NASAESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and A. Riess (JHU/STScI)

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Blind Renaissance

Since 1972, Blind Renaissance has an extensive history of creating the strong visual identity and cohesive media presence demanded by the sophistication of marketing environments. We design engaging, client-specific promotional materials by combining an educated artistic sensibility, knowledge of advertising trends in multiple industries and the ability to appropriately utilize new design, web and printing technology.

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and Companion Galaxy

The large Whirlpool Galaxy (left) is known for its sharply defined spiral arms. Their prominence could be the result of the Whirlpool's gravitational tug-of-war with its smaller companion galaxy (right).

Release Date: April 25, 2005

Credit: NASAESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Galaxy Spiral NGC 1309

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This pinwheel-shaped spiral galaxy was home to a supernova whose light reached Earth in 2002. Scientists are using the supernova burst to measure the expansion rate of the universe.

Release Date: February 7, 2006

Credit: NASAESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and A. Riess (STScI)

Infant Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud

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The Small Magellanic Cloud is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It contains this group of baby stars that are still forming from collapsing gas clouds and have not yet ignited their hydrogen fuel.

Release Date: Janurary 12, 2005

Credit: NASAESA, and A. Nota (STScI/ESA)

Taken Under the “Wing” of the Small Magellanic Cloud

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The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is one of the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbors. Even though it is a small or so-called dwarf galaxy, the SMC is so bright that it is visible to the unaided eye from the Southern Hemisphere and near the equator. Many navigators, including Ferdinand Magellan who lends his name to the SMC, used it to help find their way across the oceans.

Modern astronomers are also interested in studying the SMC (and its cousin, the Large Magellanic Cloud), but for very different reasons. Because the SMC is so close and bright, it offers an opportunity to study phenomena that are difficult to examine in more distant galaxies.

New Chandra data of the SMC have provided one such discovery: the first detection of X-ray emission from young stars, with masses similar to our Sun, outside our Milky Way galaxy. The new Chandra observations of these low-mass stars were made of the region known as the "Wing" of the SMC. In this composite image of the Wing, the Chandra data are shown in purple, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope are shown in red, green, and blue, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope are shown in red.

Astronomers call all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium – that is, with more than two protons in the atom's nucleus – "metals." The Wing is a region known to have fewer metals compared to most areas within the Milky Way. There are also relatively lower amounts of gas, dust, and stars in the Wing compared to the Milky Way.

Taken together, these properties make the Wing an excellent location to study the life cycle of stars and the gas lying in between them. Not only are these conditions typical for dwarf irregular galaxies like the SMC, they also mimic ones that would have existed in the early universe.

Most star formation near the tip of the Wing is occurring in a small region known as NGC 602, which contains a collection of at least three star clusters. One of them, NGC 602a, is similar in age, mass, and size to the famous Orion Nebula Cluster. Researchers have studied NGC 602a to see if young stars – that is, those only a few million years old – have different properties when they have low levels of metals, like the ones found in NGC 602a.

Using Chandra, astronomers saw extended X-ray emission, from the two most densely populated regions in NGC 602a. The extended X-ray cloud likely comes from the population of young, low-mass stars in the cluster, which have previously been picked out by infrared and optical surveys using Spitzer and Hubble, respectively. This emission is not likely to be hot gas blown away by massive stars, because the low metal content of stars in NGC 602a implies that these stars should have weak winds. The failure to detect X-ray emission from the most massive star in NGC 602a supports this conclusion, because X-ray emission is an indicator of the strength of winds from massive stars. No individual low-mass stars are detected, but the overlapping emission from several thousand stars is bright enough to be observed.

The Chandra results imply that the young, metal-poor stars in NGC 602 produce X-rays in a matter similar to stars with much higher metal content found in the Orion cluster in our galaxy. The authors speculate that if the X-ray properties of young stars are similar in different environments, then other related properties – including the formation and evolution of disks where planets form – are also likely to be similar.

X-ray emission traces the magnetic activity of young stars and is related to how efficiently their magnetic dynamo operates. Magnetic dynamos generate magnetic fields in stars through a process involving the star's rotation speed and convection, the rising and falling of hot gas in the star's interior.

The combined X-ray, optical, and infrared data also revealed, for the first time outside our galaxy, objects representative of an even younger stage of evolution of a star. These so-called "young stellar objects" have ages of a few thousand years and are still embedded in the pillar of dust and gas from which stars form, as in the famous "Pillars of Creation" of the Eagle Nebula.

A paper describing these results was published online and in the March 1, 2013, issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The first author is Lidia Oskinova from the University of Potsdam in Germany.

Release Date: April 4, 2013

Credit: NASAESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI

 

Star-Forming Region S106

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope presents a festive holiday greeting that's out of this world. The bipolar star-forming region, called Sharpless 2-106, looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. The outstretched "wings" of the nebula record the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium.

Sharpless 2-106, Sh2-106 or S106 for short, lies nearly 2,000 light-years from us. The nebula measures several light-years in length. It appears in a relatively isolated region of the Milky Way galaxy.

A massive, young star, IRS 4 (Infrared Source 4), is responsible for the furious activity we see in the nebula. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central star. This hot gas creates the "wings" of our angel.

A ring of dust and gas orbiting the star acts like a belt, cinching the expanding nebula into an "hourglass" shape. Hubble's sharp resolution reveals ripples and ridges in the gas as it interacts with the cooler interstellar medium.

Dusky red veins surround the blue emission from the nebula. The faint light emanating from the central star reflects off of tiny dust particles. This illuminates the environment around the star, showing darker filaments of dust winding beneath the blue lobes.

Detailed studies of the nebula have also uncovered several hundred brown dwarfs. At purely infrared wavelengths, more than 600 of these sub-stellar objects appear. These "failed" stars weigh less than a tenth of our Sun. Because of their low mass, they cannot produce sustained energy through nuclear fusion like our Sun does. They encompass the nebula in a small cluster.

The Hubble images were taken in February 2011 with the Wide Field Camera 3. Visible narrow-band filters that isolate the hydrogen gas were combined with near-infrared filters that show structure in the cooler gas and dust.

Release Date: December 15, 2011

Credit: NASAESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hubble/Subaru Composite image of Star-Forming Region S106

Hubble Space Telescope's high resolution combines with the Subaru Telescope's wide field-of-view to reveal a depiction of star-forming region S106 that is not possible from either telescope alone. The bipolar S106 shows bright gas in two distinct lobes. The faint stars located near the nebulosity are brown dwarf candidates associated with the region of star formation.

This composite image combines optical and near-infrared astronomical data from the Hubble Space Telescope with mid-infrared data from the ground-based Subaru Telescope, located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The Hubble data (H-alpha, J, and H) were taken as part of Hubble Heritage observations of S106 in February 2011. The Subaru data (JH, and K) were obtained in May 1999.

Release Date: December 15, 2011

Credit: NASAESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and the Subaru Telescope (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

Face-On Spiral Galaxy NGC 3982

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Though the universe is chock full of spiral-shaped galaxies, no two look exactly the same. This face-on spiral galaxy, called NGC 3982, is striking for its rich tapestry of star birth, along with its winding arms. The arms are lined with pink star-forming regions of glowing hydrogen, newborn blue star clusters, and obscuring dust lanes that provide the raw material for future generations of stars. The bright nucleus is home to an older population of stars, which grow ever more densely packed toward the center.

NGC 3982 is located about 68 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy spans about 30,000 light-years, one-third of the size of our Milky Way galaxy. This color image is composed of exposures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). The observations were taken between March 2000 and August 2009. The rich color range comes from the fact that the galaxy was photographed invisible and near-infrared light. Also used was a filter that isolates hydrogen emission that emanates from bright star-forming regions dotting the spiral arms.

Release Date: October 19, 2010

Credit: NASAESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: A. Riess (STScI)

Spitzer Hubble Chandra of M101

This image of the spiral galaxy M101 is a composite of views from the Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Red indicates infrared light, yellow is visible, and blue is X-ray.

Release Date: February 10, 2009

Credit: NASAESA, CXC, SSC, and STScI

Hubble’s Sharpest View of the Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is a cavern of tumultuous gas and dust where thousands of stars are forming. The energy released by the young stars transforms their place of birth, whipping their surroundings into fantastic forms.

Release Date: January 11, 2006

Credit: NASA,ESA, M. Robberto (STScI/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team