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Arp 273: Battling Galaxies from Hubble

Posted by Specola • Posted on 11/20/2019 at 02:27PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What's happening to these spiral galaxies? Although details remain uncertain, there sure seems to be a titanic battle going on. The upper galaxy is labelled UGC 1810 by itself, but together with its collisional partners is known as Arp 273. The overall shape of the UGC 1810 -- in particular its blue outer ring -- is likely a result of wild and violent gravitational interactions. The blue color of the outer ring at the top is caused by massive stars that are blue hot and have formed only in the past few million years. The inner part of the upper galaxy -- itself an older spiral galaxy -- appears redder and threaded with cool filamentary dust. A few bright stars appear well in the foreground, unrelated to colliding galaxies, while several far-distant galaxies are visible in the background. Arp 273 lies about 300 million light years away toward the constellation of Andromeda. Quite likely, UGC 1810 will devour its galactic sidekicks over the next billion years and settle into a classic spiral form.

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Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/14/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

From somewhere else in the Milky Way galaxy, Comet 2I/Borisov is just visiting the Solar System. Discovered by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov on August 30, 2019, the first known interstellar comet is captured in these two recent Hubble Space Telescope images. On the left, a distant background galaxy near the line-of-sight to Borisov is blurred as Hubble tracked the speeding comet and dust tail about 327 million kilometers from Earth. At right, 2I/Borisov appears shortly after perihelion, its closest approach to Sun. Borisov's closest approach to our fair planet, a distance of about 290 million kilometers, will come on December 28. Even though Hubble's sharp images don't resolve the comet's nucleus, they do lead to estimates of less than 1 kilometer for its diameter.

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Full Moon Geminids

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/13/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

The dependable annual Geminid meteor shower will be near its peak tonight (December 13/14) and before tomorrow's dawn. As Earth crosses through the dusty trail of active asteroid 3200 Phaethon the meteors will flash through the sky from the shower's radiant in Gemini. Gemini will be pretty easy for skygazers to find too as it won't be far from a nearly full waning gibbous Moon. You don't have look at the shower's radiant to see meteors though. The almost full moonlight won't hide the brightest of the Geminids from view either, but it will substantially reduce the rate of visible meteors for those who are counting. In fact, the 2019 Geminids should look a lot like the 2016 meteor shower This composite image from the 2016 Geminids aligns individual short exposures to capture many of the brighter Geminid meteors, inspite of a Full Moon shining near the constellation of the Twins. Along the horizon are the Teide Observatory's Solar Laboratory (right) and the Teide volcano on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

Photo by Juan Carlos Casado

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Decorating the Sky

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/12/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Bright stars, clouds of dust and glowing nebulae decorate this cosmic scene, a skyscape just north of Orion's belt. Close to the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the wide field view spans about 5.5 degrees. Striking bluish M78, a reflection nebula, is on the right. M78's tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars. In colorful contrast, the red sash of glowing hydrogen gas sweeping through the center is part of the region's faint but extensive emission nebula known as Barnard's Loop. At lower left, a dark dust cloud forms a prominent silhouette cataloged as LDN 1622. While M78 and the complex Barnard's Loop are some 1,500 light-years away, LDN 1622 is likely to be much closer, only about 500 light-years distant from our fair planet Earth.

Photo by Leonardo Julio

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