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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Spiral galaxy NGC 3169 looks to be unraveling like a ball of cosmic yarn. It lies some 70 million light-years away, south of bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Wound up spiral arms are pulled out into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (left) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally. Eventually the galaxies will merge into one, a common fate even for bright galaxies in the local universe. Drawn out stellar arcs and plumes are clear indications of the ongoing gravitational interactions across the deep and colorful galaxy group photo. The telescopic frame spans about 20 arc minutes or about 400,000 light-years at the group's estimated distance, and includes smaller, bluish NGC 3165 to the right. NGC 3169 is also known to shine across the spectrum from radio to X-rays, harboring an active galactic nucleus that is the site of a supermassive black hole.

Photo by Christophe Vergnes

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

It was bright and green and stretched across the sky. This striking aurora display was captured in 2016 just outside of Östersund, Sweden. Six photographic fields were merged to create the featured panorama spanning almost 180 degrees. Particularly striking aspects of this aurora include its sweeping arc-like shape and its stark definition. Lake Storsjön is seen in the foreground, while several familiar constellations and the star Polaris are visible through the aurora, far in the background. Coincidently, the aurora appears to avoid the Moon visible on the lower left. The aurora appeared a day after a large hole opened in the Sun's corona, allowing particularly energetic particles to flow out into the Solar System. The green color of the aurora is caused by oxygen atoms recombining with ambient electrons high in the Earth's atmosphere. Your Sky Surprise: What picture did APOD feature on your birthday? (post 1995)

Photo by Göran Strand

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Can a gas cloud eat a galaxy? It's not even close. The "claw" of this odd looking "creature" in the featured photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not yet known. The galaxy to the left of the globule is huge, very far in the distance, and only placed near CG4 by chance superposition.

Indonesia’s Mount Ibu, a volcano in North Maluku province, erupted on Saturday, May 18, 2024, spewing thick grey ash clouds two and half miles into the sky, as streaks of lightning flashed around its crater. The eruption forced the evacuation of nearby villages. Ibu iis considered one of the most active of the 128 volcanos in Indonesia. It sits on the Pacific Ring of fire which spans over 15 countries and has 450 volcanos -- (75% of Earth’s volcanoes). About Ninety percent of Earth’s earthquakes occur along the Pacific Ring of Fire. More

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

It seemed like night, but part of the sky glowed purple. It was the now famous night of May 10, 2024, when people over much of the world reported beautiful aurora-filled skies. The featured image was captured this night during early morning hours from Arlington, Wisconsin, USA. The panorama is a composite of several 6-second exposures covering two thirds of the visible sky, with north in the center, and processed to heighten the colors and remove electrical wires. The photographer (in the foreground) reported that the aurora appeared to flow from a point overhead but illuminated the sky only toward the north. The aurora's energetic particles originated from CMEs ejected from our Sun over sunspot AR 6443 a few days before. This large active region rotated to the far side of the Sun last week, but may well survive to rotate back toward the Earth next week.

Photo by Xuecheng Liu & Yuxuan Liu

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Take this simulated plunge and dive into the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, the Solar System's ruling gas giant. The awesome animation is based on image data from JunoCam, and the microwave radiometer on board the Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft. Your view will start about 3,000 kilometers above the southern Jovian cloud tops, and you can track your progress on the display at the left. As altitude decreases, temperature increases while you dive deeper at the location of Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot. In fact, Juno data indicates the Great Red Spot, the Solar System's largest storm system, penetrates some 300 kilometers into the giant planet's atmosphere. For comparison, the deepest point for planet Earth's oceans is just under 11 kilometers down. Don't worry though, you'll fly back out again. Dive into the Universe: Random APOD Generator

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Graceful star trail arcs reflect planet Earth's daily rotation in this colorful night skyscape. To create the timelapse composite, on May 12 consecutive exposures were recorded with a camera fixed to a tripod on the shores of the Ashokan Reservoir, in the Catskills region of New York, USA. North star Polaris is near the center of the star trail arcs. The broad trail of a waxing crescent Moon is on the left, casting a strong reflection across the reservoir waters. With intense solar activity driving recent geomagnetic storms, the colorful aurora borealis or northern lights, rare to the region, shine under Polaris and the north celestial pole. AuroraSaurus: Report your aurora observations

Photo by Chirag Upreti

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

This well-composed composite panoramic view looks due south from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. The base of a tower-like rocky sea stack is awash in the foreground, with stars of the Southern Cross at the top of the frame and planet Earth's south celestial pole near center. Still, captured on May 11, vibrant aurora australis dominate the starry southern sea and skyscape. The shimmering southern lights were part of extensive auroral displays that entertained skywatchers in northern and southern hemispheres around planet Earth, caused by intense geomagnetic storms. The extreme spaceweather was triggered by the impact of coronal mass ejections launched from powerful solar active region AR 3664. AuroraSaurus: Report your aurora observations

Photo by Kavan Chay

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What did the monster active region that created the recent auroras look like when at the Sun's edge? There, AR 3664 better showed its 3D structure. Pictured, a large multi-pronged solar prominence was captured extending from chaotic sunspot region AR 3664 out into space, just one example of the particle clouds ejected from this violent solar region. The Earth could easily fit under this long-extended prominence. The featured image was captured two days ago from this constantly changing region. Yesterday, the strongest solar flare in years was expelled (not shown), a blast classified in the upper X-class. Ultraviolet light from that flare quickly hit the Earth's atmosphere and caused shortwave radio blackouts across both North and South America. Although now rotated to be facing slightly away from the Earth, particles from AR 3664 and subsequent coronal mass ejections (CMEs) might still follow curved magnetic field lines across the inner Solar System and create more Earthly auroras. Gallery: Earth Aurora from Solar Active Region 6443

Photo by Sebastian Voltmer