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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Do you see the horse's head? What you are seeing is not the famous Horsehead nebula toward Orion but rather a fainter nebula that only takes on a familiar form with deeper imaging. The main part of the here imaged molecular cloud complex is a reflection nebula cataloged as IC 4592. Reflection nebulas are actually made up of very fine dust that normally appears dark but can look quite blue when reflecting the visible light of energetic nearby stars. In this case, the source of much of the reflected light is a star at the eye of the horse. That star is part of Nu Scorpii, one of the brighter star systems toward the constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius). A second reflection nebula dubbed IC 4601 is visible surrounding two stars to the right of the image center. Almost Hyperspace: Random APOD Generator

Photo by Adam BlockSteward Observatory, University of Arizona

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Wouldn't it be fun if clouds were castles? Wouldn't it be fun if the laundry on the bedroom chair was a superhero? Wouldn't it be fun if rock mesas on Mars were interplanetary monuments to the human face? Clouds, though, are floating droplets of water and ice. Laundry is cotton, wool, or plastic, woven into garments. Famous Martian rock mesas known by names like the Face on Mars appear quite natural when seen more clearly on better images. Is reality boring? Nobody knows why some clouds make rain. Nobody knows if life ever developed on Mars. Nobody knows why the laundry on the bedroom chair smells like root beer. Scientific exploration can not only resolve mysteries, but uncover new knowledge, greater mysteries, and yet deeper questions. As humanity explores our universe, perhaps fun -- through discovery -- is just beginning.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

You can't walk along the Milky Way. Still, under a dark sky you can explore it. To the eye the pale luminous trail of light arcing through the sky on a dark, moonless night does appear to be a path through the heavens. The glowing celestial band is the faint, collective light of distant stars cut by swaths of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. It lies along the plane of our home galaxy, so named because it looks like a milky way. Since Galileo's time, the Milky Way has been revealed to telescopic skygazers to be filled with congeries of innumerable stars and cosmic wonders.

Photo by Rolf Weisenfeld

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Awash in a sea of incandescent plasma and anchored in strong magnetic fields, sunspots are planet-sized dark islands in the solar photosphere, the bright surface of the Sun. Found in solar active regions, sunspots look dark only because they are slightly cooler though, with temperatures of about 4,000 kelvins compared to 6,000 kelvins for the surrounding solar surface. These sunspots lie in active region AR2835. The largest active region now crossing the Sun, AR2835 is captured in this sharp telescopic close-up from July 1 in a field of view that spans about 150,000 kilometers or over ten Earth diameters. With powerful magnetic fields, solar active regions are often responsible for solar flares and coronal mass ejections, storms which affect space weather near planet Earth.

Photo by Michael Teoh

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

On sol 46 (April 6, 2021) the Perseverance rover held out a robotic arm to take its first selfie on Mars. The WATSON camera at the end of the arm was designed to take close-ups of martian rocks and surface details though, and not a quick snap shot of friends and smiling faces. In the end, teamwork and weeks of planning on Mars time was required to program a complex series of exposures and camera motions to include Perseverance and its surroundings. The resulting 62 frames were composed into a detailed mosiac, one of the most complicated Mars rover selfies ever taken. In this version of the selfie, the rover's Mastcam-Z and SuperCam instruments are looking toward WATSON and the end of the rover's outstretched arm. About 4 meters (13 feet) from Perseverance is a robotic companion, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

How did the first stars form? To help find out, the SPHINX computer simulation of star formation in the very early universe was created, some results of which are shown in the featured video. Time since the Big Bang is shown in millions of years on the upper left. Even 100 million years after the Big Bang, matter was spread too uniformly across the cosmos for stars to be born. Besides background radiation, the universe was dark. Soon, slight matter clumps rich in hydrogen gas begin to coalesce into the first stars. In the time-lapse video, purple denotes gas, white denotes light, and gold shows radiation so energetic that it ionizes hydrogen, breaking it up into charged electrons and protons. The gold-colored regions also track the most massive stars that die with powerful supernovas. The inset circle highlights a central region that is becoming a galaxy. The simulation continues until the universe was about 550 million years old. To assess the accuracy of the SPHINX simulations and the assumptions that went into them, the results are not only being compared to current deep observations, but will also be compared with more direct observations of the early universe planned with NASA's pending James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula's energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view - providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution. The featured image of the Orion Nebula is among the sharpest ever, constructed using data from the Hubble Space Telescope. The entire Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

It may look like a paper Moon. Sailing past a canvas Sun. But those are not cardboard clouds. And it's not make believe.  The featured picture of an orange colored sky is real -- a digital composite of two exposures of the solar eclipse that occurred earlier this month. The first exposure was taken with a regular telescope that captured an overexposed Sun and an underexposed Moon, while the second image was taken with a solar telescope that captured details of the chromosphere of the background Sun. The Sun's canvas-like texture was brought up by imaging in a very specific shade of red emitted by hydrogen. Several prominences can be seen around the Sun's edge. The image was captured just before sunset from Xilingol, Inner Mongolia, China. It's also not make-believe to imagine that the Moon is made of dense rock, the Sun is made of hot gas, and clouds are made of floating droplets of water and ice.

Photo by Wang LetianEyes at Night

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What drives auroras on Saturn? To help find out, scientists have sorted through hundreds of infrared images of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft for other purposes, trying to find enough aurora images to correlate changes and make movies. Once made, some movies clearly show that Saturnian auroras can change not only with the angle of the Sun, but also as the planet rotates. Furthermore, some auroral changes appear related to waves in Saturn's magnetosphere likely caused by Saturn's moons. Pictured here, a false-colored image taken in 2007 shows Saturn in three bands of infrared light. The rings reflect relatively blue sunlight, while the planet itself glows in comparatively low energy red. A band of southern aurora in visible in green. In has recently been found that auroras heat Saturn's upper atmosphere. Understanding Saturn's auroras is a path toward a better understanding of Earth's auroras.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

These two panels, composed of video frames made with a safe solar telescope and hydrogen alpha filter, show remarkably sharp details on the solar disk and giant prominences along the Sun's edge on June 6 (top) and June 18. Taken from Beijing, China, they also show a transit of the International Space Station and China's new Tiangong Space Station in silhouette against the bright Sun. The International Space Station is near center in the bottom panel, crossing the solar disk left of bright active region AR2833 and below a large looping solar filament. China's space station is below solar active region AR2827 and right of center in the top panel, seen as a smaller, combined "+" and "-" shape. The pictures of the transiting orbital outposts were taken with the same equipment and at the same pixel scale, with the International Space Station some 492 kilometers away. China's space station was over 400 kilometers from the camera.

Photo by Wang Letian

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