LA POSTA

10 septiembre 2009

La Galaxia “Butterfly”

Filed under: Astronomía — Elias @ 02:20

First awesome pictures from refurbished Hubble telescope shows the Universe in more detail than ever before

Space has never looked more beautiful.

These stunning images  –  taken by the rejuvenated Hubble space telescope  –  have captured the jewel-bright colours of colliding galaxies, exploding stars and glowing nebulae.

They are Hubble’s first deep space photos since its repair mission in May and are sharper than any images taken before by the orbiting satellite.

This celestial object - NGC 6302 - looks like a delicate butterfly but is far from serene: What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually boiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour - fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes. A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. WFC3 was installed by NASA astronauts in May 2009, during the servicing mission to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope. NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The 'butterfly' stretches for more than two light years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri

This celestial object - NGC 6302 - looks like a delicate butterfly but is far from serene: What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually boiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour - fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes. A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. WFC3 was installed by NASA astronauts in May 2009, during the servicing mission to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope. NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The 'butterfly' stretches for more than two light years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri

The new views include colourful far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster and a butterfly-shaped nebula  –  the eruption of gas from a dying star.

Hubble’s new suite of instruments, installed during five space walks, are more sensitive and allow it to see everything from ultraviolet light all the way to near-infrared light. ‘This marks a new beginning for Hubble,’ said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

‘The telescope has been given an extreme makeover and is now significantly more powerful than ever  –  well equipped to last far into the next decade.’

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Stars bursting to life in chaotic Carina Nebula: These two images of a huge pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and in infrared light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object. The pictures demonstrate one example of the broad wavelength range of the WFC3, extending from ultraviolet to visible to infrared light. Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The pair of images shows that astronomers are given a much more complete view of the pillar and its contents when distinct details not seen at visible wavelengths are uncovered in near-infrared light. The top image, taken in visible light, shows the top of the three light-year-long pillar, bathed in the glow of light from hot, massive stars off the top of the image. Scorching radiation and fast streams of charged particles from these stars are sculpting the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Gas and dust can be seen flowing off the top of the structure. Nestled inside are fledgling stars

Closer to home: The planet, Jupiter. Its volume is equal to 1,317 Earths. Hubble snapped the impact zone after a collision with a possible comet. It is the dark blemish at the bottom

Closer to home: The planet, Jupiter. Its volume is equal to 1,317 Earths. Hubble snapped the impact zone after a collision with a possible comet. It is the dark blemish at the bottom

Since Hubble was launched in 1990, its images have become some of the most iconic in the history of photography. Nasa says the telescope-should keep working until at least 2014, when it will be replaced by a more powerful observatory to be called the James Webb Space Telescope.

The latest images show the Butterfly Nebula, an extraordinary cluster of gas released from a dying star which lies in our Milky Way galaxy around 3,800 light years away.

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Stephan’s Quintet: A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide colour range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. Stephan’s Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. Three of the galaxies have distorted shapes, elongated spiral arms, and long, gaseous tidal tails containing myriad star clusters, proof of their close encounters. These interactions have sparked a frenzy of star birth in the central pair of galaxies. This drama is being played out against a rich backdrop of faraway galaxies. The image, taken in visible and infrared light, showcases WFC3’s broad wavelength range. The colours trace the ages of the stellar populations, showing that star birth occurred at different epochs, stretching over hundreds of millions of years. The camera’s infrared vision also peers through curtains of dust to see groupings of stars that cannot be seen in visible light

Omega Centauri: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this view of a colourful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster. The image reveals a small region inside the globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way galaxy. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth. The majority of the stars in the image are yellow-white, like our Sun. These are adult stars that are shining by hydrogen fusion. Toward the end of their normal lives, the stars become cooler and larger. These late-life stars are the orange dots in the image. Even later in their life cycles, the stars continue to cool down and expand in size, becoming red giants. These bright red stars swell to many times larger than our Sun’s size and begin to shed their gaseous envelopes. After ejecting most of their mass and exhausting much of their hydrogen fuel, the stars appear brilliant blue. Only a thin layer of material covers their super-hot cores. These stars are desperately trying to extend their lives by fusing helium in their cores. At this stage, they emit much of their light at ultraviolet wavelengths. When the helium runs out, the stars reach the end of their lives. Only their burned-out cores remain, and they are called white dwarfs (the faint blue dots in the image)

The butterfly stretches for two light years  –  about half the distance-between the Sun and our nearest star Alpha Centuri. The wings of the butterfly are rolling waves of gas heated to more than 36,000F. The gas is tearing across space at 600,000 mph  –  fast enough to travel from the Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes.

Hubble has also captured the Carina Nebula  –  a pillar of gas and dust  –  and a group of five galaxies called Stephan’s Quintet which were first spotted in 1877.

Hubble Photos

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 6217: This image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 is the first image of a celestial object taken with the newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The camera was restored to operation during the STS-125 servicing mission in May to upgrade Hubble. The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble’s ACS. The galaxy lies 6 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major

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