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  #106  
Παλιά 26-04-07, 09:53
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Τελευταία φορά Online: 12-11-16 10:12
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Gliese 581 and the Habitable Zone
Credit: Stephane Udry, Michel Mayor (Geneva Obs.) et. al, Image: DSS, Skyview

Explanation: The faint, unremarkable star centered in this skyview is Gliese 581, a mere 20 light-years away toward the constellation Libra. But astronomers are now reporting the discovery of a remarkable system of three planets orbiting Gliese 581, including the most earth-like planet found beyond our solar system. Gliese 581 itself is not a sun-like star, though. Classified as a red dwarf, the star is much smaller and colder than the Sun. Still, the smallest planet known to orbit the star is estimated to be five times as massive as Earth with about 1.5 times Earth's diameter. That super-earth orbits once every 13 days, about 14 times closer to its parent star than the Earth-Sun distance. The close-in orbit around the cool star implies a mean surface temperature of between 0 and 40 degrees C - a range over which water would be liquid - and places the planet in the red dwarf's habitable zone.

Tomorrow's picture: going deep

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  #107  
Παλιά 27-04-07, 08:52
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M81 in Ursa Major
Credit & Copyright: Tony Hallas

Explanation: One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky and similar in size to the Milky Way, big, beautiful spiral M81 lies 11.8 million light-years away in the northern constellation Ursa Major. This remarkably deep image of the region reveals details in the bright yellow core, but at the same time follows fainter features along the galaxy's gorgeous blue spiral arms and sweeping dust lanes. Above M81 lies a dwarf companion galaxy, Holmberg IX, sporting a large, pinkish star-forming region near the top. While M81 and Holmberg IX are seen through a foreground of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, they are also seen here through a much fainter complex of dust clouds. The relatively unexplored clouds are likely only some hundreds of light-years distant and lie high above our galaxy's plane. Scattered through the image, especially at the the right, the dust clouds reflect the combined light of the Milky Way's stars and have been dubbed integrated flux nebulae.

Tomorrow's picture: evening skyscape

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  #108  
Παλιά 28-04-07, 09:05
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Young Moon and Sister Stars
Credit & Copyright: Pete Lawrence (Digital-Astronomy)

Explanation: A young crescent Moon shared the western sky with thin clouds and the sister stars of the Pleiades cluster in this early evening skyscape recorded on April 19th. Astronomical images of the well-known Pleiades often show the star cluster's alluring blue reflection nebulae, but they are washed-out here in the clouds and bright moonlight. While the 3-day old Moon is overexposed, surface features can be seen on the dim lunar night side, illuminated by earthshine - light from sunlit planet Earth. Only a week earlier, brilliant Venus also posed near the sister stars. Of course, Venus has not yet wandered too far from the Pleiades and still rules western skies as the evening star.

Tomorrow's picture: big, bright, bug

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  #109  
Παλιά 29-04-07, 09:05
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NGC 6302: Big, Bright, Bug Nebula
Credit: A. Zijlstra (UMIST) et al., ESA, NASA

Explanation: The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects, and NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the central star of this particular planetary nebula is exceptionally hot though -- shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. Above is a dramatically detailed close-up of the dying star's nebula recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is in the upper right corner of this view, nearly edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has recently been detected in this hot star's dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation Scorpius.

Tomorrow's picture: star weapon

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  #110  
Παλιά 30-04-07, 09:25
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Carina Nebula Panorama from Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U. California, Berkeley) et al., and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Explanation: Inside the head of this interstellar monster is a star that is slowly destroying it. The monster, actually an inanimate pillar of gas and dust, measures over a light year in length. The star, not itself visible through the opaque dust, is bursting out partly by ejecting energetic beams of particles. Similar epic battles are being waged all over the star-forming Carina Nebula. The stars will win in the end, destroying their pillars of creation over the next 100,000 years, and resulting in a new open cluster of stars. The pink dots are newly formed stars that have already been freed from their birth monster. The above image is only a small part of a highly detailed panoramic mosaic of the Carina Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released last week. The technical name for the stellar jets are Herbig-Haro objects. How a star creates a Herbig-Haro jets is an ongoing topic of research, but it likely involves an accretion disk swirling around a central star. A second impressive Herbig-Haro jet is visible across the bottom of the image.

Tomorrow's picture: venusian vortex

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  #111  
Παλιά 01-05-07, 08:27
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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 May 1

Swirling Clouds Over the South Pole of Venus
Credit: ESA/MPS, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

Explanation: What's happening over the South Pole of Venus? To find out, scientists sent the robot Venus Express spacecraft now orbiting Venus directly over the lower spin axis of Earth's overheated twin. Venus Express confirmed there a spectacular massive swirling storm system with similarities to the vortex recently imaged over Saturn's South Pole. The above composite image in infrared light features Venus' daytime side on the left, shining primarily by reflected sunlight, and nighttime side on the right, shining primarily by thermal light. A Venusian polar vortex is visible as the small circular feature near the center of the thermal infrared image pictured on the right. Close inspection of other South Pole images unexpectedly showed a second vortex, meaning that the unusual swirling clouds are like an Earth-hurricane that has two eyes. Why a double vortex has formed is now a topic of research. The above image was taken last year, and more recent images from Venus Express are being processed that have as much as 100 times more detail.

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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  #112  
Παλιά 02-05-07, 09:03
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Sunrise from the Surface of Gliese 581c
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Karen Wehrstein

Explanation: How might a sunrise appear on Gliese 581c? One artistic guess is shown above. Gliese 581c is the most Earth-like planet yet discovered and lies a mere 20 light-years distant. The central red dwarf is small and redder than our Sun but one of the orbiting planets has recently been discovered to be in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on its surface. Although this planet is much different from Earth, orbiting much closer than Mercury and containing five times the mass of Earth, it is now a candidate to hold not only oceans but life enabled by the oceans. Were future observations to confirm liquid water, Gliese 581c might become a worthy destination or way station for future interstellar travelers from Earth. Drawn above in the hypothetical, the red dwarf star Gliese 581 rises through clouds above a calm ocean of its planet Gliese 581c.

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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  #113  
Παλιά 03-05-07, 08:14
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Small Galaxy NGC 4449
Credit & Copyright: Dietmar Hager

Explanation: Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory. Their newly formed, bright, blue star clusters along beautiful, symmetric spiral arms are guaranteed to attract attention. But small irregular galaxies form stars too, like NGC 4449, located about 12 million light-years away. The well-studied galaxy is similar in size, and often compared to our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This lovely color image shows NGC 4449's general bar shape, also characteristic of the LMC, with scattered young blue star clusters. Near the bottom is the pinkish glow of atomic hydrogen gas, the telltale tracer of massive star forming regions. NGC 4449 is a member of a group of galaxies found in the constellation Canes Venatici. In fact, interactions with nearby galaxies are thought to have influenced star formation in NGC 4449.

Tomorrow's picture: iron comet

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  #114  
Παλιά 04-05-07, 09:31
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The Iron Tail of Comet McNaught
Credit: M. Fulle, F. Leblanc (INAF) et al., SECCHI / STEREO, NASA

Explanation: Outstanding in planet Earth's sky early this year, Comet McNaught is captured in this view from the STEREO A spacecraft. McNaught's coma is so bright, it blooms into the long horizontal stripe at the bottom of the field. Brilliant Venus, near the top left corner, also produces a severe horizontal blemish in the digital image. But the sensitive camera does accurately record the striations in McNaught's famous dust tail along a region stretching over 30 million kilometers toward the top right of the field of view. A separate, fainter, arching tail just to the left of the dust tail was initially thought to be an example of a common ion tail, formed by electrically charged atoms carried away from the comet by the solar wind. However, detailed modeling indicates that tail is actually due to neutral iron atoms pushed out by the pressure of sunlight -- the first ever detected neutral iron tail from a comet. The iron atoms are thought to originate in dust grains from the comet nucleus that contain the iron-sulfur mineral troilite (FeS).

Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend

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  #115  
Παλιά 05-05-07, 10:02
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Sombrero Galaxy Across the Spectrum
Credit: X-ray: NASA/UMass/Q.D.Wang et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/AURA/Hubble Heritage;
Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. AZ/R.Kennicutt/SINGS Team

Explanation: Appropriately famous for its broad ring of obscuring dust and hat-like appearance, the Sombrero Galaxy (aka spiral galaxy M104) is featured in this unique composite view that spans the electromagnetic spectrum, from three major space-based observatories. Exploring the Sombrero's high-energy x-ray emission (blue), the Chandra contribution highlights the pervasive, tenuous, hot gas that extends some 60,000 light-years from the galaxy's center. Hubble's optical view (green) shows the more familiar emission from the Sombrero's population of stars, seen from a nearly edge-on perspective and noticeably bulging at the galaxy's bright core. The broad ring of dust that blocks light in other bands, glows in the infrared contribution (red) from the Spitzer Space Telescope. The Sombrero Galaxy is about 28 million light-years away, near the southern edge of the extensive Virgo cluster of galaxies.

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  #116  
Παλιά 06-05-07, 09:44
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Star Cluster R136 Bursts Out
Credit: NASA, J. Trauger (JPL), J. Westphal (Caltech),

Explanation: In the center of star-forming region 30 Doradus lies a huge cluster of the largest, hottest, most massive stars known. These stars, known as the star cluster R136, and part of the surrounding nebula are captured here in this gorgeous visible-light image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Gas and dust clouds in 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, have been sculpted into elongated shapes by powerful winds and ultraviolet radiation from these hot cluster stars. The 30 Doradus Nebula lies within a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, located a mere 170,000 light-years away.

Tomorrow's picture: europa rising

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  #117  
Παλιά 07-05-07, 09:11
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Europa Rising
Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI

Explanation: When passing Jupiter on your way to Pluto, what should you look for? NASA pondered just this question recently, and the response from one space enthusiast was to capture the above breathtaking moonrise. The unusual vista was then actually captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in February just after it buzzed past Jupiter on its way to Pluto and the outer Solar System. Visible above is the cracked surface of Europa's expansive ice fields, visible just behind a jumble of Jupiter's swirling clouds. Europa is one of the largest moons of Jupiter and a possible host to sub-surface liquid oceans that are real candidates for containing extra-terrestrial life. During the Jupiter flyby, New Horizons also carried out scientific observations of Jupiter's cloud tops and comparative images of Io's volcanoes and its continually changing surface.

Tomorrow's picture: sky dying

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  #118  
Παλιά 08-05-07, 09:25
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Μεγάλη ανάλυση

Even if the moon really were made of green cheese it probably wouldn't look this bizarre. Still, this mosaic of 53 images was recorded by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft as it passed near our own large natural satellite in 1992. The pictures were recorded through three spectral filters and combined in an exaggerated false-color scheme to explore the composition of the lunar surface as changes in mineral content produce subtle color differences in reflected light.

Image credit: NASA/JPL

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  #119  
Παλιά 09-05-07, 09:51
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The Snowflake Cluster versus the Cone Nebula
Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, P. S. Teixeira (CfA)

Explanation: Strange shapes and textures can be found in the neighborhood of the Cone Nebula. These patterns result from the tumultuous unrest that accompanies the formation of the open cluster of stars known as NGC 2264, the Snowflake cluster. To better understand this process, a detailed image of this region was taken in two colors of infrared light by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope. Bright stars from the Snowflake cluster dot the field. These stars soon heat up and destroy the gas and dust mountains in which they formed. One such dust mountain is the famous Cone Nebula, visible in the above image on the left, pointing toward a bright star near the center of the field. The entire NGC 2264 region is located about 2,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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  #120  
Παλιά 10-05-07, 08:49
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SN 2006GY: Brightest Supernova
Credit: X-ray: NASA / CXC, Nathan Smith, Weidong Li (UC Berkeley) et al.;
IR: Lick/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom, C.Hansen

Explanation: The stellar explosion cataloged as supernova SN 2006gy shines in this wide-field image (left) of its host galaxy, NGC 1260, and expanded view (upper right panel) of the region surrounding the galaxy's core. In fact, given its estimated distance of 240 million light-years, SN 2006gy was brighter than, and has stayed brighter longer than, any previously seen supernova. The Chandra observations in the lower right panel establish the supernova's x-ray brightness and lend strong evidence to the theory that SN 2006gy was the death explosion of a star well over 100 times as massive as the Sun. In such an exceptionally massive star, astronomers suspect an instability producing matter-antimatter pairs led to the cosmic blast and obliterated the stellar core. Thus, unlike in other massive star supernovae, neither neutron star, or even black hole, would remain. Intriguingly, analogs in our own galaxy for SN 2006gy's progenitor may include the well-known, extremely massive star Eta Carinae.

Tomorrow's picture: hot spot

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