These are the images from our known Universe.
Still GOD doesn’t Exist?
Wings of the Seagull Nebula This image shows the intricate structure of part of the Seagull Nebula, known more formally as IC 2177. These wisps of gas and dust are known as Sharpless 2-296 (officially Sh 2-296) and form part of the “wings” of the celestial bird. This region of the sky is a fascinating muddle of intriguing astronomical objects — a mix of dark and glowing red clouds, weaving amongst bright stars. This new view was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Though Mercury is not known for having an especially colorful surface, some regions show a strong local contrast in color. Like other craters in Caloris, the interior and ejecta of Atget are darker and bluer than the typical brown volcanic plains. These craters help scientists to get a look at the three-dimensional compositional variations with the Caloris basin, and provide a way to judge the thickness of the volcanic plains (over 2 km here!). North is up in this image. These images were acquired as high-resolution targeted color observations. Targeted color observations are images of a small area on Mercury’s surface at resolutions higher than the 1-kilometer/pixel 8-color base map. During MESSENGER’s one-year primary mission, hundreds of targeted color observations were obtained. During MESSENGER’s extended mission, high-resolution targeted color observations are more rare, as the 3-color base map is covering Mercury’s northern hemisphere with the highest-resolution color images that are possible.
This esthetic close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis, interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion’s stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori’s cosmic bow shock, measuring about half a light-year across. The slower gas is flowing away from the Orion Nebula’s hot central star cluster, the Trapezium, located off the upper left corner of the picture. In three dimensions, LL Ori’s wrap-around shock front is shaped like a bowl that appears brightest when viewed along the “bottom” edge. The beautiful picture is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in Orion, filled with a myriad of fluid shapes associated with star formation.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope – with a little help from an amateur astronomer – has produced one of the best views yet of nearby spiral galaxy Messier 106. Located a little over 20 million light-years away, practically a neighbour by cosmic standards, Messier 106 is one of the brightest and nearest spiral galaxies to our own. Despite its appearance, which looks much like countless other galaxies, Messier 106 hides a number of secrets. Thanks to this image, which combines data from Hubble with observations by amateur astronomers Robert Gendler and Jay GaBany, they are revealed as never before. At its heart, as in most spiral galaxies, is a supermassive black hole, but this one is particularly active. Unlike the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, which pulls in wisps of gas only occasionally, Messier 106’s black hole is actively gobbling up material. As the gas spirals towards the black hole, it heats up and emits powerful radiation. Part of the emission from the centre of Messier 106 is produced by a process that is somewhat similar to that in a laser – although here the process produces bright microwave radiation.
Starburst Galaxy Messier 82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Starburst galaxies undergo extremely high rates of star formation and are thought to represent a particular phase in a galaxy’s evolution. Because of its excessive star birth, M82 is five times brighter than our own Milky Way galaxy
Haunting Ghost Nebula This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic Camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. vdB 141 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes referred to as the ghost nebula, its awkward name is its catalog number in Sidney van den Bergh’s catalog of reflection nebulae, published in 1966. Several stars are embedded in the nebula. Their light gives it a ghoulish brown color. North is down and East is to the right. Imaged August 28, 2009.
This mosaic of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the trail of a great northern storm on Saturn raging in full force. The contrast in the images has been enhanced to make the turbulent parts of the storm (in white) stand out without losing the details of the surrounding regions. The head of the storm is the set of bright clouds near the left of the image. A clockwise-spinning vortex spawned by the storm shortly after it erupted in early December 2010 can be seen in the middle. The head of the storm moved very swiftly westward, while the vortex drifted more slowly westward.
Top: In this new view of the Andromeda galaxy from the Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. Andromeda, also known as M31, is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way at a distance of 2.5 million light-years, making it an ideal natural laboratory to study star formation and galaxy evolution. Sensitive to the far-infrared light from cool dust mixed in with the gas, Herschel seeks out clouds of gas where stars are born. The new image reveals some of the very coldest dust in the galaxy — only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero — colored red in this image. By comparison, warmer regions such as the densely populated central bulge, home to older stars, take on a blue appearance. Intricate structure is present throughout the 200,000-light-year-wide galaxy with star-formation zones organized in spiral arms and at least five concentric rings, interspersed with dark gaps where star formation is absent. Andromeda is host to several hundred billion stars. This new image of it clearly shows that many more stars will soon to spark into existence. Bottom: The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size. Herschel’s ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.
Molecular Cloud in Monoceros This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic II camera on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory on January 11th, 2012. It shows a portion of the giant Monceros R2 molecular cloud. It is a location of massive star formation, particularly in the location of the bright red nebula just below the center of the image. The image was generated with observations in the Sulphur [SII] (blue) and Hydrogen-Alpha (red) filters. In this image, north is to the right, and east is up.
Saturn’s Herding Moons The ring-region Saturnian moons Prometheus and Pan are both caught “herding” their respective rings in this image. Through their gravitational disturbances of nearby ring particles, one moon maintains a gap in the outer A ring and the other helps keep a ring narrowly confined. Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers across), together with Pandora (not seen in this image), maintains the narrow F ring seen at the bottom left in this image. Pan (17 miles, or 28 kilometers across) holds open the Encke gap in which it finds itself embedded in the center. The bright dot near the inner edge of the Encke gap is a background star.
Looking Down at Jupiter These color maps of Jupiter were constructed from images taken by the narrow-angle camera onboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Dec. 11 and 12, 2000, as the spacecraft neared Jupiter during its flyby of the giant planet. Cassini was on its way to Saturn. They are the most detailed global color maps of Jupiter ever produced. The smallest visible features are about 120 kilometers (75 miles) across. The maps are composed of 36 images: a pair of images covering Jupiter’s northern and southern hemispheres was acquired in two colors every hour for nine hours as Jupiter rotated beneath the spacecraft. Although the raw images are in just two colors, 750 nanometers (near-infrared) and 451 nanometers (blue), the map’s colors are close to those the human eye would see when gazing at Jupiter.
Vesta Crater in 3D This composite-color view from NASA’s Dawn mission shows Cornelia Crater, streaked with dark materials, on the giant asteroid Vesta. The data were obtained by Dawn’s framing camera during the mission’s high-altitude mapping orbit, about 420 miles (680 kilometers) above the surface. The images were integrated into a mosaic and wrapped on a topographical model of Vesta’s surface.