Carina Nebula

Another great space photograph. From the site:

Several well known astronomical objects in and near the Carina Nebula can be seen in this wide field image: to the bottom left of the image is one of the most impressive binary stars in the Universe, Eta Carinae, with the famous Keyhole Nebula just adjacent to the star. The collection of very bright, young stars above and to the right of Eta Carinae is the open star cluster Trumpler 14. A second open star cluster, Collinder 228 is also seen in the image, just below Eta Carinae. North is up and East is to the left.

Earth from Saturn

I should have posted this for Earth Day. It’s a spectacular photo taken by Cassini from next to Saturn. The little dot outside the main rings on the right is Earth, and the top left is a zoom-in of the planet.

Tarantula Nebula

The eye candy

It has recently occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting the Hubble eye candy posts. Well, I’m technically still doing that because this image (“Ring Nebula”) was taken with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. But it’s still eye candy.

Crab Nebula

When I choose Hubble images to put on FTSOS, I specifically try to avoid the Crab Nebula image. It’s just so common, so frequent. It’s almost a stereotype in a way, at least to me. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’ve slipped up actually posted it in the past. But I was just rethinking it. Stereotype, cliche, overused, too common, too frequent: none of that matter. It’s a frickin’ cool image. That’s all the justification I need.

VISTA images

VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) is a survey telescope working at infrared wavelengths and is the world’s largest telescope dedicated to mapping the sky.

Because VISTA is a large telescope that also has a large field of view it can both detect faint sources and also cover wide areas of sky quickly. Each VISTA image captures a section of sky covering about ten times the area of the full Moon and it will be able to detect and catalogue objects over the whole southern sky with a sensitivity that is forty times greater than that achieved with earlier infrared sky surveys such as the highly successful Two Micron All-Sky Survey. This jump in observational power — comparable to the step in sensitivity from the unaided eye to Galileo’s first telescope — will reveal vast numbers of new objects and allow the creation of far more complete inventories of rare and exotic objects in the southern sky.

It has already taken some breathtaking images.

Orion nebula

Observing infrared wavelengths of light, researchers have detected certain molecules which are pre-cursors to life as we know it. Such findings happen from time to time, this time in Orion’s nebula.

By sifting through the pattern of spikes in Orion nebula’s light signature, or spectrum, astronomers have identified a few common molecules that are precursors to life-enabling molecules, including water, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, methanol, dimethyl ether, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur oxide and sulfur dioxide. Each spike in the spectrum corresponds to a particular molecule.

“This HIFI spectrum, and the many more to come, will provide a virtual treasure trove of information regarding the overall chemical inventory and on how organics form in a region of active star formation. It harbors the promise of a deep understanding of the chemistry of space once we have the full spectral surveys available,” said Edwin Bergin of the University of Michigan and the principal investigator of the HEXOS Key Program on Herschel.