The Swan Nebula (also known as the Omega Nebula) is 5,000 to 6,000 light years away and is one of the largest star-forming areas in our galaxy. NASA recently released this image of the nebula obtained from the SOFIA Telescope.
Uncovering the nebula’s secrets is no simple task. It’s located more than 5,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Its center is filled with more than 100 of the galaxy’s most massive young stars. These stars may be many times the size of our Sun, but the youngest generations are forming deep in cocoons of dust and gas, where they are very difficult to see, even with space telescopes. Because the central region glows very brightly, the detectors on space telescopes were saturated at the wavelengths SOFIA studied, similar to an over-exposed photo. SOFIA’s infrared camera called FORCAST, the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, however, can pierce through these cocoons.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view of an area within a Jovian jet stream showing a vortex that has an intensely dark center. Nearby, other features display bright, high altitude clouds that have puffed up into the sunlight.
The color-enhanced image was taken at 12:55 a.m. PDT (3:55 a.m. EDT) on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 9,200 miles (14,800 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops, above approximately 52 degrees north latitude.
On Dec. 18, 2018, a large “fireball” — the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area — exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 kilotons of energy, or more than 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima during World War II.
Two NASA instruments aboard the Terra satellite captured images of the remnants of the large meteor. The image sequence shows views from five of nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument taken at 23:55 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a few minutes after the event. The shadow of the meteor’s trail through Earth’s atmosphere, cast on the cloud tops and elongated by the low sun angle, is to the northwest. The orange-tinted cloud that the fireball left behind by super-heating the air it passed through can be seen below and to the right of the GIF’s center.
“By 2015, the number of different sources mapped by Fermi’s LAT had expanded to about 3,000 — 10 times the number known before the mission,” said Goddard’s Elizabeth Ferrara, who led the constellation project. “For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point.”
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 19 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 12, 2017. Pandora was brightened by a factor of 2 to increase its visibility.
The view was obtained at a distance to Saturn of approximately 581,000 miles (935,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 35 miles (56 kilometers) per pixel. The distance to Pandora was 691,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) for a scale of 41 miles (66 kilometers) per pixel.
NGC 1032 is located about a hundred million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster). Although beautiful, this image perhaps does not do justice to the galaxy’s true aesthetic appeal: NGC 1032 is actually a spectacular spiral galaxy, but from Earth, the galaxy’s vast disk of gas, dust and stars is seen nearly edge-on.
A handful of other galaxies can be seen lurking in the background, scattered around the narrow strip of NGC 1032. Many are oriented face-on or at tilted angles, showing off their glamorous spiral arms and bright cores. Such orientations provide a wealth of detail about the arms and their nuclei, but fully understanding a galaxy’s three-dimensional structure also requires an edge-on view. This gives astronomers an overall idea of how stars are distributed throughout the galaxy and allows them to measure the “height” of the disk and the bright star-studded core.