NGC 1032–A Spiral Galaxy Imaged by the Hubble Telescope

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of spiral galaxy NGC 1032,

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.

NGC 1032
NGC 1032

Light Echo from V838 Monocerotis

This timelapse of images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of V838 Monocerotis is often posted on Internet forums and elsewhere as if it represents the expansion of a star having gone supernova. The reality is even more interesting and odd. According to NASA,

What caused this outburst of V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon’s outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the result that it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this had never been seen before–supernovas and novas expel matter out into space. Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what is seen in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope is actually an outwardly moving light echo of the bright flash.

In a light echo, light from the flash is reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient interstellar dust that already surrounded the star. V838 Mon lies about 20,000 light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros), while the light echo above spans about six light years in diameter.

Video of Juno Spacecraft Making Flyby of Jupiter

Gerald Eichstädt put together this video of NASA’s Juno spacecraft making a flyby of perijove 6, the closest point it would come to Jupiter. The video is based on images Juno sent back to Earth. Those images were used to create textures that were then combined with trajectory data to reconstruct the flyby.

Jupiter’s South Pole Photographed by NASA’s Juno Spacecraft

Interesting photograph of Jupiter’s south pole photgraphed by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

According to NASA, those whorl-like structures are storms the size of the entire Earth,

Among the findings that challenge assumptions are those provided by Juno’s imager, JunoCam. The images show both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together.

We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Someone At NASA Has a Sense of Humor

My wife IMed me a link to this NASA page about tonight’s total lunar eclipse. NASA notes that,

According to folklore, October’s full moon is called the “Hunter’s Moon” or sometimes the “Blood Moon.” It gets its name from hunters who tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead. You can picture them: silent figures padding through the forest, the moon overhead, pale as a corpse, its cold light betraying the creatures of the wood.

NASA then goes into detail about the lunar eclipse, when the moon will enter the Earth’s shadow, and why the moon appears to be red. And then they add this note,

Warning: While you’re staring at the sky, you might hear footsteps among the trees, the twang of a bow, a desperate scurry to shelter. That’s just your imagination.


Total Lunar Eclipse. NASA, October 13, 2004.