Oldest Known Supernova

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This image from four space telescopes creates a view of all that remains of RCW 86, the oldest documented supernova. Chinese astronomers witnessed the event in 185 A.D. X-ray images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory combined to form the blue and green colors in the image. Chandra X-rays show the interstellar gas, heated to millions of degrees by the passage of the shock wave from the supernova. RCW 86 is 8,000 light-years away and about 85 light-years in diameter. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO & ESA; Infared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Williams (NCSU).

“Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord. . .” (Psalm 89:5a)

When Antennae Galaxies Collide

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When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds compress, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars, some gravitationally bound together in massive star clusters. Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA; Processing & Copyright: Davide Coverta.

The Flame Nebula

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The Flame Nebula is in Orion the Hunter, a constellation most easily visible in the northern hemisphere during winter evenings, in a vast cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born. Of the 3 nebulae visible in the central region, including the Horsehead Nebula and NGC 2023, the Flame Nebula is the brightest and largest, and would be as bright as the stars in Orion’s belt if it weren’t for the surrounding dust. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

“Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” (Psalm 102: 25)

Rosette Nebula

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In the heart of the Rosette Nebula lies a bright open cluster of stars that lights up the nebula. The stars of NGC 2244 formed from the surrounding gas only a few million years ago. The above image taken in January captures the central region in tremendous detail. A hot wind of particles streams away from the cluster stars and contributes to an already complex menagerie of gas and dust filaments while slowly evacuating the cluster center. The Rosette Nebula’s center measures about 50 light-years across, lies about 4,500 light-years away, and is visible with binoculars towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). (Image Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman)

Time and time again, I am in awe of God’s design imprinted in His universe, especially in His nebulae. The Rosette Nebula is no exception. Its enchanting beauty is truly a great gift.

The Large Magellanic Cloud

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The Large Magellanic Cloud, traditionally classified as an irregular galaxy, now is recognized as a barred spiral galaxy, gravitationally bound to our Milky Way Galaxy. It is the largest of the small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, its visible portion being 17,000 light-years across, approximately 160,000 light-years from Earth. One of only three galaxies visible to the unaided eye, the LMC can be detected as an area of faint, diffuse starlight (appearing like a fuzzy glow in the sky in the upper right corner of the photo above) when viewed from dark locations in the constellation Dorado in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Large Magellanic Cloud includes an enormous number of star-forming regions within it. Astronomers recently used the power of the ESO’s Very Large Telescope to explore NGC 2035, one of its lesser known regions, shown in great detail in the photo below. This new image shows clouds of gas and dust where hot new stars are being born and are sculpting their surroundings into odd shapes. But the image also shows the effects of stellar death — filaments created by a supernova explosion (left). How fortunate we are to have such wonders of God’s universe so relatively close to us.

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ESO 137-001

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This new Hubble image shows ESO 137-001, a galaxy in the southern constellation of Triangulum Australe. This image not only captures the galaxy and its backdrop in stunning detail, but also intense blue streaks streaming outwards from the galaxy, seen shining brightly in ultraviolet light. These streaks are actually hot young stars, encased in wispy streams of gas torn from the galaxy by its surroundings as it moves through space. This violent galactic disrobing is due to a drag force felt by an object moving through a fluid, a super-heated gas lurking at the center of galaxy clusters.

ESO 137-001 is part of the Norma Cluster near the center of the Great Attractor, a region about 200 million light-years from the Milky Way. It has a gravitational force so strong that it pulls entire galaxy clusters towards it.

Breaking News

According to a University of Michigan press release, in the next few months, a gas cloud called G2 is expected to collide with Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy,. Astronomers observing the movement of the gas cloud expect to see a change in its brightness. The galactic center of our Milky Way, as imaged by the Swift X-ray Telescope, is a montage of all data obtained in the monitoring program from 2006-2013.

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