Cosmic Paparazzi: VV 340

VV 340 or Arp 302
[Click image for large desktop-sized version]
(Image Credit: X-ray NASA/CXC/IfA/D.Sanders et al; Optical NASA/STScI/NRAO/A.Evans et al)

NASA – VV 340, also known as Arp 302, provides a textbook example of colliding galaxies seen in the early stages of their interaction. The edge-on galaxy near the top of the image is VV 340 North and the face-on galaxy at the bottom of the image is VV 340 South. Millions of years later these two spirals will merge — much like the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely do billions of years from now. Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) are shown here along with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue). VV 340 is located about 450 million light years from Earth.

Cosmic Paparazzi: NGC 1555

NGC 1555

Click for large version / NGC 1555 / Source: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

(Link to image source)

Astronomy Picture Of The Day: Explanation: The yellowish star near center in this remarkable telescopic skyview is T Tauri, prototype of the class of T Tauri variable stars. Nearby it is a dusty yellow cosmic cloud historically known as Hind’s Variable Nebula (NGC 1555). Over 400 light-years away, at the edge of a molecular cloud, both star and nebula are seen to vary significantly in brightness but not necessarily at the same time, adding to the mystery of the intriguing region. T Tauri stars are now generally recognized as young (less than a few million years old), sun-like stars still in the early stages of formation. To further complicate the picture, infrared observations indicate that T Tauri itself is part of a multiple system and suggest that the associated Hind’s Nebula may also contain a very young stellar object. The naturally colored image spans about 4 light-years at the estimated distance of T Tauri.

Cosmic Paparazzi: Human Number 200

Enjoy this image of astronaut Alvin Drew beginning his first spacewalk, in which he also becomes the 200th human to walk in space.
Alvin Drew beginning spacewalk.
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A Good Day for a Spacewalk
Emerging from the Quest airlock on the International Space Station, astronaut Alvin Drew began his shared spacewalking duties with fellow astronaut Steve Bowen. Drew and Bowen completed the STS-133 mission’s first spacewalk on Monday, Feb. 28. Drew is the 200th human to perform a spacewalk, his first. This is Steve Bowen’s sixth spacewalk. This is the 154th spacewalk supporting assembly and maintenance of the space station and the 234th excursion conducted by U.S. astronauts.

Image Credit: NASA

Cosmic Paparazzi: Saturn Storm


Saturn Storm - Credit: Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA; Color Composite: Jean-Luc Dauvergne

Explanation: Late last year, a new, remarkably bright storm erupted in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. Amateur astronomers first spotted it in early December, with the ringed gas giant rising in planet Earth’s predawn sky. Orbiting Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft was able to record this close-up of the complex disturbance from a distance of 1.8 million kilometers on December 24th. Over time, the storm has evolved, spreading substantially in longitude, and now stretches far around the planet. Saturn’s thin rings are also seen slicing across this space-based view, casting broad shadows on the planet’s southern hemisphere. – NASA Astronomy Picture Of The Day

Cosmic Paparazzi – Saturn and Tethys

Saturn and moon Tethys

Saturn and moon Tethys

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This view of Saturn, its rings and the moon Tethys represents “Target 1” in the fall 2009 edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day contest. (See The contest is designed to give students a taste of life as a scientist by challenging them to write an essay describing the value of one target choice among three for Cassini to image.

A bonus feature in the image is the presence of bright spokes on and just above the ansa, or curved edge of the darkened ringplane. The spokes are made visible here by sunlight scattering through the dust-sized icy particles and toward Cassini’s cameras.

Images taken using red, blue and green spectral filters were combined to create this color view. The images were acquired with the Cassini wide-angle camera on Oct. 11, 2009 at a distance of 1.7 million kilometers (1 million miles) from Saturn. – NASA