Click image for full-size picture (1800x1394)
Magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is viewed edge-on from planet Earth. Also known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile, bright NGC 4565 is a stop on many telescopic tours of the northern sky, in the faint but well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices.
This sharp, colorful image reveals the galaxy’s bulging central core cut by obscuring dust lanes that lace NGC 4565′s thin galactic plane. An assortment of other galaxies is included in the pretty field of view. Neighboring galaxy NGC 4562 is at the upper right. NGC 4565 itself lies about 40 million light-years distant, spanning some 100,000 light-years.
Click image for full-size (2200x1434)
A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, aka NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years.
Near the upper right of this expansive skyscape, it is much larger than the more northerly Orion Nebula. In fact, the Carina Nebula is one of our galaxy’s largest star-forming regions and home to young, extremely massive stars, including the still enigmatic variable Eta Carinae, a star with well over 100 times the mass of the Sun.
Click image for full-size picture (2048x1354)
This sharp, wide-field view features infrared light from the spiral Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Dust heated by Andromeda’s young stars is shown in yellow and red, while its older population of stars appears as a bluish haze.
The false-color skyscape is a mosaic of images from NASA’s new Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. With over twice the diameter of our Milky Way, Andromeda is the largest galaxy in the local group. Andromeda’s own satellite galaxies M110 (below) and M32 (above) are also included in the combined fields.
Click image for full-size picture (2700x2000)
What surrounds the florid Rosette nebula?
To better picture this area of the sky, the famous flowery emission nebula on the far right has been captured recently in a deep and dramatic wide field image that features several other sky highlights.
Designated NGC 2237, the center of the Rosette nebula is populated by the bright blue stars of open cluster NGC 2244, whose winds and energetic light are evacuating the nebula’s center. Below the famous flower, a symbol of Valentine’s Day, is a column of dust and gas that appears like a rose’s stem but extends hundreds of light years.
Astronomers presenting at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Washington D.C. on Jan. 4, have reported the detection of the emission generated by a black hole as it devoured a white dwarf star in the elliptical galaxy NGC 1399.
This may not appear to be a huge deal to begin with — stars being eaten by supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies have been detected before — but it would appear that this particular white dwarf was ripped apart and then devoured by a mysterious “intermediate-mass” black hole.
Image by Nico Camargo and courtesy www.citizensky.org. Used under Creative Commons license.
Some kind of obstruction is blocking our view of Epsilon Aurigae, a star in the constellation Auriga. Its exact nature is unknown — but astronomers say that if you’ve got a telescope, you could help them figure it out.
Epsilon Aurigae is a binary system, or a star locked in a pattern of mutual orbit with a second body. It lies in the constellation Auriga, about two thousand light-years away from Earth. We like this star, because it gives us the chance to shout out to some old-school Green Day.
Click on picture for full-size image
A satellite galaxy of our Milky Way, the Small Magellanic Cloud is wonder of the southern sky, named for 16th century Portuguese circumnavigator Ferdinand Magellan. Some 200,000 light-years distant in the constellation Tucana, the small irregular galaxy’s stars, gas, and dust that lie along a bar and extended “wing”, are familiar in images from optical telescopes. But the galaxy also has a tail.