A New Survey of the Milky Way Reveals Billions of Objects, Helping to Map Our Surroundings in Three Dimensions

This image, which is brimming with stars and dark dust clouds, is a small extract — a mere pinprick — of the full Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey (DECaPS2) of the Milky Way. The new dataset contains a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects — arguably the largest such catalog so far. DECaPS2/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA Image processing: M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

The Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey 2 (DECaPS2) is out. This is the second data release from DECaPS, and the survey contains over 3 billion objects in the Milky Way. As the leading image shows, there are so many stars it appears as if there’s no space between them.

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The JWST is the Shiny New Space Telescope, but the Dependable Hubble is Still Going Strong

The scattered stars of the globular cluster NGC 6355 are strewn across this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This globular cluster lies less than 50,000 light-years from Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, E. Noyola, R. Cohen

The Venerable Hubble Space Telescope has cemented its place in history. Some call it the most successful science experiment ever. And while the James Webb Space Telescope might vie for that title, the Hubble does things that even the powerful JWST can’t do.

Exhibit A: this stunning image of NGC 6355.

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JWST Sees Furious Star Formation in a Stellar Nursery

Image of the Carina Nebula (NGC 3324) captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI

The powerful James Webb Space Telescope is a mighty technological tool. Astrophysicists first conceived it over 20 years ago, and after many twists and turns, it was launched on December 2st, 2021. Now it’s in a halo orbit at the Sun-Earth L2 point, where it will hopefully continue operating for 20 years.

It’s only been a few months since its first images were released, and it’s already making progress in answering some of the Universe’s most compelling questions. In a newly-released image, the JWST peered deep inside massive clouds of gas and dust to watch young stars come to life in their stellar cocoons.

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NOAA’s New Weather Satellite is Operational, and its Pictures of Earth are Gorgeous

Polar-orbiting satellites capture swaths of data throughout the globe, and observe the entire planet twice each day. The global mosaic, captured by the VIIRS instrument on the recently launched NOAA-21 satellite, is a composite image created from these swaths. Image Credit: NOAA STAR VIIRS Imagery Team.

You’d have to be in some kind of sense-of-wonder-repressed coma not to appreciate satellite images of Earth. If you are, then images from the NOAA’s newest satellite might pull you out of it.

And they’re only a taste of the fascinating images that it will provide.

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Hubble Sees a Glittering Jewel in the Small Magellanic Cloud. But the Jewel is Disappearing

A small portion of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is pictured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA/ESA

As far as we know, nobody lives in our neighbour, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC.) So it’s okay to point our telescope there and gaze at it.

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Hubble Spots Two Open Clusters. One is Also an Emission Nebula

The open cluster NGC 1858, seen in this Hubble image, contains stars of different ages. Image Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Gilmore (University of Cambridge); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Open star clusters are groups of stars in loosely-bound gravitational associations. The stars are further apart than the stars in their cousins, the globular clusters. The weak gravity from the loose clusters means open clusters take on irregular shapes. They usually contain only a few thousand stars.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of two clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

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Here’s Webb’s View of the Pillars of Creation

The Pillars of Creation are set off in a kaleidoscope of color in NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared-light view. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI).

The James Webb Space Telescope is living up to expectations. When it was launched, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said it would “… open up secrets of the universe that will be just stupendous, if not almost overwhelming.” Nelson’s statement rings true a few months into the telescope’s multi-year mission.

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Gaze Into the Heart of NGC 1365, Captured by Webb

Close up of the NGC 1365 galaxy, based on data obtained by JWST. Credit: Schmidt, J./JWST

Astrophotographer Judy Schmidt (aka. Geckzilla, SpaceGeck) is at it again! Earlier this month, she released a processed image of the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1365). The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) recently observed this iconic double-barred spiral galaxy, which resulted in the most-detailed look at this galaxy to date. This time, Schmidt shared a series of images via Twitter that provide a closer look at NGC 1365’s core region, a widefield view that shows the galaxy’s long arms, and lovely animation that shows the galaxy in near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.

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Here’s M74 Like You’ve Never Seen it Before, Thanks to Judy Schmidt and JWST

The JWST recently imaged NGC628, also knows an M74. Well-known astronomy image processor Judy Schmidt reworked the image to show more detail. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STSCI/JUDY SCHMIDT CC BY 2.0

The JWST is grabbing headlines and eyeballs as its mission gains momentum. The telescope recently imaged M74 (NGC 628) with its Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI.) Judy Schmidt, a well-known amateur astronomy image processor, has worked on the image to bring out more detail.

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A New Map of Mars, Made From 51,000 Orbital Images

Seen are six views of the Nili Fossae region of Mars captured by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM, one of the instruments aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The varying colors represent minerals on the Martian surface seen in different wavelengths of light. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU-APL

When NASA sent the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to the red planet in 2006, the spacecraft took an instrument with it called CRISM—Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars. CRISM’s job is to produce maps of Mars’ surface mineralogy. It’s been an enormous success, but unfortunately, the loss of its last cryocooler in 2017 means the spectrometer can only undertake limited observations.

But CRISM is going out with a bang, creating one final image of the surface of Mars that NASA will release in batches over the next six months.

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