By Thor’s Mighty Helmet!

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Going to see the new Avengers movie this weekend, either for the first or fortieth time? You may not see much of Thor’s helmet in the film (as he opts for more of a “Point Break” look) but astronomers using the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes on the Canary Islands have succeeded in spotting it… in this super image of the Thor’s Helmet nebula!

Named for its similarity to the famous horned Viking headgear (seen horizontally), the Thor’s Helmet nebula is a Wolf-Rayet structure created by stellar winds from the star seen near the center blowing the gas of the bluish “helmet” outwards into space via pre-supernova emissions.

The colors of the image above, acquired with the ING’s Isaac Newton Telescope, correspond to light emitted in hydrogen alpha, doubly-ionised oxygen and single-ionised sulfur wavelengths.

Super-sized for the thunder god himself, Thor’s Helmet measures at about 30 light-years across. It’s located in the constellation Canis Major, approximately 15,000 light-years from Earth. (You’d think Thor would have left his favorite accessory in a more convenient location… I suspect Loki may be behind this.)

Astronomers, assemble!

Read more about this and see other images from the ING telescopes here.

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is owned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the United Kingdom, and it is operated jointly with the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) of the Netherlands and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) of Spain. The telescopes are located in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma, Canary Islands, which is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).

Dazzling Timelapse: Canary Skies

Tenerife, Canary Islands is home to several telescopes and at 2,000 meters above sea level, it claims one of the best skies on the planet. This incredibly stunning timelapse video from astrophotographer Daniel Lopez captures the nocturnal and crepuscular beauty of the island, showing the natural movement of the earth, stars, clouds, Sun and Moon. Lopez worked over a year to capture all possible shades and landscapes, pulling out all the stops by using several different timelapse techniques. Lopez promises more videos are coming, as he says this is the first in a series to capture the beauty of each of the Canary Islands.

Find more information at Lopez’s website, and see more videos at his Vimeo page.