A New Image Reveals Orion’s Flame Nebula in Infrared

Do not let the image and the name of the depicted cosmic object fool you! What you see in this picture is not a wildfire, but the Flame Nebula and its surroundings captured in radio waves. The Flame Nebula is the large feature on the left half of the central, yellow rectangle. The smaller feature on the right is the reflection nebula NGC 2023. To the top right of NGC 2023, the iconic Horsehead Nebula seems to emerge heroically from the “flames”. The three objects are part of the Orion cloud, a giant gas structure located between 1300 and 1600 light-years away. The different colours indicate the velocity of the gas. The Flame Nebula and its surroundings are moving away from us, with the red clouds in the background receding faster than the yellow ones in the foreground. The image in the rectangle is based on observations conducted with the SuperCam instrument on the ESO-operated Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) on Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau. The background image was taken in infrared light with ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The ESO has released some stunning new images of Orion’s Flame Nebula. They’re from a few years ago but are newly processed as part of the Orion cloud complex study. The images have led to discoveries in the often-observed Orion cloud complex.

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This is a Classic Example of a Reflection Nebula, Where the Reflected Light From Young Hot Stars Illuminates a Protostellar Cloud of Gas and Dust

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a portion of the reflection nebula IC 2631 that contains a protostar, the hot, dense core of a forming star that is accumulating gas and dust. Image Credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, and K. Stapelfeldt (Jet Propulsion Laboratory); Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

The interplay of energy and matter creates beautiful sights. Here on Earth, we enjoy rainbows, auroras, and sunsets and sunrises. But out in space, nature creates extraordinarily dazzling structures called nebulae that can span hundreds of light-years. Nebulae are probably the most beautiful objects out there.

While searching for young stars and their circumstellar disks, Hubble captured a classic reflection nebula.

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BepiColombo Meets Mercury for the First Time on October 1

New research suggests that Mercury is still contracting and shrinking. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/Carnegie Institution of Washington/USGS/Arizona State University

BepiColombo made a quick visit to Venus in August and is on to its next rendezvous. On October 1st it’ll perform a flyby of Mercury, the spacecraft’s eventual destination. This visit is just a little flirtation—one of six—ahead of its eventual orbital link-up with Mercury in late 2025.

The quick visit will yield some scientific results, though, and they’ll be just a taste of what’s ahead in BepiColumbo’s one-year mission to Mercury.

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A High Resolution, Cross-Eyed Look at the Entire Surface of Mars

Mars global map.

A group of amateur and professional astronomers have collaborated to create what may be the highest resolution global map of Mars ever created with images taken from Earth.

The images were taken with the 1-meter telescope at the Pic-du-Midi observatory in the Pyrenees of France, during several nights in October and November, 2020 when Mars was at opposition, or its closest approach to Earth.

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This Martian Lava Tube Skylight is 50 Meters Across. The Biggest Lava Tube on Earth is Only 15 Meters Across

This is the collapsed ceiling of a Martian lava tube. It measures 50 meters (150 ft) across, much larger than any Earth lava tubes. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA’s Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet when it reached Mars in late 1971. It got there only a few weeks before the Soviet Union’s Mars 2 and Mars 3 spacecraft, despite being launched 11 days later than those missions. Unfortunately, there was a major dust storm when Mariner 9 arrived, and NASA had to wait until January before the spacecraft could get good images.

When it did get those images, they revealed a surprise: volcanoes and lava flows cover large portions of the Martian surface.

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Time Flies. NASA Releases a Mosaic of TESS’ View of the Northern Sky After Two Years of Operation

This detail of the TESS northern panorama features a region in the constellation Cygnus. At center, the sprawling dark nebula Le Gentil 3, a vast cloud of interstellar dust, obscures the light of more distant stars. A prominent tendril extending to the lower left points toward the bright North America Nebula, glowing gas so named for its resemblance to the continent. Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS and Ethan Kruse (USRA)

NASA’s TESS planet-finding spacecraft completed its primary mission about 3 months ago. TESS’s (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) job was to search the brightest stars nearest to Earth for transiting exoplanets. It found 74 confirmed exoplanets, with another ~1200 candidates awaiting confirmation.

It surveyed 75% of the sky during its two-year primary mission, and now NASA has released a composite image of the northern sky, made up of more than 200 individual images.

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Machine Learning Software is Now Doing the Exhausting Task of Counting Craters On Mars

The tiny black speck in the lower left corner of this image within the red circle is a cluster of recently formed craters spotted on Mars using a new machine-learning algorithm. This image was taken by the Context Camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in a region called Noctis Fossae, located at latitude -3.213, longitude: 259.415. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Does the life of an astronomer or planetary scientists seem exciting?

Sitting in an observatory, sipping warm cocoa, with high-tech tools at your disposal as you work diligently, surfing along on the wavefront of human knowledge, surrounded by fine, bright people. Then one day—Eureka!—all your hard work and the work of your colleagues pays off, and you deliver to humanity a critical piece of knowledge. A chunk of knowledge that settles a scientific debate, or that ties a nice bow on a burgeoning theory, bringing it all together. Conferences…tenure…Nobel Prize?

Well, maybe in your first year of university you might imagine something like that. But science is work. And as we all know, not every minute of one’s working life is super-exciting and gratifying.

Sometimes it can be dull and repetitious.

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The Newest Picture of Jupiter and Europa Captured by Hubble

This latest image of Jupiter, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on 25 August 2020, was captured when the planet was 653 million kilometres from Earth. Hubble’s sharp view is giving researchers an updated weather report on the monster planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including a remarkable new storm brewing, and a cousin of the Great Red Spot changing colour — again. The new image also features Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team.

The venerable Hubble Space Telescope has given us another gorgeous picture of Jupiter and its moon Europa. The incredibly sharp image was captured on August 25th, and shows some of the stunning detail in Jupiter’s stormy atmosphere. Hidden in all that stormy activity is something new: a bright white storm plume travelling at about 560 km/h (350 mp/h).

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Vera Rubin’s Monster 3200-Megapixel Camera Takes its First Picture (in the Lab)

The complete focal plane of the future LSST Camera is more than 2 feet wide and contains 189 individual sensors that will produce 3,200-megapixel images. Crews at SLAC have now taken the first images with it. (Jacqueline Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory has taken another step towards first light, projected for some time in 2022. Its enormous 3200 megapixel camera just took its first picture during lab testing at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The camera is the largest ever built, and its unprecedented power is the driving force behind the Observatory’s ten year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

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