Friday, May 6, 2011

Space Pictures This Week: Vibrant Lagoon, Mock Mars

Space Pictures This Week: Vibrant Lagoon, Mock Mars

Seen through binoculars or small telescopes, the Lagoon nebula is a ghostly blur tinged with pink tucked inside the constellation Sagittarius. But with the powerful gaze of the Gemini South telescope in Chile, astronomers have created a dramatic new view of this stellar nursery.

Released this week, the false-color picture shows the nebula in vibrant hues thanks to a combination of data from several light filters. The dense cloud of dust and gas is a birthplace for medium- and low-mass stars, most of which are embedded in thick cocoons of material. The bluish points of light in the frame are young stars in the background.

It's a galaxy fit for a slasher flick: NGC 2442, aka the Meathook galaxy, glitters with stars in a newly released picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

NGC 2442 sits in the constellation Volans, the Flying Fish. Seen in its entirety, the galaxy's asymmetric spiral arms give it a double hook shape, inspiring the nickname. This image is a closeup of the galaxy's central region and the more compact of its two arms.

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