Saturday, 9 January 2016


Week’s Best Space Pictures: Erupting Superstar Gets Siblings
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 8 January 2016.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, stars zooming through space push arcs of glowing gas, satellites capture El Niño’s unusual global impacts on winter weather, and astronomers indirectly spot dark matter in a enormous galaxy cluster 10 billion light-years away.

1. No Longer Alone


Hubble spots Eta Carinae, a massive binary star system about 7,500 light-years away from Earth that inexplicably, powerfully erupted in the 1840s. New telescope surveys reveal that Eta Carinae has five “twins” in other galaxies.

2. Celestial Burping


NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has found a supermassive black hole in the Messier 51 galaxy, about 26 million light-years away, undergoing powerful outbursts. The black hole is in NGC 5195, the smaller companion galaxy seen here.

3. Unusual Floods


After heavy rains in December 2015, communities along the Mississippi River have faced historic, unseasonable flooding. NASA’s Terra satellite shows that floodwaters breached levees, most notably near Miller City, Illinois.

4. Shades of Gray


In this composite image, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover spies the downwind face of Namib Dune, part of Mars’ dark-sand Bagnold Dunes. Martian winds move the dunes as much as a metre (3.3 feet) per Earth year.

5. Bright Lights, Dark Secret


Hubble snaps a shot of the spiral galaxy NGC 4845, located about 65 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. Its bright center hosts a supermassive black hole hundreds of thousands of times the mass of the sun.

6. Making Infrared Waves


NASA’s Spitzer and WISE infrared telescopes spy bow shocks: heated, compressed waves of gas created by massive, speeding stars. When the stars zip through space, they push material ahead of them like water in front of a boat.

7. El Niño Plays with Fire


In September, plenty of rain fell on the northern halves of Sumatra (left) and Borneo (right), but their southern halves remained dry. The dry weather intensified seasonal fires set by farmers, seen here spewing smoke.

8. Telescope Tag-Team


Using three of NASA’s space telescopes, astronomers made the most detailed study yet of IDCS 1426, one of the most massive young galaxy clusters ever observed. Some 90 percent of its mass - about 500 trillion suns - is dark matter.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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