Tycho and Clavius

South is up in this detailed telescopic view across the Moon’s rugged southern highlands. Captured on July 20, the lunar landscape features the Moon’s young and old, the large craters Tycho and Clavius. About 100 million years young, Tycho is the sharp-walled 85 kilometer diameter crater near center, its 2 kilometer tall central peak in bright sunlight and dark shadow. Debris ejected during the impact that created Tycho still make it the stand out lunar crater when the Moon is near full, producing a highly visible radiating system of light streaks, bright rays that extend across much of the lunar near side. In fact, some of the material collected at the Apollo 17 landing site, about 2,000 kilometers away, likely originated from the Tycho impact. One of the oldest and largest craters on the Moon’s near side, 225 kilometer diameter Clavius is due south (above) of Tycho. Clavius crater’s own ray system resulting from its original impact event would have faded long ago. The old crater’s worn walls and smooth floor are now overlayed by smaller craters from impacts that occurred after Clavius was formed. Observations by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) published in 2020 found water at Clavius. Of course both young Tycho and old Clavius craters are lunar locations in the science fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. via NASA https://ift.tt/3ClDWaG

EHT Resolves Central Jet from Black Hole in Cen A

How do supermassive black holes create powerful jets? To help find out, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) imaged the center of the nearby active galaxy Centaurus A. The cascade of featured inset images shows Cen A from it largest, taking up more sky than many moons, to its now finest, taking up only as much sky as an golf ball on the moon. The new image shows what may look like two jets — but is actually two sides of a single jet. This newly discovered jet-edge brightening does not solve the jet-creation mystery, but does imply that the particle outflow is confined by a strong pressure — possibly involving a magnetic field. The EHT is a coordination of radio telescopes from around the Earth — from the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii USA, to ALMA in Chile, to NOEMA in France, and more. The EHT will continue to observe massive, nearby black holes and their energetic surroundings. via NASA https://ift.tt/3yujMJe

A Perseid Meteor and the Milky Way

It was bright and green and flashed as it moved quickly along the Milky Way. It left a trail that took 30 minutes to dissipate. Given the day, August 12, and the direction, away from Perseus, it was likely a small bit from the nucleus of Comet Swift-Tuttle plowing through the Earth’s atmosphere — and therefore part of the annual Perseids meteor shower. The astrophotographer captured the fireball as it shot across the sky in 2018 above a valley in Yichang, Hubei, China. The meteor’s streak, also caught on video, ended near the direction of Mars on the lower left. Next week, the 2021 Perseids meteor shower will peak again. This year the Moon will set shortly after the Sun, leaving a night sky ideal for seeing lots of Perseids from dark and clear locations across planet Earth. via NASA https://ift.tt/3iizxwY

Pluto in Enhanced Color

Pluto is more colorful than we can see. Color data and high-resolution images of our Solar System’s most famous dwarf planet, taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in 2015 July, have been digitally combined to give an enhanced-color view of this ancient world sporting an unexpectedly young surface. The featured enhanced color image is not only esthetically pretty but scientifically useful, making surface regions of differing chemical composition visually distinct. For example, the light-colored heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio on the lower right is clearly shown here to be divisible into two regions that are geologically different, with the leftmost lobe Sputnik Planitia also appearing unusually smooth. After Pluto, New Horizons continued on, shooting past asteroid Arrokoth in 2019 and has enough speed to escape our Solar System completely. via NASA https://ift.tt/3zRkdNM

Remembering NEOWISE

It was just last July. If you could see the stars of the Big Dipper, you could find Comet NEOWISE in your evening sky. After sunset denizens of the north could look for the naked-eye comet below the bowl of that famous celestial kitchen utensil and above the northwestern horizon. The comet looked like a fuzzy ‘star’ with a tail, though probably not so long a tail as in this memorable skyview recorded from the Czech Republic on July 23th, 2020, near the comet’s closest approach to planet Earth. Photographs of C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) often did show the comet’s broad dust tail and fainter but separate bluish ion tail extending farther than the eye could follow. Skygazers around the world were delighted to witness Comet NEOWISE, surprise visitor from the outer Solar System. via NASA https://ift.tt/3fylxO7

Mimas in Saturnlight

Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Mimas lies in near darkness alongside a dramatic sunlit crescent. The mosaic was captured near the Cassini spacecraft’s final close approach on January 30, 2017. Cassini’s camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction only 45,000 kilometers from Mimas. The result is one of the highest resolution views of the icy, crater-pocked, 400 kilometer diameter moon. An enhanced version better reveals the Saturn-facing hemisphere of the synchronously rotating moon lit by sunlight reflected from Saturn itself. To see it, slide your cursor over the image (or follow this link). Other Cassini images of Mimas include the small moon’s large and ominous Herschel Crater. via NASA https://ift.tt/3f7OZKf

The Tulip and Cygnus X 1

This tall telescopic field of view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the brightest glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust above center is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. Nearly 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful Tulip Nebula blossoms about 8,000 light-years away, shown in a Hubble palette image that maps the glow of the nebula’s sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen ions into red, green, and blue colors. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018, ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula. Also in the field of view is microquasar Cygnus X-1, one of the strongest X-ray sources in planet Earth’s sky. Driven by powerful jets from a black hole accretion disk, its fainter bluish curved shock front is only just visible though, directly above the cosmic Tulip’s petals near the top of the frame. via NASA https://ift.tt/3BQ0j7D

Ring Galaxy AM 0644 741

The rim of the large blue galaxy at the right is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars. AM 0644-741 is known as a ring galaxy and was caused by an immense galaxy collision. When galaxies collide, they pass through each other and their individual stars rarely come into contact. The large galaxy’s ring-like shape is the result of the gravitational disruption caused by a small intruder galaxy passing through it. When this happens, interstellar gas and dust become compressed, causing a wave of star formation to move out from the impact point like a ripple across the surface of a pond. Other galaxies in the field of view are background galaxies, not interacting with AM 0644-741. Foreground spiky stars are within our own Milky Way. But the smaller intruder galaxy is caught above and right, near the top of the frame taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Ring galaxy AM 0644-741 lies about 300 million light years away toward the southern constellation Volans. via NASA https://ift.tt/3f3kUvC

Flemings Triangular Wisp

Chaotic in appearance, these tangled filaments of shocked, glowing gas are spread across planet Earth’s sky toward the constellation of Cygnus as part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into the glow of ionized hydrogen atoms shown in blue and oxygen in red hues. Also known as the Cygnus Loop and cataloged as NGC 6979, the Veil Nebula now spans about 6 times the diameter of the full Moon. The length of the wisp corresponds to about 30 light years, given its estimated distance of 2,400 light years. Often identified as Pickering’s Triangle for a director of Harvard College Observatory, it is also named for its discoverer, astronomer Williamina Fleming, as Fleming’s Triangular Wisp. via NASA https://ift.tt/374SXyV

CG4: A Ruptured Cometary Globule

Can a gas cloud grab a galaxy? It’s not even close. The « claw » of this odd looking « creature » in the featured photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not yet known. The galaxy to the left of the globule is huge, very far in the distance, and only placed near CG4 by chance superposition. via NASA https://ift.tt/2TyXKFJ