Astronomy Picture of the Day Thread

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Joseph
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Post by Joseph » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:54 pm

Looks for like the remnants of one to me, long after the explosion.

Or some cutting edge fx from the original Star Trek series.

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Post by Magnus » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:55 pm

Well, yeah, the remnants of a 8000 year old supernova, or so they say. But a supernova nonetheless! :shakes fist:
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Post by Gorth » Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:04 am

Josan wrote:Or some cutting edge fx from the original Star Trek series.
That was my first thought too :lol:

Just waiting for the narrator to elaborate...

Joking aside, nice picture. That band of star residue (I assume it is) looks truly humongous against the backdrop of stars.
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Post by Magnus » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:15 pm

Phil Plait, the bad astronomer, has a nice explanation for our latest image:

That is a seriously cool image. It shows a ribbon of gas, compressed and glowing due to a shock wave that slammed into it. The shock came from Supernova 1006, a star that detonated 7000 light years away from us. This was not a massive star that exploded, but a low-mass white dwarf, the dense core left over when a star like the Sun runs out of fuel. Still, the forces are roughly the same, with a titanic explosion ripping the star apart and creating eerie, unearthly beauty even in death.

White dwarfs don’t have much if any hydrogen in them. The gas in the image is mostly hydrogen (that’s what gives it that red hue), meaning this material must be just random gas floating in the galaxy that got in the way of the expanding blast wave. The remnant itself, the expanding debris from the supernova, is now so spread out — it’s 60 light years across! — that it’s mostly invisible to telescopes. But the wave is still moving outward at about 10 million kph, so when it hits gas like this the matter compresses and glows.

I enhanced the color and contrast of the image a bit here to show off the incredibly narrow filaments in the ribbon, as well as letting you see faint background stars and even a galaxy or ten way off in the background. Too bad there aren’t any obviously blue stars or galaxies in the image, given the holiday. Oh well, the universe doesn’t care much for our mundane lives or freedoms. But it’s those very things that allow us to observe the universe — and it’s the explosive fireworks of supernovae events like SN 1006 that created the calcium in our bones and the iron in our blood, scattering them throughout the galaxy, where they could gather in gas clouds, which formed stars, planets, and eventually, us.

Remeber: when we look out, we look in. That’s one of the many reasons science is so cool.
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Post by Joseph » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:42 pm

Here's some supernova residue for you Magnus. :wink:

SN 1006 Supernova Remnant

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Explanation: A new star, likely the brightest supernova in recorded human history, lit up planet Earth's sky in the year 1006 AD. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation of Lupus, still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, this composite view includes X-ray data in blue from the Chandra Observatory, optical data in yellowish hues, and radio image data in red. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to be about 60 light-years across and is understood to represent the remains of a white dwarf star. Part of a binary star system, the compact white dwarf gradually captured material from its companion star. The buildup in mass finally triggered a thermonuclear explosion that destroyed the dwarf star. Because the distance to the supernova remnant is about 7,000 light-years, that explosion actually happened 7,000 years before the light reached Earth in 1006. Shockwaves in the remnant accelerate particles to extreme energies and are thought to be a source of the mysterious cosmic rays.

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Post by Magnus » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:53 pm

Very nice! I'm always slightly baffled by just how bloody huge those supernova remnants are. 60 lightyears? That's massive!
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Post by Joseph » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:42 pm

A month overdue but...

Aurora Persei

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Explanation: Dark skies are favored for viewing meteor showers -- so the best viewing of this year's Perseids will occur in the early morning. While the Perseid meteor shower is scheduled to peak over the next few days, bright light from a gibbous Moon will also flood the early evening and mask the majority of relatively faint meteors. Still, skygazing in the early morning after the Moon sets (after about 2 AM local time) could reveal many faint meteors. Persistant observing at any time after sunset can reward northern hemisphere watchers looking for occasional Perseid fireballs. Astronomer Jimmy Westlake imaged this bright Perseid meteor despite the combination of moonlight and auroral glow over Colorado skies in August of 2000.

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Post by Joseph » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:51 pm

I quite like this one. It just became my background.

NGC 6960: The Witch's Broom Nebula

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Explanation: Ten thousand years ago, before the dawn of recorded human history, a new light must suddenly have appeared in the night sky and faded after a few weeks. Today we know this light was an exploding star and record the colorful expanding cloud as the Veil Nebula. Pictured above is the west end of the Veil Nebula known technically as NGC 6960 but less formally as the Witch's Broom Nebula. The expanding debris cloud gains its colors by sweeping up and exciting existing nearby gas. The supernova remnant lies about 1400 light-years away towards the constellation of Cygnus. This Witch's Broom actually spans over three times the angular size of the full Moon. The bright star 52 Cygnus is visible with the unaided eye from a dark location but unrelated to the ancient supernova.

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Post by Magnus » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:52 pm

The old quote goes "They should have sent a poet."

I disagree. I think we need to send more astronomers.
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Post by Gorth » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:33 am

I don't know why, but I get a sudden craving for watching Space 1999 after that last picture there.
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Post by hankinator » Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:09 am

Time to resurrect one of my favorite threads, with a cool picture of an Antarctic total solar eclipse:

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[b][i][color=red]Let opinion be taken away, and no man will think himself wronged. If no man shall think himself wronged, then is there no more any such thing as wrong.[/color][/b][/i]

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Post by Gorth » Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:56 am

Cool indeed :haksthumbsup:
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Post by D. Sauzi » Sat Dec 27, 2008 4:21 pm

it almost seems fake, but man i wish i was that fellow experiencing that, well, with a helicopter waiting for me just outside the photograph of course, but still.

Oh, and thanks for the revivement!
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Post by Gorth » Sun May 31, 2009 1:48 pm

Begs nicely... nobody got any more pictures?
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Post by Joseph » Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:04 pm

Plenty. This one's for you...

Pyrenees Paraselene

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Explanation: A sea of clouds laps at rugged mountain peaks of the French Pyrenees in this serene view from Pic du Midi Observatory. The time exposure was recorded on June 4, with the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius shining in the starry night. At the top right lies a faint, but colorful moondog or paraselene. Analogous to a sundog or parhelion, the paraselene is produced by moonlight shining through thin, hexagonal-shaped ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. As determined by the ice crystal geometry, a bright gibbous Moon illuminates the scene from beyond the picture's right edge, 22 degrees from the lovely paraselene.

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