Sunday, January 21, 2007

Blue Horse & Sombrero

APoD Horse Head Shaped Reflection Nebula IC 4592
Credit & Copyright: Jim Misti & Steve Mazlin, (acquisition), Robert Gendler (processing)

Do you see the horse's head?
What you are seeing is not the famous Horsehead nebula toward Orion but rather a fainter nebula that only takes on a familiar form with deeper imaging. The main part of the above imaged molecular cloud complex is a reflection nebula cataloged as IC 4592. Reflection nebulas are actually made up of very fine dust that normally appears dark but can look quite blue when reflecting the light of energetic nearby stars. In this case, the source of much of the reflected light is a star at the eye of the horse. That star is part of Nu Scorpii, one of the brighter star systems toward the constellation of Scorpius. A second reflection nebula dubbed IC 4601 is visible surrounding two stars on the far right.

APoD The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared
Credit: R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs.) et al., SSC, JPL, Caltech, NASA

This floating ring is the size of a galaxy.
In fact, it is part of the photogenic Sombrero Galaxy, one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The dark band of dust that obscures the mid-section of the Sombrero Galaxy in optical light actually glows brightly in infrared light. The above image shows the infrared glow, recently recorded by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, superposed in false-color on an existing image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in optical light. The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as M104, spans about 50,000 light years across and lies 28 million light years away. M104 can be seen with a small telescope in the direction of the constellation Virgo.
Famous Quotes: Fortune favours the bold. Virgil _______________________________________________________

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