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nasagoddard Happy Hubble Friday!

This Picture of the Week shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Arp 230 is a galaxy of an uncommon or peculiar shape, and is therefore part of the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies produced by Halton Arp. Its irregular shape is thought to be the result of a violent collision with another galaxy sometime in the past. The collision could also be held responsible for the formation of the galaxy’s polar ring.

The outer ring surrounding the galaxy consists of gas and stars and rotates over the poles of the galaxy. It is thought that the orbit of the smaller of the two galaxies that created Arp 230 was perpendicular to the disk of the second, larger galaxy when they collided. In the process of merging the smaller galaxy would have been ripped apart and may have formed the polar ring structure astronomers can observe today.

Arp 230 is quite small for a lenticular galaxy, so the two original galaxies forming it must both have been smaller than the Milky Way. A lenticular galaxy is a galaxy with a prominent central bulge and a disk, but no clear spiral arms. They are classified as intermediate between an elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Flickr user Det58 #nasagoddard #hubble #galaxy #space
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nasagoddard US Astronaut and Flight Engineer Terry Virts a member of Expedition 42 on the International Space Station prepares to take scientific photographs on Jan. 10, 2015.

Credit: NASA #space #ISS
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nasagoddard Caption: A NASA Oriole IV sounding rocket with the Aural Spatial Structures Probe leaves the launch pad on Jan. 28, 2015, from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska.
Credit: NASA/Lee Wingfield

More info: On count day number 15, the Aural Spatial Structures Probe, or ASSP, was successfully launched on a NASA Oriole IV sounding rocket at 5:41 a.m. EST on Jan. 28, 2015, from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. Preliminary data show that all aspects of the payload worked as designed and the principal investigator Charles Swenson at Utah State University described the mission as a “raging success.” “This is likely the most complicated mission the sounding rocket program has ever undertaken and it was not easy by any stretch," said John Hickman, operations manager of the NASA sounding rocket program office at the Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. "It was technically challenging every step of the way.” “The payload deployed all six sub-payloads in formation as planned and all appeared to function as planned. Quite an amazing feat to maneuver and align the main payload, maintain the proper attitude while deploying all six 7.3-pound sub payloads at about 40 meters per second," said Hickman.

#nasagoddard #rocket #alaska #nofilter
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nasagoddard Stunning Nighttime View of the Blizzard of 2015

A combination of the day-night band and high resolution infrared imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the historic blizzard near peak intensity as it moves over the New York through Boston Metropolitan areas at 06:45Z (1:45 am EST) on January 27, 2015. The nighttime lights of the region are blurred by the high cloud tops associated with the most intense parts of the storm.

#nasagoddard #snow #blizzardof2015 #weather #winter #snowmageddon2015

Credit: NASA/NOAA/NPP Via: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
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nasagoddard This is a composite image of all four rockets for the M-TeX and MIST experiments is made up of 30 second exposures. The rocket salvo began at 4:13 a.m. EST, Jan. 26, 2015, from the Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska.
More info: The Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere Turbulence Experiment, or M-TeX, and the Mesospheric Inversion-layer Stratified Turbulence, or MIST, experiment were successfully conducted the morning of Jan. 26, 2015, from the Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska.

The first M-Tex rocket, a NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket, was launched at 4:13 a.m. EST and was followed one-minute later by the first MIST experiment payload on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion. The second M-TeX payload was launched at 4:46 a.m. EST and also was followed one minute later by the second MIST payload.

Preliminary data show that all four payloads worked as planned and the trimethyl aluminum, or TMA, vapor trails were seen at the various land-based observation sites in Alaska. A fifth rocket carrying the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe remains ready on the launch pad. The launch window for this experiment runs through Jan. 27.

Credit: NASA/Jamie Adkins #nasagoddard #rocket
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nasagoddard Peering into the thousands of frozen layers inside Greenland’s ice sheet is like looking back in time. Each layer provides a record of what Earth’s climate was like at the dawn of civilization, or during the last ice age, or during an ancient period of warmth similar to the one we experience today. Scientists using ice-penetrating radar data collected by NASA’s Operation IceBridge and earlier airborne campaigns have built the first-ever comprehensive map of layers deep inside the Greenland Ice Sheet.
View the full video: http://youtu.be/u0VbPE0TOtQ

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center #nasagoddard #ice #Greenland
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nasagoddard Zoom into the Andromeda galaxy.

The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long section of the galaxy's pancake-shaped disk. It's like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And, there are lots of stars in this sweeping view — over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk. This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies which dominate the universe's population of over 100 billion galaxies. Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars over a major portion of an external spiral galaxy. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) #nasaoddard #Hubble #galaxy #space
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nasagoddard The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, scheduled for launch on Jan. 29, will measure the moisture in Earth's soil with greater accuracy and higher resolution than any preceding mission, producing a global map of soil moisture every three days.

Credit: NASA
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nasagoddard An instrument on our Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured its 100 millionth image of the sun. The instrument is the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, or AIA, which uses four telescopes working parallel to gather eight images of the sun – cycling through 10 different wavelengths -- every 12 seconds.

This is a processed image of SDO multiwavelength blend from Jan. 19, 2015, the date of the spacecraft's 100th millionth image release.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO
#nasaoddard #sun
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nasagoddard “Good luck, Captain – and make sure to Instagram it.” NASA astronaut Scott Kelly stands as he is recognized by President Barack Obama, while First lady Michelle Obama, front left, and other guest applaud, during the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Jan. 20, 2015. This March, Astronaut Scott Kelly will launch to the International Space Station and become the first American to live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory for a year-long mission. While living on the International Space Station, Kelly and the rest of the crew will carry out hundreds of research experiments and work on cutting-edge technology development that will inspire students here at home in science, technology, engineering and math.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls #sotu
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nasagoddard Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is one of more than 32 comets imaged by NASA's NEOWISE mission from December 2013 to December 2014. This image of comet Lovejoy combines a series of observations made in November 2013, when comet Lovejoy was 1.7 astronomical units from the sun. (An astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun.) The image spans half of one degree. It shows the comet moving in a mostly west and slightly south direction. (North is 26 degrees to the right of up in the image, and west is 26 degrees downward from directly right.) The red color is caused by the strong signal in the NEOWISE 4.6-micron wavelength detector, owing to a combination of gas and dust in the comet's coma.

Comet Lovejoy is the brightest comet in Earth's sky in early 2015. A chart of its location in the sky during dates in January 2015 is at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19103 .

For more information about NEOWISE (the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer), see http://neowise.ipac.caltech.edu/. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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nasagoddard The year 2014 now ranks as the warmest on record since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA scientists.

Nine of the 10 warmest years since modern records began have now occurred since 2000, according to a global temperature analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center #nasagoddard #weather
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nasagoddard Since August 2014, lava has gushed from fissures just north of Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier. As of January 6, 2015, the Holuhraun lava field had spread across more than 84 square kilometers (32 square miles), making it larger than the island of Manhattan. Holuhraun is Iceland’s largest basaltic lava flow since the Laki eruption in 1783–84, an event that killed 20 percent of the island’s population.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this view of the lava field on January 3, 2015. The false-color images combine shortwave infrared, near infrared, and red light. The plume of steam and sulfur dioxide appears white. Newly-formed basaltic rock is black. Fresh lava is bright orange. A lava lake is visible on the western part of the lava field, and steam rises from the eastern margin where the lava meets the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river.

Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1BxhUNT

NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen and Josh Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Adam Voiland
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nasagoddard This image taken from the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument of New Zealand was collected on January 9, 2015 when the phytoplankton were blooming — particularly to the east of the islands and along the Chatham Rise.

Derived from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh.

Phytoplankton growth depends on the availability of carbon dioxide, sunlight, and nutrients. Phytoplankton, like land plants, require nutrients such as nitrate, phosphate, silicate, and calcium at various levels depending on the species. Some phytoplankton can fix nitrogen and can grow in areas where nitrate concentrations are low. They also require trace amounts of iron which limits phytoplankton growth in large areas of the ocean because iron concentrations are very low. Other factors influence phytoplankton growth rates, including water temperature and salinity, water depth, wind, and what kinds of predators are grazing on them.

When conditions are right, phytoplankton populations can grow explosively, a phenomenon known as a bloom. Blooms in the ocean may cover hundreds of square kilometers and are easily visible in satellite images. A bloom may last several weeks, but the life span of any individual phytoplankton is rarely more than a few days.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/NPP #nasagoddard #NewZealand
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nasagoddard First Notable Solar Flare of 2015
The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 11:24 p.m. EST on Jan. 12, 2015. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

This flare is classified as an M5.6-class flare. M-class flares are a tenth the size of the most intense flares, the X-class flares. The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO #sun #nasagoddard #flare
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nasagoddard Image of Comet Lovejoy taken Saturday, January 10, by Dr. Bill Cooke. Image is a 3 minute exposure using the iTelescope T3 refractor. At the time of this image, the comet was some 45 million miles from Earth.
Discovered in August of 2014, Comet Lovejoy is currently sweeping north through the constellation Taurus, bright enough to offer good binocular views. Glowing softly with a greenish hue, Comet Lovejoy passed closest to planet Earth on January 7, while its perihelion (closest point to the Sun) will be on January 30. Classed as a long period comet, it should return again ... in about 8,000 years.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke, Meteoroid Environment Office
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nasagoddard The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this view of a phytoplankton bloom near Alaska’s Pribilof Islands on Sept. 22, 2014. The Pribilofs are surrounded by nutrient-rich waters in the Bering Sea. The milky green and light blue shading of the water indicates the presence of vast populations of microscopic phytoplankton—mostly coccolithophores, which have calcite scales that appear white in satellite images. Such phytoplankton form the foundation of a tremendously productive habitat for fish and birds.

Blooms in the Bering Sea increase significantly in springtime, after winter ice cover retreats and nutrients and freshened water are abundant near the ocean surface. Phytoplankton populations plummet in summertime as the water warms, surface nutrients are depleted by blooms, and the plant-like organisms are depleted by grazing fish, zooplankton, and other marine life. By autumn, storms can stir nutrients back to the surface and cooler waters make better bloom conditions.

Image Credit: NASA/Landsat 8
#nasaoddard #earth
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nasagoddard Satellite Picture Shows the Snow-covered U.S. Deep Freeze

NOAA's GOES-East satellite provided a look at the frigid eastern two-thirds of the U.S. on Jan. 7, 2015, that shows a blanket of northern snow, lake-effect snow from the Great Lakes and clouds behind the Arctic cold front.

A visible picture captured at 1600 UTC (11 a.m. EST) showed the effects of the latest Arctic outbreak. The cold front that brought the Arctic air has moved as far south as Florida, and stretches back over the Gulf of Mexico and just west of Texas today. The image shows clouds behind the frontal boundary stretching from the Carolinas west over the Heartland. Farther north, a wide band of fallen snow covers the ground from New England west to Montana, with rivers appearing like veins. The GOES-East satellite image also shows wind-whipped lake-effect snows off the Great Lakes, blowing to the southeast. Meanwhile, Florida, the nation's warm spot appeared almost cloud-free.

The forecast from NOAA's National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center (WPC) calls for more snow along the Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee north to upstate New York. Snow is also expected to fall from New England west to Montana, and in eastern New Mexico and the Colorado Rockies. The WPC summary for Jan. 7 noted: Bitter cold will be felt from the western High Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. for the next few days. Widespread subzero overnight lows are forecast for the Dakotas, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and interior New England. Wind Chill Advisories and Warnings are in effect for many of these areas.

Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project #nasagoddard #weather #winter #cold
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nasagoddard This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, taken in near-infrared light, transforms the pillars into eerie, wispy silhouettes, which are seen against a background of myriad stars.

The near-infrared light can penetrate much of the gas and dust, revealing stars behind the nebula as well as hidden away inside the pillars. Some of the gas and dust clouds are so dense that even the near-infrared light cannot penetrate them. New stars embedded in the tops of the pillars, however, are apparent as bright sources that are unseen in the visible image.

The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars is material getting heated up by the intense ultraviolet radiation from a cluster of young, massive stars and evaporating away into space. The stellar grouping is above the pillars and cannot be seen in the image. At the top edge of the left-hand pillar, a gaseous fragment has been heated up and is flying away from the structure, underscoring the violent nature of star-forming regions.

Astronomers used filters that isolate the light from newly formed stars, which are invisible in the visible-light image. At these wavelengths, astronomers are seeing through the pillars and even through the back wall of the nebula cavity and can see the next generations of stars just as they're starting to emerge from their formative nursery.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1HGfkqr #nasaoddard #space
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nasagoddard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image.

Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars about are 5 light-years tall. The new image was taken with Hubble's versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3.

The pillars are bathed in blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth.

The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) #nasagoddard #space #Hubble #hd
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