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We all have those days, amirite?
Compared to most spiral galaxies, this one looks a little lopsided. The classic, centered shape of spiral galaxies is one with a bulge of older stars in the middle and arms of young stars swirling outward. In this case, a neighboring galaxy is tugging this one’s blue arms off to the right.
Captured by @NASAHubble , this dueling pair is located 120 million light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. It is not uncommon for galaxies to come close enough to engage in a celestial tug-of-war. Galaxies are not solid objects, so gravitational pull distorts their shape in a manner similar to pulling off a piece of cotton candy.
Image description: A large spiral galaxy takes up most of the image, skewed so that its center stretches towards its upper left. We see it face-on as a mix of cool blue and whitish-yellow light, with smoky brown dust lining its blue, spiraling arms. In the background, orange and white stars and galaxies dot the blackness of space.
Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Paul Sell (University of Florida)
The last celestial sights of 2023 ✨
Planets and the Moon, the Geminid meteor shower, and a chance to observe an asteroid with your own eyes. This month, you’ll see Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter near the Moon, and the year's most reliable meteor shower, the Geminids, will peak mid-December. Giant asteroid Vesta reaches its closest to Earth, and can be viewed with a pair of binoculars.
Is your spidey sense tingling?
@NASAChandraXRay captured spider pulsars in the Omega Centauri star cluster, located about 17,700 light-years away from Earth. These observations are helping astronomers study why these spider pulsars are preying on nearby stars.
What are spider pulsars? A group of dead stars known to inflict damage on other small stars that orbit around them. A pulsar is the spinning dense core which remains after a star has collapsed into itself to form a neutron star. Those neutron stars are rapidly rotating and produce beams of radiation. This causes the outer layers of companion stars to be stripped away due to winds of energetic particles that are flowing from the pulsar stars.
Image description: Tiny white stars dot the blackness of space, many appearing to glow with a white or hot pink aura. Like other globular clusters, this conglomeration, named Omega Centauri, is more densely packed near the center.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA; IR:NASA/JPL/Caltech; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/N. Wolk
That's hot. ✨
Huge waves are sculpted in the Red Spider nebula some 3000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius.
This two-lobed planetary nebula is the home of one of the hottest stars known and its powerful stellar winds generate waves 62.4 billion miles (100 billion km) high. The waves are caused by supersonic shocks, formed when the local gas is compressed and heated in front of the rapidly expanding lobes. The atoms caught in the shock emit the spectacular radiation seen in this image.
Image description: The nebula glows in shades of gold, from the bright center the two lobes reach out, with gas and dust scattering out. Bright white stars contrast with the black background of space.
Credit: ESA & Garrelt Mellema (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
Be kind, but don't rewind. This isn't VHS. It's from space.📼
The horizon of the fourth planet from the Sun is seen from our Odyssey orbiter, now in its 23rd year around the Red Planet. This uncommon view of Mars, taken using an instrument called the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), captures Mars' thin atmosphere, hazy clouds, craters, and dust 250 miles (425 km) above the surface—the same POV orbiting astronauts would have.
Scientists spent three months planning this observation, which involved rotating the spacecraft so its antenna pointed away from Earth, cutting communication with Odyssey for several hours.
Launched in 2001, Odyssey is the longest-lasting spacecraft at Mars, where it continues to map Mars' sub-surface rock and ice structures, and monitors the Red Planet's climate.
Image description: Split over four images, Mars' surface appears gray, with many craters and hills. The atmosphere shows a haze of clouds and dust in white and gray. The image is slightly grainy.
A hint of holiday sparkle ✨
The @EuropeanSpaceAgency ’s Euclid mission launched on July 1, 2023, with NASA contributions. The space telescope is performing as expected after traveling nearly 1 million miles to its vantage point.
The spiral galaxy above also known as the “Hidden Galaxy,” is the first of five images released from the Euclid mission. Located about 11 million light-years from Earth, it lies behind a crowd of dust in the Milky Way. Euclid is able to peek through the dust to study it by using a near-infrared instrument. “Euclid’s first images mark the beginning of a new era of studying dark matter and dark energy,” said Mike Seiffert, Euclid project scientist at @NASAJPL . NASA teams will join Euclid scientists to study the dark energy, dark matter and galaxy evolution found in space.
Image description: A big spiral galaxy is visible face-on in white/pink colors at the center of this square astronomical image. The galaxy covers almost the entire image and appears whiter at its center where more stars are located. Its spiral arms stretch out across the image and appear fainter at the edges. The entire image is speckled with stars ranging in color from blue to white to yellow and red, across a black background of space. Blue stars are younger and red stars are older. A few of the stars are a bit larger than the rest, with six diffraction spikes.
Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
The beacons are lit 🔥
@NASAHubble captures a unique galaxy 17 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices, known as the “Evil Eye, with sweeping bands of cosmic dust.
First discovered in 1799, astronomers know this galaxy by its peculiar internal motion. The gas in the inner and outer regions move in opposite directions, which may be due to a recent galactic merger.
Image description: The bright yellow nucleus of a galaxy shines bright amongst dark dust in brown and orange. Blue and purple dots swirl around the galaxy’s center.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt
It’s tiiiiiiiiiime 🎵
Northern lights add a bit of festive holiday flair to our home planet. As our nearest star, the Sun bathes Earth in a steady stream of energetic particles, magnetic fields and radiation that can stimulate our atmosphere and light up the night sky, like the northern lights, also known as aurora borealis. When this phenomenon happens in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s called aurora australis.
Image description: A green, fog-like haze stretches over Canada. At the edges of Earth’s atmosphere, the light takes on a purple-red color, eventually fading into the darkness of space. Some stars are faintly visible. At top left, a portion of the solar arrays of the International Space Station is backlit against the planet.
Double trouble this #BlackHoleFriday
What would it look like if we could sit and watch two supermassive black holes colliding? This simulation using advanced computer modeling shows what might happen.
Here we see two supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, heading for a collision.
Video description: At the beginning of this animated GIF, we see the glowing gas surrounding two black holes. The gas is shaded orange and purple, and it is tightly wound around each individual black hole. They each have a tail of gas, looking like a comma. As the animation proceeds, the camera moves to see the two black holes nearly in line with each other and then back to see the bottom of the system. As the view tilts, the gravitational effects of the black holes at the center cause the light to bend like a funhouse mirror.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Noble; simulation data, d'Ascoli et al. 2018
#tbt (Throwback Thanksgiving)
This year marks 50 years of Thanksgivings in space.
On Nov. 22, 1973, Skylab 4 astronauts skipped lunch due to a spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 33 minutes. Because of that, all three astronauts ate two meals at dinner. While neither meal contained traditional Thanksgiving foods, it was the first space meal to occur on the holiday.
Twelve years later in 1985, the next Thanksgiving feast occurred – this time, with seasonal favorites! On Nov. 28, 1985, the seven-member crew of STS-61B enjoyed a hearty meal of shrimp cocktail, irradiated turkey, and cranberry sauce.
Ever since the first long-duration stay of Expedition 1 in 2000, crews have celebrated Thanksgiving every year on the @ISS through present day. The Thanksgiving of 2001 even included festive décor. 🦃
This year, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa celebrate Thanksgiving with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, butternut squash, corn, and cranberry-apple dessert.
If you were to celebrate Thanksgiving in space, which dish would you want to bring?
1.) A black-and-white still shot shows Skylab 4 astronauts aboard Skylab on Nov. 28, 1973. Gerald Carr, right, eats a meal while Ed Gibson, left, is upside-down.
2.) Five astronauts float in the middeck of space shuttle Atlantis. They eat Thanksgiving meals from small trays. An American flag is on the wall behind them.
3.) Three Expedition 3 crewmembers eat a meal on a makeshift table on the space station in 2001. A cardboard turkey is on the wall behind them.
What are you daydreaming of with this as your view?
Peering through the International Space Station's (@iss ) cupola, or "window to the world," the western coast of Chile is visible.
Cupola, the ultimate breakfast nook, is a small module designed for the observations outside the station, such as robotic activities, the approach of vehicles and spacewalks. Station members frequently point their cameras outside the cupola and photograph landmarks on Earth. The windows are equipped with shutters to protect them from contamination and collisions with orbital debris or micrometeorites.
Image description: The Earth is pictured from the seven windows of the cupola on the International Space Station. Six of the windows are parallelogram-shaped, forming a circle, around the seventh window that is circle shaped. Through a window on the left, one of the orbiting laboratory's solar arrays can be seen; in the center, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule's cymbal-shaped solar array is peeking in, and in the bottom right corner window, the Roscosmos segment of the station is visible. The dark interior of the space station contrasts with the illuminated Earth below.