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Reflections in the Orion Nebula - M78

This image of the reflection nebula Messier 78 was captured using the Wide Field Imager camera on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory, Chile. This colour picture was created from many monochrome exposures taken through blue, yellow/green and red filters, supplemented by exposures through a filter that isolates light from glowing hydrogen gas.

Credit: ESO

Posted 12 hours ago


Big things, small packages

Don’t be fooled by the small size of ultracompact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 — it harbors a supermassive black hole, according to a study published yesterday in Nature. 

The result makes M60-UCD1 (shown in inset above) the smallest known galaxy to contain a supermassive black hole. And the astronomers’ findings could indicate that other ultracompact dwarf galaxies likely contain such gargantuan black holes at their centers.

By measuring the motion of stars in the galaxy, astronomers estimated that M60-UCD1 contains a black hole with a mass of 21 million suns — making up a remarkable 15 percent of the galaxy’s total mass of 140 solar masses.

The Milky Way, by comparison, has a black hole of 4 million solar masses, which makes up only a tiny fraction of a percent of the total mass of the Milky Way.

Astronomers believe that M60-UCD1 was originally a more typical galaxy, before its mass was stripped away by interactions with its larger neighbor, M60 (main image, above). This could indicate that other such ultracompact dwarf galaxies could have formed in a similar way.

See my full story at Sky & Telescope.

Also check out this cool video of a simulation of the galaxy being stripped.


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Ridges North of Baldet Crater

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Dec 28 1968: The Commander can’t stop smiling; the morning after Apollo 8 splashdown, and on his way home.


Dec 28 1968: The Commander can’t stop smiling; the morning after Apollo 8 splashdown, and on his way home.

Posted 23 hours ago


Composite star trail image taken by ISS Astronaut & Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit, with a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. [870x578]

Posted 1 day ago


11/16/66, Cape Kennedy: “Astronaut Ed Aldrin leans around to check his name on big sign detailing the exploits of the Gemini astronauts. Aldrin and James Lovell (R) returned 11/16 to spot from which their four-day-long Gemini-12 flight - the last in the series - began 11/11.”

Posted 1 day ago


Белка и Стрелка by space19811 on Flickr.

Belka and Strelka spent a day in space aboard Sputnik 5 on 19 August 1960 before safely returning to Earth. They were accompanied by a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies and several plants and fungi. All passengers survived. They were the first Earth-born creatures to go into orbit and return alive.

Collection of the Museum of Astronautics, Moscow