Hubble Observations of the Red Planet
NASA has been exploring Mars since the 1970s, with missions including orbiting spacecraft and rovers on the surface. Hubble has also studied Mars from its position in Earth’s orbit. This multi-mission approach provides valuable different ways to see, and understand, our nearest planetary neighbor.
Images and data are usually collected when Mars is near “opposition,” fully illuminated by the Sun. Hubble shows Mars as an exceptionally stable planet, though occasionally wracked by huge dust storms, most evident in the 2018 image. A dust storm can be seen forming on the lower right side of the planet in 2001.
The polar ice cap and clouds also vary between images. The tilt of Mars toward or away from us is evident by visibility of the northern and southern polar ice caps. During northern winter / southern summer, the north pole ice cap can be seen easily but the south pole cannot; the opposite is true during southern winter / northern summer.
In addition to polar ice caps, white and gray features on Mars represent clouds. During the northern summer, distinctive clouds appear around Mars’ northern pole. This is why some images show the polar clouds more clearly than others. The dark and light surface areas in the images are caused by different minerals, and their boundaries usually correspond to the planet’s terrain.
These images of Mars come from three different cameras on Hubble, starting with the original Wide Field Camera in 1991, the upgraded Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) starting with the 1997 image, and finally Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) used in 2016 and 2018.
Mars is the most closely observed planet other than Earth. Hubble provides a fascinating opportunity to observe another planet changing over time, and give valuable perspective on what makes our home planet unique, and what we may share in common with other worlds.
Please give credit for this item to:
2018: NASA, ESA, and STScI
2016: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)
2007: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)
2005: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University) and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)
2003: NASA, ESA, J. Bell (Cornell University) and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)
2001: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: J. Bell (Cornell U.), P. James (U. Toledo), M. Wolff (SSI), A. Lubenow (STScI), J. Neubert (MIT/Cornell)
1999: NASA, ESA, J. Bell (Cornell U.), J. Maki (JPL), M. Wolff (SSI)
1997: NASA, ESA, D. Crisp and WFPC2 Science Team (JPL)
1991: NASA, ESA
- Greg Bacon (STScI)
- Alexander Lubenow (STScI)
- David Crisp (NASA/JPL CalTech)
- J. Neubert (MIT/Cornell)
- Jim Bell (ASU)
- Justin Maki (JPL)
- Mike Wolff (Space Science Institute)
- Philip James (University of Toledo)
- Leann Johnson (GST)
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
Datasets used in this visualization
Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 (Collected with the Wide Field Camera 3 sensor)
Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 (Collected with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 sensor)
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.
Extended Groth Strip
May 20, 2019, 6 a.m.Read more
The Extended Groth Strip covers a small swath of sky between the constellations Ursa Major and Boötes, and yet it contains at least 50,000 galaxies visible to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, and likely more that are beyond the range of light that Hubble can detect. This panoramic image of sky near the Big Dipper contains at least 50,000 galaxies and took NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope nearly a year and 500 separate exposures to create, and yet it is only a very narrow area (70 arcminutes by 10 arcminutes). It is small sample typical of many, many such sections of sky, in all directions, which puts the vastness of space into dizzying perspective. For this project astronomers looked deeply rather than broadly, seeing back in time to the universe’s youth. Hubble provides amazing detail on a wide diversity of galaxies; some are beautiful spirals or massive elliptical galaxies like those seen in the nearby universe, but others look like random assemblages of material, the leftovers from violent mergers of young galaxies. These resemble some of the most distant, youngest galaxies observed.Despite Hubble’s powerful resolution and sensitivity, there are still galaxies so far away that they are beyond its view. Future observatories like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will follow up and look back to the universe’s infancy with instruments that can detect more infrared light.
Galaxy Cluster Abell S1063
April 22, 2019, 6 a.m.Read more
Massive galaxy cluster Abell S1063 is shown at the center of this Hubble image, surrounded by more distant galaxies that are magnified and warped by the cluster’s immense gravity. A faint haze of intracluster light is visible between the galaxies, produced by free-floating stars. The powerful resolution and sensitivity of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal wonders of the universe in this image. The ability of gravity to warp the fabric of space itself is displayed, as the massive galaxy cluster Abell S1063 at center is surrounded by the distorted and magnified light of galaxies much farther away. The combined mass of the galaxies in the cluster act as a natural magnifying glass or funhouse mirror, showing amazing detail, but with a warped effect.Natural magnifiers like these allow scientists to study details of distant galaxies they could not see otherwise. The distant, warped galaxies also provide information about the cluster that is revealing them. Extreme distortion stretches distant galaxies into a smeared arc, indicating the mass distribution of the galaxy cluster. Likewise, some distant galaxies appear multiple times through the “lens,” and any changes within them, like a supernova, will show up in one reflection of the galaxy and then another, indicating how light is travelling through the distorted space.Hubble also captures the faint intracluster glow between the galaxies that make up Abell S1063, produced by free-floating “orphan” stars that were thrown from their galaxies during mergers. These stars align themselves with the overall gravity map of the cluster, and have been used as an indicator of where dark matter is distributed. In this way, the intracluster light is used to trace the location of dark matter, which is in itself undetectable.
Triangulum Galaxy Mosaic
March 25, 2019, 6 a.m.Read more
Full Hubble mosaic image of the Triangulum galaxy (M33), composed of 54 Hubble fields of view stitched together. The borders of individual Hubble images trace the jagged edge of the mosaic, which spans 19,400 light-years across. This unprecedentedly detailed portrait of the Triangulum galaxy (M33) is composed of 54 Hubble fields of view stitched together, revealing nearly 25 million individually resolved stars spanning 19,400 light-years. In the full mosaic, the borders of individual Hubble fields-of-view create a jagged edge.Triangulum is oriented with its face toward us, unlike our other neighboring spiral galaxy Andromeda, which we see from the side. Its full-face orientation makes Triangulum ideal for studying the distribution of stars and gas in its well-defined spiral structure. A few characteristics stand out immediately. Striking areas of star formation glow bright blue throughout the galaxy, particularly in beautiful nebulas of hot, ionized hydrogen gas like star-forming region NGC 604, visible in the upper left of the full mosaic image.The star formation rate in Triangulum is intense. Though the Milky Way galaxy is about 10 times more massive, with 400 billion stars compared to Triangulum’s 40 billion, the galaxies appear to be producing stars at a similar rate. The orderly nature of Triangulum s spiral, with dust distributed throughout, is another distinctive feature. Astronomers think that in the Local Group of galaxies, Triangulum has been something of an introvert, isolated from frequent interactions with other galaxies that can distort spiral structure. Further research may determine if Triangulum is actually a newer member of the Local Group of galaxies, and perhaps its quiet days will soon be over.Continuing to uncovering the Triangulum galaxy’s story will provide an important point of reference in understanding how galaxies develop over time, and the diverse paths that shape what we see today. This cropped version of the mosaic image shows off the amazing detail Hubble captured at the heart of the Triangulum galaxy.
Spiral Galaxy M106
Feb. 11, 2019, 1 p.m.Read more
This composite image of galaxy M106 focuses on its active center, where large amounts of gas are thought to be falling into and fueling a supermassive black hole. This portrait of nearby galaxy M106 is a composite of separate exposures acquired by various instruments on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground-based telescopes. It shows the active galaxy’s chaotic center, where large amounts of gas are thought to be falling into and fueling a supermassive black hole.In addition to the starry arms we typically see in spiral galaxies, this image shows red “anomalous arms” of hot gas. Astronomers think the gas is being expelled from the galaxy’s active central nucleus. Cepheid variable stars in this galaxy were used to refine the cosmic “distance ladder,” which helps us to understand the vast distances of deep space, and how objects there relate to each other in spacetime. Certain Cepheids have a regular cycle of brightness changes, and this special property of these stars reveals how far away they are from us, providing benchmarks for measuring other objects in the universe. The image was created by astrophotographer Robert Gendler, who is not a professional astronomer but a civilian who took an interest in space and has been photographing the night sky for decades. He used publicly available Hubble data, combined with his own work and that of another astrophotographer, Jay GaBany, to create this hybrid image.
Jan. 28, 2019, 9 a.m.Read more
This amazingly deep, detailed image is the result of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most substantial and ambitious observing campaign yet, CANDELS—the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey. The image displays approximately 30,000 galaxies across 6 billion years of time and space—half the age of the universe—making for a fascinating visual study of galaxy evolution. This may not look like the Hubble Space Telescope’s most dramatic image, but what you are seeing here is the history of the universe. This ultra deep field (UDF) is not a star field but a field of galaxies, stretching across half the observable universe in both space and time. The oldest and most distant galaxies depicted appear red, because as the universe expands their light has been stretched or “redshifted” to longer wavelengths. Red is the longest wavelength our eyes can see; beyond it are longer infrared wavelengths, which some telescopes, including Hubble, can detect for us. The brightest spots that appear to have x-shaped beams of light emanating from them are foreground stars between Hubble and the distant galaxies. The x-shaped light is characteristic of Hubble diffraction spikes, which are optical artifacts caused by the mirror support structure in most reflector telescopes.The image is the result of the CANDELS project—the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey, Hubble’s most lengthy and detailed science observation. Gathering all the detailed data to create this image took Hubble 1450 hours, or the equivalent of 60 continuous days of observation.
Jan. 15, 2019, 10 a.m.Read more
This visualization uses Hubble data to simulate a flight past the galaxies known as Stephan’s Quintet, providing an illuminating perspective on their position and gravitational relationships to one another. Stephan’s Quintet is the name given to five galaxies that appear to be grouped together from our perspective on Earth. However, closer examination reveals that the well-formed spiral in the foreground is actually much closer to us and is not interacting with the other galaxies, while the galaxies appearing behind it have had their shapes distorted by each other’s gravitational fields. The larger and more massive a galaxy, the greater the pull it will have on another galaxy. The effects are clearly visible in the warped galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet. Some of the strange forms created by interacting galaxies are short-lived, while some areas of a galaxy may be permanently separated, or small galaxies combined together. The collision of gas and other material in galaxies as a result of these interactions triggers bursts of bright star formation. 4K still image of Stephan s Quintet
Whale Galaxy Panorama
Dec. 20, 2018, 5 a.m.Read more
NGC 4631, the Whale galaxy, shows us the edge of its spiral, appearing similar to the single arm of the Milky Way visible to us in the night sky. The vague wedge shape of galaxy NGC 4631—with the broad area on the left tapering down to a blue tail on the right—led to its popular moniker: the Whale galaxy. The “head” of the whale here is the galactic center, which is lit up with star birth and gas heated from supernova explosions. This bright light silhouettes bands of dense, darker material that lie between the Whale and us. Toward the tail there is less dust but still areas of bright blue star formation, driven by interactions with neighboring galaxies. As gas and dust from different galaxies meet in space, denser areas are created, which gravity compacts into new stars. This is a spiral galaxy seen from the side, or edge-on. This is similar to how we view the Milky Way from our position inside it—we see one of the spiral arms stretching across the sky. The Whale galaxy is actually similar in size to the Milky Way; the area we are seeing here is about 140,000 light-years across.
Globular Star Clusters Scattered Between Galaxies
Dec. 10, 2018, 5 a.m.Read more
Hubble Space Telescope mosaic image of the Coma cluster of more than 1,000 galaxies, with 22,426 globular star clusters scattered in between. Globular star clusters are snow-globe-shaped islands of several hundred thousand ancient stars—the oldest known in the universe. With its powerful high resolution, Hubble peered into the heart of the giant Coma cluster of galaxies, 300 million light-years away, and was able to capture a whopping 22,426 globular star clusters scattered between the galaxies. They have been flung out from their home galaxies due to galaxy near-collisions inside the traffic-jammed cluster. The image shows a span of space 2.2 million light years across. The distribution of the globular star clusters will help astronomers to map the distribution of matter and unseen dark matter in Coma.This mosaic image was assembled from images in the Hubble archive, with help from college students in the National Science Foundation areas of the sky that were not imaged with the Hubble filters needed for this study do not include the green circles. In the future such efforts will not be needed however, because telescopes like WFIRST will be able to capture an image of the entire galaxy cluster all at once. Hubble Space Telescope mosaic image of the Coma galaxy cluster, with green circles indicating the locations of globular star clusters, each containing several hundred thousand stars. Areas where the green circles are noticeably missing, like the triangle area left of center, show sections of the sky that the survey did not cover.
Pillars of Creation: M16
Nov. 25, 2018, 7 p.m.Read more
This pair of images taken in 2014 reveal the Pillars of Creation in visible and near-infrared light, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Pillars of Creation (Eagle Nebula, or Messier 16) are a stellar nursery, composed of gas and dust slowly eaten away by massive stars that are off the far to the upper right corner of this image. The pillars are about 5 light-years tall in this image. Streamers of gas can be seen floating from the giant structures as intense radiation heats and evaporates them into space. Stars are being born inside the pillars due to the gas compressed into collapse by the powerful winds from the massive star cluster. The pillars are slowly being eroded but continue jutting out into the cleared region.The first Hubble image shows the Pillars in visible light capturing the silhouette of the dark cloud. The second Hubble image shows the Pillars in the near-infrared light where the dust now appears transparent. This reveals the stars within and behind the cloud. The infrared. blue-colored glow shows the edges of the cloud that are partly illuminated by the stars that surround them. The yellow-color captures the dusty stars that are obscured in the visible light image. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Optical image of M16 (portrait) Optical image of M16 (landscape) Infrared image of M16 (landscape)
Sombrero Galaxy in Multiple Wavelengths
Oct. 29, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
The Sombrero Galaxy s dust and inner flat disk are clear when viewing infrared. Hubble and Spitzer images combined of the Sombrero Galaxy
Messier 82: Cigar Galaxy in Multiple Wavelengths
Oct. 15, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
Massive burst of star formation in the core or M82 burst becomes clearer in infrared. Messier 82 (M82), or the Cigar Galaxy, is an edge-on spiral undergoing a massive burst of star formation in its core. Many thousands of stars, and their surrounding gas and dust, have been stirred up. These stars are expelling violent winds that are blowing gas and dust out of the galaxy. The only hint of this in visible light are fountains of hot hydrogen gas streaming out of its disk. In infrared, the burst becomes clearer as we see massive amounts of dust also blowing out of the center.Optical: In visible light the edge-on disk highlights the geysers of hot gas shooting out of M82 s X-ray image reveals gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by the violent outflow. Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra images combined
Galactic Center in Multiple Infrared Wavelengths
Oct. 1, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
The densely packed starfields at our galaxy s center are hidden behind dust clouds and only become visible in infrared light. In the near-infrared they begin to appear, but are reddened for much the same reason that sunlight turns red when filtered through a smoky cloud. The dense dust clouds begin to stand out at longer infrared wavelengths, taking on changing rainbows of color depending on which parts of the spectrum contribute to the image. The very coldest, densest dust will only start to glow at the very longest wavelengths of light, rendered in red in the far-infrared image in this sequence.Far-infrared: At these long infrared wavelengths, the hottest dust glows blue, while the coldest is red.Mid-infrared: Some of the hottest dust clouds begin to glow as one looks deeper into the infrared spectrum.Near-infrared: The myriad stars and shadows caused by dust clouds are more vivid at shorter wavelengths of light. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Far-infrared image of Galactic Center At these long infrared wavelengths, the hottest dust glows blue, while the coldest is red. Mid-infrared image of Galactic Center Some of the hottest dust clouds begin to glow as one looks deeper into the infrared spectrum. Near-infrared image of Galactic Center The myriad stars and shadows caused by dust clouds are more vivid at shorter wavelengths of light.
Mountains of Creation in Visible and Infrared
Sept. 17, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
The infrared view of the reveals columns of dust sculpted by the light of young stars. The visible glow of hot gas in this star-forming region only highlights the areas where stars have been born and emerged from their dust clouds. The infrared view lets us see columns of dust sculpted by the light of the young stars, which themselves contain embedded clusters of baby stars that are about to be born.Optical: Bright, young stars light up the gas.Infrared: Clusters of forming stars can be seen in the tips of massive dust pillars. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Digital Sky Survey optical image of Mountains of CreationBright, young stars light up the gas. Spitzer Infrared image of Mountains of Creation Clusters of forming stars can be seen in the tips of massive dust pillars.
Andromeda Galaxy in Visible and Infrared
Sept. 10, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
While Andromeda is a spiral galaxy, its dust falls largely in a huge ring structure, possibly caused by gravitational interactions with its smaller satellite galaxies. Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way, around 2.5 million light-years away. Once thought to be a twin of our galaxy, its different structure is very evident in infrared light. While it is a spiral galaxy, its dust falls largely in a huge ring structure, possibly caused by gravitational interactions with its smaller satellite galaxies.Optical: This is the classic visible view of the Andromeda GalaxyInfrared: Andromeda s dust ring stands out in the infrared
Messier 81 in Multiple Wavelengths
Aug. 20, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
Star-forming regions in M81 become evident in infrared. Messier 81 (M81) is a classic example of a spiral galaxy. Star-forming regions in this galaxy become evident in the infrared view. In the infrared, the spiral arm structure becomes much more powerful relative to the visibly bright galactic center, revealing denser concentrations of cold dust and gas ready to be transformed into new stars.Optical: Stars are partly obscured by dust.Near-Infrared: Longer infrared wavelengths now show star-forming areas in red.Far-Infrared: Shifting to infrared light reveals the dust lanes in red. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. NOAO optical image of Messier 81 Stars are partly obscured by dust. Spitzer Near-Infrared image of Messier 81 Longer infrared wavelengths now show star-forming areas in red. Spitzer Far-Infrared image of Messier 81 Shifting to infrared light reveals the dust lanes in red.
Barred Galaxy (NGC 253) in Multiple Wavelengths
Aug. 6, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
NGC 253, characterized by its vigorous star formation and spiral dust lanes, reveals its underlying structure in multiple wavelengths. In NGC 253, the visible-light view is complicated by the viewing angle, dark dust clouds, and scatterings of massive stars. Switching to the near-infrared lets us see the full population of stars more clearly, revealing a bar running through the center of the galaxy. Including mid-infrared also brings out the dust lanes clearly, and even highlights the areas where stars are forming vigorously, particularly in the galaxy s center.Optical: Dust and bright stars confuse the view in visible light.Near-Infrared: Dust lanes along the spiral arms glow in the mid-infrared.Mid-Infrared: The base population of stars reveal the spiral arms and central bar. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. ESO optical image of the NGC 253 Dust and bright stars confuse the view in visible light. Spitzer Near-Infrared image of the NGC 253 The base population of stars reveal the spiral arms and central bar. WISE image of the NGC 253 Dust lanes along the spiral arms glow in the mid-infrared.
Zoo of Galaxies
July 9, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation starts with a collage of different galaxies first in visible light, and then far-infrared light. Galaxies come in all shapes and sizes. There are two dominant shapes: spiral galaxies, and the galaxies in the upper right portion of the collage appear very small and compact in the far-IR, indicating that their dust is centrally concentrated. This technique can differentiate between galaxies in different stages of their evolution. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Herschel Survey of Infrared images Sloan Digital Sky Survey images
Kepler Supernova Remnant
June 25, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation shows the remnant of Kepler - a supernova caused by the transfer of material between two smaller dwarf stars. The added material brings the total mass of one of the stars beyond the critical threshold for supernova collapse. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Infrared image of Supernova Remnant Optical image of Supernova Remnant Lo X-ray image of Supernova Remnant Hi X-ray image of Supernova Remnant Infrared, optical, lo X-ray, and hi X-ray images of Supernova Remnant combined
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy)
June 18, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation shows the Messier 101 (Pinwheel) Galaxy, with simulated rotation, in visible, then infrared, then X-ray, and finally all three combined. M101 is a comparable in size to the Milky Way. The disk is 100 billion solar masses, and the central bulge of about 3 billion solar masses. M101 is rich is pinkish star forming regions, many of which are very large and bright. Unlike most spiral galaxies, M101 s spiral arms. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Spitzer Infrared image of M101 Hubble Optical image of M101 Chandra X-ray image of M101 Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra images combined
30 Doradus: A Massive Star-Forming Region
June 11, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation of the active star-forming region 30 Doradus showcases Hubble s entire wavelength range, from ultraviolet to infrared. 30 Doradus (the Tarantula Nebula) is a very bright and active star-forming region outside of the Milky Way galaxy, at 160,000 light-years away. “30 Dor” is home to the central star cluster NGC 2070, including the most active region, R136, which appears in the central-right area of the image. R136 is a few million years old and contains many thousands of young stars, including several of the largest known. The visible (Hubble) bright blue stars shine out of the cleared cavity that is excavated by stellar winds. The redder stars are still partially embedded in the cloud material, seen in shadow except where illuminated by the cavity stars. In the infrared (Hubble) view the embedded stars shine more clearly through the intervening cloud material. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Infrared image of 30 Doradus Ultraviolet, Visible and Infrared image of 30 Doradus
Eagle Nebula: M16 Wide
June 4, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This series of images shows the environment around the Pillars of Creation, the Eagle Nebula, Messier 16. The images reveal the nebula in optical, X-ray, mid-infrared, and far-infrared light. The Pillars of Creation are revealed as the most persistent remnant of a once cocooned giant star forming nursery, although an even more slender pillar remains far to the left of the famous trio, and a massive promontory remains above them. All Pillars are aimed toward the massive star cluster to the upper right of the Pillars, most visible in X-ray (Chandra). These massive stars have blown open the nursery door. Their powerful stellar winds of charged particles blow away the gas and dust to create a window into the center of the cloud. In the visible (NOAO) image the cloud surface shines where the gas is illuminated, and is shadowed where the light source is blocked. The X-ray (Chandra+XMM) image shows exclusively the most massive stars, which generate the highest energy and powerful winds that excite the X-rays themselves.In sharp contrast, the mid-infrared image (Spitzer) reveals the cloud material. The blue color represents reflected starlight, while the green color is hydrogen gas, emitting directly from the depths of the cloud. The red haze is warm hydrocarbon dust, filling the cavity, heated by the ultraviolet light from the nearby massive stars. The far-infrared (Herschel) image shows very cold dust, at a chilly few hundred degrees below freezing. It represents cloud material that has yet to coalesce into stars or be blown away. This image most closely resembles the cavern in which the massive stars have carved out space. Finally, the visible (ESO) image shows where the stars illuminate portions of the cloud and leave shadows. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Herschel Far-Infrared image of Eagle Nebula Spitzer Near-Infrared image of Eagle Nebula ESO Optical image of Eagle Nebula NOAO Optical image of Eagle Nebula Chandra/XMM X-ray image of Eagle Nebula
Milky Way Center in Multiple Wavelengths
June 4, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation reveals the center of our Milky Way galaxy, first in near-infrared, then mid-infrared, then X-ray light, and then all three in combination. Our solar system and sun is located inside a pancake shaped galaxy. Imagine a scale model where the plane of the Milky Way is a DVD, and the central bulge is a ping pong ball glued in the center. It is this narrow plane that we see across the sky on a sufficiently dark night from Earth, from our vantage point inside it. Dust blocks much of our view. But at other wavelengths astronomers can probe the heart of our galaxy.The center of our Milky Way Galaxy, located 26,000 light-years away, houses a black hole as massive as a million suns, surrounded by very dense nest of stars and bright clouds. The density of stars in the innermost regions of the Milky Way is up to one million times greater than in our portion of the galaxy. This region contains extreme and unusual conditions that can influence the types of stars that reside there. The density of stars and clouds creates streaming patterns. There are large massive star clusters that cannot not be found outside that region. The radiation environment is intense in the galactic center. The near-infrared image (Hubble) shows the knots of cloud edges and emission that mark the plane of our galaxy. The mid-infrared image (Spitzer) highlights the clouds of gas and dust and star forming regions. The X-ray image (Chandra) tracks the most luminous and powerful stars in the area conspicuously revealing the galactic center region itself - including the million-solar mass black hole at the very hub of our galaxy. In addition, several other X-ray emitting locations can be seen, linked to massive star clusters. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Spitzer Infrared image of the Milky Way Center Hubble Near-Infrared image of the Milky Way Center Chandra X-ray image of the Milky Way Center Infrared, Near-Infrared and X-ray images of the Milky Way Center
The Orion Nebula: Visible and Infrared Views
May 28, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation showcases the Orion Nebula, first in infrared light (Spitzer), then in visible light (Hubble), and finally a blend of the two images in a multi-color mosaic. This sequence uses infrared (Spitzer) and visible (Hubble) images to reveal the formation of stars within a large cloud of hydrogen gas and dust. The warm gas lights up in the infrared view as red, and the hydrocarbon dust appears in green. The starlight from young stars appears in blue. The flood of starlight provides extra illumination throughout the dusty environment and in front of the cloud. The threads of gas, reminiscent of clouds on Earth, are compressed and pushed into knots by the winds from forming stars throughout the region. The clouds appear as shadows in this visible-light view. However, in areas where the gas has mostly been cleared or thinned, glowing cavities can be seen inside these cocoons. The combined view hints at the nebula’s complex three-dimensional structure. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Visible image of the Orion Nebula Infrared image of the Orion Nebula Visible and Infrared image of the Orion Nebula
The Whirlpool Galaxy: Visible and X-ray Views
May 21, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation contrasts the visible-light (Hubble Space Telescope) and X-ray (Chandra X-ray Observatory) images of Messier 51, the majestic Whirlpool galaxy. This sequence uses visible (Hubble) and X-ray (Chandra) imagery to highlight different structures within the Whirlpool galaxy (Messier 51). As seen in visible light, the familiar whirlpool shape is traced out by glowing spiral arms. These arms are composed of billions of stars orbiting about the center of the galaxy over millions of years. The pink color is from hot hydrogen gas that permeates the galaxy and indicates sites of new star formation. Silhouetted in the bright arms are dark lanes of obscuring dust that blocks visible light. The stars farther away from the center orbit more slowly and fall behind, creating the signature spiral arm. A massive black hole lies at the galaxy’s center. The black hole can’t be seen directly, but its presence is hinted at by the dense star clusters at the center. A second smaller spiral galaxy can be seen in the upper-right portion of the image. The second image shows the X-ray view, highlighting the very hottest gas at millions of degrees Fahrenheit. The X-rays most closely match the visible pink hot gas in active star-forming regions and are particularly strong near the galactic centers of both galaxies. X-rays are also penetrating obscuring dust. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Visible image of the Whirlpool Galaxy X-ray image of the Whirlpool Galaxy Visible and X-ray image of the Whirlpool Galaxy
HH666: The Hidden Jet Launch
May 14, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
Herbig Haro 666, a young star driving bipolar jets within a pillar of gas and dust in the Carina Nebula, is shown in two Hubble Space Telescope images, first in visible light and then near-infrared light. Herbig Haro 666 is a young star that is shooting out narrow collimated jets in opposite directions. The jets are a byproduct of material falling onto to the star. The material is heated and then escapes along the star’s spin axis. Blazing across space at 200,000 miles per hour, the jets provide a way for the star to slow its spin by carrying off angular momentum. The star is hidden deep within the obscuring cloud of gas and dust shown in the Hubble visible-light image. In Hubble’s infrared view, the cloud mostly disappears, revealing the stars within. The jets will extend out to a light-year before dissipating. Jets are a dramatic example of the interaction between stars and the gas and dust that surrounds them. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Visible image of Herbig Haro 666. Infrared image of Herbig Haro 666. Visible and infrared image of Herbig Haro 666.
Vision Across the Full Spectrum: The Crab Nebula, from Radio to X-ray
May 7, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation shows the Crab Nebula from the lowest-frequency light (radio), to infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and finally X-ray. The Crab Nebula (Messier 1) is the remnant of a supernova that exploded in the year 1054 AD. This mysterious s spin axis. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Ultraviolet, Visible, Radio, Infrared and X-ray image of the Crab Nebula. Ultravioletimage of the Crab Nebula. Visible image of the Crab Nebula. Infrared image of the Crab Nebula. X-ray image of the Crab Nebula. Radio image of the Crab Nebula.
Lagoon Nebula: Visible and Infrared Views
April 30, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This video compares the colorful Hubble Space Telescope visible-light image of the core of the Lagoon Nebula and a Hubble infrared-light view of the same region. This visible-light image of the central region of the Lagoon Nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of ridges, canyons, pillars, and mountains of gas and dust surrounding a very hot newborn star. When the visible view crossfades into an image taken in near-infrared light, the most obvious difference is the abundance of stars that fill the field of view. Most of them are more distant, background stars located behind the nebula itself. However, some of these pinpricks of light are young stars within the Lagoon Nebula. Only the densest of the gas clouds remain in the infrared view. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Hubble Infrared image of the Lagoon Nebula. 8K Hubble Infrared image of the Lagoon Nebula. Hubble Optical image of the Lagoon Nebula. 8K Hubble Optical image of the Lagoon Nebula.
Colliding Galaxies (NGC 2207)
April 23, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation shows the interacting galaxy pair NGC 2207, first in optical light, then in infrared, in X-ray, and finally in combination. NGC 2207 is a pair of colliding spiral galaxies. Their bright central nuclei resemble a striking set of eyes. In visible light (Hubble), trails of stars and gas trace out spiral arms, stretched by the tidal pull between the galaxies. When seen in infrared light (IR; Spitzer), the glow of warm dust appears. This dust is the raw material for the creation of new stars and planets. Complementary to the IR, the X-ray (Chandra) view reveals areas of active star formation and the birth of super star clusters. Though individual stars are too far apart to collide, the materialbetween the stars merges to create high-density pockets of gas. These regions gravitationally collapse to trigger a firestorm of starbirth. The galaxy collision will go on for several millions of years, leaving the galaxies completely altered in terms of their shapes. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Visible (Optical), Infrared and X-ray image of the Colliding Galaxy. Infrared image of the Colliding Galaxy. Visible (Optical) image of the Colliding Galaxy. X-ray image of the Colliding Galaxy.
Pillars in the Carina Nebula (HH901)
April 11, 2018, 6 a.m.Read more
This animation shows Herbig Haro 901 (HH901), a large pillar of gas and dust with eruptive young stars inside the Carina Nebula. The animation reveals the object in two Hubble Space Telescope images: first in visible light and then in infrared light. Herbig Haro 901 is an immense pillar of gas and dust inside the Carina Nebula, a huge star-forming region in our galaxy. The pillar is several light-years tall and contains a few massive young stars. They shoot out powerful jets that emerge from the cloud. In some cases, the jets create bow-shock patterns similar to the effects of a ship plowing through the ocean. In the visible-light (Hubble) view, very few stars can be seen because the gas and dust block starlight. But in the infrared (Hubble) view, stars become visible and numerous. The visible-light colors emerge from the glow of different gases: oxygen (blue), hydrogen/nitrogen (green), and sulfur (red). The Carina Nebula is approximately 7,500 light years from Earth. This animation is the same as above, played twice as fast. Visible light image of the Pillars in the Carina Nebula. Infrared light image of the Pillars in the Carina Nebula. Visible and Infrared light image of the Pillars in the Carina Nebula.