Author: Just Space

Orion Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor Hot-Fire Test : A static hot-fire test of the Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor to help qualify the motor for human spaceflight, to help ensure Orion is ready from liftoff to splashdown for missions to the Moon. (via NASA)

AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula : Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No. Even though AE Aurigae is named the flaming star, the surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula, and the region shape gives the appearance of fire, there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments such as stars. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible just to the lower right of the image center, is so hot it glows blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons away from surrounding gas. When a proton recaptures an electron, light is emitted, as seen in the surrounding emission nebula. Featured here, the Flaming Star nebula lies about 1,500 light years distant, spans about 5 light years, and is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga). via NASA

Nick Hague Completes First Spacewalk : NASA astronaut Nick Hague completed the first spacewalk of his career on Friday, March 22, 2019. He and fellow astronaut Anne McClain worked on a set of battery upgrades for six hours and 39 minutes, on the International Space Station’s starboard truss. (via NASA)

Arp 194: Merging Galaxy Group : Why are stars forming in the bridge between these colliding galaxies? Usually when galaxies crash, star formation is confined to galaxy disks or tidal tails. In Arp 194, though, there are bright knots of young stars right in a connecting bridge. Analyses of images and data including the featured image of Arp 194 from Hubble, as well as computer simulations of the interaction, indicate that the bottom galaxy passed right through the top galaxy within the past 100 million years. The result has left a stream of gas that is now falling toward the bottom galaxy. Astronomers hypothesize that stars form in this bridge because of the recent fading of turbulence after the rapid collision. In about a billion years, the galaxies – including a smaller galaxy superposed on the upper galaxy (see it?) – will all merge into one larger galaxy. via NASA

Zooming in on Star Cluster Terzan 5 : Globular clusters once ruled the Milky Way. Back in the old days, back when our Galaxy first formed, perhaps thousands of globular clusters roamed our Galaxy. Today, there are less than 200 left. Over the eons, many globular clusters were destroyed by repeated fateful encounters with each other or the Galactic center. Surviving relics are older than any Earth fossil, older than any other structures in our Galaxy, and limit the universe itself in raw age. There are few, if any, young globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy because conditions are not ripe for more to form. The featured video shows what it might look like to go from the Earth to the globular cluster Terzan 5, ending with a picture of the cluster taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. This star cluster has been found to contain not only stars formed in the early days of our Milky Way Galaxy, but also, quite surprisingly, others that formed in a separate burst of star formation about 7 billion years later. via NASA

Four Towers and the Equinox Moon : The first Full Moon of northern spring rises behind four distant towers in this telescopic view. In an image captured from some 40 kilometers west of the city of Madrid, this moonrise also represents a near coincidence of the full lunar phase with lunar perigee and the March equinox. Close to the horizon, the Full Moon’s strangely rippled and distorted shape has more to do with the long sight-line through a layered atmosphere, though. Tantalizing visible effects of the substantial atmospheric refraction include the appearance of a thin floating sliver just above the lunar disk. The remarkable optical mirage is related to the more commonly witnessed green flash of the setting Sun. via NASA

Hubble Captures the Brilliant Heart of a Massive Galaxy : This fuzzy orb of light is a giant elliptical galaxy filled with an incredible 200 billion stars. (via NASA)

Margaret W. ‘Hap’ Brennecke: Trailblazer : Margaret W. ‘Hap’ Brennecke was the first female welding engineer to work in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. (via NASA)

Star Trails and the Equinox Sunrise : Stars trail and the Sun rises in this night and day composite panorama made on March 19. The view looks toward the eastern horizon from La Nava de Santiago, Spain. To create it, a continuous series of digital frames was recorded for about two hours and combined to trace the concentric motion of the stars through the night sky. A reflection of the Earth’s rotation, star trails curve around the north celestial pole toward upper left and the south celestial pole toward the lower right. Of course on that day the Sun was near the celestial equator, a diagonal straight line in the wide-angle projection. A dense dimming filter was used to capture the Sun’s image every two minutes. Superimposed on the star trails it rose due east in the morning sky. In the scene, foreground landscape and a local prehistoric monument were illuminated by full moonlight, though. The monument’s corridor faces nearly to the east and the equinox sunrise. via NASA

Waxing Gibbous Moon Above Earth’s Limb : The waxing gibbous moon is pictured above Earth’s limb as the International Space Station was orbiting 266 miles above the South Atlantic Ocean. (via NASA)