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Five Images of our universe that will astound you

By Micaela Jemison

1. Centaurus A – A split-personality elliptical galaxy

Centaurus A isn’t your typical elliptical galaxy. Its most striking feature is a dark dust lane across its middle – a sign that it swallowed a spiral galaxy about 300 million years ago. Beyond the gas and the dust, a team of Smithsonian scientists unveiled a hidden spiral within the galaxy’s core. Read more…

(Photo: ESO)

(Photo: ESO)

 2. The Orion Nebula, one of the star-forming regions used to measure the size and heft of our galaxy

Have you ever thought about how big our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is? Smithsonian scientists have shown that the Milky Way is bigger and more massive than previous data suggested, putting us on equal footing with our neighbor, the Andromeda spiral galaxy. Read more…

The Orion Nebula (Photo: NASA)

The Orion Nebula (Photo: NASA)

 3. Supermassive black hole spins super fast

Imagine a sphere more than 2 million miles across – eight times the distance from Earth to the Moon – spinning so fast that its surface is traveling at nearly the speed of light. Such an object exists: the supermassive black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365. Read more…

In this artist’s conception a supermassive black hole is surrounded by a hot accretion disk, while some in-spiraling material is funneled into a wispy blue jet. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this artist’s conception a supermassive black hole is surrounded by a hot accretion disk, while some in-spiraling material is funneled into a wispy blue jet. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

 4. NASA’s eye on the sun delivers stunning images

This photograph of the sun was taken by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly. The color red shows emission from ionized helium at a temperature of 140,000 Fahrenheit, while green shows ionized iron at a temperature of 1,800,000 F. Read more…

sun, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Photo: NASA.

 5. Distant, dying star gives astronomers preview of the fate of our Sun

Some 550 light-years from Earth, a star very much like our Sun is writhing in its death throes. Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that it would swallow every planet out to Mars in our solar system. Moreover, it has begun to pulse dramatically in and out, beating like a giant heart. Close-up photos of the surface of this distant star has given scientists a look into the fate of our Sun five billion years from now, when it will near the end of its life. Read more…

Chi Cygni - artist’s conception

Chi Cygni – artist’s conception

Want to know more about the photos featured in the video? Read the articles!

1. Alien Earths may have formed in Universe earlier than expected

2. New image of the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula

3. Astronomers in distant future might still deduce the Big Bang origin of the Universe

4. Pulverized planet dust might lie around double stars

5. Cosmic “baby photos” of distant solar systems lend insight as to how planets form

 

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