When galaxies collide -- what happens to their magnetic fields? To help find out, NASA pointed SOFIA, its flying 747, at galactic neighbor Centaurus A to observe the emission of polarized dust -- which traces magnetic fields. Cen A's unusual shape results from the clash of two galaxies with jets powered by gas accreting onto a central supermassive black hole. In the resulting featured image, SOFIA-derived magnetic streamlines are superposed on ESO (visible: white), APEX (submillimeter: orange), Chandra (X-rays: blue), and Spitzer (infrared: red) images. The magnetic fields were found to be parallel to the dust lanes on the outskirts of the galaxy but distorted near the center. Gravitational forces near the black hole accelerate ions and enhance the magnetic field. In sum, the collision not only combined the galaxies’ masses -- but amplified their magnetic fields. These results provide new insights into how magnetic fields evolved in the early universe when mergers were more common.

SpaceX Crew-2 Dress Rehearsal

On Sunday, April 18, 2021, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Crew-2 mission launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

McArthur, Kimbrough, Pesquet, and Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 6:11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Image Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Source: www.nasa.gov

What does the center of our galaxy look like? In visible light, the Milky Way's center is hidden by clouds of obscuring dust and gas. But in this stunning vista, the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared cameras, penetrate much of the dust revealing the stars of the crowded galactic center region. A mosaic of many smaller snapshots, the detailed, false-color image shows older, cool stars in bluish hues. Red and brown glowing dust clouds are associated with young, hot stars in stellar nurseries. The very center of the Milky Way has recently been found capable of forming newborn stars. The galactic center lies some 26,700 light-years away, toward the constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this picture spans about 900 light-years.

Why would the sky glow like a giant repeating rainbow? Airglow. Now air glows all of the time, but it is usually hard to see. A disturbance however -- like an approaching storm -- may cause noticeable rippling in the Earth's atmosphere. These gravity waves are oscillations in air analogous to those created when a rock is thrown in calm water. The long-duration exposure nearly along the vertical walls of airglow likely made the undulating structure particularly visible. OK, but where do the colors originate? The deep red glow likely originates from OH molecules about 87-kilometers high, excited by ultraviolet light from the Sun. The orange and green airglow is likely caused by sodium and oxygen atoms slightly higher up. The featured image was captured during a climb up Mount Pico in the Azores of Portugal. Ground lights originate from the island of Faial in the Atlantic Ocean. A spectacular sky is visible through this banded airglow, with the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy running up the image center, and M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, visible near the top left.

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jets are powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A

Spectacular jets are powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A. The jets shoot through space for millions of trillions of miles.

This image, taken by the Hubble Telescope, was originally released in November 2012.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum and C. O'Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Source: www.nasa.gov
The night lights of Tokyo

The night lights of Tokyo, Japan, are pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above the island nation in this image from February 2021.

Image Credit: NASA

Source: www.nasa.gov

Bright elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is home to the supermassive black hole captured by planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope in the first ever image of a black hole. Giant of the Virgo galaxy cluster about 55 million light-years away, M87 is the large galaxy rendered in blue hues in this infrared image from the Spitzer Space telescope. Though M87 appears mostly featureless and cloud-like, the Spitzer image does record details of relativistic jets blasting from the galaxy's central region. Shown in the inset at top right, the jets themselves span thousands of light-years. The brighter jet seen on the right is approaching and close to our line of sight. Opposite, the shock created by the otherwise unseen receding jet lights up a fainter arc of material. Inset at bottom right, the historic black hole image is shown in context, at the center of giant galaxy and relativistic jets. Completely unresolved in the Spitzer image, the supermassive black hole surrounded by infalling material is the source of enormous energy driving the relativistic jets from the center of active galaxy M87.


This false-color image, taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in 2012, shows an extraordinary outburst from a black hole – where its X-ray output increased at least 3,000 times – in the galaxy M83. Chandra observed what is called a ULX, or ultraluminous X-ray source. The remarkable behavior of this ULX in M83 provides direct evidence for a population of older, volatile, stellar-mass black holes.

Learn more about this black hole and view other images.

Image Credit: Optical: ESO/VLT; Close-up - X-ray: NASA/CXC/Curtin University/R.Soria et al., Optical: NASA/STScI/Middlebury

Source: www.nasa.gov

This supernova shock wave plows through interstellar space at over 500,000 kilometers per hour. Near the middle and moving up in this sharply detailed color composite, thin, bright, braided filaments are actually long ripples in a cosmic sheet of glowing gas seen almost edge-on. Cataloged as NGC 2736, its elongated appearance suggests its popular name, the Pencil Nebula. The Pencil Nebula is about 5 light-years long and 800 light-years away, but represents only a small part of the Vela supernova remnant. The Vela remnant itself is around 100 light-years in diameter, the expanding debris cloud of a star that was seen to explode about 11,000 years ago. Initially, the shock wave was moving at millions of kilometers per hour but has slowed considerably, sweeping up surrounding interstellar material. In the featured narrow-band, wide field image, red and blue colors track, primarily, the characteristic glows of ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms, respectively.

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black hole

In April 2019, a black hole and its shadow were captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, but the hot disk of material that encircles it shines bright. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.   

This stunning image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet. 

To complement the EHT findings, several NASA spacecraft were part of a large effort, coordinated by the EHT’s Multiwavelength Working Group, to observe the black hole using different wavelengths of light. As part of this effort, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory space telescope missions, all attuned to different varieties of X-ray light, turned their gaze to the M87 black hole around the same time as the EHT in April 2017. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was also watching for changes in gamma-ray light from M87 during the EHT observations.

Learn the basics about these strange cosmic objects.

Image Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

Source: www.nasa.gov

How fast do elementary particles wobble? A surprising answer to this seemingly inconsequential question came out of Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, USA in 2001, and indicated that the Standard Model of Particle Physics, adopted widely in physics, is incomplete. Specifically, the muon, a particle with similarities to a heavy electron, has had its relatively large wobble under scrutiny in a series of experiments known as g-2 (gee-minus-two). The Brookhaven result galvanized other experimental groups around the world to confirm it, and pressured theorists to better understand it. Reporting in last week, the most sensitive muon wobble experiment yet, conducted at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois and pictured here, agreed with the Brookhaven result. The unexpected wobble rate may indicate that an ever-present sea of virtual particles includes types not currently known. Alternatively, it may indicate that flaws exist in difficult theoretical prediction calculations. Future runs at Fermilab's g-2 experiment will further increase precision and, possibly, the statistical difference between the universe we measure and the universe we understand.

Launch of STS-1

When space shuttle Columbia took to the skies on its maiden voyage on April 12, 1981, a new era of spaceflight took wing. Space Transportation System-1, or STS-1, was the first of its kind when it lifted off from NASA Kennedy Space Center.

In this image, the reusable orbiter, its two fuel tanks and two solid rocket boosters has just cleared the launch tower. Aboard the spacecraft were Commander John W. Young and pilot Robert L. Crippen

The Space Shuttle Program went on to fly one than 100 missions over 30 years.

Learn more about STS-1 and its historic inaugural flight.

Source: www.nasa.gov

What lights up the Flame Nebula? Fifteen hundred light years away towards the constellation of Orion lies a nebula which, from its glow and dark dust lanes, appears, on the left, like a billowing fire. But fire, the rapid acquisition of oxygen, is not what makes this Flame glow. Rather the bright star Alnitak, the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion visible on the far left, shines energetic light into the Flame that knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. The featured picture of the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) was taken across three visible color bands with detail added by a long duration exposure taken in light emitted only by hydrogen. The Flame Nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a star-forming region that includes the famous Horsehead Nebula.

An intense band of zodiacal light is captured in this serene mountain and night skyscape from April 7. The panoramic view was recorded after three hours of hiking from a vantage looking west after sunset across the Pyrenees in southern France. At 2838 meters altitude, Mont Valier is the tallest peak near center. In the sky above, the familiar stars of Orion and the northern winter Milky Way are approaching the rugged western horizon. At the shoulder of Orion, Betelgeuse is one of three bright yellowish celestial beacons. It forms a triangle with fellow red giant star Aldebaran located below Betelgeuse and to the right, and the red planet Mars. Mars shines just under the band of the Milky Way, still immersed in the bright zodiacal light.

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November 8,1984. Student Symposium Meeting

Mary W. Jackson, NASA's first black female engineer, was born April 9, 1921. Jackson earned degrees in mathematics and physical sciences in 1942. She landed a job at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory’s segregated West Area Computing section in 1951, reporting to the group’s supervisor Dorothy Vaughan and eventually working alongside Katherine Johnson. The trio were the subject of the 2016 feature film, Hidden Figures, which detailed their legendary careers and the contributions they made to America's space program despite racism and segregation.

Jackson worked tirelessly throughout her career to promote the rights of women and people of color. Among her many accolades were the receipt of a the highest civilian award in the country, the Congressional Gold Medal and the renaming of the NASA Headquarters building in her honor.

In this photograph taken Nov. 8,1984, Jackson (second from left) meets with colleagues at Langley during the Student Symposium Meeting. From left to right are Vivian Merritt, Office of Equal Opportunity Programs; Jackson, who at the time was manger of the Federal Woman’s Program; guest speaker James Jennings; and Katherine Johnson, then working in the Flight Dynamics and Control Division.

In the Midst of Segregation, She Persevered Remembering Mary W. Jackson on her 100th Birthday
NASA Headquarters Unveils New Name: Mary W. Jackson Headquarters Building

Image Credit: NASA

Source: www.nasa.gov

Close to the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and surrounded by the stars of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici), this celestial wonder was discovered in 1781 by the metric French astronomer Pierre Mechain. Later, it was added to the catalog of his friend and colleague Charles Messier as M106. Modern deep telescopic views reveal it to be an island universe - a spiral galaxy around 30 thousand light-years across located only about 21 million light-years beyond the stars of the Milky Way. Along with a bright central core, this stunning galaxy portrait, a composite of image data from amateur and professional telescopes, highlights youthful blue star clusters and reddish stellar nurseries tracing the galaxy's spiral arms. It also shows off remarkable reddish jets of glowing hydrogen gas. In addition to small companion galaxy NGC 4248 at bottom right, background galaxies can be found scattered throughout the frame. M106, also known as NGC 4258, is a nearby example of the Seyfert class of active galaxies, seen across the spectrum from radio to X-rays. Active galaxies are powered by matter falling into a massive central black hole.

Mars' polar dunes

A sea of dark dunes, sculpted by the wind into long lines, surrounds Mars' northern polar cap and covers an area as big as Texas. In this false-color image, areas with cooler temperatures are recorded in bluer tints, while warmer features are depicted in yellows and oranges. Thus, the dark, sun-warmed dunes glow with a golden color. This image covers an area 19 miles (30 kilometers) wide. 

This scene combines images taken during the period from December 2002 to November 2004 by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on the Mars Odyssey orbiter. It is part of a special set of images marking the 20th anniversary of Odyssey, the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history. The pictured location on Mars is 80.3 degrees north latitude, 172.1 degrees east longitude.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Source: www.nasa.gov

The multicolor, stereo imaging Mastcam-Z on the Perseverance rover zoomed in to captured this 3D close-up (get out your red/blue glasses) of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on mission sol 45, April 5. That's only a few sols before the technology demonstrating Ingenuity will attempt to fly in the thin martian atmosphere, making the first powered flight on another planet. The historic test flight is planned for no earlier than Sunday, April 11. Casting its shadow on the martian surface, Ingenuity is standing alone on four landing legs next to the rover's wheel tracks. The experimental helicopter's solar panel, charging batteries that keep it warm through the cold martian nights and power its flight, sits above its two 1.2 meter (4 foot) long counter-rotating blades.

Heat map image with bright orange and yellow colors highlighting hot spots on the ground.

Today is World Health Day and NASA's Earth Science Division is using information from our Earth-observing satellites, surface sensors, and computer-based datasets to study the environmental, economic, and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to determine whether environmental factors influence the spread of the virus. 

While scientists around the world often have been confined to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Earth observing satellites continue to orbit and send back images that reveal connections between the pandemic and the environment. NASA began funding eight new projects last fall to look at COVID-19 and the environment.

This image shows the ECOSTRESS land surface temperature variations measured on May 22, 2020, during the full lockdown period over an area centered on the Great Mall in Milpitas, California. Christopher Potter, a research scientist at Ames Research Center, is using such images to see how California’s shelter-in-place mandate in the San Francisco Bay Area has reduced the number of cars on the road and changed how parking lots, highways, and large industrial buildings’ surfaces absorb sunlight and reflect infrared heat.

Image Credit: Christopher Potter, NASA Ames Research Center

Source: www.nasa.gov

Found in far southern skies, deep within the boundaries of the constellation Dorado, NGC 1947 is some 40 million light-years away. In silhouette against starlight, obscuring lanes of cosmic dust thread across the peculiar galaxy's bright central regions. Unlike the rotation of stars, gas, and dust tracing the arms of spiral galaxies, the motions of dust and gas don't follow the motions of stars in NGC 1947 though. Their more complicated disconnected motion suggest this galaxy's visible threads of dust and gas may have come from a donor galaxy, accreted by NGC 1947 during the last 3 billion years or so of the peculiar galaxy's evolution. With spiky foreground Milky Way stars and even more distant background galaxies scattered through the frame, this sharp Hubble image spans about 25,000 light-years near the center of NGC 1947.

Expedition 65 rollout April 6, 2021

The Soyuz rocket is rolled out by train to the launch pad at Site 31, Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Expedition 65 NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy are scheduled to launch aboard their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on April 9.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Source: www.nasa.gov