Hubble Spots a Swarm of Stars

NASA — Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Sept. 8, 2019

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows a dwarf galaxy named UGC 685. Such galaxies are small and contain just a tiny fraction of the number of stars in a galaxy like the Milky Way. Dwarf galaxies often show a hazy structure, an ill-defined shape, and an appearance somewhat akin to a swarm or cloud of stars — and UGC 685 is no exception to this. Classified as an SAm galaxy — a type of unbarred spiral galaxy — it is located about 15 million light-years from Earth.

These data were gathered under Hubble’s LEGUS (Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey) program, the sharpest and most comprehensive ultraviolet survey of star-forming galaxies in the nearby universe.

LEGUS is imaging 50 spiral and dwarf galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood in multiple colors using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. The survey is picking apart the structures of these galaxies and resolving their constituent stars, clusters, groups and other stellar associations. Star formation plays a huge role in shaping its host galaxy. By exploring these targets in detail via both new observations and archival Hubble data, LEGUS will shed light on how stars form and cluster together, how these clusters evolve, how a star’s formation affects its surroundings, and how stars explode at the end of their lives.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

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Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image, Animation,  Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA; the LEGUS team, B. Tully, D. Calzetti; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla).

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2019 September 8 Perijove 11: Passing Jupiter Video Credit…

2019 September 8

Perijove 11: Passing Jupiter
Video Credit & License: NASA, Juno, SwRI, MSSS, Gerald Eichstadt; Music: Moonlight Sonata (Ludwig van Beethoven)

Explanation: Here comes Jupiter! NASA’s robotic spacecraft Juno is continuing on its 53-day, highly-elongated orbits around our Solar System’s largest planet. The featured video is from perijove 11 in early 2018, the eleventh time Juno has passed near Jupiter since it arrived in mid-2016. This time-lapse, color-enhanced movie covers about four hours and morphs between 36 JunoCam images. The video begins with Jupiter rising as Juno approaches from the north. As Juno reaches its closest view – from about 3,500 kilometers over Jupiter’s cloud tops – the spacecraft captures the great planet in tremendous detail. Juno passes light zones and dark belt of clouds that circle the planet, as well as numerous swirling circular storms, many of which are larger than hurricanes on Earth. After the perijove, Jupiter recedes into the distance, now displaying the unusual clouds that appear over Jupiter’s south. To get desired science data, Juno swoops so close to Jupiter that its instruments are exposed to very high levels of radiation.

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Right Way Up A bit like a canoe in a lake, a baby rolling over…

Right Way Up

A bit like a canoe in a lake, a baby rolling over is an example of ‘self-righting’ – a trick of brain-to-muscle communication that’s also a sign of healthy development. Fruit flies do a similar thing, changing their posture to remain balanced – in both species the secret is self-righting signals sent down specific motor neurons into flexing muscles. In a study of the genes involved – using motor neurons like the one shining white here in a fly’s leg – researchers found surprisingly simple genetic controls – one a stretch of RNA called miR-iab4, ‘switches off’ another, a gene called Hox, to enable self-righting. There are human forms of these, and studying how their relationship changes with age and illness may give a better understanding into motor neuron disease as well as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease – while potential drug treatments could be first tested on the fly.

Written by John Ankers

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