Astro-Image | NGC 1512 | Galactic Rings

On 8 May 2022, Astronomy Picture of the Day post this beautiful image from NASA/ESA/Hubble of spiral galaxy NGC 1512 in the far southern skies. The small bright blue central band is called a nuclear ring. Two distinct darker brown spiral arms are gas and dust falling inward from the larger ring at the edges of the image. This in-falling material results in much new star formation yielding the bright blue cast. There are also many areas of new star formation seen in blue scattered around the larger ring.

NASA, ESA, Hubble Space Telescope
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Astro-Image | Great Barred Spiral NGC 1365

Browsing the Hubble Legacy Archive, the Great Barred Spiral got my attention. I downloaded three greyscale images filtered in blue, green, and red wavelengths which I combined into this color version with software. The result didn’t appear to me as a large spiral galaxy. Spiral arms were present around a bright core of stars. But, it seemed to be missing some larger dimensions than this image showed.

Hubble Legacy Archive | NGC 1365 | Color composite Jim Ruebush
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MMOD Impacts

What is MMOD? It is the acronym for Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris. Space debris is a risk to other spacecraft both manned and unmanned. It includes derelict craft, fragments from their disintegration and collision, paint flecks, frozen liquids expelled from spacecraft, and unburned particles from solid rocket motors. The debris comes in a wide range of sizes from microscopic to bigger than a car. Most of it is small. There are estimated more than 128 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 900,000 pieces of debris 1–10 cm, and around 34,000 of pieces larger than 10 cm (3.9 in) were estimated to be in orbit around the Earth.

The smallest size of debris like paint flecks and rocket exhaust particles are grouped with the small micrometeoroids from space in a group called MMOD. They pose a definite risk. Collisions with debris cause damage similar to sandblasting on spacecraft surfaces, to solar panels, and to optics like telescopes or star trackers. These small fast particles can puncture thin metals. Collision speed between 10 – 14 km/s (6 – 8.4 mi/s) are likely.

Several years ago I was evaluating science lessons for students who were preparing to take exams. One of these lessons from NASA posed some questions about the number of MMOD impacts felt by the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 2009 STS-125 Shuttle mission, the astronauts removed the Wide- field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and replaced it with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Protecting the WFPC2 while it was aboard Hubble was a curved rectangular aluminum plate covered with white paint. A number of blemishes were observed from a distance on the painted surface and photographed with a telephoto lens from the Shuttle window. They are circled in this image. They were impacts from MMOD recorded during its 16 year exposure in space. More impacts were present but were too small to see from a distance.

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Jupiter Rising | 8 Sep 2022

Jupiter rose over the tree across the street a few minutes after 9 pm. With camera on a tripod and on full zoom, the intervalometer was set for 1 minute intervals of 10 exposures. The camera was set to ISO 800 and ¼ second. I hoped for just enough exposure to barely reveal the moons and not overexpose Jupiter too much. Europa was barely visible left of Jupiter. Ganymede and Callisto farther to the right. Smoke haze from western state forest fires dimmed the sky. After the exposures, Pixelmator Pro was used to layer them in this image.

JWST | Cartwheel Galaxy

The James Webb Space Telescope provided the most detailed look to date of the Cartwheel Galaxy with the image release on 2 Aug 2022. The galaxy was first observed by the U.K. Schmidt telescope and then by the Anglo-Australian Telescope. It lies about 500 mega lt-yrs from us in the constellation of Sculptor. A much larger and high resolution image is available for you at this link. When there, scroll down and look for Download Options. I will use the detailed image to point out some highlights farther down in this post.

JWST | August 2022
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