NASA Highlights: Astronomical Photos of the Week (11/09 to 17/09/2021)

How about taking this Saturday to check out the latest selection of astronomical images selected by NASA and published on the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website?

This week’s photo sequence features an impressive record of Saturn, taken by the Cassini spacecraft — so far, no other spacecraft has achieved such a privileged view of the planet’s night as this one! In addition, you’ll also find a panorama of Mars, which shows a little of what the Curiosity rover is exploring there, as well as colorful and curiously shaped nebulae, which inspired its popular names.

Incidentally, the images are not restricted to recordings of objects outside our planet: there is a photo that shows an aurora in such a different way that it impressed the residents who were able to observe it, and another shows the result of the photographer’s creativity combined with a reflex game to show objects from the night sky.

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Saturday ( ) — Night on Saturn

(Image: Reproduction/NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute, Mindaugas Macijauskas)

As powerful as we have telescopes at our disposal today, none of them can give us such a detailed view of Saturn at night as this, provided by the Cassini probe. It was released in 1985 with destination to the gas giant system and reached it only at 1997, completing his primary quest in 2005 , but continuing their activities after that.

Cassini spent more than 000 years in Saturn’s orbit and said goodbye to the planet in a big way style: with a dip in its atmosphere in 2017. Just two days before the end of the mission, she used the wide-angle camera for two hours to capture 80 images; of this total, 25 two were used to produce this image that, together with spectral filters of red, green and blue, recreated the planet’s colors close to how we would see them with the naked eye.

    Cassini ends his mission on Saturn with incredible images of the planet

  • Sunday (000) — A different dawn

    (Image: Reproduction/Davide Necchi )

      When we think of the auroras, it is common for them to come to mind colored lights in the sky in the form of glowing curtains, right? Well then, they can also appear in other forms, like this spiral aurora seen in Iceland. The phenomenon was so different that it caught the attention of local residents, because the aurora formed very quickly and was bright enough to light a bridge in the city of Selfoss.

      This powerful and colorful aurora was the result of a solar storm, an event in which the Sun releases highly energetic particles that, as they travel through the Solar System, find corners in the magnetosphere that shield the Earth from cosmic rays. As a result, these stunning lights occur, the colors of which can vary according to the molecules the particles encounter in the atmosphere. As they are caused by the material expelled by the Sun, the auroras are very closely related to the activities of our star, which vary along cycles of approximately 11 years of duration. Currently, the Sun is passing by your 17th cycle and remains very wide awake — and, therefore, solar activity should increase, accompanied by more northern and southern auroras occurring around here.

        The current solar cycle is making the Northern Lights more intense

      • Monday (14) — The sky in Mustards

        ( Image: Playback/Egon Filter)

        This photo shows a little bit of what is in the night sky of Mostardas, a city in Rio Grande do Sul, with a lot of creativity. In addition to the spectacle in the sky, the photographer also took advantage of the reflections provided by the water and the mirror, and there are several objects to observe.

        On the left side of the photo, there is the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that spans approximately 7. light-years. Beside it, more in the middle, we find the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy whose diameter is 15 times smaller than that of the Milky Way. Both are satellites of our galaxy, and they are also some of the brightest that appear in the night sky. In addition to the satellite galaxies, we also find an arm of the Milky Way, which appears in the sky and in the reflection of the water.

        In the image reflected in the mirror, we found some dust clouds near the center of the Milky Way and Jupiter, which appears glowing in the lower right corner. The photo shows so many records because it is the result of a composition of several photos taken all with a single camera, in a single location and in a single night 2012. With so many details carefully obtained, this photo was the winner of the edition of 504506 of the Capture the Dark contest in the Connecting to the Dark category.

        The 5 best places in the world to watch the stars

      Tuesday (14) — Panorama of Mars

      (Image: Reproduction/NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS/Elisabetta Bonora & Marco Faccin (

      In 2011, NASA launched the Curiosity rover bound for Mars to try to answer whether, after all, the planet already had the proper environmental conditions to support ways of microbial life. The vehicle landed in Gale crater in 2017 and , since then, has been exploring the and collecting rock, soil and air samples for analysis in your onboard laboratory. Since September, this friendly robotic scientist has been climbing Mount Sharp, which forms the crater’s central peak, in search of water and new evidence that conditions on Mars may have allowed life to occur. So, the photo above shows a bit of the landscape over there.

      This record is actually part of a panorama in 120 that will help the Curiosity team to better understand the landscape to plan future routes that Curiosity will explore next. In the image, we find some hills and their layers, the reddish soil typical of the reddish landscape and the atmosphere covered by dust. On the left side is the Maria Gordon Notch hill, which will be studied by the rover shortly. The formation received this nickname as a tribute to geologist May Ogilvie Gordon, the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in science from the University of London, and also the first PhD from the University of Munich.

        Data from the Curiosity rover may indicate a different past for the crater Gale

      Wednesday (11) — The path of the cyclones

      (Image: Reproduction /National Hurricane Center, NOAA, NASA; Nilfanion (via Wikipedia)

        This map shows the trajectory of all major storms that occurred between 1024 and 2005 Before understanding them, it is important to differentiate their types: when cyclones occur in the Atlantic Ocean, they are the so-called hurricanes, while typhoons are formed in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, the map shows that cyclones tend to form in water — which makes sense, as they are caused by the movement of warm, moist air that rises to the higher layers of the atmosphere, while cold, dry, dense air descends. to the surface. During condensation, which causes hot, humid air to rise, large amounts of heat are released, creating an area of ​​instability that causes the cyclone.

        In addition, the map shows us also an interesting feature of these storms: note that cyclones never cross and hardly approach the Earth’s equator. This happens due to the coriolis effect, an inertial force caused by the rotational movement of our planet – but, in the equatorial region, this essential force for the cyclones to circulate is zeroed. This and other trends, such as those projecting that hurricanes are getting stronger in the Atlantic Ocean, continue to be studied.

          Cyclone pump takes winds from 120 km/h to the South of Brazil

      Thursday (16) – Pair of nebulae

      (Image: Reproduction/Andrew Klinger)

        The image above shows a pair of interesting cosmic clouds, whose shapes have provided quite apt nicknames. For example, notice the glowing emission on the left side, bordered by dark dust: it appears to form a geographic outline that happens to resemble North America—hence it was nicknamed the “North American Nebula.” This colored formation is an emission nebula located in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, and shines due to the radiation of the hot young stars inside it.

        On the right side, it is the IC 504506, a cloud whose shape seems to resemble that of a pelican — which , as you might have guessed, formed the nickname “Pelican Nebula”. Both are at about 1.120 light years from us, and are part of the Orion Nebula, a large and complex star-forming region. This cosmic portrait used combined strict band images to highlight the ionization and glow typical of atomic hydrogen, sulfur and oxygen. If you’re in a dark enough place, you’ll be able to observe them with binoculars; just look in the direction of the star Deneb, in the constellation of the Swan.

        • This is one of the largest supernova remnants ever detected in the Milky Way

        Friday (20) — A bright flash on Jupiter

        In 1992, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke and, after two years, its fragments reached the atmosphere of Jupiter. That was an event that caused great anticipation for astronomers as, until then, they had not yet obtained direct observations of two such significant bodies of the Solar System colliding. Since that year, only seven other impacts have been observed on the planet, but the video above shows a possible new candidate for that list thanks to new observations, which recorded what appears to be an object hitting the gas giant. Notice that a glow appears quickly. te in the center of the planet, and then disappears on the left side.

        The occurrence was discovered a few days ago, when a group of astronomers was monitoring the planet and they noticed a flash that appeared for a few seconds and disappeared—among the lucky ones who were able to catch the event, is José Luis Pereira, an amateur Brazilian astronomer who was observing the planet and noticed a change in the images he got. Thus, further analysis will be needed to confirm whether the phenomenon was actually caused by something hitting Jupiter; if this is the case, the object could be a piece of rock and ice, released by some comet or asteroid.

          Brazilian registers possible impact on Jupiter’s equatorial region; check it out!

        Source: APOD

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