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Space photos of the week: Here comes the sun



The sun sends constantly charged particles into space. These highly ionized particles are better known as solar wind and their interaction with our atmosphere creates the aurora borealis. It is extremely important to study how the sun releases these particles – the radiation affects our GPS satellites as well as other spacecraft and even ground-based energy systems – which is why NASA recently unveiled two new missions dedicated to solar wind-driven weather.

] This rainbow series of pictures actually shows two different galaxies, Messier 51 and NGC 5194/5195. (Yes, the circumflex and the question mark are part of the name.) Scientists look at galaxies in visible light (the left-most picture) and in various other wavelengths of light to see what they can do. For example, the rightmost image is based on long wavelengths of infrared light to make hot dust visible in red. Reddish-white spots indicate young star formation heating up nearby material. On the second page from the right, the blue haze of short infrared wavelengths shows light mixed from billion stars. These renderings help astronomers understand how much gas and dust each galaxy has.

There's much more going on in this sparkling picture of the Hubble Space Telescope than just a few stars. In fact, it is a galaxy led by astronomers under certain names: an irregular galaxy; a starburst galaxy for its unsurpassed star formation rate; and also IC 1

0, a member of a group of more than 50 galaxies called a local group. IC 10 is full of new stars and is located 2.2 million light-years from Earth and behind lumps of cosmic dust and gas. This makes it a really difficult to study galaxy. But we have to investigate it, as it is the closest starburst galaxy found.

The European Space Agency celebrates the Asteroidentag on June 30 in honor of all small but powerful rocks of our solar system. For example, consider Ryugu: The Japanese Space Agency has sent a spacecraft, Hayabusa2, to collect a sample of this asteroid and bring it back to Earth. If this skirt looks a bit familiar, maybe like Bennu, it's no coincidence. The rotation of small asteroids shapes them into diamonds in the sky.

This spiky simulation of the European Space Agency reveals amazing data: each colorful dot represents a habitable planetary system outside our own solar system and every single hatch into a possible mission between the stars. Granted, star systems that may be habitable beyond our borders are painfully far away, but this simulation shows that with enough jumps in science and technology, there will not be a lack of places to visit.

Hubble takes a look at the magnificent mosaic of space, which is even more impressive with a manure of asteroid photo bombs. We see a staggering number of galaxies, and these white stripes are actually asteroids hovering over the image. This is a photobomb attack on another level: most galaxies are many billions of light-years away, while the asteroids are only about 160 million kilometers from Earth.

Galaxies on the brink of a catastrophic collision: Pair 1E2215 and 1E2216 can be seen here, taken by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, as they develop into an intricate galaxy. Because such a crash occurs over such a long period of time, astronomers find it rather a coincidence to recognize such a scenario that is so close to the threshold of confusion.


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