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Hubble Tracks Bright Auroras on Jupiter

“This composite video illustrates the auroras on Jupiter relative to their position on the giant planet.”

“Auroras are formed when charged particles in the space surrounding the planet are accelerated to high energies along the planet’s magnetic field. When the particles hit the atmosphere near the magnetic poles, they cause it to glow like gases in a fluorescent light fixture. Jupiter’s magnetosphere is 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s. These observations will reveal how the solar system’s largest and most powerful magnetosphere behaves.”
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Amazing image showing ice volcanoes on Enceladus!
Images by @CassiniSaturn
#space #astronomy
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This movie, made from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft of the outer edge of Saturn's B ring, reveals the combined effects of a tugging moon and oscillations that can naturally occur in disks like Saturn's rings and spiral galaxies.

The B ring is shown at the lower left of the frame, and its outer edge varies with time, moving in and out in this concatenation of 92 images, each taken about 6 minutes apart, over the span of 9 hours, 30 minutes. The Cassini Division, the division between the A and B rings once thought to be empty, dominates the upper right of the frame. The Huygens Ringlet runs across the middle of the frame from the upper left to lower right.

At its innermost radial distance, the B ring's edge is 117,470 kilometers (72,992 miles) from the center of Saturn. At its outermost radial distance, the B ring's edge is 117,670 kilometers (73,117 miles) from the center of Saturn. These variations amount to a difference of 200 kilometers (about 120 miles).

Cassini scientists have determined that the complicated radial variations in the B ring edge are caused by the presence of four scalloped patterns, all independently rotating around the ring. One pattern, with two lobes, is present because of the gravitational perturbations from the moon Mimas, which alter the ring particle orbits because of a repetitive configuration of particle and satellite orbital positions known as a Lindblad resonance; this pattern always stays fixed with respect to Mimas. The other patterns with one, two, and three lobes respectively, travel around the ring with differing speeds and are believed to be natural modes of oscillation of the ring in this vicinity, excited by a process known as "viscous overstability."

In this process, the small, random motions of the ring particles feed energy into a wave that propagates outward across the ring from an inner boundary, reflects off the outer edge of the B ring (which becomes distorted as a result), and then travels inward until it reflects off the inner boundary. This continuous back-and-forth reflection is necessary for these wave patterns to grow and become visible as distortions in the outer edge of the B ring.

In supporting these so-called "self-excited" modes, the outer edge of the B ring is behaving the way astronomers believe spiral galaxies behave. However, such modes are not directly observable in galaxies. Cassini's observations of the outer B ring edge constitute the first time such large-scale modes in a broad disk of material have been observed in nature.

The movie repeats twice. The second time the movie runs, the location of the Mimas resonance (marked with a green line), the locations of the inner boundaries for the one-lobed (blue), two-lobed (yellow), and three-lobed (red) modes, and the location of the mean radius of the outer edge of the B ring (white) are all indicated.

The images were re-projected into the same viewing geometry and magnified by a factor of two to increase visibility of features. Image scale was about 4 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel in the original images. These images have not been cleaned of cosmic rays that struck the camera's sensor during exposure. These cosmic ray hits appear as small white streaks on the images.

This view looks toward the southern, sunlit side of the rings from about 28 degrees below the ring plane.

The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 9, 2007. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 746,000 kilometers (464,000 miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 15 degrees.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
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dommage qu'elle n'ait quasiment pas de seins...
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Molecular Cloud Barnard 68

Barnard 68 is a large, dense molecular cloud of cold gas and dust located within our Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Ophiuchus. It appears as a void against the rich, background star field because dust grains in the cloud absorb (block) the visible light from background stars, however, it is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light.

Classified as a Bok globule, this dark absorption nebula is as cold as it is dark. Dark clouds are the coldest objects in the known Universe and they are also the nurseries of stars and planets. Barnard 68’s future is still unclear, but it may someday collapse and form new low-mass stars.

Credit: ESO
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Black Holes May Shape Galaxies (NASA, Chandra, Hubble, 03/03/10) / http://flic.kr/p/7Hb1Zt / by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
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This movie, made from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft of the outer edge of Saturn's B ring, reveals the combined effects of a tugging moon and oscillations that can naturally occur in disks like Saturn's rings and spiral galaxies.

The B ring is shown at the lower left of the frame, and its outer edge varies with time, moving in and out in this concatenation of 92 images, each taken about 6 minutes apart, over the span of 9 hours, 30 minutes. The Cassini Division, the division between the A and B rings once thought to be empty, dominates the upper right of the frame. The Huygens Ringlet runs across the middle of the frame from the upper left to lower right.

At its innermost radial distance, the B ring's edge is 117,470 kilometers (72,992 miles) from the center of Saturn. At its outermost radial distance, the B ring's edge is 117,670 kilometers (73,117 miles) from the center of Saturn. These variations amount to a difference of 200 kilometers (about 120 miles).

Cassini scientists have determined that the complicated radial variations in the B ring edge are caused by the presence of four scalloped patterns, all independently rotating around the ring. One pattern, with two lobes, is present because of the gravitational perturbations from the moon Mimas, which alter the ring particle orbits because of a repetitive configuration of particle and satellite orbital positions known as a Lindblad resonance; this pattern always stays fixed with respect to Mimas. The other patterns with one, two, and three lobes respectively, travel around the ring with differing speeds and are believed to be natural modes of oscillation of the ring in this vicinity, excited by a process known as "viscous overstability."

In this process, the small, random motions of the ring particles feed energy into a wave that propagates outward across the ring from an inner boundary, reflects off the outer edge of the B ring (which becomes distorted as a result), and then travels inward until it reflects off the inner boundary. This continuous back-and-forth reflection is necessary for these wave patterns to grow and become visible as distortions in the outer edge of the B ring.

In supporting these so-called "self-excited" modes, the outer edge of the B ring is behaving the way astronomers believe spiral galaxies behave. However, such modes are not directly observable in galaxies. Cassini's observations of the outer B ring edge constitute the first time such large-scale modes in a broad disk of material have been observed in nature.

The movie repeats twice. The second time the movie runs, the location of the Mimas resonance (marked with a green line), the locations of the inner boundaries for the one-lobed (blue), two-lobed (yellow), and three-lobed (red) modes, and the location of the mean radius of the outer edge of the B ring (white) are all indicated.

The images were re-projected into the same viewing geometry and magnified by a factor of two to increase visibility of features. Image scale was about 4 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel in the original images. These images have not been cleaned of cosmic rays that struck the camera's sensor during exposure. These cosmic ray hits appear as small white streaks on the images.

This view looks toward the southern, sunlit side of the rings from about 28 degrees below the ring plane.

The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 9, 2007. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 746,000 kilometers (464,000 miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 15 degrees.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
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Punching through the F Ring
As Saturn approaches its August 2009 equinox, a shadow is cast by a narrow, vertically extended feature in the F ring.

Scientists are working to understand the origin of structures such as this one, but they think this image may show the shadow of an object on an inclined orbit which has punched through the F ring and dragged material along in its path.

The second (bottom) version of the image has been brightened to enhance the visibility of the ring and shadow. Background stars appear elongated in the image because of the camera's exposure time.

This image and others like it (see PIA11663) are only possible around the time of Saturn's equinox which occurs every half-Saturn-year (equivalent to about 15 Earth years). The illumination geometry that accompanies equinox lowers the sun's angle to the ring plane and causes out-of-plane structures to cast long shadows across the rings. Cassini's cameras have spotted not only the predictable shadows of some of Saturn's moons (see PIA11657), but also the shadows of newly revealed vertical structures in the rings themselves (see PIA11654).

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 27 degrees above the ring plane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 11, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 866,000 kilometers (538,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 30 degrees. Image scale is 5 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
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Bright Spokes, Dark Rings
Spokes, those ghostly radial markings on Saturn's B ring, appear bright compared to the rings in this image taken a little more than a month after the planet's August 2009 equinox.

Spokes appear bright when they are viewed at phase, or Sun-Saturn spacecraft, angles higher than about 45 degrees. The phase angle in this image is 64 degrees. Also, the contrast is even greater in this image since the surrounding rings are darkened during the equinox period at Saturn.
Saturn's northern latitudes appear dark in this image because of the camera filter used. This view uses a spectral filter sensitive to absorption of certain wavelengths of light by methane in Saturn's atmosphere. In the north, the light at these wavelengths reaches slightly greater depth -- compared to the equatorial regions -- before being reflected off the cloud tops, and therefore passes through more light absorbing methane along the way out.

The novel illumination geometry that accompanies equinox lowers the sun's angle to the ringplane, significantly darkens the rings, and causes out-of-plane structures to look anomalously bright and cast shadows across the rings. These scenes are possible only during the few months before and after Saturn's equinox, which occurs only once in about 15 Earth years. Before and after equinox, Cassini's cameras have spotted not only the predictable shadows of some of Saturn's moons (see PIA11657), but also the shadows of newly revealed vertical structures in the rings themselves (see PIA11665).

The moon Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across) is also visible on the left of the image.

This view looks toward the sunlit, northern side of the rings from about 12 degrees above the ringplane.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Sept. 22, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (808,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 71 kilometers (44 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
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The eye of Saturn’s storm

Sitting at Saturn’s south pole is a vortex of monstrous proportions. The dark ‘eye’ of this feature is some 8000 km across, or about two thirds the diameter of Earth.

This image is 10 times more detailed than any previous picture of the polar vortex and shows a level of detail inside the eye that was not previously observable. Earlier images showed towering clouds around the edge of this vortex, but inside the air was thought to be mostly transparent. Here, however, a multitude of features is revealed.

Clouds are produced by convection – warm, rising gases in the atmosphere of Saturn. As they reach higher, and therefore colder, layers of the atmosphere, the gases condense and appear as clouds. At the 10 o’clock position, a stream of upwelling gas has created its own smaller vortex inside the larger one.

This view is an adjusted composite of two frames taken by the Cassini spacecraft on 14 July 2008. Cassini actually captured the scene from an oblique angle, some 56º below the plane of Saturn’s rings – a far cry from the view directly over the south pole. The orbiter was about 392 000 km from the planet at the time, yet Cassini’s camera still provided a resolution of 2 km per pixel.

Towering eye-walls of cloud are a distinguishing feature of hurricanes on Earth. Like earthly hurricanes, the eye of this storm is composed of warmer gas than the surroundings. However, whereas hurricanes are powered by warm water and move across the surface of our planet, this vortex has no liquid ocean at its base and remains fixed to Saturn’s south pole.

Round, swirling vortices are part of the general circulation in the atmospheres of all four giant, outer planets, and Cassini has spied many mobile ones rolling through Saturn’s clouds at other latitudes. While vortices are often informally referred to as storms, scientists generally reserve that term for bright, short-lived bursts of convection that punch though the clouds, often accompanied by lightning.

In addition to being a thing of beauty, the vortex provides astronomers with a way to look deep into the planet’s atmosphere.

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NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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Black Holes May Shape Galaxies (NASA, Chandra, Hubble, 03/03/10) / http://flic.kr/p/7Hb1Zt / by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
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