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Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity

4 December 2016 Astronomy Now

New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core wrapped in system of dark, swirling, thread-like filaments.

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Icy moon Mimas dwarfed by Saturn’s rings

30 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Saturn’s icy 246-mile-wide moon Mimas (near lower left) appears tiny by comparison to the planet’s rings, but scientists think the all of the small, icy particles spread over a vast area that comprise the rings are no more than a few times as massive as Mimas. The view was obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft at a distance of approximately 564,000 miles from Saturn.

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Hubble spotlights irregular galaxy IC 3583

28 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — that sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90.

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Hubble’s multispectral view of spiral galaxy NGC 3274

21 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This image of the spiral galaxy NGC 3274 comes courtesy of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Hubble’s WFC3 vision spreads from the ultraviolet light through to the near infrared, allowing astronomers to study a wide range of targets, from nearby star formation through to galaxies in the most remote regions of the cosmos.

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New views of dwarf planet Ceres as Dawn moves higher

19 November 2016 Astronomy Now

The brightest area on Ceres stands out amid shadowy, cratered terrain in a dramatic new view from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, taken as it looked off to the side of the dwarf planet. Dawn snapped this image from about 920 miles (1,480 kilometres) above Ceres in its fifth science orbit, in which the angle of the Sun was different from that in previous orbits.

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The subtle celestial swarm of NGC 4789A

14 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows NGC 4789A, a dwarf irregular galaxy in the constellation of Coma Berenices. It certainly lives up to its name — the stars that call this galaxy home are smeared out across the sky in an apparently disorderly and irregular jumble, giving NGC 4789A a far more subtle and abstract appearance than its glitzy spiral and elliptical cousins.

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The details are in the rings

12 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn’s rings. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about four degrees above the ring plane.

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Cassini sees drifting summer clouds on Titan

9 November 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft watched clouds of methane moving across the far northern regions of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, on 29 and 30 October 2016. Several sets of clouds develop, move over the surface and fade during the course of a movie sequence spanning 11 hours, with one frame taken every 20 minutes. These clouds are measured to move at a speed of about 14 to 22 miles per hour.

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Hubble captures a galactic cannibal

7 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals NGC 1222, a galaxy with a rather eventful story to tell. NGC 1222 has been described as a peculiar example of a so-called lenticular galaxy, but one that exhibits very recent star formation on a huge scale — an event known as a starburst — due to having recently consumed two dwarf galaxies.

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Mars rover finds meteorite

6 November 2016 Astronomy Now

The dark, smooth-surfaced object at the centre of this image taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover was examined with laser pulses and confirmed to be an iron-nickel meteorite.

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