In this artist's conception, we peer through the dark dust of L1014 to witness the birth of a star. Learn more about newborn stars next.

A light echo occurs when a sudden flash of light moves outward from a star through the surrounding dust and then travels to Earth. Witness the birth of a star in the next image.

This Hubble image reveals the dust lanes and star clusters of this giant galaxy. The strands of dust suggest it was formed from a past merger of two gas-rich galaxies. Up next: what's a light echo?

Saturn's shepherd moon

Saturn's shepherd moon Prometheus seems to be pulling material off of the strands of the F Ring, the outermost bright ring. Next, see what happens when two gassy, dusty galaxies come together.

The dust around this brown dwarf star is a proto-planetary disk, from which planets may form. Next, see how a moon can pull dust particles from a large planet.

The pinwheel of dust at the upper left is an elliptical galaxy sliding toward the central black hole inside Perseus A. Space dust can eventually form planets too.

This combination emission/reflection nebula in the constellation Cygnus is intertwined with black rivers of dust and is probably a star forming region. Next, see dust swirling around a black hole.

The Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula is the largest known stellar nursery and is visible to the naked eye as a large milky patch. If it were as close to us as the Orion Nebula, we'd see it during the day covering a quarter of the sky!

The Sombrero Galaxy is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk. See the Tarantula Nebula next -- a galaxy visible to the naked eye.

The Galaxy

Galaxy Zoo

‘Galaxy Zoo’ Needs Human Eyes To Classify Sloan Telescope Images

Not strictly an anthropological post, but one that highlights how in some cases, humans are still better at deciphering visual data than the powerful computers and pattern recognition applications that have been built and designed over recent years. Following in the steps of previous projects like stardust@home, Galaxy Zoo needs volunteers to log on to their site and help classify thousands of images of galaxies, many of which will never have been seen by human eyes
as all the images were aacquired by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey robotic

Stars and Galaxies

Nearby galaxy NGC 1569
The nearby dwarf galaxy NGC 1569 is a 'hotbed' of vigorous star birth activity which blows huge bubbles and super-bubbles that riddle the main body of the galaxy. The galaxy’s vigorous ‘star factories’ are also manufacturing brilliant blue star clusters. This galaxy had a sudden and relatively recent onset of star birth 25 million years ago, which subsided about the time the very earliest human ancestors appeared on Earth.
In this new image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the bubble structure is sculpted by the galactic super-winds and outflows caused by a colossal input of energy from collective supernova explosions that are linked with a massive episode of star birth.
The bubble-like structures seen in this image are made of hydrogen gas that glows when hit by the fierce winds and radiation from hot young stars and is racked by supernovae shocks. The first supernovae blew up when the most massive stars reached the end of their lifetimes roughly 20-25 million years ago. The environment in NGC 1569 is still turbulent and the supernovae may not only deliver the gaseous raw material needed for the formation of further stars and star clusters, but also actually trigger their birth in the tortured swirls of gas.
Credits: ESA, NASA and Peter Anders (Göttingen University Galaxy Evolution Group, Germany)
Star-forming dark cloud imaged by ISO
An image of the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud taken with the ISOCAM instrument of ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). The scattered bright dots are new stars of moderate size, comparable in mass to the Sun. The bright fuzzy object, above and slightly to the right of centre, is a new massive star, much heavier than the Sun, still wrapped in the placental cloud from which it formed. A similar object appears partly veiled towards the bottom right of the picture. The conspicuous wisp right of centre is the interface between the dense cloud and the general interstellar medium. In a dark region near the centre of the picture the dust is so dense that even an infrared telescope can look no further into the murk. The image is a colour composite of data taken at wavelengths of 7 and 15 microns of an area of sky approximately 0.75 x 0.75 degrees. [Image Date: 1996] [97.01.001-002]
Credits: ESA/ISO, CEA Saclay and ISOCAM Consortium


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