spaceplasma:

Rocky planets are thought to form through the random collision and sticking together of what are initially microscopic particles in the disc of material around a star. These tiny grains, known as cosmic dust, are similar to very fine soot or sand. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found that the outer region of a dusty disc encircling a brown dwarf — a star-like object, but one too small to shine brightly like a star — also contains millimetre-sized solid grains like those found in denser discs around newborn stars. The finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-scale planets form, and suggests that rocky planets may be even more common in the Universe than expected.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Calçada (ESO)/M. Kornmesser, J. Freitag, S. Messenger

(via the-actual-universe)

astronomicalwonders:

Stellar Snowflake Cluster

Newborn stars, hidden behind thick dust, are revealed in this image of a section of the Christmas Tree Cluster from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The newly revealed infant stars appear as pink and red specks toward the center and appear to have formed in regularly spaced intervals along linear structures in a configuration that resembles the spokes of a wheel or the pattern of a snowflake. Hence, astronomers have nicknamed this the “Snowflake Cluster.”

Star-forming clouds like this one are dynamic and evolving structures. Since the stars trace the straight line pattern of spokes of a wheel, scientists believe that these are newborn stars, or “protostars.” At a mere 100,000 years old, these infant structures have yet to “crawl” away from their location of birth. Over time, the natural drifting motions of each star will break this order, and the snowflake design will be no more.

While most of the visible-light stars that give the Christmas Tree Cluster its name and triangular shape do not shine brightly in Spitzer’s infrared eyes, all of the stars forming from this dusty cloud are considered part of the cluster.

Like a dusty cosmic finger pointing up to the newborn clusters, Spitzer also illuminates the optically dark and dense Cone Nebula, the tip of which can be seen towards the bottom left corner of the image.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Center for Astrophysics)

thedemon-hauntedworld:

A Tantalising Veil

This image shows a small portion of a nebula called the Cygnus Loop. Covering a region on the sky six times the diameter of the full Moon, the Cygnus Loop is actually the expanding blastwave from a stellar cataclysm - a supernova explosion - which occurred about 15,000 years ago.

This delicate Hubble Space Telescope image shows a tiny portion of the Cygnus loop, a supernova remnant in the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. Measurements on this super-detailed image of a cosmic veil shows that the original supernova explosion took place only 5, 000 years ago.

Credit: ESA & Digitized Sky Survey (Caltech)

(via distant-traveller)

NGC 5584 as viewed by Hubble

Image credit to NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU), L. Macri (Texas A & M University), The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

spaceexp:

New true color image of Saturn taken by Cassini on July 2nd, 2014

spaceexp:

Video of a dust devil on Mars. Taken by the “Spirit” martian rover in 2005.