Monkey Head Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 2174).

Monkey Head Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 2174)

This is about the Monkey Head Nebula. It’s 37 quadrillion miles from Earth.  So if you want to learn more about the Monkey Head Nebula, then this article is for you. Let’s get right into it! The Monkey Head Nebula The Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174) is a beautiful sight, no doubt.  However, it is a violent nursery where hot new stars are born.  Packed densely with charged hydrogen atoms, this hostile region is called an HII emission nebula.  Star creation uses hydrogen as the primary ingredient. And, because of this, the Monkey Head Nebula is an ideal place for the cosmos to create new children. Whirling thick clouds of dark gas embed newly-formed bright pink and white stars.  In fact, it is these dark clouds that were the very birthplace of the new stars.  Now, as the stars spring to life, they begin pushing their nurseries away and grow to be big and hot. Where is the Monkey Head Nebula? Sitting deep in the Orion constellation, the Monkey Head is around 6,400 light-years away.  In other words, it is 37 quadrillion miles from Earth.  Some people consider this nebula to actually be part of a nearby star cluster (NGC 2175). Can I See the Monkey Head Nebula? NGC 2174 can be seen through some telescopes. However, spotting this object requires a keen eye and special equipment.  Not to mention, this equipment can become quite expensive. Seeing wavelengths and frequencies of ionized hydrogen atoms requires special telescopes and filters because they are not part of the visible light spectrum.  Basically, our human eyes are not powerful enough to see them. However, advanced amateur astronomers and professionals will find these items well-worth their costs for all of the new visual doors they unlock. Now, when viewing nebulas, expectations and patience are very important.  Especially since emission nebulas often appear as faint gray smudges.  Stunning astrophotography images, full of vibrant colors and crystal clarity, require years of work and thousands of dollars. For instance, the banner image for this article was taken by Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its 24th launch anniversary.  Dozens of brilliant scientists work full-time to operate this type of equipment.  Not to mentioned, NASA spent a whopping $2 billion to make it a reality.

Butterfly Nebula Facts (NGC 6302)

Butterfly Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 6302)

These are facts about the Butterfly Nebula. The Butterfly Nebula is tucked deep in the constellation Scorpius. So if you want to learn facts about the Butterfly Nebula, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get right into it! Butterfly Nebula Facts Tucked deep in the arms of the Milky Way galaxy lies the Butterfly Nebula.  Infamous for its wing-like structure, resembling a butterfly, this planetary nebula is truly beautiful. However, like nearly all deep space objects, it is a brutal and deadly environment.  Twin jets of ionized gas jut out from both ends.  At the center, the hellishly hot leftover remnant of a former star.  Despite its stunning visual appeal, the Butterfly Nebula is a death trap for all life. Where is the Butterfly Nebula? The Butterfly Nebula is tucked deep in the constellation Scorpius, sitting a distant 4,000 light-years away.  In other words, well over 23 quadrillion miles away.  Surprisingly, this is a short hop, skip, and jump from Earth in cosmic measurements.  Yet, this is thankfully far beyond any hazardous distance to us. What Causes the Shape of the Butterfly Nebula? Similar to all planetary nebula, the leftover star at the center ran out of its fuel and shed its outer layers.  Unable to “go supernova,” the large star left only a much smaller white dwarf star behind due to its size. Yet, do not be fooled. Data tell us that the central star in the Butterfly Nebula is likely 450,000º Fahrenheit.  Basically, hot enough to melt nearly all metals.  Actually, these hot temperatures would melt lead and iron with great ease. Also, asked by a thick disc of gas and dust (seen in the center), the star is not easily seen.  However, during a Hubble mission to install its new Wide Field Camera 3, photographic evidence of the star emerged in 2009. Shining bright in ultraviolet light, the star heats up—and energizes the surrounding gases, causing vibrant colors.  The wing-like shapes on both sides are supposedly the result of this dense center disc.

Lagoon Nebula Facts (Messier 8/NGC 6523)

Lagoon Nebula: Fascinating Facts (Messier 8/NGC 6523)

These are facts about the Lagoon Nebula. Lagoon Nebula can be seen without any optical aids at magnitude 6.0. So if you want to learn about the Lagoon Nebula, then this article is for you. Let’s jump right in! The Lagoon Nebula Despite its pleasant name, do not be fooled. The Lagoon Nebula (also known as Messier 8 or NGC 6523) is anything but a tropical paradise.  On the contrary, it is what we call an emission nebula or HII region. The Lagoon Nebula lies at a distant 4,100 light-years away in the constellation, Sagittarius, the archer.  A distance of 4,100 light-years may seem relatively small compared to other known deep space objects.  However, this still a staggering 24 quadrillion miles away from Earth. First documented in 1654 by Italian astronomer Giovanni Hodierna, the Lagoon Nebula is one of the few nebulas visible with the naked eye.  Naturally, sky conditions must be relatively perfect for observing this nebula without a telescope or binoculars. Lagoon Nebula’s Appearance The Lagoon Nebula is what astronomers call an emission nebula or HII region.  These are regions of ionized gas that glow in various colors depending on their wavelength.  For instance, the Lagoon Nebula appears as a reddish hue created by ionized hydrogen’s wavelengths. Like most emission nebulae, the Lagoon Nebula has several dark patches. So, it looks as though there is no light. But, these dark regions (or dark nebula) are actually clumps of thick dust that prevents us from seeing the light behind them. The Lagoon Nebula gets its name from the darkened “lane” shaped like a lagoon.  This lagoon-Esque feature sits above a bright, prominent Hourglass region in the nebula’s center. Ultraviolet light from a nearby hot star heats the nebula’s surface gases and ionizes them. This ionization causes a notable tornado-looking funnel structure. The Lagoon Nebula is among the brightest features in Sagittarius. This comes from its large size, star-forming functionality, and bright gases. Seeing the Lagoon Nebula Like nearly all nebulae, the Lagoon Nebula will appear gray through a telescope or binoculars.  Our human eyes are not sensitive enough to see some or any colors over great distances.  Plus, gases like hydrogen in the nebula are not in the visible spectrum for our eyes without special equipment. Under tremendously clear sky conditions, the Lagoon Nebula can be seen without any optical aids at magnitude 6.0.  Because of its brightness and large size, this nebula will have a diameter 2-3 times as wide as the full Moon. So, of course, it will appear as a faint smudge. The nebula Binoculars will reveal a smudge-like oblong shape. However, little to no detail will be decipherable. Through small to large telescopes, detail can easily be seen. For example, brighter star clusters may be easily observed in decent sky conditions.  Larger apertures (8″ or higher) will reveal the bright inner “hourglass” region, as well as the dark lane above the center.  Larger scopes under exceptional skies may even pick out some of the dark dust regions. This nebula is best to observe from summer through fall. Also, low-power eyepieces are recommended to fit this exceptionally large nebula entirely in your view.

Heart Nebula: Fascinating Facts (IC 1805)

Heart Nebula: Fascinating Facts (IC 1805)

These are facts about the Heart Nebula IC 1805. Even backyard astronomers can view the Heart Nebula. So if you want to learn interesting facts about the Heart Nebula, then you’re in the right place. Let’s jump right in! Heart Nebula Facts Obviously, even our universe celebrates goofy greeting card holidays.  In fact, from 7,500 light-years away, we’ve received a heart, known as IC 1805, the Valentine’s Day or Heart Nebula. Heart Nebula Characteristics Firstly, IC 1805 mixes glowing hot gases and dark space dust to cut out a giant red heart.  Plus, we see an extra bright patch in the heart’s center.  Actually, this is a fiery hot, bright cluster of newborn stars.  However, “newborn” in our endless universe actually means around 1.5 million years old. As an emission nebula, massive clouds of hydrogen billow out from where a star once lived.  But, nearing the end of its life, the star exploded in a wild supernova.  Finally, as the leftover star continues dying, it burns and radiates extremely hot ultraviolet winds.  In fact, the ultraviolet winds heat the surrounding hydrogen, causing it to glow bright red. Heart Nebula Location IC 1805 sits a close 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus arm of our own Milky Way galaxy.  In fact, the Heart Nebula resides in the Cassiopeia constellation, the vain queen of Greek mythology. Can we see the Heart Nebula? Simply put, yes, even backyard astronomers can view the Heart Nebula. Actually, with its 6.5 magnitudes, IC 1805 shines brighter than distant, frozen Neptune in our own solar system.  However, large telescopes (8” aperture or higher) are required to resolve worthwhile detail. But, as always, keeping reasonable expectations is key for observing nebulae.  Lying trillions of miles from Earth makes color and most details impossible for human eyeballs to see clearly.  As a result, the red heart will look more like a faint, gray-smudged heart.  In fact, some amateur astronomers claim IC 1805 looks more like a running dog through backyard telescopes.

What Is the Coldest Place in the Universe?

Boomerang Nebula: Coldest Place in Our Universe?

This is about the coldest place in the universe: the Boomerang Nebule. The coldest place in our solar system is Uranus. So if you want to learn more about the coldest place in the universe, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started! About the Coldest Place in the Universe Certainly, we have some seriously chilly places on planet Earth.  Perhaps, even your own town gets unbearably cold during the winter months.  Actually, our planet’s record-holder was Antarctica, coming in at a frigid -129º F. But, Earth is one tiny dot in a vast universe.  So, where is the coldest place in the universe? Absolute Zero First, understanding the coldest place in the universe means understanding absolute zero. Unlike heat, which can keep increasing without any limits, cold has a stopping point.  Simply put, the colder temperatures get, the slower atoms move.  Finally, once temperatures reach a certain point, atoms basically stop moving altogether.  We call this particular temperature absolute zero. Absolute zero occurs at a chilling -459º F (-273º C). Boomerang Nebula Is the Coldest Place in the Universe Officially, space is extremely cold.  Yet, deep in the constellation Centaurus, the Boomerang Nebula holds the record for the coldest place in the known universe. In fact, the frozen region is only one degree above absolute zero. That’s even colder than the frozen background leftover from the big bang or space itself. Actually, the Boomerang Nebula was once a star, very similar to our Sun. But, nearing the end of its life, the star shed its outer layers. Having nothing to do with planets, we call this shedding a planetary nebula. What Causes the Coldest Place in the Universe? As the Boomerang’s central star dies, it blasts dust and gas outward. Now, as the nebula continues expanding, it cools itself.  In fact, the Boomerang Nebula is blowing material much faster than typical dying stars.  Plus, blown out in twin jets, gas gives this nebula more of a bow tie shape than a Boomerang. Actually, you can do a simple experiment to see why the Boomerang Nebula is so cold: Inhale, holding your breath. Hold your hand in front of your face and exhale with your mouth wide open. Inhale and hold your breath again. Exhale into your hand again, but puckering your mouth into only a small opening. Technically, both times, the air becomes heated inside your body. But, when puckering your mouth, exhaled air now becomes cooled. In fact, the Boomerang Nebula exhibits these same very simple concepts. But, then, blasted through tiny openings, the star’s materials become cooled, same as your breath. The Coldest Place in the Universe Takes on a New Shape Formerly, Hubble photos of the “Boomerang” Nebula revealed more of a bow tie or hourglass shape. Ultimately, such shapes are typical with gases bursting from a star’s poles in twin jets. However, using Hubble and ground-based telescopes in Chile, the Boomerang Nebula reveals newer structures still.  Now, bright carbon monoxide (red) reveals the shape previously seen by Hubble. But, we also see outer icy gases flowing out in more circular shapes (blue). Being a new, or young planetary nebula, the central star has only just begun.  In fact, later in its death, the star will blast hot ultraviolet radiation, illuminating the nebula in vivid colors.  Imagine the show this frozen nebula will put on 200 million years from now.

Blinking Eye Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 6826).

Blinking Eye Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 6826)

This is about the Blinking Eye Nebula NGC 6826. It’s located approximately 2,000 light-years from Earth. So if you want to learn more about the Blinking Eye Nebula, then you’re in the right place. Let’s dig right in! What Is the Blinking Eye Nebula? NGC 6826, the Blinking Eye Nebula, is a planetary nebula.  Contrary to what you may be thinking, this has nothing at all to do with a planet.  A planetary nebula happens when a star runs out of its nuclear fuel. As a result, it can no longer fight gravity and collapses in on itself. That causes it to shed its outer layers, and they float away from the star out into space.  As the name denotes, this often causes a sphere or ring shape of star matter, resembling a planet. That is what we see in NGC 6826, with the green outer sphere and the bright leftover star directly in the middle. NGC 6826 – The Blinking Eye Nebula In fact, our own Sun, when it dies, will go through a similar process and create something magical looking. It takes a star much larger and more massive to more or less skip the planetary nebula step and violently explode in a supernova. NGC 6826 is located approximately 2,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus, the swan.  The nebula is only around 0.2 light-years in diameter.  I say “only,” but this diameter still equates to more than 1.1 trillion miles, which is small in cosmic terms.  Ultimately, the beautiful colors and shapes will likely continue floating out for 10 thousand years.  Believe it or not, this is also short, compared to the billions of years or more than a star can live. NGC 6826’s Appearance First, as you can see in the photo above, NGC 6826 is a large green cloud surrounding the remaining leftover star.  On each end are two bright red fliers.  Actually, you notice two green spheres. That is because the extremely hot leftover star in the center pushes out a scorching wind. This hot wind blows the former star’s matter away and leaves the noticeable empty bubble around itself.  As this green gas is pushed outward, it bumps into the gas that is farther out and reacts, hence the two green clouds. Next are the beautiful red flares on both sides. These are called fliers (Fast Low-Ionization Emission Region).  Fliers are essentially sections of gas emissions, commonly seen in planetary nebulae that move much faster than the rest of the material.  In fact, they are moving at supersonic speeds. Scientists believe flier’s rapid speeds indicate that they are much younger than the rest of the nebula’s materials.