Remarkable new details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon are revealed in this image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015 from a distance of 289,000 miles (466,000 kilometers).
A swath of cliffs and troughs stretches about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from left to right, suggesting widespread fracturing of Charon’s crust, likely a result of internal processes. At upper right, along the moon’s curving edge, is a canyon estimated to be 4 to 6 miles (7 to 9 kilometers) deep.
Mission scientists are surprised by the apparent lack of craters on Charon. South of the moon’s equator, at the bottom of this image, terrain is lit by the slanting rays of the sun, creating shadows that make it easier to distinguish topography. Even here, however, relatively few craters are visible, indicating a relatively young surface that has been reshaped by geologic activity.
via The Icy Mountains of Pluto | NASA.
New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.
The mountains likely formed no more than 100 million years ago — mere youngsters relative to the 4.56-billion-year age of the solar system — and may still be in the process of building, says Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team leader Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.. That suggests the close-up region, which covers less than one percent of Pluto’s surface, may still be geologically active today.
Moore and his colleagues base the youthful age estimate on the lack of craters in this scene. Like the rest of Pluto, this region would presumably have been pummeled by space debris for billions of years and would have once been heavily cratered — unless recent activity had given the region a facelift, erasing those pockmarks.
via The Icy Mountains of Pluto | NASA.
Astronomers observe what could be some of the first stars to form after the Big Bang. Also: evidence for current volcanism on Venus, and new signs of methane from Mars.Click to listenDownload audioMP3 (00:29:56; 27Mb 412kb)
via Early stars captured in historic image › StarStuff (ABC Science).
An analysis of an ancient galaxy reveals some of the most distant and massive star formation regions ever seen.
When the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) first imaged the warped galaxy called SDP.81 in the depths of space, the detail and geometry of this beautiful quirk in spacetime captivated the world.
The galaxy, which was forming in the first billion years after the Big Bang, is one of the finest examples of an Einstein ring captured to date.
“The reconstructed ALMA image of the galaxy is spectacular,” says Rob Ivison, the European Southern Observatory’s Director for Science and co-author on two recent papers based on SDP.81.
“ALMA’s huge collecting area, the large separation of its antennas, and the stable atmosphere above the Atacama Desert all lead to exquisite detail in both images and spectra,” says Ivison.
via Monstrous star-forming regions seen in ancient galaxy › News in Science (ABC Science).
The Pillars of Creation is one of the most iconic images ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
In 1995, the telescope provided the first views of three towering spires of cold molecular hydrogen gas, dust and newly forming stars that lie within M16, the Eagle Nebula, located some 6500 light-years from Earth.
via The Pillars of Creation show their dark side › News in Science (ABC Science).
Now you’ve got the basics of the universe down, try a dreamy tour through 13 billion years of stars and the space between them all. That’s what Nature’s offering, courtesy of MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Prior attempts to scale and visualize everything ever were apparently hampered by a lack of computing processing power and the outright trickiness of the physics involved. The Illustris Project eventually took five years to craft and is apparently made of 10 billion minute cubes inside a virtual box measuring some 350 x 350 million light-years. It’s not the first history of everything simulation, but it’s the fanciest looking one — watch the whole thing after the break. Astronomer Michael Boylan-Kolchin adds, in a commentary of the study: “If this all sounds somewhat complicated, do not be fooled: It is extremely complicated.”
via The 13 billion-year evolution of the universe, crammed into a four-minute video.
Like shiny gemstones embedded in a rocky matrix, star-forming clouds of dust and gas glimmer within the swirling structures of our galaxy in an infrared image from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory.
The image was acquired as a part of Hi-GAL, a survey mapping the entire plane of the Milky Way in a wide range of infrared light that Herschel was specially designed to detect. The image above is just a small section of a larger version, which in itself is just 1/30th of the entire Hi-GAL survey.
via Space clouds glitter where stars are born › News in Science (ABC Science).