Colour and movement in the skies above

You can’t beat space for great snapshots, and here we present not one but four new ones.

Above is what could be called a cosmic amethyst. Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have captured a bubble of ultra-hot gas at the centre of an expiring star: a planetary nebula about 7800 light-years away in our galaxy called IC 4593.

This composite image has X-rays from Chandra in purple. The bubble is from gas that has been heated to over a million degrees. These high temperatures were likely generated by material that blew away from the shrunken core of the star and crashed into gas that had previously been ejected by the star.

This image also contains visible light data from the Hubble Space Telescope (pink and green). The pink regions in the Hubble image are the overlap of emission from cooler gas composed of a combination of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, while the green emission is mainly from nitrogen.

You can read the story in full in a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Below is a triple treat, thanks to astronomers using the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to learn how a crowded environment affects galaxies in the Perseus Cluster, a collection of thousands of galaxies some 240 million light-years from Earth.

Credit: M. Gendron-Marsolais et al.; S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF; Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Left: The giant galaxy NGC 1275, at the core of the cluster, is seen in new detail, including a just-revealed wealth of complex, filamentary structure in its radio lobes.

Centre: Galaxy NGC 1265 shows the effects of its motion through the material between the galaxies. Its radio jets are bent backward by that interaction, then merge into a single, broad “tail”. The tail then is further bent, possibly by motions within the intergalactic material.

Right: The jets of the galaxy IC 310 also are bent backward but appear closer because of the viewing angle from Earth. That angle also allows astronomers to directly observe energetic gamma rays generated near the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core.

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