NASA Highlights: Green Comet, Nebula, and + in Astronomical Photos of the Week

NASA Highlights: Green Comet, Nebula, and + in Astronomical Photos of the Week

If you’ve been following the space science news, you may already know that comet C/2022E3 (ZTF) has become the “darling” in recent days. It has been getting brighter and brighter and has already yielded incredible photos — some of which are even part of the featured images on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website last week.

As usual, the featured photos are diverse, and also include a trio of galaxies, the “scary” Bicho-Papão Nebula and even the possible landscape of an exoplanet, created by an artificial intelligence.

See below:

Saturday (01/21) — Comet C/2022E3 (ZTF) in the sky

Recently, observers who were about 20 km from Salamanca, Spain, were able to see comet C/2022E3 (ZTF) with the naked eye in the sky — as long as they were away from light pollution, of course.

The object is getting brighter and brighter, and will make its closest approach to Earth on February 2.

  • Read also: Heaven of 2023 | Conjunctions of planets and solar eclipse are highlighted this year

Sunday (01/22) — Northern Lights in Norway

This stunning aurora borealis shone in the sky over Norway. These colorful phenomena are caused by electrically charged particles from the Sun: as they travel through space, some of them encounter the Earth’s magnetic field and thus head towards the poles of our planet.

The colors of the auroras depend on different factors, such as the gases in the atmosphere, altitude and others. The shades of green, for example, come from the collision of particles with oxygen molecules at an altitude of up to 300 km.

  • Read also: Video shows colors and shapes of brilliant aurora borealis in Iceland

Monday (01/23) — Colliding galaxies

The center and right galaxies in this photo are undergoing a collision. During the process, gravitational interactions can cause one galaxy to end up “tearing apart” the other, and the black holes of both can merge.

Due to the great distances between the objects, the collision happens at a very slow pace, and should take a few hundred million years to complete.

  • Learn more about the photo of colliding galaxies

Tuesday (01/24) — Planetary landscape by artificial intelligence

Through observations from the James Webb Telescope, astronomers were able to confirm the existence of the exoplanet LHS 475 b, which orbits a small star about 40 light-years away. It is not known for sure what the environments are like there, but the image above, created by an artificial intelligence, may (or may not) represent one of them.

  • Learn more about landscape photo created by artificial intelligence

Wednesday (01/25) — Boogeyman Nebula

The shapes in the dark nebula above have earned it the nickname “Bogeyman Nebula”. Officially, it’s called (LDN) 1622, and it was photographed looming ahead of a cloud of glowing hydrogen gas, visible only through long exposures.

Located in the plane of the Milky Way, it holds young stars within its dust clouds. These stars were revealed in infrared light observations carried out by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

  • Learn more about the Boogeyman Nebula photo

Thursday (26/01) — Galaxy NGC 1275

The galaxy pictured above has intense activity. As other galaxies fall into it, it accumulates matter, which ends up serving as “dinner” for the supermassive black hole inside. NGC 1275 spans over 100,000 light-years and is the largest member of the Perseus cluster of galaxies.

The image also shows that the galaxy has some elongated filaments. They are formed by glowing gas, and appear to be “shielded” by the galaxy’s magnetic field.

  • Learn more about the photo of the galaxy NGC 1275

Friday (01/27) — Tails of the “Green Comet”

Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF has been yielding incredible photos, taken by observers in the northern hemisphere. In the image above, the comet appears to have another tail in addition to the two expected ones; in fact, this “anti-tail” was simply an optical illusion caused by our observing perspective.

The object is getting brighter and brighter, and should become visible to southern hemisphere observers in February.

  • Learn more about the photo of comet ZTF and its tails

Source: APOD