The NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured this image of NGC 7049, a mysterious looking galaxy on the border between spiral and elliptical galaxies. NGC 7049 is found in the constellation of Indus, and is the brightest of a cluster of galaxies, a so-called Brightest Cluster Galaxy (BCG). Typical BCGs are some of the oldest and most massive galaxies. They provide excellent opportunities for astronomers to study the elusive globular clusters lurking within.
The globular clusters in NGC 7049 are seen as the sprinkling of small faint points of light in the galaxy’s halo. The halo – the ghostly region of diffuse light surrounding the galaxy – is composed of myriads of individual stars and provides a luminous background to the remarkable swirling ring of dust lanes surrounding NGC 7049’s core. Globular clusters are very dense and compact groupings of a few hundreds of thousands of stars bound together by gravity. They contain some of the first stars to be produced in a galaxy. NGC 7049 has far fewer such clusters than other similar giant galaxies in very big, rich groups. This indicates to astronomers how the surrounding environment influenced the formation of galaxy halos in the early Universe.
The image was taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble, which is optimised to hunt for galaxies and galaxy clusters in the remote and ancient Universe, at a time when our cosmos was very young.
The constellation of Indus, or the Indian, is one of the least conspicuous in the southern sky. It was named in the 16th century by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius from observations made by Dutch navigator Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Dutch explorer Frederick de Houtman.
video: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen).
Image: NASA, ESA and W. Harris (McMaster University, Ontario, Canada)
Ian O’Neill at Universe Today believes North Korea’s launch of a Taepoding missile was a partial success.
O’Neill writes, “The Taepoding-2 rocket didn’t make it into space at all, and rather than orbiting the Earth, the communications satellite now rests at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. However, this is a worrying development, the missile had a successful first-staging, propelling the rocket over Japanese airspace, a technical success in itself…”
Iridium says its Iridium constellation is “healthy” and “this event is not the result of a failure on the part of Iridium or its technology.”
Iridium says “…the company is taking the necessary steps to replace the lost satellite with one of its in-orbit spare satellites.”
I remember the loss of another satellite a few years ago [GE-3?, maybe Galaxy 4]; it knocked out part of a comm network I monitored. But Iridium says this loss had a minimal impact on its service stating: “…the Iridium constellation is uniquely designed to withstand such an event.”
I had the pleasure of observing an Iridium flare a few years ago. It occurred in a portion of the sky that wasn’t supposed to have any bright stars or planets. And this thing was incredibly brilliant, thought it was supernova or something. It was actually quite beautiful to behold.
I can’t believe it; NASA allowed drunk astronauts to fly aboard shuttles. Good grief:
Aviation Week—A panel reviewing astronaut health issues in the wake of the Lisa Nowak arrest has found that on at least two occasions astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk. …
An object seen floating near Space Shuttle Atlantis is causing concern at NASA. A TV camera on the shuttle caught an object floating near Atlantis; and NASA is concerned the object came loose from the shuttle:
NASA—An object was observed by flight controllers using a TV camera on the shuttle in close proximity to the spacecraft. It was observed following standard tests of Atlantis’ reaction control system about 2:45 a.m. today. Flight controllers continue to analyze the situation and are concerned the item may be something that came off of Atlantis.
Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said engineers and flight controllers are developing a plan for inspections that may be performed on Wednesday to ensure that Atlantis is safe for re-entry. Atlantis has equipment aboard that can be used to thoroughly inspect the heat shield and other areas. …
The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe landed successfully today and is now returning fascinating images of Titan’s surface:
NASA—Today, after its seven-year journey through the Solar System on board the Cassini spacecraft, ESA’s Huygens probe has successfully descended through the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and safely landed on its surface …
This image shows Titan’s surface strewn with ice blocks: