The face-on spiral galaxy M101, or the Pinwheel Galaxy, is seen at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths in this image taken by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope.
The picture is composed of images taken by XMM-Newton’s Optical Monitor telescope using different filters: red (200–400 nm), green (200–300 nm) and blue (175–275 nm).
ATV-4 as it was released, taken from ESA's ATV-4 launch recorded with the Sterex experiment.
This image provides a stunning view of Europe's cargo vessel ATV separating from its Ariane 5 launcher and being released into free flight.
The video system was developed by Kayser-Threde GmbH for ESA and DLR and integrated on Ariane by Astrium GmbH. Usage for ATV-4 was financed by DLR and ESA and supported by Arianespace and CNES.
To watch the full video please click here.
The contorted object captured by Hubble in this picture is IRAS 22491-1808, also known as the South America Galaxy. It is an ultraluminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) that emits a huge amount of light at infrared wavelengths. The reason for this intense infrared emission lies in an episode of strong star formation activity, which was set off by a collision between two interacting galaxies.
In this image the twisted shape hides a number of features. In the central region, which is very complex and disturbed, scientists have been able to distinguish two nuclei, remains of the two different galaxies that are currently colliding to form a new one. IRAS 22491-1808 is amongst the most luminous of these types of galaxies, and is considered to be mid-way through its merging stage.
The centre of this appealing object also shows several intense star-forming knots which, as seen in the picture, actually outshine the nuclei in optical wavelengths. To pick out the two merging nuclei in IRAS 22491-1808, scientists have had to observe it in infrared wavelengths, where they are more distinct.
Other traces of the galactic collision are the three very noticeable tails in the image — two linear and one circular. The tail extending towards the bottom of the image from the main body exhibits a red clump of star formation at its base.
Spheres robots on the International Space Station. The volleyball-sized satellites have their own power, propulsion and navigation systems and are used in an international competition for secondary-school students.
Each year a tournament is held where students earn points by writing control algorithms to operate the spheres and by choosing the best tactics to win the game.
During ten seconds of weightlessness Brynle Barrett from the Laboratory of Photonics, Numerical Sciences and Nanosciences at the University of Bordeaux monitors an experiment to test the ‘weak equivalence principle’ – or why a feather in a vacuum falls as fast as a hammer.
To confirm that objects in free-fall behave universally, even at a microscopic level, a team of scientists used lasers to cool atoms to around –273°C. On Earth, atoms fall away from laser beams because of gravity. “In microgravity, atoms stay in the beams for much longer, so we get better data,” explains Brynle.
Parabolic flights are the only way to run such experiments on humans without leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Over the course of multiple roller-coaster flights at up to 45°, researchers find out more about the effects of gravity on experiments and improve equipment destined for space.
The faint purple glow comes from one of ESA’s very smallest space thrusters, being tested in a vacuum chamber in the Agency’s propulsion laboratory. This espresso-cup-sized Radio-frequency Ion Thruster, or miniRIT, delivers steady thrust in the range 10–100 micronewtons, equivalent to the force exerted by a few grains of sand. The engine was tested during the second half of May in the Propulsion Lab of ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. It was developed by Astrium in Germany, Selex Galileo in Italy and Nanospace in Sweden.
New Zealand’s South Island is pictured in this Envisat image from 4 April 2012. There are a number of lakes throughout the island, but one that stands out in particular is Lake Pukaki, at the centre of the image. The bright blue colouring of its waters comes from the extremely fine rock particles fed into the water from the glaciers. To the northeast, the light green colouring of Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora can be seen. Peeking out from between the clouds to the south is Stewart Island/Rakiura – the country’s third largest island.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
Week In Images
10-14 June 2013