Photos: 1,500-Year-Old Massacre Site Unearthed


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Photos: 1,500-Year-Old Massacre Site Unearthed

Odd circumstances

Credit: Kalmar County Museum

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What Are Biofilms?


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What Are Biofilms?

What Are Biofilms?

Dental plaque is a buildup of bacteria on the surface of teeth.

Credit: Lighthunter | Shutterstock

Biofilms are a collective of one or more types of microorganisms that can grow on many different surfaces. Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria, fungi and protists.

One common example of a biofilm dental plaque, a slimy buildup of bacteria that forms on the surfaces of teeth. Pond scum is another example. Biofilms have been found growing on minerals and metals. They have been found underwater, underground and above the ground. They can grow on plant tissues and animal tissues, and on implanted medical devices such as catheters and pacemakers.

Each of these distinct surfaces has a common defining feature: they are wet. These environments are “periodically or continuously suffused with water,” according to a 2007 article published in Microbe Magazine. Biofilms thrive upon moist or wet surfaces.

Biofilms have established themselves in such environments for a very long time. Fossil evidence of biofilms dates to about 3.25 billion years ago, according to a 2004 article published in the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology. For example, biofilms have been found in the 3.2 billion-year-old deep-sea hydrothermal rocks of the Pilbara Craton in Australia. Similar biofilms are found in hydrothermal environments such as hot springs and deep-sea vents.

This greenish-brown slime, found on rocks in a streambed, is a biofilm composed of algae.

This greenish-brown slime, found on rocks in a streambed, is a biofilm composed of algae.

Credit: USGS

Biofilm formation begins when free-floating microorganisms such as bacteria come in contact with an appropriate surface and begin to put down roots, so to speak. This first step of attachment occurs when the microorganisms produce a gooey substance known as an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS), according to the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University. An EPS is a network of sugars, proteins and nucleic acids (such as DNA). It enables the microorganisms in a biofilm to stick together.

Attachment is followed by a period of growth. Further layers of microorganisms and EPS build upon the first layers. Ultimately, they create a bulbous and complex 3D structure, according to the Center for Biofilm Engineering. Water channels crisscross biofilms and allow for the exchange of nutrients and waste products, according to the article in Microbe.

Multiple environmental conditions help determine the extent to which a biofilm grows. These factors also determine whether it is made of only a few layers of cells or significantly more. “It really depends on the biofilm,” said Robin Gerlach, a professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering at Montana State University-Bozeman. For instance, microorganisms that produce a large amount of EPS can grow into fairly thick biofilms even if they do not have access to a lot of nutrients, he said. On the other hand, for microorganisms that depend on oxygen, the amount available can limit how much they can grow. Another environmental factor is the concept of “shear stress.” “If you have a very high flow [of water] across a biofilm, like in a creek, the biofilm is usually fairly thin. If you have a biofilm in slow flowing water, like in a pond, it can become very thick,” Gerlach explained.

Finally, the cells within a biofilm can leave the fold and establish themselves on a new surface. Either a clump of cells breaks away, or individual cells burst out of the biofilm and seek out a new home. This latter process is known as “seeding dispersal,” according to the Center for Biofilm Engineering.

For microorganisms, living as a part of a biofilm comes with certain advantages. “Communities of microbes are usually more resilient to stress,” Gerlach told Live Science. Potential stressors include the lack of water, high or low pH, or the presence of substances toxic to microorganisms such as antibiotics, antimicrobials or heavy metals.

There are many possible explanations for the hardiness of biofilms. For example, the slimy EPS covering can act as a protective barrier. It can help prevent dehydration or act as a shield against ultraviolet (UV) light. Also, harmful substances such as antimicrobials, bleach or metals are either bound or neutralized when they come into contact with the EPS. Thus, they are diluted to concentrations that aren’t lethal well before they can reach various cells deep in the biofilm, according to a 2004 article in Nature Reviews Microbiology.

Still, it is possible for certain antibiotics to penetrate the EPS and make their way through a biofilm’s layers. Here, another protective mechanism can come into play: the presence of bacteria that are physiologically dormant. In order to work well, all antibiotics require some level of cellular activity. So, if bacteria are physiologically dormant to begin with, there is not much for an antibiotic to disrupt.

Another mode of protection against antibiotics is the presence of special bacterial cells known as “persisters.” Such bacteria do not divide and are resistant to many antibiotics. According to a 2010 article published in the journal Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, “persisters” function by producing substances that block the targets of the antibiotics.

In general, microorganisms living together as a biofilm benefit from the presence of their various community members. Gerlach cited the example of autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms that live together in biofilms. Autotrophs, such as photosynthetic bacteria or algae, are able to produce their own food in the form of organic (carbon containing) material, while heterotrophs cannot produce their own food and require outside sources of carbon. “In these multi-organismal communities, they often cross feed,” he said.

Given the vast range of environments in which we encounter biofilms, it is no surprise that they affect many aspects of human life. Below are a few examples.

A scanning electron micrograph shows a biofilm formed by Candida albicans on an intravascular disc prepared from catheter material.

A scanning electron micrograph shows a biofilm formed by Candida albicans on an intravascular disc prepared from catheter material.

Credit: CDC

Health and disease

As research has progressed over the years, biofilms — bacterial and fungal — have been implicated in a variety of health conditions. In a 2002 call forgrant applications, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted that biofilms accounted “for over 80 percent of microbial infections in the body.”

Biofilms can grow on implanted medical devices such as prosthetic heart valves, joint prosthetics, catheters and pacemakers. This in turn leads to infections. The phenomenon was first noted in the 1980s when bacterial biofilms were found on intravenous catheters and pacemakers. Bacterial biofilms have also been known to cause infective endocarditis andpneumonia in those with cystic fibrosis, according to the 2004 article in Nature Reviews Microbiology, among other infections.

“The reason that biofilm formation is a great cause of concern is that, within a biofilm, bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and other major disinfectants that you could use to control them,” said A.C. Matin, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University. In fact, when compared to free-floating bacteria, those growing as a biofilm can be up to 1,500 times more resistant to antibiotics and other biological and chemical agents, according to the article in Microbe. Matin described biofilm resistance combined with the general increase in antibiotic resistance among bacteria as a “double whammy” and a major challenge to treating infections.

Fungal biofilms can also cause infections by growing on implanted devices.Yeast species such as the members of the genus Candida grow on breast implants, pacemakers and prosthetic cardiac valves according to a 2014 article published in the journal Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Candida species also grow on human body tissues, leading to diseases such as vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) and oropharyngeal candidiasis (a yeast infection that develops in the mouth or throat). However, the authors note that drug resistance was not shown in these instances.

Bioremediation

Sometimes, biofilms are useful. “Bioremediation, in general, is the use of living organisms, or their products — for example, enzymes — to treat or degrade harmful compounds,” Gerlach said. He noted that biofilms are used in treating wastewater, heavy metal contaminants such as chromate, explosives such as TNT and radioactive substances such as uranium. “Microbes can either degrade them, or change their mobility or their toxic state and therefore make them less harmful to the environment and to humans,” he said.

Nitrification using biofilms is one form of wastewater treatment. During nitrification, ammonia is converted to nitrites and nitrates throughoxidation. This can be done by autotrophic bacteria, which grow as biofilms on plastic surfaces, according to a 2013 article published in the journal Water Research. These plastic surfaces are just a few centimeters in size and distributed all through the water.

The explosive TNT (2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene) is considered a soil, surface water and groundwater pollutant. The chemical structure of TNT consists of benzene (a hexagonal aromatic ring made of six carbon atoms) attached to three nitro groups (NO2) and one methyl group (CH3). Microorganisms degrade TNT by reduction, according to a 2007 article published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Most microorganisms reduce the three nitro groups, while some attack the aromatic ring. The researchers — Ayrat Ziganshin, Robin Gerlach and colleagues — found that the yeast strain Yarrowia lipolytica was able to degrade TNT by both methods, though primarily by attacking the aromatic ring.

Microbial fuel cells

Microbial fuel cells use bacteria to convert organic waste into electricity. The microbes live on the surface of an electrode and transfer electrons onto it, ultimately creating a current, Gerlach said. A 2011 article published in Illumin, an online magazine of the University of Southern California, notes that bacteria powering microbial fuel cells break down food and bodily wastes. This provides a low-cost source of power and clean sustainable energy.

Our world is teeming with biofilms. In fact, by the mid-20th century, more bacteria were found on the inside surfaces of containers holding bacterial cultures, than floating freely in the liquid culture itself, according to the 2004 article in Nature Reviews Microbiology. Understanding these complex microbial structures is an active area of research.

“Biofilms are amazing communities. Some people have compared them to multicellular organisms because there is a lot of interaction between single cells,” Gerlach said. “We are continuing to learn about them, and we are continuing to learn about how to control them better; both for reduced detriment, as in the field of medicine, or for increased benefit as in bioremediation. We are not going to run out of interesting questions in that area.”

Additional resources

This Week’s Strangest Science News


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This Week’s Strangest Science News

Partner Series

At Live Science, we delve into science news from around the world every day — and some of those stories can get a little weird. Here are some of the strangest science news articles from this week.

Methane in the atmosphere gives Uranus its blue hue, as seen in this image from the Keck telescope from 2004.

Methane in the atmosphere gives Uranus its blue hue, as seen in this image from the Keck telescope from 2004.

Credit: Lawrence Sromovsky, University of Wisconsin/W. M. Keck Observatory

In case you were wondering, Uranus smells like farts. A new study found that the seventh planet from the sun has an upper atmosphere filled with hydrogen sulfide. This makes Uranus different from the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, which have more ammonia in their upper atmospheres. [Read more about Uranus’ smell]

 Scientists at Brown University built an indoor asteroid cannon to see what might happen if one of these space rocks were to collide with Earth. During several trials, the researchers blasted the fake asteroid into a fake Earth at speeds “comparable to the median impact speed” in the asteroid belt, they wrote in a study. [Read more about the fake asteroid cannon]
An artist's interpretation of how the sloth likely flailed its arms around to protect itself against the human hunters.

An artist’s interpretation of how the sloth likely flailed its arms around to protect itself against the human hunters.

Credit: Alex McClelland/Bournemouth University

About 11,000 years ago, ancient humans followed a giant ground sloth, stepping in the tracks of its clawed paws. These track marks are now fossilized and indicate that the humans once interacted with — and possibly hunted — these now-extinct towering sloths in what is now New Mexico. [Read more about the fossilized footprints]

Could anyone transform a foil ball into a shiny metal sphere? Sure — if you have the right tools, and a lot of patience.

Could anyone transform a foil ball into a shiny metal sphere? Sure — if you have the right tools, and a lot of patience.

Credit: Seamster/Instructables.com/CC by 2.5

In a new internet trend, videos show crumpled aluminum foil balls transforming into beautifully smooth and highly polished spheres. But how do the people convert these ugly balls into stunning globes? Live Science looked into it and found that the technique has similarities with Japanese samurai sword making. [Read more about the aluminum foil spheres]

This parasitic ant, called <i>Megalomyrmex symmetochus</i>, crashes colonies of fungus-farming ants (<i>Sericomyrmex amabilis</i>), eating their crops and killing their babies.

This parasitic ant, called Megalomyrmex symmetochus, crashes colonies of fungus-farming ants (Sericomyrmex amabilis), eating their crops and killing their babies.

Credit: David Nash, courtesy of The Ohio State University

A sneaky, parasitic ant uses chemical warfare to get a free meal and home. This Central American ant has a potent venom that can scare off invaders. And even though this ant eats baby ants, it’s still accepted into the homes of certain ants that use it as a guard dog. [Read more about the sneaky ants]

A human bone dagger (top) from New Guinea and a cassowary bone dagger (bottom), attributed to the Abelam people of New Guinea

A human bone dagger (top) from New Guinea and a cassowary bone dagger (bottom), attributed to the Abelam people of New Guinea

Credit: Copyright Hood Museum of Art/Dartmouth College; Dominy NJ. et al, Royal Society Open Science

The warriors of New Guinea used to carve daggers out of two unusual thighbones — those from humans and others from flightless, dinosaur-like birds called cassowaries. But which dagger was better? A new analysis shows that the human-bone daggers were stronger, largely because of the way they were carved. [Read more about the bone daggers]

A brain scan shows a key lodged about 1.5 inches into a man's brain.

A brain scan shows a key lodged about 1.5 inches into a man’s brain.

Credit: Goal Post Media/SWNS

A 19-year-old man in India got into a brawl and ended up with a key embedded 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) into his skull. So, how did he survive? Luckily, the key didn’t cause internal bleeding or any damage to his brain, doctors said. [Read more about the key injury]

Want more weird science news and discoveries? Check out these and other “Strange News” stories on Live Science!

Original article on Live Science.

Deadly Fungus Cells Talk Amongst Themselves to Infect You Better


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Deadly Fungus Cells Talk Amongst Themselves to Infect You Better

 Deadly Fungus Cells Talk Amongst Themselves to Infect You Better
Electron microscopy images of spores of the deadly new VGIIc strain of the fungus Cryptococcus gattii.

Credit: Edmond Byrnes III, Joseph Heitman, Duke Dept. of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

The idea of microbes joining forces inside your body to wreak havoc and cause disease sounds frightening — and it should. Now, scientists have found that a particular type of fungus does just that, and the fungal cells use a surprising method to team up and communicate with each other.

What’s more, the findings may explain why this fungus can infect healthy people, a characteristic that’s unusual for fungal infections, which more typically strike people with weakened immune systems.

The study focused on a fungus called Cryptococcus gattii, which lives in soil and is found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. However, in 1999, a strain of this fungus popped up in British Columbia, Canada, and later, in Oregon and Washington state, mostly causing infections in otherwise-healthy people.

The infection, which people catch by inhaling fungal spores, can be life-threatening, causing a pneumonia-like illness in the lungs, as well as serious infections of the brain and tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. From 2004 to 2010, there were 60 reported causes ofCryptococcus gattii in the U.S., and among the 45 cases with known outcomes, nine (20 percent) died from their infections, according to a 2010 study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previously, researchers found that Cryptococcus gattii was so virulent because it had the “remarkable ability to grow rapidly within human white blood cells,” study author Ewa Bielska, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. In 2014, Bielska’s colleagues found that this rapid growth resulted from a “division of labor,” meaning that the fungal cells worked together to coordinate their behavior and drive rapid growth. [10 Bizarre Diseases You Can Get Outdoors]

In the new study, Bielska and colleagues figured out exactly how the fungal cells are joining forces: The microbes use microscopic, fluid-filled sacs called extracellular vesicles to communicate.

“These vesicles act like ‘carrier pigeons,’ transferring messages between the fungi and helping them to coordinate their attack on the host cell,” said study senior author Robin May, director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection.

This is the first time that scientists have found a connection between extracellular vesicles and fungal virulence, the researchers said.

The scientists also found that, surprisingly, the fungal cells could use extracellular vesicles to communicate across relatively long distances between cells.

“Our initial expectation was that the fungus would only be able to communicate within a single host cell, but in fact we discovered that it can communicate over very large — in microbiology terms — distances and across multiple host cell barriers,” May said.

The findings “provides us with a potential opportunity to develop new drugs that work by interrupting this communication route during an infection,” he said.

The study was published April 19 in the journal Nature Communications.

Original article on Live Science.

The ‘End of the World’ Is Today. Here’s Why We’re Still Here.


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The ‘End of the World’ Is Today. Here’s Why We’re Still Here.

Partner Series

The 'End of the World' Is Today. Here's Why We're Still Here.

Enjoy your day.

Credit: G. Baden/Corbis via Getty Images

Today is the day.

It’s the beginning of the end, according to practiced doomsday diviner David Meade. On April 23, 2018, Meade says, the sun, the moon and Jupiter will line up in the constellation Virgo (in actuality, they will not be in that constellation) — an alignment that has biblical disaster written all over it.

In the Bible, Revelation 12:1-2 speaks of a “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head,” who labors to give birth to a dictator who will ultimately bring about the world’s end.

Meade did a lot of numerical and cosmic gymnastics to come up with today’s apocalypse — one that, of course, will not come to be.

The same passage used for today’s prediction was also the basis for Meade’s end-of-the-world prediction last year, when he said the sky would essentially fall on Sept. 23. It did not. [End of the World? Top 10 Doomsday Threats]

And, in fact, his current forecast seems to have long roots: Baptist preacher William Miller made multiple failed doomsday predictions, and one of them was for April 23, 1843.

Sadly, perhaps for Meade, the planet Jupiter will appear not in Virgo but in the constellation Libra from Earth’s perspective; the sun will appear to align with Aries, while the moon will lurk in the constellation Gemini today,according to The Sky Live.

This celestial alignment is, according to Meade, just the beginning of the cosmic catastrophe. From there, a rogue planet called Planet X will supposedly pass by Earth in October and cause a planetwide mess (worldwide volcanic eruptions) that will culminate in the return of Jesus Christ — also based on the Book of Revelation.

There are a few problems with this part of the prediction. For one, Planet X, also called Nibiru, is fictional. And whereas scientists are looking for an Earth-size planet that they sometimes refer to as “Planet X” or “Planet Nine,” this is a different world altogether from the one described by Meade and others.

Nibiru, in fact, is the baby of conspiracy theorist Nancy Lieder, who floated the idea in the 1990s. This rogue planet — a body that astronomers who stare at the skies, looking for actual alien worlds, would not miss — was the basis for the failed 2012 Maya apocalypse, among others.

Besides Nibiru being a made-up world that has been debunked repeatedly, the Revelation passage also has some issues.

“The author of Revelation was wrong in his predictions, so neither this book nor any other ancient book is of much relevance for predicting the future,” Allen Kerkeslager, a professor of ancient and comparative religion at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, told Live Science earlier this month.

All this is to say, the doomsday prediction is bogus. Happy Monday.

Original article on Live Science.

Image Archive: Nebulae – Part 2


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Image Archive: Nebulae – Part 2

https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1310a/

Hubble image of the Ring Nebula (Messier 57)

This new image shows the dramatic shape and colour of the Ring Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 57.

From Earth’s perspective, the nebula looks like a simple elliptical shape with a shaggy boundary. However, new observations combining existing ground-based data with new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope data show that the nebula is shaped like a distorted doughnut. This doughnut has a rugby-ball-shaped region of lower-density material slotted into in its central “gap”, stretching towards and away from us.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, and C. Robert O’Dell (Vanderbilt University).

About the Object

Name: M 57, Messier 57, NGC 6720,Ring Nebula
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance: 2500 light years
Constellation: Lyra
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 18 53 35.21
Position (Dec): 33° 1′ 44.13″
Field of view: 2.10 x 2.10 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 11.7° left of vertical

Hubble studies sequences of star formation in neighbouring galaxy

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures the iridescent tapestry of star birth in a neighbouring galaxy in this panoramic view of glowing gas, dark dust clouds, and young, hot stars. The star-forming region, catalogued as N11B lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), located only 160,000 light-years from Earth. With its high resolution, the Hubble Space Telescope is able to view details of star formation in the LMC as easily as ground-based telescopes are able to observe stellar formation within our own Milky Way galaxy.

Our neighbourhood galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) lies in the Constellation of Dorado and is sprinkled with a number of regions harbouring recent and ongoing star formation. One of these star-forming region, N11B, is shown in this Hubble image. It is a subregion within a larger area of star formation called N11. N11 is the second largest star-forming region in LMC. It is only surpassed in the size and activity by “the king of stellar nurseries”, 30 Doradus, located at the opposite side of LMC.

Credit:

NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/HEIC)

About the Object

Name: LHA 120-N 11B, N11B
Type: Local Universe : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distance: 150000 light years
Constellation: Dorado
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 4 56 51.68
Position (Dec): -66° 24′ 29.24″
Field of view: 2.22 x 1.14 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 155.4° right of vertical

New Hubble image of NGC 2174

To celebrate its 24th year in orbit, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has released this beautiful new image of part of NGC 2174, also known as the Monkey Head Nebula.

NGC 2174 lies about 6400 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Hubble previously viewed this part of the sky back in 2011 — the colourful region is filled with young stars embedded within bright wisps of cosmic gas and dust.

This portion of the Monkey Head Nebula was imaged in the infrared using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

About the Object

Name: NGC 2174
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Emission : H II Region
Distance: 6500 light years
Constellation: Orion
Category: Anniversary
Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 6 9 9.88
Position (Dec): 20° 27′ 32.65″
Field of view: 3.97 x 3.97 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 145.1° right of vertical

A reflection nebula in Orion

Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula in the constellation Orion. The Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain this colour image.

Credit:

NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

About the Object

Name: NGC 1999
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Reflection
Distance: 1500 light years
Constellation: Orion
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 5 36 24.93
Position (Dec): -6° 42′ 55.06″
Field of view: 1.24 x 1.26 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 24.6° right of vertical

Image Archive: Nebulae – Part 1


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Image Archive: Nebulae

https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/category/nebulae/

Westerlund 2 — Hubble’s 25th anniversary image

About the Object

Name: Gum 29, RCW 49,Westerlund 2,WR 20a
Type: Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Open
Milky Way : Nebula
Distance: 20000 light years
Constellation: Carina
Category: Anniversary
Nebulae
Star Clusters

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble’s 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science.

The image’s central region, containing the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys and near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3. The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

The original observations of Westerlund 2 were obtained by the science team: Antonella Nota (ESA/STScI), Elena Sabbi (STScI), Eva Grebel and Peter Zeidler (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut Heidelberg), Monica Tosi (INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna), Alceste Bonanos (National Observatory of Athens, Astronomical Institute), Carol Christian (STScI/AURA) and Selma de Mink (University of Amsterdam). Follow-up observations were made by the Hubble Heritage team: Zoltan Levay (STScI), Max Mutchler, Jennifer Mack, Lisa Frattare, Shelly Meyett, Mario Livio, Carol Christian (STScI/AURA), and Keith Noll (NASA/GSFC).

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible

About the Object

Name: Eagle Nebula, M 16, Messier 16
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distance: 7000 light years
Constellation: Serpens Cauda
Category: Nebulae

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. This image shows the pillars as seen in visible light, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks of the nebula’s famous pillars.

The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. With these new images comes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study how the structure of the pillars is changing over time.

Credit:

NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

Extreme star cluster bursts into life in new Hubble image

About the Object

Name: NGC 3603
Type: Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Open
Distance: 20000 light years
Constellation: Carina
Category: Nebulae
Star Clusters

The star-forming region NGC 3603 – seen here in the latest Hubble Space Telescope image – contains one of the most impressive massive young star clusters in the Milky Way. Bathed in gas and dust the cluster formed in a huge rush of star formation thought to have occurred around a million years ago. The hot blue stars at the core are responsible for carving out a huge cavity in the gas seen to the right of the star cluster in NGC 3603’s centre.

Credit:

NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

The Bubble Nebula

About the Object

Name: Bubble Nebula,NGC 7635
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Emission : H II Region
Distance: 8000 light years
Constellation: Cassiopeia
Category: Nebulae

The Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, is an emission nebula located 8 000 light-years away. This stunning new image was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its 26th year in space.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team

New infrared view of the Horsehead Nebula — Hubble’s 23rd anniversary image

This new Hubble image, captured and released to celebrate the telescope’s 23rd year in orbit, shows part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Rising like a giant seahorse from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33.

This image shows the region in infrared light, which has longer wavelengths than visible light and can pierce through the dusty material that usually obscures the nebula’s inner regions. The result is a rather ethereal and fragile-looking structure, made of delicate folds of gas — very different to the nebula’s appearance in visible light.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

Coordinates

Position (RA): 5 41 0.99
Position (Dec): -2° 27′ 11.92″
Field of view: 5.78 x 6.04 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 103.0° left of vertical

 

About the Object

Name: Eagle Nebula,Messier 16
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distance: 7000 light years
Constellation: Serpens Cauda
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 18 19 16.19
Position (Dec): -13° 45′ 23.56″
Field of view: 3.21 x 6.50 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 96.8° left of vertical

Light continues to echo three years after stellar outburst

The Hubble Space Telescope’s latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns ever since the star suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

About the Object

Name: V838 Mon
Type: Milky Way : Nebula
Category: Nebulae

Hubble’s newest camera images ghostly star-forming pillar of gas and dust

Resembling a nightmarish beast rearing its head from a crimson sea, this celestial object is actually just a pillar of gas and dust. Called the Cone Nebula (in NGC 2264) – so named because in ground-based images it has a conical shape – this monstrous pillar resides in a turbulent star-forming region. This picture, taken by the newly installed Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the upper 2.5 light-years of the Cone, a height that equals 23 million roundtrips to the Moon. The entire pillar is seven light-years long.

Radiation from hot, young stars (located beyond the top of the image) has slowly eroded the nebula over millions of years. Ultraviolet light heats the edges of the dark cloud, releasing gas into the relatively empty region of surrounding space. There, additional ultraviolet radiation causes the hydrogen gas to glow, which produces the red halo of light seen around the pillar. A similar process occurs on a much smaller scale to gas surrounding a single star, forming the bow-shaped arc seen near the upper left side of the Cone. This arc, seen previously with the Hubble telescope, is 65 times larger than the diameter of our Solar System. The blue-white light from surrounding stars is reflected by dust. Background stars can be seen peeking through the evaporating tendrils of gas, while the turbulent base is pockmarked with stars reddened by dust.

Over time, only the densest regions of the Cone will be left. But inside these regions, stars and planets may form. The Cone Nebula resides 2500 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros.

The Cone is a cousin of the M16 pillars, which the Hubble telescope imaged in 1995. Consisting mainly of cold gas, the pillars in both regions resist being eroded away by the blistering ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars. Pillars like the Cone and M16 are common in large regions of star birth. Astronomers believe that these pillars may be incubators for developing stars.

The ACS made this observation on 2 April 2002. The colour image is constructed from three separate images taken in blue, near-infrared, and hydrogen-alpha filters.

Image credit: NASA, the ACS Science Team (H. Ford, G. Illingworth, M. Clampin, G. Hartig, T. Allen, K. Anderson, F. Bartko, N. Benitez, J. Blakeslee, R. Bouwens, T. Broadhurst, R. Brown, C. Burrows, D. Campbell, E. Cheng, N. Cross, P. Feldman, M. Franx, D. Golimowski, C. Gronwall, R. Kimble, J. Krist, M. Lesser, D. Magee, A. Martel, W. J. McCann, G. Meurer, G. Miley, M. Postman, P. Rosati, M. Sirianni, W. Sparks, P. Sullivan, H. Tran, Z. Tsvetanov, R. White, and R. Woodruff) and ESA

Credit:

NASA, Holland Ford (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA

About the Object

Name: Cone Nebula,NGC 2264
Type: Milky Way : Nebula
Distance: 3000 light years
Constellation: Monoceros
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 6 41 12.38
Position (Dec): 9° 25′ 36.59″
Field of view: 3.43 x 2.58 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 4.2° right of vertical

The Red Spider Nebula: surfing in Sagittarius – not for the faint-hearted!

Huge waves are sculpted in this two-lobed nebula some 3000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. This warm planetary nebula harbours one of the hottest stars known and its powerful stellar winds generate waves 100 billion kilometres high. The waves are caused by supersonic shocks, formed when the local gas is compressed and heated in front of the rapidly expanding lobes. The atoms caught in the shock emit the spectacular radiation seen in this image.

Credit:

ESA & Garrelt Mellema (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

About the Object

Name: NGC 6537, Red Spider Nebula
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance: 6000 light years
Constellation: Sagittarius
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 18 5 13.39
Position (Dec): -19° 50′ 32.56″
Field of view: 2.18 x 1.21 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 50.1° left of vertical

Light and shadow in the Carina Nebula

Previously unseen details of a mysterious, complex structure within the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372) are revealed by this image of the ‘Keyhole Nebula, ‘ obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. The picture is a montage assembled from four different April 1999 telescope pointings with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which used six different colour filters. The picture is dominated by a large, approximately circular feature, which is part of the Keyhole Nebula, named in the 19th century by Sir John Herschel. This region, about 8000 light-years from Earth, is located adjacent to the famous explosive variable star Eta Carinae, which lies just outside the field of view toward the upper right. The Carina Nebula also contains several other stars that are among the hottest and most massive known, each about 10 times as hot, and 100 times as massive, as our Sun.

Credit:

NASA/ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

About the Object

Name: Carina Nebula,Keyhole Nebula
Type: Milky Way : Nebula
Distance: 7500 light years
Constellation: Carina
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 10 44 43.22
Position (Dec): -59° 38′ 56.60″
Field of view: 3.95 x 2.53 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 182.5° left of vertical

Hubble snaps close-up of the Tarantula

Hubble has taken this stunning close-up shot of part of the Tarantula Nebula. This star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbours the Milky Way. It is home to many extreme conditions including supernova remnants and the heaviest star ever found. The Tarantula Nebula is the most luminous nebula of its type  in the local Universe.

Credit:

NASA, ESA

About the Object

Name: 30 Doradus,NGC 2060, NGC 2070, Tarantula Nebula
Type: Local Universe : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distance: 170000 light years
Constellation: Dorado
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 5 37 44.29
Position (Dec): -69° 11′ 12.14″
Field of view: 3.23 x 3.30 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 15.8° right of vertical

Hubble captures view of “Mystic Mountain”

This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a pillar of gas and dust, three light-years tall, which is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.

This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble’s launch and deployment into an orbit around the Earth.

Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of hot ionised gas can be seen flowing off the ridges of the structure, and wispy veils of gas and dust, illuminated by starlight, float around its towering peaks. The denser parts of the pillar are resisting being eroded by radiation.

Nestled inside this dense mountain are fledgling stars. Long streamers of gas can be seen shooting in opposite directions from the pedestal at the top of the image. Another pair of jets is visible at another peak near the centre of the image. These jets, (known as HH 901 and HH 902, respectively, are signposts for new star birth and are launched by swirling gas and dust discs around the young stars, which allow material to slowly accrete onto the stellar surfaces.

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on 1-2 February 2010. The colours in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulphur (red).

Credit:

NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

About the Object

Name: Carina Nebula,HH 901, HH 902
Type: Milky Way : Nebula
Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Jet
Distance: 7500 light years
Constellation: Carina
Category: Anniversary
Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 10 44 2.38
Position (Dec): -59° 30′ 29.55″
Field of view: 1.39 x 1.28 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 165.5° left of vertical

Star birth in the extreme

Hubble’s view of the Carina Nebula shows star birth in a new level of detail. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the process, these stars are shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born.

The immense nebula is an estimated 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina the Keel (of the old southern constellation Argo Navis, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek mythology).

This image is a mosaic of the Carina Nebula assembled from 48 frames taken with Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were taken in the light of ionized hydrogen. Colour information was added with data taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Red corresponds to sulfur, green to hydrogen, and blue to oxygen emission.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

About the Object

Name: Carina Nebula,NGC 3372
Type: Milky Way : Nebula
Distance: 7500 light years
Constellation: Carina
Category: Anniversary
Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 10 44 28.80
Position (Dec): -59° 35′ 47.49″
Field of view: 24.60 x 11.92 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 50.3° right of vertical

Ghostly reflections in the Pleiades

This image shows a dark interstellar cloud ravaged by the passage of Merope, one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster. Just as a torch beam bounces off the wall of a cave, the star is reflecting light from the surface of pitch-black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. As the nebula approaches Merope, the strong starlight shining on the dust decelerates the dust particles. The nebula is drifting through the cluster at a relative speed of roughly 11 kilometres per second.

The Hubble Space Telescope has caught the eerie, wispy tendrils of a dark interstellar cloud being destroyed by the passage of one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster. Like a flashlight beam shining off the wall of a cave, the star is reflecting light off the surface of pitch black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. These are called reflection nebulae.

Credit:

NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), George Herbig and Theodore Simon (University of Hawaii).

About the Object

Name: Barnard’s Merope Nebula,Pleiades
Type: Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster
Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Dark
Distance: 450 light years
Constellation: Taurus
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 3 46 19.84
Position (Dec): 23° 56′ 23.84″
Field of view: 0.49 x 0.55 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 12.9° right of vertical

The Spirograph Nebula

Glowing like a multi-faceted jewel, the planetary nebula IC 418 lies about 2000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lepus. In this picture, the Hubble telescope reveals some remarkable textures weaving through the nebula. Their origin, however, is still uncertain.

Credit:

NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

About the Object

Name: IC 418, IRAS 05251-1244,Spirograph Nebula
Type: Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance: 2000 light years
Constellation: Lepus
Category: Nebulae

Coordinates

Position (RA): 5 27 28.26
Position (Dec): -12° 41′ 50.23″
Field of view: 0.35 x 0.38 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 42.8° left of vertical