Dueling Bands in the Night

What are these two bands in the sky? The more commonly seen band is the one on the right and is the central band of our Milky Way galaxy.

Milky Way galaxy

Our Sun orbits in the disk of this spiral galaxy, so that from inside, this disk appears as a band of comparable brightness all the way around the sky. The Milky Way band can also be seen all year — if out away from city lights.

The less commonly seem band, on the left, is zodiacal light — sunlight reflected from dust orbiting the Sun in our Solar System. Zodiacal light is brightest near the Sun and so is best seen just before sunrise or just after sunset.

On some evenings in the north, particularly during the months of March and April, this ribbon of zodiacal light can appear quite prominent after sunset. It has recently been determined that zodiacal dust was mostly expelled by comets that have passed near Jupiter.

Only on certain times of the year will the two bands be seen side by side, in parts of the sky, like this. Here the two streaks of light appear like the continuation of the banks of the Liver River into the sky.

The featured panorama of consecutive exposures was recorded about three weeks ago in North Jutland, Denmark.

Image Credit & LicenseRuslan Merzlyakov (RMS Photography)

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula Expanding

It’s the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive star BD+602522, visible in blue toward the right, inside the nebula.

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula Expanding

Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the far right in red. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way.

The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble’s central star. The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud causing it to glow.

The Bubble Nebula, pictured here is about 10 light-years across and part of a much larger complex of stars and shells. The Bubble Nebula can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia).

Image Credit: Göran Nilsson & The Liverpool Telescope

Stardust In Constellation Aries

This composition in stardust covers over 8 degrees on the northern sky. The mosaicked field of view is west of the familiar Pleiades star cluster, toward the zodiacal constellation Aries and the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Stardust In Constellation Aries

At right in the deep skyscape is bluish Epsilon Arietis, a star visible to the naked-eye and about 330 light-years away.

Reflecting starlight in the region, dusty nebulae LBN762, LBN753, and LBN743 sprawl left to right across the field, but are likely some 1,000 light-years away.

At that estimated distance, the cosmic canvas is over 140 light-years across. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, their dark interiors can hide newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes.

Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.

Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)