The Slant on Saturn’s Rings

This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows Saturn’s Southern Hemisphere and the southern face of its rings in Infrared light. 

Saturn experiences seasonal tilts away from and toward the Sun, much the same way Earth does, over the course of its 29.5-year orbit. This means that approximately every 30 years, we can catch Saturn with its rings at their maximum tilt of 27 degrees toward Earth and get the best glimpse of Saturn’s South Pole and the southern side of the planet’s rings.

Credit: NASA/ESA and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

Apollo 14 blasts off from Cape Canaveral, seen from a fisheye camera on the tower, 31 January 1971.

IC 4499: A globular cluster’s age revisited

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the globular cluster IC 4499. Globular clusters are big balls of old stars that orbit around their host galaxy. It has long been believed that all the stars within a globular cluster form at the about same time, a property which can be used to determine the cluster’s age. For more massive globulars however, detailed observations have shown that this is not entirely true — there is evidence that they instead consist of multiple populations of stars born at different times. One of the driving forces behind this behaviour is thought to be gravity: more massive globulars manage to grab more gas and dust, which can then be transformed into new stars.
IC 4499 is a somewhat special case. Its mass lies somewhere between low-mass globulars, which show a single generation build-up, and the more complex and massive globulars which can contain more than one generation of stars. By studying objects like IC 4499 astronomers can therefore explore how mass affects a cluster’s contents. Astronomers found no sign of multiple generations of stars in IC 4499 — supporting the idea that less massive clusters in general only consist of a single stellar generation.
Hubble observations of IC 4499 have also helped to pinpoint the cluster’s age: observations of this cluster from the 1990s suggested a puzzlingly young age when compared to other globular clusters within the Milky Way. However, since those first estimates new Hubble data been obtained, and it has been found to be much more likely that IC 4499 is actually roughly the same age as other Milky Way clusters at approximately 12 billion years old.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Large Magellanic Cloud, LMC, N 132D

Intricate wisps of glowing gas float amid a myriad of stars in this image created by combining data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. The gas is a supernova remnant, cataloged as N132D, ejected from the explosion of a massive star that occurred some 3,000 years ago. This titanic explosion took place in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby neighbor galaxy of our own Milky Way.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured Saturn’s rings and planet Earth and its moon. This is only the third time that Earth has been capture from the outer solar system.

The SWEEPS Field - A Massive Star Survey 
The Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search, or SWEEPS, was a 2006 astronomical survey project using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys - Wide Field Channel to monitor 180,000 stars for seven days to detect extrasolar planets via the transit method.

The stars that were monitored in this astronomical survey were all located in the Sagittarius-I Window, a rare transparent view to the Milky Way’s central bulge stars in the Sagittarius constellation as our view to most of the galaxy’s central stars is blocked by lanes of dust. These stars in the galaxy’s central bulge region are approximately 27,000 light years from Earth.
Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Clarkson (Indiana University and UCLA), and K. Sahu (STScI)