20 Of The Most Amazing Astronomical Phenomena In The Known Universe

For astronomers and space geeks of all sorts NASA satellites, long range telescopes, and space rovers have given us a treasure trove of many mind-blowing photos. However not all astronomical phenomena has been or can be observed as of yet. For this reason scientists are sometimes only left to speculate and theorize about hypothetical models, until they have the means by which to observe any new torsion phenomena that push and pull the seams of the cosmos.

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Don’t forget to look to the skies this celestial season to see total eclipses, amazing planets and dazzling displays.


Upon this cosmic sightseeing tour we will look at both pictures as well as postulations of stellar phenomena that are what recreate and change the vast cosmos.


If space traveling the universe had a scenic route, this would be it. It’s a 3D fly-through of the nebula Gum 29 with the star cluster Westerlund 2 in the middle and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s the stuff of dreams.

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This visualization provides a three-dimensional perspective on Hubble’s 25th anniversary image of the nebula Gum 29 with the star cluster Westerlund 2 at its core. The flight traverses the foreground stars and approaches the lower left rim of the nebula Gum 29. Passing through the wispy darker clouds on the near side, the journey reveals bright gas illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed stars of cluster Westerlund 2. Within the nebula, several pillars of dark, dense gas are being shaped by the energetic light and strong stellar winds from the brilliant cluster of thousands of stars. Note that the visualization is intended to be a scientifically reasonable interpretation and that distances within the model are significantly compressed.


1. Gaseous Dust Clouds

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This image, generated by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows dust and gas clouds surrounding the supermassive star Eta Carinae.


2. Artist’s Rendition of a Quasar

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Meet S5 0014+81 one of the most powerful things in the known universe.


3. Artist’s Rendition of a Super-Massive Black Hole

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This artist’s impression shows the surroundings of a supermassive black hole, typical of that found at the heart of many galaxies. The black hole itself is surrounded by a brilliant accretion disc of very hot, infalling material and, further out, a dusty torus. There are also often high-speed jets of material ejected at the black hole’s poles that can extend huge distances into space.


4. Artist’s Rendition of a Stellar-Massive Black Hole

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In terms of physical properties, the difference between stellar mass black holes is their mass: stellar mass black holes are around 3-10 times the mass of the Sun, whilst supermassive black holes are 105-1010 times the mass of Sun. Supermassive black holes are just bigger versions of stellar mass black holes, but behave in the same way (just scaled up).

There are other differences, which are related to their formation. Stellar mass black holes form from the collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. You can then find them scattered throughout galaxies, just like you find massive stars.

Supermassive black holes are found at the centres of galaxies. We are not exactly sure how they form, although we do have a number of ideas. They are too big to have formed from a collapsing star. We believe that quasars are powered by matter accreting onto supermassive black holes, and measurements of these show that these can grow to a billion solar masses in less than a billion years from the big bang. This means will need a highly efficient way for them to gain mass. We also observe that the properties of the surrounding galaxies are correlated to their central black hole’s mass (this is most famously known as the M-σ relationship in astronomy, as we use M for the black hole mass and the Greek letter sigma for the velocity dispersion, a speed characterising how fast stars are moving). This correlation indicates that the growth of the black hole and galaxy are probably linked somehow.


5. Artist’s Rendition of a “White Hole”

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For decades, astrophysicists have wondered whether black holes destroy information — meaning what falls into them is lost forever. A new model suggests that at the end of their lives, black holes turn into “white holes,” explosively pouring all the material they have ever swallowed into space, Nature reports.


6. “Fireworks Galaxy”

This is NGC 6946, a medium-sized spiral galaxy located 22 million light years from Earth. It got its nickname, “The Fireworks Galaxy,” because eight supernovas have been observed exploding inside it.


7. Asteroids Dashing Past A Dying Star

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NASA’s WISE spacecraft took this striking shot of asteroids zooming past a dying star. As the heated gas and dust get sloughed away from the star, it creates the beautiful blue appearance.


8. A Generation Of Stars

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The Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image of the star-forming region W5. There are generations of stars in this photo — the oldest stars appear as blue dots, while the youngest stars outline the cavities where the old ones reside. The white areas are where young stars are forming.


9. Spiral Galaxy 4921

The Hubble Space Telescope took this photo of Galaxy 4921, an anemic spiral galaxy about 320 million light years from Earth. It’s been dubbed “anemic” because it has a low rate of star formation and low surface brightness. In this image, its bright nucleus can be seen in the center. Blue clusters of recently formed stars gather around it.


10. Carina Cluster “Grand Nebula”

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Hubble captured images of Carina Cluster stellar nursery that reveal details of our sun’s birth.


11. Sun’s “Canyon Of Fire”

A 200,000-mile magnetic filament of solar material erupts on the sun. This event, which took place in September, ripped through the sun’s atmosphere and left behind what looks like a “canyon of fire.”


12. Stellar Explosion

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of a star exploding in the spiral galaxy NGC 6984. The new supernova, SN 2013ek, is the bright star-like object just slightly above and to the right of the galaxy’s center.


13. Saturn’s North Pole

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This image, taken by the Cassini spacecraft over 10 hours on December 10, shows a vast hexagonal weather pattern capping Saturn’s north pole.


14. The Ghost Of Jupiter Nebula

This image, taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, shows the disembodied remnants of a dying star. The infrared view shows the cooler outer halo of the dying star in red.


15. Stars Getting Eaten By Black Holes

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Up close, a tidal disruption event could be a little more spectacular – (Image by NASA, S. Gezari, The Johns Hopkins University and James Guillochon, University of California, Santa Cruz)


16. Northern Lights From Space

Mike Hopkins, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, took this picture.


17. Crab Nebula

This image, shot by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the iconic supernova remnant first observed by Chinese astronomers 960 years ago.


18. Stellar Nursery S106

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures the stunning effects of the bipolar star-forming region, called Sharpless 2-106, looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. The outstretched “wings” of the nebula record the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium.


19. V838 Monocerotis Supernova

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The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) continues to puzzle astronomers.

This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun. Light from this sudden eruption is illuminating the interstellar dust surrounding the star, producing the most spectacular “light echo” in the history of astronomy.As light from the eruption propagates outward into the dust, it is scattered by the dust and travels to the Earth. The scattered light has travelled an extra distance in comparison to light that reaches Earth directly from the stellar outburst. Such a light echo is the optical analogue of the sound echo produced when an Alpine yodel is reflected from the surrounding mountainsides.The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the V838 Mon light echo since 2002. Each new observation of the light echo reveals a new and unique “thin-section” through the interstellar dust around the star. This video morphs images of the light echo from the Hubble taken at multiple times between 2002 and 2006. The numerous whorls and eddies in the interstellar dust are particularly noticeable. Possibly they have been produced by the effects of magnetic fields in the space between the stars.

20. An Erupting Galaxy

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In 2013, vast geysers of material began blasting out from the Milky Way’s heart.

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