Puerto Rico From the Space Station

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba photographed Puerto Rico from the cupola of the International Space Station on Oct. 12, 2017. Sharing the image with his followers on social media, he wrote, “Finally a chance to see the beautiful island of Puerto Rico from @Space_Station. Continued thoughts throughout the recovery process.” via NASA http://ift.tt/2gpX41X

Haumea of the Outer Solar System

One of the strangest objects in the outer Solar System has recently been found to have a ring. The object, named Haumea, is the fifth designated dwarf planet after Pluto, Ceres, Eris, and Makemake. Haumea’s oblong shape makes it quite unusual. Along one direction, Haumea is significantly longer than Pluto, while in another direction Haumea has an extent very similar to Pluto, while in the third direction is much smaller. Haumea’s orbit sometimes brings it closer to the Sun than Pluto, but usually Haumea is further away. Illustrated above, an artist visualizes Haumea as a cratered ellipsoid surrounded by a uniform ring. Originally discovered in 2003 and given the temporary designation of 2003 EL61, Haumea was renamed in 2008 by the IAU for a Hawaiian goddess. Besides the ring discovered this year, Haumea has two small moons discovered in 2005, named Hi’iaka and Namaka for daughters of the goddess. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gKDBWu

On the Origin of Gold

Where did the gold in your jewelry originate? No one is completely sure. The relative average abundance in our Solar System appears higher than can be made in the early universe, in stars, and even in typical supernova explosions. Some astronomers have suggested, and many believe, that neutron-rich heavy elements such as gold might be most easily made in rare neutron-rich explosions such as the collision of neutron stars. Pictured here is an artist’s illustration depicting two neutron stars spiraling in toward each other, just before they collide. Since neutron star collisions are also suggested as the origin of short duration gamma-ray bursts, it is possible that you already own a souvenir from one of the most powerful explosions in the universe. via NASA http://ift.tt/2i98Z4L

Glorious Sunrise at the Start of a Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei exits the International Space Station on Oct. 10, 2017, for a spacewalk in this photograph taken by fellow spacewalker Randy Bresnik. Bresnik wrote, “A glorious sunrise greeted @Astro_Sabot and I at the start of our 2nd #spacewalk. His visor reflection shows the airlock hatch we came out.” via NASA http://ift.tt/2hExaE6

Under the Galaxy

The Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, stands above the southern horizon in this telephoto view from Las Campanas Observatory, planet Earth. In the dark September skies of the Chilean Atacama desert, the small galaxy has an impressive span of about 10 degrees or 20 Full Moons. The sensitive digital camera’s panorama has also recorded a faint, pervasive airglow, otherwise invisible to the eye. Apparently bright terrestrial lights in the foreground are actually very dim illumination from the cluster of housing for the observatory astronomers and engineers. But the flattened mountain top along the horizon just under the galaxy is Las Campanas peak, home to the future Giant Magellan Telescope. via NASA http://ift.tt/2yixEdh