Most visible towards the upper side of the image, that is the moon’s shadow over Earth.
On May 10, 2013, the sun experienced what’s called an annular eclipse — when the moon moves directly in front of the sun, but doesn’t obscure it completely. This leaves a thin, fiery ring, the annulus, visible around the outside. This eclipse was only visible from the South Pacific, along an approximately 100-mile-wide track that traverses Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Gilbert Islands. Other areas in Australia and Indonesia saw a partial eclipse, in which the moon blocks a much smaller region of the sun.
NASA’s Terra satellite didn’t observe the eclipse directly, but it did see the moon’s shadow darkening the region northeast of Australia including the Solomon Islands. This image was captured by Terra’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on May 9, 2013, at 23:30 UTC (7:30 p.m. EDT).
In 1969, a two-ton meteor broke up in the atmosphere above the Mexican village of Allende. The stony Allende meteorite is peppered with white particles of aluminum oxide and calcium oxide. Except for hydrogen and helium, they are about the same composition as the Sun, and are believed to be remnants of the first solid grains that formed in the solar system. Dated to 4.566 billion years ago, they are its oldest known objects.
Image description: This “Moon Ahead” sign is posted outside launch Pad-OA at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. You can see the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard, in the background.
The latest research on rocky relics suggests a distant planetary system, now past its “death throes”, had very similar water delivery system to our own — and consequently the potential to contain habitable exoplanets complete with water.
Astronomers have found the shattered remains of an asteroid that contained huge amounts of water orbiting an exhausted star, or white dwarf. This suggests that the star GD 61 and its planetary system – located about 150 light years away and at the end of its life – had the potential to contain Earth-like exoplanets, they say.
The blue glow combined with the light-blocking dust in front of our line-of-sight gives this main region of M78 a ghostly feel to it, and the evaporating gaseous globules will eventually disappear, showing off the stars beneath them that right now only an infrared telescope can see.
Image credit: ESO / Igor Chekalin