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A celestial holiday wreath made of sparkling lights! Swaddled in a gossamer cocoon of reflective dust and illuminated, the super star in the center of this image from the @NASAHubble Space Telescope is ten times more massive than the Sun and 200 times larger. The super star is also one of the most luminous with an average intrinsic brightness is 15,000 times greater than the Sun's luminosity. This star also rhythmically brightens and dims over a six-week cycle. The nebula flickers in brightness as pulses of light from the star propagate outwards. Hubble took a series of photos of light flashes rippling across the nebula in a phenomenon known as a "light echo." Even though light travels through space fast enough to span the gap between Earth and the Moon in a little over a second, the nebula is so large that reflected light can actually be photographed traversing the nebula. By observing the fluctuation of light itself, as well as recording the faint reflections of light pulses moving across the nebula, astronomers are able to measure these light echoes and pin down a very accurate distance. The distance to the super star has been narrowed down to 6,500 light-years (with a margin of error of only one percent). Image credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) – Hubble/Europe Collaboration; Acknowledgement: H. Bond (STScI and Pennsylvania State University) #nasa #hubble #star #nebula #flicker #light #space #universe #science #astronomy #telescope #picoftheday
Here comes the Sun… 🌞 Heliophysicists (Scientists who study the Sun!) have been waiting more than 60 years for a mission like this to be possible. Parker Solar Probe is journeying closer to the Sun than any of our spacecraft before, in order to help us solve the solar mysteries waiting in the corona (the Sun’s outer atmosphere). The solar wind, along with the Sun’s magnetic field, envelops the inner part of our solar system. Occasionally, large amounts of this solar material spews out in a coronal mass ejection. These can create geomagnetic storms in space, which can cause power outages, disrupt satellite electronics, and even endanger astronauts! Therefore, it’s critical to understand the fundamental physics that power our Sun. This image from Parker Solar Probe shows a coronal streamer — a structure of solar material within the corona that usually indicate regions of increased solar activity. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun’s surface when this image was taken on Nov. 8, 2018. The bright object near the center of the image is Mercury! As Parker Solar Probe circles closer and closer to the Sun, we look forward to retrieving data to help us address some of our longest unanswered questions about our Sun! ☀️ Credits: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe #NASA #ParkerSolarProbe #SolarSystem #Sun #SolarWind #Heliophysics #SolarCycle #Universe #Beyond #Galaxy #Space #SolarRays #Light #Magnetic #Star #SolarEncounter #Corona #Storms #Geomagnetic #SolarProbe #Mercury #SoakUpTheSun #Spacecraft #Science #Discovery