NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 12 February 2023: Awesome Mammatus clouds | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 12 February 2023: Awesome Mammatus clouds

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is an unusual image of clouds hovering over Nebraska, US. What’s the mystery behind these unusual clouds? Read on.

| Updated on: Feb 12 2023, 14:34 IST
Top NASA Astronomy Pictures of the week: Nebulae to Comet ZTF, check them all
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1/5 Rosette Nebula (Feb 6) - A breathtaking image of a nebula, which is around 5200 light-years away from Earth was featured as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 6. NASA says in the heart of the Rosette Nebula, there lies a bright cluster of stars that light up the nebula. NGC 2244's stars only formed a few million years ago from the surrounding gas. The center of the Rosette Nebula, visible through binoculars in the Monoceros constellation, measures about 50 light-years in diameter.  (NASA/Lyman Insley)
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2/5 Rare Green Comet ZTF (Feb 7) - The Rare Green Comet ZTF passed Earth at its closest distance on February 1 after a period of nearly 50000 years. Along with the comet, two dippers - the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper can also be seen. The Big Dipper is a popular term used to describe the shape formed by the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Bear.  (NASA/Petr Horalek/Institute of Physics in Opava)
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3/5 Wind-Shaped Nebula (Feb 8) - NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 8 is a mesmerizing snapshot of the Stellar Wind-Shaped Nebula RCW 58. It is located nearly 13000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. The Nebula has a wolf star located in the center, a star which is 100 times as massive as our Sun, a million times more luminous, and with 30 times the surface temperature. When these stars expand, they eject high-speed stellar winds through their outer layer.  (NASA/Mike Selby/Mark Hanson)
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4/5 Nacreous Clouds (Feb 9) - Nacreous Clouds are a type of rare Polar Stratospheric Clouds which form when unusually cold temperatures in the usually cloudless lower stratosphere form ice crystals. NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 9 is of the stunning Nacreous Clouds visible in Swedish skies. They are formed in the lower Stratosphere at an altitude of about 15 KM to 25 KM. (NASA/ Dennis Lehtonen)
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5/5 Comet ZTF meets Comet ATLAS (Feb 10) - NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 10 is breathtaking picture of the Comet ZTF racing across the skies as it passed another comet named Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) near the constellation Auriga. Captured on the night of February 6 from a garden observatory in Germany's Bavarian Forest, the starry field of view toward the constellation Auriga spans about 2.5 degrees.  (NASA/Stefan Bemmerl)
Mammatus clouds
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Mammatus clouds are among the most extraordinary and easily recognizable cloud formations. (Image Credit & Copyright: Jorn Olsen Photography)

Nature is the ultimate beauty! Whether it is about volcanoes, beaches, mountains, valleys, rivers, seas, forests and even clouds, nature never leaves a chance to surprise us. Well, how do you usually see clouds? NASA says that normally, cloud bottoms are flat. However, NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day today is of an cluster of clouds that appear like bubbles from the bottom hovering over Nebraska, a state in the Midwestern region of the United States.

NASA explained along with the image that clouds do look bubbly “because moist warm air that rises and cools will condense into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms.” However, in certain circumstances, cloud pockets can form containing substantial droplets of water or ice, which fall into clear air as they dissipate. These pockets can arise in the air that is turbulent close to a thunderstorm. When sunlit from the side, Mammatus clouds that form as a result can appear particularly striking.

This unusual form of clouds is known as the Mammatus clouds which are pictured here over Hastings, Nebraska in 2004 June.

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More about Mammatus clouds

The Met Office of the UK explained that Mammatus clouds are among the most extraordinary and easily recognizable cloud formations, with a pattern of protuberances or sacs extending from the base of the cloud. The shapes of mammatus formations can vary greatly; they can range from the typical bulging shape to a more elongated tube dangling from the cloud above.

Mammatus clouds generally appear in connection with substantial cumulonimbus clouds. The turbulence within the cumulonimbus often leads to the formation of Mammatus clouds, particularly on the bottom of the projecting anvil as it quickly descends to lower altitudes. This breaks from the conventional upward growth process of cloud formation, resulting in an irregular cloud base. Mammatus clouds usually emerge in association with Cumulonimbus clouds, which bring thunderstorms due to their massive quantity of unstable air.

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First Published Date: 12 Feb, 14:18 IST