NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 15 February 2023: Beautiful Airglow over France | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 15 February 2023: Beautiful Airglow over France

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a mesmerizing snapshot of the Airglow phenomenon captured over the skies of France.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 15 2023, 12:21 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)
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Airglow is one of the two most beautiful upper atmosphere phenomena. (NASA/Julien Looten)

Auroras are one of the most visually stunning sky phenomena visible on Earth with naked eyes. The solar particles released during interaction of a solar storm with Earth's magnetic field further interact with the various gases present in our atmosphere and form stunning Auroras. However, auroras are not the only visually-pleasing sky phenomena. One other phenomenon takes place, but it is much rarer than auroras. It is known as Airglow.

According to NASA, Airglow is a type of chemiluminescence from chemical interactions between oxygen, nitrogen, and other molecules in the upper atmosphere. It occurs in the form of dayglow and nightglow. Nightglow is more easily visible during the dark as airglow is just one billionth as bright as our Sun.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning picture of Airglow in the skies over Chateau de Losse in southwest France. It wasn't just airglow that was visible. Various celestial objects were also seen, including Orion Nebula, California Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Mars, Sirius, Pleiades Star Cluster and the Milky Way Galaxy. The picture was captured by French astrophotographer Julien Looten.

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NASA's description of the picture

This unusual sky was both familiar and unfamiliar. The photographer's mission was to capture the arch of the familiar central band of our Milky Way Galaxy over a picturesque medieval manor. The surprise was that on this January evening, the foreground sky was found glowing in a beautiful but unfamiliar manner. The striped bands are called airglow and they result from air high in Earth's atmosphere being excited by the Sun's light and emitting a faint light of its own.

The bands cross the entire sky -- their curved appearance is due to the extremely wide angle of the camera lens. In the foreground lies Château de Losse in southwest France. Other familiar sky delights dot the distant background including the bright white star Sirius, the orange planet Mars, the blue Pleiades star cluster, the red California Nebula, and, on the far right, the extended Andromeda Galaxy. The initial mission was also successful: across the top of the frame is the arching band of our Milky Way.

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First Published Date: 15 Feb, 12:20 IST
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