NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 3 January 2023: Kemble's Cascade of Stars adorns the sky | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 3 January 2023: Kemble's Cascade of Stars adorns the sky

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a mesmerizing picture of an Asterism known as Kemble's Cascade of Stars.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jan 03 2023, 13:49 IST
Sickening! From light to darkness, DEATH of a star is the birth of a Black Hole!
NASA Kemble’s Cascade of Stars
1/5 What is a Black Hole? According to NASA, a black hole is an astronomical object with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. A black hole’s “surface,” called its event horizon, defines the boundary where the velocity needed to escape exceeds the speed of light, which is the speed limit of the cosmos. Matter and radiation fall in, but they can’t get out. (NASA)
NASA Kemble’s Cascade of Stars
2/5 Classes of black holes: Two main classes of black holes have been extensively observed. Stellar-mass black holes with three to dozens of times the Sun’s mass are spread throughout our Milky Way galaxy, while supermassive monsters weighing 100,000 to billions of solar masses are found in the centers of most big galaxies, ours included. (AP)
NASA Kemble’s Cascade of Stars
3/5 How are black holes birthed? A stellar-mass black hole formation happens when a star with more than 20 solar masses exhausts the nuclear fuel in its core and collapses under its own weight. The collapse triggers a supernova explosion that blows off the star’s outer layers. But if the crushed core contains more than about three times the Sun’s mass, no known force can stop its collapse and the birth of of a black hole. The origin of supermassive black holes is poorly understood, but we know they exist from the very earliest days of a galaxy’s lifetime. Once born, black holes can grow by accreting matter that falls into them, including gas stripped from neighboring stars and even other black holes. (NASA)
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4/5 First image of black hole: In 2019, astronomers using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — an international collaboration that networked eight ground-based radio telescopes into a single Earth-size dish — captured an image of a black hole for the first time. It appears as a dark circle silhouetted by an orbiting disk of hot, glowing matter. The supermassive black hole is located at the heart of a galaxy called M87, located about 55 million light-years away, and weighs more than 6 billion solar masses. Its event horizon extends so far it could encompass much of our solar system out to well beyond the planets. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration)
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5/5 Studying black holes: Astronomers have been studying black holes through the various forms of light they emit for decades. Although light can’t escape a black hole’s event horizon, the enormous tidal forces in its vicinity cause nearby matter to heat up to millions of degrees and emit radio waves and X-rays. Some of the material orbiting even closer to the event horizon may be hurled out, forming jets of particles moving near the speed of light that emit radio, X-rays and gamma rays. Jets from supermassive black holes can extend hundreds of thousands of light-years into space. NASA’s Hubble, Chandra, Swift, NuSTAR, and NICER space telescopes, as well as other missions, continue to take the measure of black holes and their environments. (NASA)
NASA Kemble’s Cascade of Stars
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Kemble’s Cascade of Stars is an asterism consisting of 20 stars. (NASA/Tommy Lease)

Stars are celestial objects millions of years old floating in space. The older and bigger the star, the brighter it appears. Stars are the most widely recognized astronomical objects, and represent the most fundamental building blocks of galaxies. They are formed in star-forming regions called Nebulas. The makeup of a Nebula consists of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. Although these gases are spread out, they can be pulled together by gravity. As they clump together, their gravity increases by such an amount that the gas cloud collapses, causing the material at the center of the core to heat up, and this is the birth of a star, according to NASA.

Grouped stars sometimes form patterns in the sky recognized by humans known as Constellations. As of now, there are nearly 88 recognized constellations in the sky. Apart from constellations, stars also form familiar patterns in the sky which are not part of any constellations. These patterns are known as Asterisms.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning capture of the Kemble's Cascade of Stars which is a known Asterism visible in the northern sky toward the long-necked constellation of the Giraffe. It consists of 20 stars and spans over five times the angular width of the full moon. The image was captured by Tommy Lease, an astrophotographer based in Colorado, USA. He uses instruments such as ASI1600MM w/ ZWO EAF, EFW with additional filters and lenses to capture mesmerizing pictures of celestial objects.

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NASA's explanation of the image

This line of stars is real. A little too faint to see with the unaided eye, Kemble's Cascade of stars inspires awe when seen with binoculars. Like the Big Dipper though, Kemble's Cascade is an asterism, not a constellation. The asterism is visible in the northern sky toward the long-necked constellation of the Giraffe (Camelopardalis). This string of about 20 unrelated stars, each of similar brightness, spans over five times the angular width of the full moon. Stretching diagonally from the upper left to the lower right, Kemble's Cascade was popularized last century by astronomy enthusiast Lucian Kemble. The bright object near the top left of the image is the relatively compact Jolly Roger open cluster of stars, officially designated as NGC 1502.

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First Published Date: 03 Jan, 13:48 IST
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