A pale blue dot is a photograph of planet Earth made by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space. It is also the title of a 1994 book by astronomer Carl Sagan that was inspired by the photo. In 2001, it was selected by Space.com as one of the top ten space science photos.
On February 14, 1990, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission, to turn around to photograph the planets of the Solar System. One image Voyager returned was of Earth, showing up as a pale blue dot in the grainy photo.
Earth, as seen from a distance of 6.4 billion kilometers, looks as a mere, pale blue dot.
We succeeded in taking that picture from deep space, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us.
On it everyone you know, everyone you love, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines. Every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
CARL SAGAN (1934 - 1996)
Saturn as seen from Japet
While on final approach for its September 2007 close encounter with Saturn's moon Iapetus, Cassini spun around to take in a sweeping view of the Saturn System.
Iapetus (1,468 kilometers, or 912 miles across) is the only major moon of Saturn with a significant inclination to its orbit. From the other major satellites, the rings would appear nearly edge-on, but from Iapetus, the rings usually appear at a tilt, as seen here.
In the high resolution image, the following moons are visible: Dione (1,126 kilometers, or 700 miles across) at center left, Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across) near the left side ansa (or ring edge), Mimas (397 kilometers, or 247 miles across) a speck against the ring shadows on Saturn's western limb, Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) against the bluish backdrop of the northern hemisphere, Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across) near the right ansa, and Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across) near lower right.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Center of the Milky Way
Horse Head Nebula
Witch Head Nebula
Cluster of stars R136
North American Nebula
Whirlpool Galaxy - M51
The Fairy of Eagle Nebula
The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts.
Pictured above is one of the Eagle Nebula's striking dust pillars that could be imagined as a gigantic fairy. This fairy, however, does not grant wishes; instead, it is ten light-years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. The above image was released as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA
The Eye of God
This is an authentic photograph -- or rather, composite of photos -- taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. The image was featured on NASA's Website as an Astronomy Picture of the Day in May 2003 and thereafter posted on a number of Websites under the title "The Eye of God" (though I have found no evidence that NASA has ever referred to it as such). The awe-inspiring image has also been featured on magazine covers and in articles about space imagery.
What it actually depicts is the so-called Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases." At its center is dying star which has ejected masses of dust and gas to form tentacle-like filaments stretching toward an outer rim composed of the same material. Our own sun may look like this in several billion years.
Image NASA, WIYN, NOAO, ESA, Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), & T. A. Rector (NRAO)
The Four Suns of HD 98800
How would it look to have four suns in the sky? Planets of the HD 98800 system, if they exist, would experience such a view.
HD 98800 is a multiple star system about 150 light years from Earth -- right in our section of the Milky Way Galaxy. For years it has been known that HD 98800 consists of two pairs of double stars, with one pair surrounded by a disk of dust. Recent data from the Earth-trailing Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light indicate that the dust disk has gaps that appear consistent with being cleared by planets orbiting in the disk. If so, one planet appears to be orbiting at a distance similar to Mars of our own Solar System. Pictured above is an artist's drawing of how the HD 98800 system might appear to a nearby observer.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
A mysterious Galaxy
This image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1132 and its surrounding region combines data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The blue/purple in the image is the x-ray glow from hot, diffuse gas detected by Chandra. Hubble's data reveal a giant foreground elliptical galaxy, plus numerous dwarf galaxies in its neighborhood, and many much more distant galaxies in the background.
Astronomers have dubbed NGC 1132 a "fossil group" because it contains an enormous amount of dark matter, comparable to the dark matter found in an entire group of galaxies. Also, the large amount of hot gas detected by Chandra is usually found for groups of galaxies, rather than a single galaxy.
The origin of such fossil-group systems remains a puzzle. They may be the end products of the complete merging of groups of galaxies. Or, they may be very rare objects that formed in a region or period of time where the growth of moderate-sized galaxies was somehow suppressed, and only one large galaxy formed.
Elliptical galaxies are smooth and featureless. Containing hundreds of millions to trillions of stars, they range from nearly spherical to very elongated shapes. Their overall yellowish color comes from the aging stars. Because elliptical galaxies do not contain much cool gas, they can no longer make large numbers of new stars.
Image Credit: Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/M. West X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/G. Garmire
Snowflakes in the Universal Sky
Like cascading snowflakes in the interstellar night, the strange shapes and textures of the stars in the Snowflake Cluster abound in the Cone Nebula. These patterns result from the tumultuous unrest that accompanies the formation of the open cluster of stars known as NGC 2264. Bright stars from the cluster dot the field and they soon heat up and destroy the gas and dust mountains in which they formed. One such dust mountain is the famous Cone Nebula, visible in the above image on the left, pointing toward a bright star near the center of the field.
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, P. S. Teixeira (CfA)
Stellar Jewel Box
Thousands of sparkling young stars are nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603, one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy.
NGC 3603, a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way about 20,000 light-years away, image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars.
Powerful ultraviolet radiation and fast winds from the bluest and hottest stars have blown a big bubble around the cluster. Moving into the surrounding nebula, this torrent of radiation sculpted the tall, dark stalks of dense gas, which are embedded in the walls of the nebula. These gaseous monoliths are a few light-years tall and point to the central cluster. The stalks may be incubators for new stars.
On a smaller scale, a cluster of dark clouds called "Bok" globules resides at the top, right corner. These clouds are composed of dense dust and gas and are about 10 to 50 times more massive than the sun. Resembling an insect's cocoon, a Bok globule may be undergoing a gravitational collapse on its way to forming new stars.
The nebula was first discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Newborn stars peek out from beneath their natal blanket of dust in this dynamic image of the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Called "Rho Oph" by astronomers, it's one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system. Located near the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the nebula is about 407 light years away from Earth.
Rho Oph is made up of a large main cloud of molecular hydrogen, a key molecule allowing new stars to form from cold cosmic gas, with two long streamers trailing off in different directions. Recent studies reveal more than 300 young stellar objects within the large central cloud. Their median age is only 300,000 years, very young compared to some of the universe's oldest stars, which are more than 12 billion years old.
The colors in this image reflect the relative temperatures and evolutionary states of the various stars. The youngest stars are surrounded by dusty disks of gas from which they, and their potential planetary systems, are forming. These young disk systems show up as red in this image. Some of these young stellar objects are surrounded by their own compact nebulae. More evolved stars, which have shed their natal material, are blue.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
A Bubble Bursts
RCW 79 is seen in the southern Milky Way, 17,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. The bubble is 70-light years in diameter, and probably took about one million years to form from the radiation and winds of hot young stars.
The balloon of gas and dust is an example of stimulated star formation. Such stars are born when the hot bubble expands into the interstellar gas and dust around it. RCW 79 has spawned at least two groups of new stars along the edge of the large bubble. Some are visible inside the small bubble in the lower left corner. Another group of baby stars appears near the opening at the top.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope easily detects infrared light from the dust particles in RCW 79. The young stars within RCW79 radiate ultraviolet light that excites molecules of dust within the bubble. This causes the dust grains to emit infrared light that is detected by Spitzer and seen here as the extended red features.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/E. Churchwell (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison)
Galaxies of All Shapes and Sizes
This artist's concept illustrates the two types of spiral galaxies that populate our universe: those with plump middles, or central bulges (upper left), and those without them (foreground).
New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope provide strong evidence that the slender, bulgeless galaxies can, like their chubbier counterparts, harbor supermassive black holes at their cores. Previously, astronomers thought that a galaxy without a bulge could not have a supermassive black hole. The findings are reshaping theories of galaxy formation.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Most Detailed Image of the Crab Nebula
Most Detailed Image of the Crab Nebula
This new Hubble image -- one among the largest ever produced with the Earth-orbiting observatory -- shows the most detailed view so far of the entire Crab Nebula ever made. The Crab is arguably the single most interesting object, as well as one of the most studied, in all of astronomy. The image is the largest image ever taken with Hubble's WFPC2 workhorse camera.
The Crab Nebula is one of the most intricately structured and highly dynamical objects ever observed. The new Hubble image of the Crab was assembled from 24 individual exposures taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and is the highest resolution image of the entire Crab Nebula ever made.
Image Credits: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA-JPL)
Water's Early Journey
Water's Early Journey
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observed a fledgling solar system, like the one depicted in this artist's concept, and discovered deep within it enough water vapor to fill the oceans on Earth five times. This water vapor starts out in the form of ice in a cloudy cocoon (not pictured) that surrounds the embryonic star, called NGC 1333-IRAS 4B (buried in center of image). Material from the cocoon, including ice, falls toward the center of the cloud. The ice then smacks down onto a dusty pre-planetary disk circling the stellar embryo (doughnut-shaped cloud) and vaporizes. Eventually, this water might make its way into developing planets.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Messages page # 1 2 3 4
03/04/2015 à 15h54
Merci pour ce magnifique blog que j'ai partagé avec mes amis amateurs.
Voici un lien vers une photo plus récente de "l'oeil du cosmos".
05/03/2014 à 09h17
Merci de partager ces beautés...
C'est beau, c'est chaud, ça nourrit...
Je me sens toute petite et si grande à la fois devant tant de merveilles sublimes qu'on ignore à l'oeil nu.
24/04/2012 à 09h07
Ces photos sont sublimes. Que ne donnerait-on pas pour voyager dans ce cosmos qui est tellement superbe, si mystérieux et qui donne aussi le vertige. Que de merveilles à découvrir et à admirer. Toute une vie n'y suffirait pas ! Que l'homme et ses problèmes quotidiens semblent ridicules et futiles en face de l'Univers qui nous entoure !
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Oui, ça donne à réfléchir.
Tous ceux qui sont allés un jour dans l'espace le rapportent d'ailleurs, tous disent que vu de là-haut, il devient difficile de comprendre les dissensions...
04/01/2012 à 16h11
C'est juste sublime, permettez-moi de vous féliciter pour ce chef d'oeuvre, et je vous souhaite une très bonne continuation dans vos recherches...
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Merci beaucoup !
18/12/2011 à 17h18
C'est merveilleux, très joli sujet.
10/09/2011 à 13h31
Magnifiques images d'une beauté exceptionnelle.
Joli voyage à travers l'univers accompagné d'une jolie musique...
Un moment de rêve... comme je l'aime...
Un moment j'ai rêvé que je pourrais m'y rendre, quelle planète je choisirais ???
Une particule de chacun de mon être voudrait y habiter...
Tous à vos baguettes magiques !!!