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Awesomeness Round-up – 5/16/11

Want to see NASA Goddard in 3D? Get out your glasses and check out this really cool YouTube video showing the Center and some of the work that goes on here.

Here’s a new old image of dwarf galaxy NGC 4214, which is ablaze with young stars and gas clouds. It’s “only” 10 million light-years away and because of its close proximity and the wide variety of evolutionary stages among its stars, it’s an ideal laboratory to research the triggers of star formation and evolution. This image was taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009.

A Star-Formation Laboratory
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Check out this amazing SOHO footage of a comet hitting the sun, appearing to set off a coronal mass ejection (CME). The comet isn’t actually triggering the CME, even though the timing looks coincident. There is actually no convincing physical connection between sun-grazing comets and coronal mass ejections. In fact, analysis using images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows that the CME erupted before the comet came close enough to the solar surface to interact with strong magnetic fields. It’s still really cool though.


The famous Crab Nebula supernova remnant has erupted in an enormous flare five times more powerful than any flare previously seen from the object. On April 12, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope first detected the outburst, which lasted six days. You can learn more with the videos and article in this NASA feature.

NASA's Fermi Spots 'Superflares' in the Crab Nebula
Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT/R. Buehler

Check out the new Behind the Webb video podcast. Webb’s 18 separate mirror segments will be held in place by a graphite structure called a backplane. This one-of-a-kind piece needs to be thermally stable to -400 degrees Fahrenheit (-240 degrees Celsius), and hold Webb’s mirror segments steady to within one-ten thousandth the diameter of a human hair. Engineers at ATK in Magna, Utah, take us through the process of designing and creating the backplane.

Last but not least, congrats to the crew of Endeavour for a successful launch this morning. @stefmara on Twitter caught the launch from her airplane! Photo 1 and Photo 2. Pretty cool! Wish I could have seen that!

This photo from @TreyRatcliff of the shuttle “blooming” inside of a cloud is gorgeous too.

There are more photos on Flickr here from @NASAhqphoto.

STS-134 Endeavour Launch (201105160003HQ)
NASA/Paul E. Alers

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