Dwarf galaxy Kiso 5639

In this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, a firestorm of star birth is lighting up one end of the dwarf galaxy Kiso 5639.

Kiso 5639 is shaped like a pancake but, because it is tilted edge-on, it resembles a skyrocket, with a brilliant blazing head and a long, star-studded tail. Its appearance earns it a place in the “tadpole” class of galaxies.

The bright pink head is from the glow of hydrogen, lit up by the burst of new stars. The mass of these young stars equals about a million Suns. The stars are grouped into large clusters that formed less than a million years ago.

Stars consist mainly of hydrogen and helium, but cook up heavier elements such as oxygen and carbon. When the stars die, they release their heavy elements and enrich the surrounding gas. In Kiso 5639, the bright gas in the galaxy’s head is more deficient in heavy elements than the rest of the galaxy. Astronomers think that the latest star-formation event was triggered when the galaxy accreted primordial gas from its surroundings, since intergalactic space contains more pristine, hydrogen-rich gas.

Cavities in the gas are due to numerous supernova detonations – like bursts of fireworks in the sky – carving out holes of superheated gas.

The elongated tail, seen stretching away from the galaxy’s head and scattered with bright blue stars, contains at least four distinct star-forming regions. These stars appear to be older than those in the star-forming head.

Wispy filaments, comprising gas and some stars, extend from the main body of the cosmic tadpole.

The observations were taken in February 2015 and July 2015 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Kiso 5639 is 82 million light-years from us and its head is some 2700 light-years across.

 This image was first released in June 2016.

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Dwarf galaxy Kiso 5639

In this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, a firestorm of star birth is lighting up one end of the dwarf galaxy Kiso 5639.

Kiso 5639 is shaped like a pancake but, because it is tilted edge-on, it resembles a skyrocket, with a brilliant blazing head and a long, star-studded tail. Its appearance earns it a place in the “tadpole” class of galaxies.

The bright pink head is from the glow of hydrogen, lit up by the burst of new stars. The mass of these young stars equals about a million Suns. The stars are grouped into large clusters that formed less than a million years ago.

Stars consist mainly of hydrogen and helium, but cook up heavier elements such as oxygen and carbon. When the stars die, they release their heavy elements and enrich the surrounding gas. In Kiso 5639, the bright gas in the galaxy’s head is more deficient in heavy elements than the rest of the galaxy. Astronomers think that the latest star-formation event was triggered when the galaxy accreted primordial gas from its surroundings, since intergalactic space contains more pristine, hydrogen-rich gas.

Cavities in the gas are due to numerous supernova detonations – like bursts of fireworks in the sky – carving out holes of superheated gas.

The elongated tail, seen stretching away from the galaxy’s head and scattered with bright blue stars, contains at least four distinct star-forming regions. These stars appear to be older than those in the star-forming head.

Wispy filaments, comprising gas and some stars, extend from the main body of the cosmic tadpole.

The observations were taken in February 2015 and July 2015 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Kiso 5639 is 82 million light-years from us and its head is some 2700 light-years across.

 This image was first released in June 2016.

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Preview 2018

After a fruitful 2017 with many exciting launches and the end of some historic missions, ESA is ready for the year to come. 2018 will see the tenth anniversary of the International Space Station’s Columbus module and an ESA astronaut taking the helm of the ISS as commander. There will be more launches of new Earth observation and exploration satellites and ESA will venture to the innermost planet in our Solar System. 2018 will also mark the completion of the first part of the Copernicus constellation observing the Earth and of the full Galileo constellation, Europe’s own satellite navigation system.

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Preview 2018

After a fruitful 2017 with many exciting launches and the end of some historic missions, ESA is ready for the year to come. 2018 will see the tenth anniversary of the International Space Station’s Columbus module and an ESA astronaut taking the helm of the ISS as commander. There will be more launches of new Earth observation and exploration satellites and ESA will venture to the innermost planet in our Solar System. 2018 will also mark the completion of the first part of the Copernicus constellation observing the Earth and of the full Galileo constellation, Europe’s own satellite navigation system.

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Columbus laboratory at night

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst floats inside the International Space Station’s European Columbus laboratory. The image was taken during his first flight in 2014.

The lights in the laboratory are dimmed to a pinkish glow during the crew’s off-duty time. Columbus houses NASA’s Veggie greenhouse, where researchers are growing lettuce in weightlessness. Previous experiments showed that red light is best for growing plants in space.

Veggie is already a favourite experiment for astronauts because it offers fresh food at the end of a harvest. Learning how to grow food in space is essential for longer trips further from Earth.

Nearly a decade ago, the Columbus laboratory set sail to become Europe’s largest single contribution to the International Space Station. Shortly after, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle – the most complex spacecraft ever built in Europe – arrived at the orbital outpost. 

There is a lot to celebrate in 2018: the 10th anniversary of the Columbus laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle series, plus Alexander’s second mission to the Space Station.

He will be launched in June on Soyuz MS-09 together with NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev. He will fulfil the role of commander during the second part of his six-month.

This is the second time a European astronaut will be commander of the Station – the first was Frank De Winne in 2009.

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Columbus laboratory at night

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst floats inside the International Space Station’s European Columbus laboratory. The image was taken during his first flight in 2014.

The lights in the laboratory are dimmed to a pinkish glow during the crew’s off-duty time. Columbus houses NASA’s Veggie greenhouse, where researchers are growing lettuce in weightlessness. Previous experiments showed that red light is best for growing plants in space.

Veggie is already a favourite experiment for astronauts because it offers fresh food at the end of a harvest. Learning how to grow food in space is essential for longer trips further from Earth.

Nearly a decade ago, the Columbus laboratory set sail to become Europe’s largest single contribution to the International Space Station. Shortly after, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle – the most complex spacecraft ever built in Europe – arrived at the orbital outpost. 

There is a lot to celebrate in 2018: the 10th anniversary of the Columbus laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle series, plus Alexander’s second mission to the Space Station.

He will be launched in June on Soyuz MS-09 together with NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev. He will fulfil the role of commander during the second part of his six-month.

This is the second time a European astronaut will be commander of the Station – the first was Frank De Winne in 2009.

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Earth from Space: Reindeer Island

Earth from Space is presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web-TV virtual studios. In the 253rd edition, discover Canada’s Reindeer Island – where we believe Santa Claus stops for a rest during his busy night before Christmas.

See also Earth from Space: Reindeer Island, Canada to download the image.

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Reindeer Island

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over part of Lake Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba, with Reindeer Island visible in the lower-right part of the image.

While our friends on the other side of the pond might be able to tell us why this place is called ‘Reindeer Island’, we believe that this is a rest-stop for Santa Claus during his busy night before Christmas.

Smaller islands can be seen along the edges of the image, while the swirling shades of green in the waters is an algal bloom.

Although algae grows naturally in the lake, high levels of phosphorus – found in fertilisers and common household products – seeping into the water have caused a steady surge of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue–green algae, posing a threat to ecology and human health.

Sentinel-2’s frequent revisits over the same area and high resolution allow changes in inland water bodies and the coastal environment to be closely monitored. 

With its 13 spectral channels, the mission’s novel imager can capture water quality indicators such as the surface concentration of chlorophyll, detect harmful algal blooms and measure water clarity – giving a clear indication of the health and pollution levels.

By providing measurements of water quality and detecting changes, Sentinel-2 supports the sustainable management of water resources, and can also indicate areas that are safe, or unsafe, for swimming.

This image, also featured on the Earth from Space video programme, was captured on 6 October 2017.

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