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Gemini Observatory shows a group of Galaxies.
The latest image released by the Gemini Observatory shows a group of Galaxies tearing each other apart 300 million light-years away. The Galaxies are members of Stephan's Quintet, and their shapes are completely warped by gravitational interactions that have been going on for millions of years. This ongoing chaos has spawned huge stellar nurseries - hotspots of furious star formation. They'll keep on interacting for a few more million years before merging into larger objects; the smaller Galaxies will be completely torn apart.
It's bad, but it could have been much worse. Hurricane Frances devastated Florida over the weekend, with the eye sweeping close to NASA's Kennedy Space Center - the region sustained winds as high as 110 kph (70 mph). There were no injuries, and the worst damage was to the Vehicle Assembly Building, which lost more than 1,000 panels, leaving huge holes in its sides. None of the space shuttles or the Swift mission were damaged. The center is closed Tuesday for most employees, and a more detailed damage assessment should be released later today.
The Hubble Space Telescope took this image of the Stingray Nebula, known to Astronomers as Henize 1357. The dim star is surrounded by a Halo of gas that was shed when the star became a red giant - a final stage in its life. As the nebula expanded away from the star, the remaining core got hotter and hotter, heating the gas up until it glowed. The Stingray Nebula is the youngest known planetary nebula; it wasn't visible in the sky just 25 years ago, when the gas around the central star hadn't heated up enough to glow.
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