Today in pretty space pics: the Milky Way, viewed from the Cook Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean on a clear summer night. Snapped by skywatcher Tunc Tezel on the second largest Cook Island of Mangaia, the image was chosen as a winner of the National Maritime Museum's Astrophotographer of the Year 2011 contest.
The European Southern Observatory's VISTA survey telescope has turned its eyes inward to the center of our galaxy, and for the first time has looked straight through it. VISTA's latest batch of infrared images have discovered two new globular clusters here in the Milky Way that had never been seen before, but more importantly they are the first star clusters that we've been able to image beyond the dusty and gaseous core of our galaxy.
Behold, your galactic center. This Hubble image, captured with the space telescope’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), is the highest-resolution pic of the Milky Way’s galactic center taken to date, taking in a newly discovered group of massive stars, lots of super-hot gas, and roughly 35,000 square light years of space in one sweeping mosaic.
It took nearly a year of high-powered number crunching on various supercomputers, but researchers from UC Santa Cruz and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Zurich have finally produced a computer simulation of a galaxy that looks much like our own.
Summertime may be the right time for unmasking dark matter. Researchers working on a dark matter experiment buried half a mile underground in a Minnesota mine say they've seen seasonally varying blips in electrical pulses that may be the telltale signs of WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles.
A Harvard astronomer and his team have turned up something quite big while running publicly available data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and by big we mean both in scientific magnitude and in astronomical size: two massive gamma-ray emitting bubbles extending 25,000 light-years both north and south of the Milky Way's center. The researchers aren't sure where they come from or why they're there, but the discovery of this massive new structure in the heart of our own galaxy is being equated to discovering a new continent on Earth.
If you're going to photograph the cosmos, the first step is to find somewhere really dark where Earthly light pollution won't spoil your shot. Following this line of thought to its logical limits, astrophotographer Stéphane Guisard went in search of the darkest possible sky he could find here on Earth, and found it at just the right time and place in Chile's Atacama Desert. The results are these breathtaking shots that on first glance may look noisy and polluted -- until you take a good close-up look at what's really there.
Yesterday saw the discovery of an extremely massive, extremely bright star in a neighboring galaxy. Today NASA says Hubble has discovered a fast-moving star that's much closer – but getting further away at a very rapid rate. The hypervelocity star being expelled from the center of the Milky Way is traveling away from our galaxy at 1.6 million miles per hour, three times faster than our own sun's orbital velocity in the Milky Way.
Size doesn't always matter when it comes to NASA's pretty pictures, but it may certainly make an impression upon visitors at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The planetarium has revealed a gigantic Milky Way panorama that stretches 120 feet long and 3 feet wide at the sides. The center of the picture bulges out to 6 feet wide to accommodate the center of the galaxy.