Before you can peer back in time 13.2 billion years, your telescope needs to be calibrated correctly, so you can be sure objects in your mirror are really as bright (and therefore as distant) as they appear. Astronomers have a few tricks to help them do this, including using light bulbs and distant stars. Now one astronomer has a simple calibration solution: put a light bulb in space.
Here’s a good argument for letting your kids stay up late: A 10-year-old Canadian girl discovered a supernova over the weekend, the youngest person ever to do so.
Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, made the discovery under the supervision of two other amateur astronomers, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
By Katie PeekPosted 12.01.2010 at 2:06 pm 8 Comments
In a paper published today in the journal Nature, astronomers from Yale and Harvard universities have found evidence for a bunch of small red dwarf stars in eight nearby galaxies. The result affects astronomers' pictures of how stars form, how galaxies evolve, and perhaps even how much dark matter is out there.
Dust may help astronomers understand the formation of stars and planets
By Katie PeekPosted 10.11.2010 at 10:11 am 0 Comments
Riding in a car through space, if you were to hang your white-gloved hand out the window, it would come back dirty. The space between the Milky Way's stars is filled with gas and dust—lots of dust.
This summer, the European Space Agency's Planck satellite produced a high-resolution dust map. The ultimate goal of the project is to map the cosmic microwave background, the electromagnetic leftovers of the universe's violent beginning.
This spooky image of a tiny nebula known as IRAS 05437+2502 was recently released by the Hubble Space Telescope, but perhaps even more eerie than the wispy, ghost-like appearance of the little-studied star forming region is the boomerang-like light crowning the nebula. Though the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) first discovered the nebula in 1983, astronomers have no clue what is lighting up this glowing object.
By Jason ZigelbaumPosted 08.11.2010 at 12:45 pm 2 Comments
The ESO’s VISTA telescope has released a magnificent picture of the Tarantula Nebula in our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image was taken at the start of VISTA’s Magellanic Cloud survey, covering 184 square degrees of sky (about a thousand times the visible surface area of the moon).
The survey will provide a detailed study of star formation and three-dimensional geometry of our nearby galaxies in the Magellanic system.
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.
When speaking of the cosmos, we like to attach really amazing modifiers to the phenomena we find there, prefixes like "super-" and "extra-" or adjectives like "massive" and "giant." So, having used up most of the good ones, we're not really sure how to describe the gargantuan (oh, that's a good one) star that European researchers just discovered with the ESO's Very Large Telescope; at 265 times the mass of our own sun, it is the largest star ever discovered, by more than 100 solar masses. That is to say: it's really, really big.