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.
If Puerto Rico becomes a state, we'd have to add a 51st star to the flag. An Emory University mathematician has come up with a method to do it without disrupting Old Glory's symmetry.
The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010, currently making its way through Congress, could make it it a necessity. The bill would grant the territory's residents a vote on their status, and options include statehood or independence.
New photos from the Hubble Space Telescope show once again the value of having a decades-old orbiting observatory. After examining identical photos taken 10 years apart, scientists measured the speeds of individual stars in a distant nebula — a feat akin to seeing the apparent thickness of a human hair 500 miles away.
The stars were not moving in the ways scientists expected, so the finding could illuminate star-formation theories, the researchers say.
A new instrument with an evil-sounding name is helping scientists see how stars are born. Lucifer, which stands for (deep breath) "Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research," is a chilled instrument attached to a telescope in Arizona. And yes, it's named for the Devil, whose name itself means "morning star." But it wasn't meant to evoke him, according to a spokesman for the University of Arizona, where it is housed.
Using a little astrophysical magic and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment Telescope in northern Chile, astronomers at Durham University in England captured the best view yet of individual star nurseries in a galaxy a full 10 billion light-years from Earth. And all they had to do was bend a little light.
Despite moving at 18 miles per second, it still takes the Earth a year to make it around the Sun. For HM Cancri, an orbit takes a little bit less time: around five minutes. At that speed, HM Cancri is the fastest binary star pair ever discovered, with each white dwarf circling the other at a speed of 310 miles per second.