Illustrating the power of submillimetre-wavelength astronomy, an APEX image reveals how an expanding bubble of ionised gas about ten light-years across is causing the surrounding material to collapse into dense clumps that are the birthplaces of new stars. Submillimetre light is the key to revealing some of the coldest material in the Universe, such as these cold, dense clouds.
Planet formation, as we all know (and don't know), is chaotic. It is like a lorenz Attractor constructable in computational astrophysics labs. When I was working on my astronomy project at Harvard this summer, I realized that there was a way to zoom into this complex, utterly random phenomenon to get a glimpse of the precise conditions of the proto-planetary disk as it evolved into the 'solar system'.
So what is that 'way' anyway?
Anyone who has wondered what it might be like to dive into a pool of millions of distant galaxies of different shapes and colours, will enjoy the latest image released by ESO. Obtained in part with the Very Large Telescope, the image is the deepest ground-based U-band image of the Universe ever obtained. It contains more than 27 million pixels and is the result of 55 hours of observations with the VIMOS instrument.
NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer has lifted the veil off a ghost known to haunt the local universe, providing new insight into the formation and evolution of galaxies.
The eerie creature, called NGC 404, is a type of galaxy known as "lenticular." Lenticular galaxies are disk-shaped, with little ongoing star formation and no spiral arms. NGC 404 is the nearest example of a lenticular galaxy, and therefore of great interest. But it lies hidden in the glare from a red giant star called Mirach. For this reason, NGC 404 became known to astronomers as the "Ghost of Mirach."
When the Galaxy Evolution Explorer spied the galaxy in ultraviolet light, a spooky ring materialized.
Just last month, Hubble Space Telescope's main instruments were idled by a computer failure, but not to worry, thanks to NASA
engineers, who successfully transferred the work of the failed science data downlink computer to a backup system, Hubble is up and running just a couple of days after the orbiting observatory was brought back online.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is back in business with a snapshot of the fascinating galaxy pair Arp 147. The science operations were resumed on 25 October 2008, four weeks after a problem with the science data formatter took the spacecraft into safe mode.
On Sunday 28 September 2008, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope automatically entered safe mode when errors were detected in the Control Unit/Science Data Formatter-Side A. This component is essential for the storage and transmission of data from the telescope's science instruments back to Earth. The component was reactivated on Thursday 23 October, and the Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 science observations resumed on Saturday 25 October.
Physicists of the University of Granada and the University of Valencia (Spain) have developed a proceeding to analyse specific data sent by the Huygens probe from Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, proving “in an unequivocal way” that there is natural electric activity in its atmosphere. The scientific community thinks that there is a higher probability that organic molecules precursors to life could form in those planets or satellites which have an atmosphere with electric storms.
A new image released by ESO shows the amazing intricacies of a vast stellar nursery, which goes by the name of Gum 29. In the center, a small cluster of stars — called Westerlund 2 — has been found to be the he home of one of the most massive double star systems known to astronomers.
Gum 29 is a huge region of hydrogen gas that has been stripped of its electrons (ionized) by the intense radiation of the hot young stars located at its centre. Astronomers call this an HII (pronounced "H-two") region, and this particularly stunning example stretches out across space for over 200 light-years. The name stems from the fact that it is the 29th entry in the catalogue published by Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum in 1955.
A bit of serendipity has given astronomers a surprise view of a never-before-observed event in the birth of a galaxy.
University of Florida and University of California-Santa Cruz astronomers are the first to discover the onset of a huge flow of gas from a quasar, or the super-bright core of an extremely remote young galaxy still being formed. The gas was expelled from the quasar and its enormous black hole sometime in the space of four years around 10 billion years ago – an extremely brief and ancient blip noticed only by a sharp-eyed undergraduate and the unlikely convergence of two separate observational efforts.
About three times a second, a 10,000-year-old stellar corpse sweeps a beam of gamma-rays toward Earth. This object, known as a pulsar, is the first one known to "blink" only in gamma rays, and was discovered by the Large Area Telescope (LAT) onboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and international partners.
"This is the first example of a new class of pulsars that will give us fundamental insights into how stars work," says Stanford University's Peter Michelson, principal investigator for the LAT. The LAT data is processed by the DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and analyzed by the International LAT Collaboration.