The Swan Nebula, also called the Omega Nebula because when seen through a small telescope the nebula has a shape that reminds some observers of the final letter of the Greek alphabet, omega, while others see a swan with its distinctive long, curved neck, is a dazzling stellar nursery located about 5500 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer).
Don't feel left out, lawn games and crustaceans, it is also called the Horseshoe and the Lobster Nebula.
No matter its name, it is an active star-forming region of gas and dust about 15 light-years across and has recently spawned a cluster of massive, hot stars. The intense light and strong winds from these hulking infants have carved remarkable filigree structures in the gas and dust.
Two studies published in Science Express show the analysis of gamma-rays from two dozen pulsars, including 16 discovered by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi is the first spacecraft able to identify pulsars by their gamma-ray emissions alone.
A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes. Most of the currently cataloged pulsars, some 1800 of them, were found through their periodic radio emissions; pulses caused by narrow, lighthouse-like radio beams emanating from the pulsar's magnetic poles, according to current theory.
Even among giants Messier 87, with two to three billion times the mass of our sun, stands out, completely dominating the Virgo cluster.
A supermassive black hole exists in the center of Messier 87 and gigantic plasma flows shoot out from the vicinity of the black hole at close to light speed. Scientists have now observed, simultaneously in gamma and radio frequencies, this active galactic core region and in doing so discovered that the elementary particles are accelerated to extremely high energy levels in closest proximity to the black hole.
Astronomers have unveiled a new atlas of the inner regions of the Milky Way - that's our home galaxy, if you're from someplace else - and it's peppered with thousands of previously undiscovered dense knots of cold cosmic dust, the potential birthplaces of new stars. Using observations from the APEX telescope in Chile, this survey is the largest map of cold dust so far.
This new guide for astronomers, known as the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) shows the Milky Way in submillimetre-wavelength light (between infrared light and radio waves. Images of the cosmos at these wavelengths are vital for studying the birthplaces of new stars and the structure of the crowded galactic core.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted its first images since reaching the moon on June 23. The spacecraft's two cameras, collectively known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, were activated June 30. The cameras are working well and have returned images of a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).
As the moon rotates beneath LRO, LROC gradually will build up photographic maps of the lunar surface.
Astronomers using ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory have discovered a black hole they labeled HLX-1 (Hyper-Luminous X-ray source 1), which lies towards the outskirts of the galaxy ESO 243-49, approximately 290 million light-years from Earth and weighs more than 500 solar masses, making it a 'missing link' between lighter stellar-mass and heavier supermassive black holes. This discovery is the best detection to date of a new class that has long been searched for: intermediate mass black holes.
The discovery has been made by an international team of researchers working with XMM-Newton data, led by Sean Farrell from the Centre d’Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements, now based at the University of Leicester.
Researchers have completed the largest ever survey for very distant clusters of galaxies.
Named the Spitzer Adaptation of the Red-sequence Cluster Survey, "SpARCS" detects galaxy clusters using deep ground-based optical observations from the CTIO 4m and CFHT 3.6m telescopes, combined with Spitzer Space Telescope infrared observations.
SpARCS is designed to find clusters as they appeared lwhen the universe was 6 billion years old or younger. Astronomers believe the universe was formed 13.7 billion years ago.
Why did our Milky Way galaxy survive while others failed? Ill-defined, convenient catch-all dark matter gets the credit, according to a new paper. Dark matter is thought to make up 85 per cent of the Universe’s mass and it may also be one of the building blocks of galaxy formation.
The researchers say that the early Milky Way, which had begun forming stars, held on to the raw gaseous material from which further stars would be made. This material would otherwise have been evaporated by the high temperatures generated by the “ignition” of the Universe about half-a-billion years after the Big Bang.
NASA watch seems to have been first in noticing the way-cool Star-Trek Style NASA
poster, cheerfully shown here in all its glory. Yes, this is not your parent's NASA... no, wait, it is. Star Trek also dates from the 60s.
It's a well-done poster, with great poses all around. That's the crew for shuttle Expedition 21. Until we build Star Fleet, I figure these people qualify.
An enormous plume of water spurts in giant jets from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus and a report published in Nature provides evidence that this magnificent plume is fed by a salty ocean.
The Cassini spacecraft made a surprising discovery about Saturn's sixth largest moon, Enceladus, on its exploration of the giant ringed planet in 2005. Enceladus ejects water vapor, gas and tiny grains of ice into space hundreds of kilometres above the moon's surface.