Space

There are many galaxies of different shapes and sizes around us today. Roughly half are gas-poor elliptical-shaped galaxies with little new star formation activity, and half are gas-rich spiral and irregular galaxies with high star formation activity. Observations have shown that gas-poor galaxies are most often found near the centre of crowded galaxy clusters, whereas spirals spend most of their lifetime in solitude.


An extended view of the Hubble image also shows the gravitational lensing effect -- an optical illusion -- caused by the cluster's gravitational tidal forces of the cluster and "ram pressure stripping" by the hot gas.

On February 28, 2007, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter on its ultimate journey to Pluto. This flyby gave scientists a unique opportunity to study Jupiter using the package of instruments available on New Horizons, while coordinating observations from both space- and ground-based telescopes including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.


In preparation for New Horizon's approach of Jupiter, Chandra took 5-hour exposures of Jupiter on Feb. 8, 10 and 24. In this new composite image, data from those separate Chandra's observations were combined, and then superimposed on the latest image of Jupiter from the Hubble Space Telescope.

During Rosetta's recent Mars swingby, the OSIRIS cameras captured a series of images of Mars and of Phobos transiting Mars' disk. The OSIRIS team have produced a cool animated sequence and a 3D view of the Red Planet.

The animated sequences (one faster, one slower) show the shadow of Phobos transiting Mars' disk on 24 February; the images were captured around 22:08 CET, a few hours prior to Rosetta's successful Mars swingby on 25 February.


The animated sequence shows the shadow of Phobos transiting Mars' disk on 24 February; the sequence was captured around 22:08 CET, a few hours prior to Rosetta's successful Mars swingby on 25 February. The movie was produced by combining a series of separate images.

Scientists were startled when they discovered in 2004 that the center of our galaxy is emitting gamma rays with energies in the tens of trillions of electronvolts.

Now astrophysicists at The University of Arizona, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Adelaide (Australia) have discovered a mechanism that might produce these high-energy gamma rays.

Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007, has been delighting those who have seen it with the unaided eye as a spectacular display in the evening sky. Pushing ESO's New Technology Telescope to its limits, a team of European astronomers have obtained the first, and possibly unique, detailed observations of this object.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured for the first time enough light from planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, to identify signatures of molecules in their atmospheres. The landmark achievement is a significant step toward being able to detect possible life on rocky exoplanets and comes years before astronomers had anticipated.

"This is an amazing surprise," said Spitzer project scientist Dr. Michael Werner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer, which allows astronomers to scrutinise objects with a precision equivalent to that of a 130-m telescope, is proving itself an unequalled success every day. One of the latest instruments installed, AMBER, has led to a flurry of scientific results, an anthology of which is being published this week as special features in the research journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

"With its unique capabilities, the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) has created itself a niche in which it provide answers to many astronomical questions, from the shape of stars, to discs around stars, to the surroundings of the supermassive black holes in active galaxies," says Jorge Melnick (ESO), the VLT Project Scientist.

Integral's latest survey of the gamma-ray universe continues to change the way astronomers think of the high-energy cosmos. With over seventy percent of the sky now observed by Integral, astronomers have been able to construct the largest catalogue yet of individual gamma-ray-emitting celestial objects. And there is no end in sight for the discoveries.

Integral is the European Space Agency's latest orbiting gamma-ray observatory. Ever since Integral began scientific operations in 2003, the project team has been devoting a substantial proportion of its observing time to a survey of the gamma-ray universe.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, some say, but they would be wrong. In fact, the entirety of the universe defies them. According to Stanford physics Professor Andrei Linde, one of the architects of the inflationary theory, our universe (and all the matter in it) was born out of a vacuum.

"Recent developments in cosmology have irreversibly changed our understanding of the structure and fate of our universe and of our own place in it," says Linde, who will discuss the inflationary view of the universe at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Feb.

A powerful jet from a super massive black hole is blasting a nearby galaxy, according to new findings from NASA observatories. This never-before witnessed galactic violence may have a profound effect on planets in the jet's path and trigger a burst of star formation in its destructive wake.

Known as 3C321, the system contains two galaxies in orbit around each other. Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory show both galaxies contain super massive black holes at their centers, but the larger galaxy has a jet emanating from the vicinity of its black hole. The smaller galaxy apparently has swung into the path of this jet.

This "death star" galaxy was discovered through the combined efforts of both space and ground-based telescopes.