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Posts Tagged ‘star’

Planck spots hot gas bridging galaxy cluster pair

November 22, 2012 1 comment

Planck spots hot gas bridging galaxy cluster pair

 
Galaxy clusters connected by gas bridge

 20 November 2012
ESA’s Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.
 
Planck’s primary task is to capture the most ancient light of the cosmos, the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. As this faint light traverses the Universe, it encounters different types of structure including galaxies and galaxy clusters – assemblies of hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity.

If the CMB light interacts with the hot gas permeating these huge cosmic structures, its energy distribution is modified in a characteristic way, a phenomenon known as the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich (SZ) effect, after the scientists who discovered it.

This effect has already been used by Planck to detect galaxy clusters themselves, but it also provides a way to detect faint filaments of gas that might connect one cluster to another.

In the early Universe, filaments of gaseous matter pervaded the cosmos in a giant web, with clusters eventually forming in the densest nodes.

Much of this tenuous, filamentary gas remains undetected, but astronomers expect that it could most likely be found between interacting galaxy clusters, where the filaments are compressed and heated up, making them easier to spot.

 Read more: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Planck/SEMRT791M9H_0.html

Large water reservoirs at the dawn of stellar birth

October 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Large water reservoirs at the dawn of stellar birth

Herschel’s infrared view of part of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, within which the bright, cold pre-stellar cloud L1544 can be seen at the lower left. It is surrounded by many other clouds of gas and dust of varying density. The Taurus Molecular Cloud is about 450 light-years from Earth and is the nearest large region of star formation. The image covers a field of view of approximately 1 x 2 arcminutes. Credit: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapour to fill Earth’s oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star.

Stars form within cold, dark clouds of gas and dust – ‘pre-stellar cores’ – that contain all the ingredients to make solar systems like our own.

Water, essential to life on Earth, has previously been detected outside of our Solar System as gas and ice coated onto tiny dust grains near sites of active star formation, and in proto-planetary discs capable of forming alien planetary systems.

The new Herschel observations of a cold pre- in the constellation of Taurus known as Lynds 1544 are the first detection of water vapour in a molecular cloud on the verge of star formation.

More than 2000 Earth oceans-worth of water vapour were detected, liberated from icy dust grains by high-energy cosmic rays passing through the cloud.

Large water reservoirs at the dawn of stellar birth

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-large-reservoirs-dawn-stellar-birth.html

Awesome death spiral of a bizarre star

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

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The name of this thing is AFGL 3068. It’s been known as a bright infrared source for some time, but images just showed it as a dot. This Hubble image using the Advanced Camera for Surveys reveals an intricate, delicate and exceedingly faint spiral pattern. It’s so faint no one has ever detected it before!

So what’s going on here? First off, this is not a spiral galaxy! It’s a binary star*, two stars that orbit each other, located about 3000 light years away from us. One of the stars is what’s called a carbon star, similar to the Sun but much older. The Sun is still happily fusing hydrogen into helium in its core, but older stars run out of available hydrogen. Eventually, they fuse helium into carbon. When this happens the star swells up and becomes a red giant (note: that’s the brief version; the actual events are a tad more complicated).

Read more:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/06/awesome-death-spiral-of-a-bizarre-star/

Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto


ScienceDaily (July 11, 2012) — A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

This image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7. The observations will help scientists in their planning for the July 2015 flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. P4 was uncovered in Hubble imagery in 2011. (Credit: NASA; ESA; M. Showalter, SETI Institute)
 

The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.

The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago.

Read more : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711123038.htm

WISE Captures a Nebula on Fire

July 8, 2012 1 comment

Sunday July 8, 2012

The 'Flame' Burns Bright in New WISE Image 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flame Nebula sits on the eastern hip of Orion the Hunter, a constellation most easily visible in the northern hemisphere during winter evenings. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(Phys.org) — A new image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the candle-like Flame nebula lighting up a cavern of dust. The Flame nebula is part of the Orion complex, a turbulent star-forming area located near the constellation’s star-studded belt.

The image is being released today along with a new batch of data from the mission. Last March, WISE released its all-sky catalog and atlas containing  and data on more than a half billion objects, including everything from asteroids to . Now, the mission is offering up additional data from its second scan of the sky.

“If you’re an astronomer, then you’ll probably be in hog heaven when it comes to,” said Edward (Ned) Wright of UCLA, the principal investigator of the WISE mission. “Data from the second sky scan are useful for studying stars that vary or move over time, and for improving and checking data from the first scan.”

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-flame-bright-wise-image.html

New Instrument Sifts Through Starlight to Reveal New Worlds


ScienceDaily (July 5, 2012) — An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative set of high-tech instrumentation and software, called Project 1640, is now operating on the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California after more than six years of development by researchers and engineers at the American Museum of Natural History, the California Institute of Technology, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Two images of HD 157728, a nearby star 1.5 times larger than the Sun. The star is centered in both images, and its light has been mostly removed by the adaptive optics system and coronagraph. The remaining starlight leaves a speckled background against which fainter objects cannot be seen. On the left, the image was made without the ultra-precise starlight control that Project 1640 is capable of. On the right, the wavefront sensor was active, and a darker square hole formed in the residual starlight, allowing objects up to 10 million times fainter than the star to be seen. Images were taken on June 14, 2012 with Project 1640 on the Palomar Observatory’s 200-inch 

The project’s first images demonstrating a new technique that creates extremely precise “dark holes” around stars of interest were presented July 5 at the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation meeting in Amsterdam by Ben R. Oppenheimer, a curator in the Museum’s Department of Astrophysics and principal investigator for Project 1640.

Although hundreds of planets are known from indirect detection methods to orbit other stars, it’s extremely difficult to see them directly in an image. This is largely because the light that stars emit is tens of millions to billions of times brighter than the light given off by planets.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120705161252.htm

Engineer Details Plans to Build a Real, Burj-Dubai-Sized Starship Enterprise in 20 Years


By Rebecca Boyle Posted 05.14.2012

 

Real Starship Enterprise BuildTheEnterprise.org
 

The year 2245 is just too distant — we should build and commission a real USS Enterprise right now, cracking the champagne across her hull within 20 years, according to an enterprising engineer. The gigantic ship would use ion propulsion, powered by a 1.5-GW nuclear reactor, and could reach Mars in three months and the moon in three days. Its 0.3-mile-diameter, magnetically suspended gravity wheel spinning at 2 RPM would provide 1G of gravity, and the thing looks just like the “Star Trek” ship of lore.

This project is the brainchild of an engineer who calls himself BTE Dan. As in “Build The Enterprise,” which is also the name of his brand-new website.

“We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” BTE Dan writes. He even sifts through the federal budget and proposes tax hikes and spend ing cuts to cover the $1 trillion cost.

Though the “Star Trek” connection lends the project an air of sci-fi fun, BTE Dan is hardly the only engineer dreaming up a next-generation spaceship to the stars. DARPA’s 100-Year Starship project is designed partly to foster ideas just like this one, from a project planning roadmap to a real ship.

Read more: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-05/build-real-starship-enterprise-make-it-so-ambitious-engineer-says

http://www.buildtheenterprise.org/