AstronomyBlack holes: Giving life as well as dealing death
Astrophysicists looking through the Hubble Space Telescope have identified a black hole that appears to be helping new stars to form amongst its encircling gas clouds.
Tiny galaxy with a huge appetite
From small to large - this motto also applies in space. Tiny galaxies can merge into formidable Milky Way systems. But how do dwarf galaxies grow? Apparently, in a similar manner - through cosmic cannibalism. Two research groups including MPIA researchers David Martínez-Delgado and Michelle Collins from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg have found a mini galaxy which is just in the process of devouring another.
How globular star clusters survive collisions
Our Milky Way galaxy is surrounded by some 200 compact groups of stars, which, viewed through small telescopes, look like snowballs. These globular clusters are 13 billion years old, which is almost as old as the universe itself. Now a team of astronomers from Germany and the Netherlands have conducted a novel type of computer simulation. Their surprising findings: these giant clusters of stars are the only survivors of a massacre that destroyed their smaller siblings.
The turbulent birth of super star clusters in galaxy mergers
By combining two of the most advanced telescopes in the world -- the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of ESO -- a team of French astronomers from the Institut d'astrophysique spatiale (IAS- CNRS/Paris Sud) and the Laboratoire d'étude du rayonnement et de la matičre en astrophysique (LERMA- Observatoire de Paris/CNRS/Ecole normale supérieure/Université Pierre et Marie Curie/Université Cergy-Pontoise) led by graduate student Cinthya Herrera has for the first time traced the very first steps in the formation of young super-star clusters in a nearby galaxy merger, the "Antennae".
Rare Earth element found far, far away
Nearly 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was made of only hydrogen, helium and traces of lithium - byproducts of the Big Bang. Some 300 million years later, the very first stars emerged, creating additional chemical elements throughout the universe. Since then, giant stellar explosions, or supernovas, have given rise to carbon, oxygen, iron and the rest of the 94 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.
Pulsars: The Universe's gift to physics
Pulsars, superdense neutron stars, are perhaps the most extraordinary physics laboratories in the Universe. Research on these extreme and exotic objects already has produced two Nobel Prizes. Pulsar researchers now are poised to learn otherwise-unavailable details of nuclear physics, to test General Relativity in conditions of extremely strong gravity, and to directly detect gravitational waves with a "telescope" nearly the size of our Galaxy.
Scientists see sloshing galaxy cluster
A Naval Research Laboratory scientist is part of a team that has recently discovered that vast clouds of hot gas are "sloshing" in Abell 2052, a galaxy cluster located about 480 million light years from Earth. The scientists are studying the hot (30 million degree) gas using X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical data from the Very Large Telescope to see the galaxies.
In the early Universe, rapid expansion or something very weird
The widely-accepted theory of cosmic inflation states that our universe expanded rapidly in the moments after its birth, resulting in the immense expanse we see today.
Ultra-fast outflows help monster black holes shape their galaxies
A curious correlation between the mass of a galaxy's central black hole and the velocity of stars in a vast, roughly spherical structure known as its bulge has puzzled astronomers for years. An international team led by Francesco Tombesi at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, now has identified a new type of black-hole-driven outflow that appears to be both powerful enough and common enough to explain this link. The researchers report their results in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Galaxy cluster hidden in plain view
A team of astronomers has discovered the most distant cluster of red galaxies ever observed using FourStar, a new and powerful near-infrared camera on the 6.5m Magellan Baade Telescope. The galaxy cluster is located 10.5 billion light years away in the direction of the constellation Leo. It is made up of 30 galaxies packed closely together, forming the earliest known "galaxy city" in the universe. The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Looking at the Man in the Moon
Many of us see a man in the moon-a human face smiling down at us from the lunar surface. The "face," of course, is just an illusion, shaped by the dark splotches of lunar maria (smooth plains formed from the lava of ancient volcanic eruptions).
Dark matter core defies explanation
Astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Telescope have observed what appears to be a clump of dark matter left behind from a wreck between massive clusters of galaxies. The result could challenge current theories about dark matter that predict galaxies should be anchored to the invisible substance even during the shock of a collision.
Nuclear clock may keep time with the Universe
A proposed new time-keeping system tied to the orbiting of a neutron around an atomic nucleus could have such unprecedented accuracy that it neither gains nor loses 1/20th of a second in 14 billion years - the age of the Universe.
Cosmic rays alter chemistry of lunar ice
Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and multi-institutional colleagues report they have quantified levels of radiation on the moon's surface from galactic cosmic ray (GCR) bombardment that over time causes chemical changes in water ice and can create complex carbon chains similar to those that help form the foundations of biological structures. In addition, the radiation process causes the lunar soil, or regolith, to darken over time, which is important in understanding the geologic history of the moon.
Experiments may force revision of astrophysical models of the universe
In a challenge to current astrophysical models of the universe, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories Z machine and the University of Rostock in Germany have found that current estimates of ice-giant planetary interiors overstate water's compressibility by as much as 30 percent.
The discovery of deceleration
Pulsars are among the most exotic celestial bodies known. They have diameters of about 20 kilometres, but at the same time roughly the mass of our sun. A sugar-cube sized piece of its ultra-compact matter on the Earth would weigh hundreds of millions of tons.
Popular solar system orbits result in 'planet pileups'
In young solar systems emerging around baby stars, some orbits are more popular than others, resulting in "planet pileups" and "planet deserts."
New system could predict solar flares, give advance warning
Researchers may have discovered a new method to predict solar flares more than a day before they occur, providing advance warning to help protect satellites, power grids and astronauts from potentially dangerous radiation.
Super-Earth unlikely able to transfer life to other planets
While scientists believe conditions suitable for life might exist on the so-called "super-Earth" in the Gliese 581 system, it's unlikely to be transferred to other planets within that solar system.
Astronomers get rare peek at early stage of star formation
Using radio and infrared telescopes, astronomers have obtained a first tantalizing look at a crucial early stage in star formation. The new observations promise to help scientists understand the early stages of a sequence of events through which a giant cloud of gas and dust collapses into dense cores that, in turn, form new stars.