The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Science Photo of the Week  (Read 467748 times)

Offline Alandriel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 522
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
    • Some of my photography

LOL - Doh! Of course - a wee speller. Thanks JimBob
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Spitzer telescope spies a stellar bubble blower
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: November 14, 2007

A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a baby star 1,140 light-years away from Earth blowing two massive "bubbles." But instead of bubble gum, this youngster, called HH 46/47, is using powerful jets of gas to make bubbles in outer space.




In this processed Spitzer Space Telescope image, baby star HH 46/47 can be
 seen blowing two massive "bubbles." The star is 1,140 light-years away
from Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Download larger image version here

 
 
The infant star can be seen as a white spot toward the center of the Spitzer image. The two bubbles are shown as hollow elliptical shells of bluish-green material extending from the star. Wisps of green in the image reveal warm molecular hydrogen gas, while the bluish tints are from starlight scattered by surrounding dust.

These bubbles formed when powerful jets of gas, traveling at 200 to 300 kilometers per second, or about 120 to 190 miles per second, smashed into the cosmic cloud of gas and dust that surrounds HH 46/47. Red specks at the end of each bubble show the presence of hot sulfur and iron gas where the star's narrow jets are currently crashing head-on into the cosmic cloud's gas and dust material.

According to Thangasamy Velusamy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., baby stars and their potential planet-forming disks grow by gravitationally pulling in and absorbing surrounding gas and dust. Scientists suspect that these disks stop growing when the central baby star develops powerful winds and jets that blow away surrounding material.

"Spitzer can image these jets and winds in infrared light and help us understand the details of these phenomena," says Velusamy.

For astronomers who know what to look for, Spitzer's supersensitive infrared instruments are excellent tools for studying young stars embedded within thick clouds of cosmic dust and gas, revealing information about their growth. However, Velusamy notes that it is often difficult for most people to get a clear, detailed picture of infant stars and their "growing pains."

"When you see a star through a telescope, its image is blurred in a known way, and the smaller the telescope the larger is the blurring," he says.

To clear up this blurring, astronomers at JPL developed an advanced image-processing technique for Spitzer data called Hi-Res deconvolution. This process reduces blurring and makes the image sharper and cleaner, enabling astronomers to see the emissions around forming stars in greater detail. When Velusamy and his team applied this technique to the Spitzer image of HH 46/47, they were able to see winds from the star and jets of gas that are carving the celestial bubbles.

According to William Langer, also of JPL, this image will help scientists determine which of many different mechanisms are responsible for producing the winds and jets of baby stars.

This infrared image is a three-color composite, with data at 3.6 microns represented in blue, 4.5 and 5.8 microns shown in green, and 24 microns represented as red.

This paper on HH46/47 by Velusamy, Langer, and Kenneth Marsh, all of JPL, was published in the October issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

SOURCE: SPACELFIGHTNOW.ORG
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Rosetta: OSIRIS’ view of Earth by night
 
15 November 2007


This is a composite of four images combined to show the illuminated crescent of Earth and the cities of the northern hemisphere. The images were acquired with the OSIRIS Wide Angle Camera (WAC) during Rosetta’s second Earth swing-by on 13 November.

This image showing islands of light created by human habitation was taken with the OSIRIS WAC at 19:45 CET, about 2 hours before the closest approach of the spacecraft to Earth. At the time, Rosetta was about 80 000 km above the Indian Ocean where the local time approached midnight (the angle between Sun, Earth and Rosetta was about 160°). The image was taken with a five-second exposure of the WAC with the red filter.

This image showing Earth’s illuminated crescent
 was taken with the WAC at 20:05 CET as Rosetta
 was about 75 000 km from Earth. The crescent
 seen is around Antarctica. The image is a colour
 composite combining images obtained at various wavelengths.


Credits: ESA ©2005 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile

    Maunder Crater, perspective view
)








Description
    The above image shows the striking Maunder crater located in the region of Noachis Terra on Mars. The crater lies at 50° South and 2° East. The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter took pictures of the Noachis Terra region during orbits 2412 and 2467 on 29 November and 14 December 2005 respectively, with a ground resolution of approximately 15 metres per pixel.

    Named after the british astronomer Edward W. Maunder, the crater located halfway between Argyre Planitia and Hellas Planitia on the southern Highlands of Mars.

    This perspective view has been calculated from the digital terrain model derived from the HRSC stereo channels.

Credits:
    ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neuku
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Return To Europa: A Closer Look Is Possible
December 13, 2007

Jupiter’s moon Europa is just as far away as ever, but new research is bringing scientists closer to being able to explore its tantalizing ice-covered ocean and determine its potential for harboring life.

“We’ve learned a lot about Europa in the past few years,” says William McKinnon, professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

“Before we were almost sure that there was an ocean, but now the scientific community has come to a consensus that there most certainly is an ocean. We’re ready to take the next step and explore that ocean and the ice shell that overlays it. We have a number of new discoveries and techniques that can help us do that.”

McKinnon is discussing some of these recent findings and new opportunities for exploring Europa in a news briefing today at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. He is joined by colleagues Donald Blankenship, research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences., and Peter Doran, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago.

McKinnon points to refined methods that can use combined measurements of gravity and the magnetic field made from orbit to characterize Europa's ocean. By observing how the moon flexes and deforms and by measuring magnetic variations, researchers can determine how thick or thin the ice is over the ocean and even learn how salty the ocean is. A new model shows that radiation on Europa is much less, up to two-thirds less, than previous models predicted, making the environment much more hospitable for orbiting spacecraft or landers to operate.

Sophisticated reprocessing of data from the Galileo mission has revealed new information about the chemistry of Europa’s surface. It maps the presence of carbon dioxide, an important chemical for life, most probably coming from the ocean beneath the surface. This indicates that improved measurements from orbit have the chance to detect compounds not found in the Galileo data.

Future explorations of Europa will benefit from lessons learned from the Cassini spacecraft’s recent findings of active geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. “Europa is a young, geologically active body like Enceladus,” says McKinnon. Galileo didn’t see any plumes on Europa like those spouting from Enceladus, but it didn’t have the best instrumentation to detect the telltale hot spots. “Now we know what we should look for,” says McKinnon, “and we should expect the unexpected.”




Thick or thin ice shell on Jupiter’s moon Europa? Scientists are all but certain that
 Europa has an ocean underneath its surface ice, but do not know how thick this ice might
 be. This artists’ conception illustrates two possible cut-away views through Europa’s ice
 shell. In both heat escapes, possibly volcanically, from Europa’s rocky mantle and is
carried upward by buoyant oceanic currents. If the heat from below is intense and the ice
 shell is thin enough (left), the ice shell can directly melt, causing what are called
“chaos” on Europa, regions of what appear to be broken, rotated, and tilted ice blocks. On
 the other hand, if the ice shell is sufficiently thick (right), the less intense interior
 heat will be transferred to the warmer ice at the bottom of the shell, and additional
heat is generated by tidal squeezing of the warmer ice. This warmer ice will slowly rise,
 flowing as glaciers do on Earth, and the slow but steady motion may also disrupt the
extremely cold, brittle ice at the surface. Europa is no larger than Earth’s moon, and its
 internal heating stems from its eccentric orbit about Jupiter, seen in the distance. As
tides raised by Jupiter in Europa’s ocean rise and fall, they may cause cracking,
additional heating, and even venting of water vapor into the airless sky above Europa’s
icy surface. (Artwork by Michael Carroll.) Credit: NASA/JPL.



New radar sounding techniques will be a key component for exploring Europa. “There have been theories about whether the ice above the ocean is thick or thin, and now we have the ability to determine this with radar,” says Blankenship. “That’s been proved by the radar on Mars Express, which imaged the north polar cap of Mars, and the higher-resolution radar on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Radar can give us a detailed cross section through the ice shell on Europa.” The ice-penetrating radar will also be able to locate liquid water both within and beneath the shell, he continues, just as it can spot water within crevasses and lakes beneath the ice of Antarctica. "Free water within the icy shell and its relationship to the underlying ocean will be a critical factor in determining the habitability of Europa."




Byrd Glacier, Antarctica. Analogs in Antarctica's ice-covered lakes will provide critical testing grounds for the technology needed to explore Europa's ice-covered ocean. More info>>Researchers are also preparing for the day in the future when they will be able to get to Europa's surface and ultimately into its ocean to explore it directly. "In the meantime, we're using extreme environments on Earth as our laboratory," says Doran. "Ice-covered lakes in Antarctica are good, small-scale analogs to what we might find on Europa." Doran is lead investigator of a project called Endurance, which, in collaboration with Stone Aerospace, is developing an autonomous underwater robotic vehicle, to test approaches and procedures for exploring Europa's ocean. The project is funded by NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets program.

"We're testing the vehicle in Wisconsin in February 2008," Doran says, "and then we'll be deploying it in Antarctica later in the year." The robotic explorer will be able to create three-dimensional maps of the subsurface Antarctic lake. It will also be able to map the biochemistry of the water body, pinpointing the chemical signatures that may indicate life.

For Europa, under-ice exploration lies in the distant future. In the meantime, say the researchers, a closer look at Europa is possible from an orbiting spacecraft able to measure gravity and magnetic fields, determine surface composition, search for active or recent eruptions, and use radar to understand the relationship between the surface and the sub-surface.

SOURCE: JACKSON SCHOOL OF GEOSCIENCES
http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/news/releases.html

 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
'Death Star' galaxy black hole fires at neighbor
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: December 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - 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.


This composite image shows the jet from a
black hole at the center of a galaxy striking
 the edge of another galaxy, the first time
such an interaction has been found. X-rays
from Chandra (colored purple), optical and
ultraviolet (UV) data from Hubble (red and
orange), and radio emission from the Very
Large Array (VLA) and MERLIN (blue) show
how the jet from the main galaxy on the
lower left is striking its companion galaxy
to the upper right.

 Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/D.Evans et al.; Optical/UV: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/VLA/CfA/D.Evans et al., STFC/JBO/MERLIN

 
 
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. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope were part of the effort. The Very Large Array telescope, Socorro, N.M., and the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) telescopes in the United Kingdom also were needed for the finding.

"We've seen many jets produced by black holes, but this is the first time we've seen one punch into another galaxy like we're seeing here," said Dan Evans, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and leader of the study. "This jet could be causing all sorts of problems for the smaller galaxy it is pummeling."

Jets from super massive black holes produce high amounts of radiation, especially high-energy X-rays and gamma-rays, which can be lethal in large quantities. The combined effects of this radiation and particles traveling at almost the speed of light could severely damage the atmospheres of planets lying in the path of the jet. For example, protective layers of ozone in the upper atmosphere of planets could be destroyed.


An artist's illustration of the system,
 showing the main galaxy and the companion
 galaxy. A jet of particles generated by a
supermassive black hole at the center of the
 main galaxy is striking the companion galaxy.
 The jet is disrupted and deflected by this impact.
 The key features of this system are labeled in
the final view.

 Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

 
 
Jets produced by super massive black holes transport enormous amounts of energy far from black holes and enable them to affect matter on scales vastly larger than the size of the black hole. Learning more about jets is a key goal for astrophysical research.

"We see jets all over the universe, but we're still struggling to understand some of their basic properties," said co-investigator Martin Hardcastle of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. "This system of 3C321 gives us a chance to learn how they're affected when they slam into something like a galaxy and what they do after that."

The effect of the jet on the companion galaxy is likely to be substantial, because the galaxies in 3C321 are extremely close at a distance of only about 20,000 light years apart. They lie approximately the same distance as Earth is from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

A bright spot in the Very Large Array and MERLIN images shows where the jet has struck the side of the galaxy, dissipating some of the jet's energy. The collision disrupted and deflected the jet.

Another unique aspect of the discovery in 3C321 is how relatively short-lived this event is on a cosmic time scale. Features seen in the Very Large Array and Chandra images indicate that the jet began impacting the galaxy about one million years ago, a small fraction of the system's lifetime. This means such an alignment is quite rare in the nearby universe, making 3C321 an important opportunity to study such a phenomenon.

It is possible the event is not all bad news for the galaxy being struck by the jet. The massive influx of energy and radiation from the jet could induce the formation of large numbers of stars and planets after its initial wake of destruction is complete.

The results from Evans and his colleagues will appear in The Astrophysical Journal. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.ORG
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Far side of the Moon


CREDIT:NASA


The far side of the Moon is the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth. The far hemisphere was first photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959, and was first directly observed by human eyes when the Apollo 8 mission orbited the Moon in 1968. The rugged terrain is distinguished by a multitude of crater impacts, as well as relatively few lunar maria. It includes the largest known impact feature in the Solar System: the South Pole-Aitken basin. The far side has been suggested as a potential location for a large radio telescope, as it would be shielded from possible radio interference from Earth

SOURCE:Wikipedia

 

Offline turnipsock

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Beekeeper to the unsuspecting
    • View Profile
It looks like the moon has taken quite a few blows for us. I, for one, will never swear at it again.
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Sunspot is harbinger of the new solar cycle
NOAA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 7, 2008

A new 11-year cycle of heightened solar activity, bringing with it increased risks for power grids, critical military, civilian and airline communications, GPS signals and even cell phones and ATM transactions, showed signs it was on its way last week when the cycle's first sunspot appeared in the sun's Northern Hemisphere, NOAA scientists said.




First official sunspot belonging to the new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: NOAA
 

 
"This sunspot is like the first robin of spring," said solar physicist Douglas Biesecker of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. "In this case, it's an early omen of solar storms that will gradually increase over the next few years."

A sunspot is an area of highly organized magnetic activity on the surface of the sun. The new 11-year cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, is expected to build gradually, with the number of sunspots and solar storms reaching a maximum by 2011 or 2012, though devastating storms can occur at any time.

During a solar storm, highly charged material ejected from the sun may head toward Earth, where it can bring down power grids, disrupt critical communications, and threaten astronauts with harmful radiation. Storms can also knock out commercial communications satellites and swamp Global Positioning System signals. Routine activities such as talking on a cell phone or getting money from an ATM machine could suddenly halt over a large part of the globe.

"Our growing dependence on highly sophisticated, space-based technologies means we are far more vulnerable to space weather today than in the past," said Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA's space weather monitoring and forecasts are critical for the nation's ability to function smoothly during solar disturbances."

Last April, in coordination with an international panel of solar experts, NOAA issued a forecast that Solar Cycle 24 would start in March 2008, plus or minus six months. The panel was evenly split between those predicting a strong or weak cycle. Both camps agree that the sooner the new cycle takes over the waning previous cycle, the more likely that it will be a strong season with many sunspots and major storms, said Biesecker. Many more sunspots with Solar Cycle 24 traits must emerge before scientists consider the new cycle dominant, with the potential for more frequent storms.

The new sunspot, identified as #10,981, is the latest visible spot to appear since NOAA began numbering them on January 5, 1972. Its high-latitude location at 27 degrees North, and its negative polarity leading to the right in the Northern Hemisphere are clear-cut signs of a new solar cycle, according to NOAA experts. The first active regions and sunspots of a new solar cycle can emerge at high latitudes while those from the previous cycle continue to form closer to the equator.

SWPC is the nation's first alert for solar activity and its affects on Earth. The center's space weather forecasters issue outlooks for the next 11-year solar "season" and warn of individual storms occurring on the sun that could impact Earth. SWPC is one of NOAA's nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction and is also the warning agency of the International Space Environment Service (ISES), a consortium of 11 member nations.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects


SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.ORG
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Hot cyclones churn at both ends of Saturn
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 5, 2008

Despite more than a decade of winter darkness, Saturn's north pole is home to an unexpected hot spot remarkably similar to one at the planet's sunny south pole. The source of its heat is a mystery. Now, the first detailed views of the gas giant's high latitudes from the Cassini spacecraft reveal a matched set of hot cyclonic vortices, one at each pole.




This image shows newly discovered "hot spot"
 on Saturn's north pole and the mysterious
hexagon that encircles the pole.
 Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/Oxford University

 
 
While scientists already knew about the hot spot at Saturn's south pole from previous observations by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the north pole vortex was a surprise. The researchers report their findings in the Jan. 4 issue of Science.

"We had speculated that the south pole hot spot was connected to the southern, sunlit conditions," said Glenn Orton, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and co-investigator on Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer. "Since the north pole has been deprived of sunlight since the arrival of winter in 1995, we didn't expect to find a similar feature there."

The infrared data show that the shadowed north pole vortex shares much the same structure and temperature as the one at the sunny south pole. The cores of both show a depletion of phospine gas, an imbalance probably caused by air moving downward into the lowest part of Saturn's atmosphere, the troposphere. Both polar vortices appear to be long-lasting and intrinsic parts of Saturn and are not related to the amount of sunlight received by one pole or the other.

"The hot spots are the result of air moving polewards, being compressed and heated up as it descends over the poles into the depths of Saturn," said Leigh Fletcher, a planetary scientist from the University of Oxford, England, and the lead author of the Science paper. "The driving forces behind the motion, and indeed the global motion of Saturn's atmosphere, still need to be understood."

Though similar, the two polar regions differ in one striking way. At the north pole, the newly discovered vortex is framed by the distinctive, long-lived and still unexplained polar hexagon. This mysterious feature encompassing the entire north pole was first spotted in the 1980s by NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Cassini's infrared cameras also detected the hexagon in deep atmospheric clouds early in 2007.

In their paper, Fletcher and his colleagues report that the bright, warm hexagon is much higher than previous studies had shown. "It extends right to the top of the troposphere," says Fletcher. "It is associated with downward motion in the troposphere, though the cause of the hexagonal structure requires further study."

Winter lasts about 15 years on Saturn. Researchers anticipate that when the seasons change in the coming years and Saturn's north pole is once again in sunlight, they will be able to see a swirling vortex with high eye walls and dark central clouds like the one now visible at the south pole. "But Saturn may surprise us again," says Fletcher.

"The fact that Neptune shows a similar south polar hot spot whets our appetite for the strange dynamics of the poles of the other gas giants," Fletcher says.

More information about Jupiter's poles will come from NASA's Juno mission, currently scheduled for launch in 2011 and arrival in 2016.

Fletcher's research was funded by the United Kingdom's Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The science team for Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md


SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.ORG
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Even thin galaxies can grow fat black holes
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 14, 2008

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected plump black holes where least expected -- skinny galaxies.

Like people, galaxies come in different shapes and sizes. There are thin spirals both with and without central bulges of stars, and more rotund ellipticals that are themselves like giant bulges. Scientists have long held that all galaxies except the slender, bulgeless spirals harbor supermassive black holes at their cores. Furthermore, bulges were thought to be required for black holes to grow.




This artist's concept illustrates the two types
 of spiral galaxies that populate our universe:
 those with plump middles, or central bulges
(upper left), and those lacking the bulge
(foreground). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 
 
The new Spitzer observations throw this theory into question. The infrared telescope surveyed 32 flat and bulgeless galaxies and detected monstrous black holes lurking in the bellies of seven of them. The results imply that galaxy bulges are not necessary for black hole growth; instead, a mysterious invisible substance in galaxies called dark matter could play a role.

"This finding challenges the current paradigm. The fact that galaxies without bulges have black holes means that the bulges cannot be the determining factor, " said Shobita Satyapal of the George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. "It's possible that the dark matter that fills the halos around galaxies plays an important role in the early development of supermassive black holes."

Satyapal presented the findings at the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas. A study from Satyapal and her team will be published in the April 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Our own Milky Way is an example of a spiral galaxy with a bulge; from the side, it would look like a plane seen head-on, with its wings out to the side. Its black hole, though dormant and not actively "feeding," is several million times the mass of our sun.

Previous observations had suggested that bulges and black holes flourished together like symbiotic species. For instance, supermassive black holes are almost always about 0.2 percent the mass of their galaxies' bulges. In other words, the more massive the bulge, the more massive the black hole. Said Satyapal, "Scientists reasoned that somehow the formation and growth of galaxy bulges and their central black holes are intimately connected."

But a wrinkle appeared in this theory in 2003, when astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Pasadena, Calif., discovered a relatively "lightweight" supermassive black hole in a galaxy lacking a bulge. Then, earlier this year, Satyapal and her team uncovered a second supermassive black hole in a similarly svelte galaxy.

In the latest study, Satyapal and her colleagues report the discovery of six more hefty black holes in thin galaxies with minimal bulges, further weakening the "bulge-black hole" theory. Why hadn't anybody seen these black holes before? According to the scientists, bulgeless galaxies tend to be very dusty, letting little visible light escape. But infrared light can penetrate dust, so the team was able to use Spitzer's infrared spectrograph to reveal the "fingerprints" of active black holes lurking in galaxies millions of light years away.

"A feeding black hole spits out high-energy light that ionizes much of the gas in the core of the galaxy," said Satyapal. "In this case, Spitzer identified the unique fingerprint of highly ionized neon -- only a feeding black hole has the energy needed to excite neon to this state." The precise masses of the newfound black holes are unknown.

If bulges aren't necessary ingredients for baking up supermassive black holes, then perhaps dark matter is. Dark matter is the enigmatic substance that permeates galaxies and their surrounding halos, accounting for up to 90 percent of a galaxy's mass. So-called normal matter makes up stars, planets, living creatures and everything we see around us, whereas dark matter can't be seen. Only its gravitational effects can be felt. According to Satyapal, dark matter might somehow determine the mass of a black hole early on in the development of a galaxy.

"Maybe the bulge was just serving as a proxy for the dark matter mass -- the real determining factor behind the existence and mass of a black hole in a galaxy's center," said Satyapal.

Other authors of this study include: D. Vega of the George Mason University; R.P. Dudik of the George Mason University and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; N.P. Abel of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio; and Tim Heckman of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. Spitzer's infrared spectrograph was built by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Its development was led by Jim Houck of Cornell.

SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
The violent lives of galaxies: Caught in dark matter web
SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 20, 2008





Astronomers are using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to dissect one of the largest structures in the universe as part of a quest to understand the violent lives of galaxies. Hubble is providing indirect evidence of unseen dark matter tugging on galaxies in the crowded, rough-and-tumble environment of a massive supercluster of hundreds of galaxies.








See larger image here
 
 
Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the universe's mass. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys has mapped the invisible dark matter scaffolding of the supercluster Abell 901/902, as well as the detailed structure of individual galaxies embedded in it.

The images are part of the Space Telescope Abell 901/902 Galaxy Evolution Survey (STAGES), which covers one of the largest patches of sky ever observed by the Hubble telescope. The area surveyed is so wide that it took 80 Hubble images to cover the entire STAGES field. The new work is led by Meghan Gray of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and Catherine Heymans of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, along with an international team of scientists.

The Hubble study pinpointed four main areas in the supercluster where dark matter has pooled into dense clumps, totaling 100 trillion times the Sun's mass. These areas match the location of hundreds of old galaxies that have experienced a violent history in their passage from the outskirts of the supercluster into these dense regions. These galaxies make up four separate galaxy clusters.

"Thanks to Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, we are detecting for the first time the irregular clumps of dark matter in this supercluster," Heymans said. "We can even see an extension of the dark matter toward a very hot group of galaxies that are emitting X-rays as they fall into the densest cluster core."

The dark matter map was constructed by measuring the distorted shapes of over 60,000 faraway galaxies. To reach Earth, the galaxies' light traveled through the dark matter that surrounds the supercluster galaxies and was bent by the massive gravitational field. Heymans used the observed, subtle distortion of the galaxies' shapes to reconstruct the dark matter distribution in the supercluster using a method called weak gravitational lensing. The dark matter map is 2.5 times sharper than a previous ground-based survey of the supercluster.

"The new map of the underlying dark matter in the supercluster is one key piece of this puzzle," Gray explained. "At the same time we're looking in detail at the galaxies themselves." The survey's broader goal is to understand how galaxies are influenced by the environment in which they live.

On Earth, the pace of quiet country life is vastly different from the hustle of the big city. In the same way, galaxies living lonely isolated lives look very different from those found in the most crowded regions of the universe, like a supercluster. "We've known for a long time that galaxies in crowded environments tend to be older, redder, and rounder than those in the field," Gray said.

"Galaxies are continually drawn into larger and larger groups and clusters by the inevitable force of gravity as the universe evolves."

In such busy environments galaxies are subject to a life of violence: high-speed collisions with other galaxies; the stripping away of gas, the fuel supply they use to form new stars; and distortion due to the strong gravitational pull of the underlying invisible dark matter. "Any or all of these effects may play a role in the transformation of galaxies, which is what we're trying to determine," Gray said.

The STAGES survey's simultaneous focus on both the big picture and the details can be likened to studying a big city. "It's as if we're trying to learn everything we can about New York City and New Yorkers," Gray explained. "We're examining large-scale features, like mapping the roads, counting skyscrapers, monitoring traffic. At the same time we're also studying the residents to figure out how the lifestyles of people living downtown differ from those out in the suburbs. But in our case the city is a supercluster, the roads are dark matter, and the people are galaxies."

Further results by other team members support this view. "In the STAGES supercluster we clearly see that transformations are happening in the outskirts of the supercluster, where galaxies are still moving relatively slowly and first feel the influence of the cluster environment," said Christian Wolf, an Advanced Research Fellow at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Assistant professor Shardha Jogee and graduate student Amanda Heiderman, both of the University of Texas in Austin, concur. "We see more collisions between galaxies in the regions toward which the galaxies are flowing than in the centers of the clusters," Jogee said. "By the time they reach the center, they are moving too fast to collide and merge, but in the outskirts their pace is more leisurely, and they still have time to interact."

The STAGES team also finds that the outer parts of the clusters are where star formation in the galaxies is slowly switching off and where the supermassive black holes at the hearts of the galaxies are most active.

Added Heiderman: "The galaxies at the centers of the clusters may have been there for a long time and have probably finished their transformation. They are now old, round, red, and dead."

The team plans more studies to understand how the supercluster environment is responsible for producing these changes.

Abell 901/902 resides 2.6 billion light-years from Earth and measures more than 16 million light-years across.

This work was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK), NASA, the National Science Foundation Long Term Space Astrophysics (NASA LTSA) program, a Marie Curie Fellowship, a CITA National Fellowship, CIfAR, and CFI.


SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Circumstellar dust takes flight in 'The Moth'
SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 20, 2008

What superficially resembles a giant moth floating in space is giving astronomers new insight into the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

This is not your typical flying insect. It has a wingspan of about 22 billion miles. The wing- like structure is actually a dust disk encircling the nearby, young star HD 61005, dubbed "The Moth." Its shape is produced by starlight scattering off dust.




See larger image here
 
 
Dust disks around roughly 100-million-year-old stars like HD 61005 are typically flat, pancake-shaped structures where planets can form. But images taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of "The Moth" are showing that some disks sport surprising shapes.

"It is completely unexpected to find a dust disk with this unusual shape," said senior research scientist Dean Hines of the Space Science Institute, New Mexico Office in Corrales, New Mexico, and a member of the Hubble team that discovered the disk. "We think HD 61005 is plowing through a local patch of higher-density gas in the interstellar medium, causing material within HD 61005's disk to be swept behind the star. What effect this might have on the disk, and any planets forming within it, is unknown."

Hines called this possible collision "unusual, because we don't expect very much interstellar material to be in the solar neighborhood. That's because the area through which our Sun is moving was evacuated within the past few million years by at least one supernova, the explosion of a massive star. Yet, here's evidence of dense material that's very close, only 100 light-years away."

Astronomers have found evidence that the environment in which a star forms influences its prospects for planet formation. Hubble has actually seen that young planet-forming disks can be affected directly by their environment. The harsh stellar radiation from the Trapezium stars in the Orion Nebula has altered some disks. It is unclear, however, what effect passage through a cloud similar to the one in which HD 61005 finds itself would have on planet formation. Researchers have speculated that passage through dense regions of the interstellar medium could impact the atmospheres of evolving planets.

The Moth is part of a survey of Sun-like stars that Hines and collaborators observed with Hubble's Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to study the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Under the lead of Michael Meyer of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the team initially used Spitzer to look for heat radiation‹the tell-tale sign of dust warmed by the star‹to identify interesting star systems.

Hines then teamed with Glenn Schneider of the University of Arizona to use Hubble's high- contrast imaging capability of the NICMOS coronagraph to image these disks and reveal where the dust detected by Spitzer resides. The NICMOS coronagraph blocked out the starlight so that astronomers could see details in the surrounding disk.

"These symbiotic capabilities, uniquely implemented in NASA's Great Observatories, provide astronomers with the powerful observational tools to study the circumstellar environments of potentially planet-forming systems," Schneider said.

Added Meyer: "Combining observations from these two spacecraft gives us information about the composition of the dust grains, whether they're icy or sandy, or whether they're like the sooty smoke particles rising from a chimney. The composition and sizes of the dust can tell us a lot about the dynamics and evolution of a solar system. In our solar system, for example, astronomers have evidence of rocks smashing into each other and generating dust, as in the asteroid and Kuiper belts. We're seeing these same processes unfold in other planetary systems


SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Unusual supernovae may reveal black holes
UC-SANTA CRUZ NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 29, 2008

A strange and violent fate awaits a white dwarf star that wanders too close to a moderately massive black hole. According to a new study, the black hole's gravitational pull on the white dwarf would cause tidal forces sufficient to disrupt the stellar remnant and reignite nuclear burning in it, giving rise to a supernova explosion with an unusual appearance. Observations of such supernovae could confirm the existence of intermediate-mass black holes, currently the subject of much debate among astronomers.


This series of images shows the interaction of a white dwarf
star with a black hole. As it passes the black hole, the white
 dwarf becomes strongly compressed and heated (top left),
triggering an explosion. Most of the stellar mass is ejected
 into space (the "bubble" in the upper right part of the debris
 in the top right image), while the rest (the cusp-like part
of the image) falls toward the black hole. While the ejected
matter expands rapidly, the infalling matter builds a violent,
thick accretion disk around the black hole.

 
 
"Our supercomputer simulations show a peculiar supernova that would be a unique signature of an intermediate-mass black hole," said Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ramirez-Ruiz and his collaborators--Stephan Rosswog of Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, and William Hix of Oak Ridge National Laboratory--used detailed computer simulations to follow the entire process of tidal disruption of a white dwarf by a black hole. Their simulations included gas dynamics, gravity, and nuclear physics, requiring weeks of computer time to simulate events that would take place in a fraction of a second. A paper describing their results has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters, and a preprint is currently available online.

"Every star that is not too massive ends up as a white dwarf, so they are very common. We were interested in whether tidal disruption can bring this stellar corpse to life again," said Rosswog, the first author of the paper.

A white dwarf can explode as a "type Ia" supernova if it accumulates enough mass by siphoning matter away from a companion star. When it reaches a critical mass (about 1.4 times the mass of the Sun), the white dwarf collapses and explodes. Astronomers use these type Ia supernovae as "standard candles" for cosmic distance measurements because their brightness evolves over time in a predictable manner.

The new paper describes a distinctly different mechanism for igniting a white dwarf, in which tidal disruption by a black hole causes drastic compression of the stellar material. The white dwarf is flattened into a pancake shape aligned in the plane of its orbit around the black hole. As each section of the star is squeezed through a point of maximum compression, the extreme pressure causes a sharp increase in temperatures, which triggers explosive burning.

The explosion ejects more than half of the debris from the disrupted star, while the rest of the stellar material falls into the black hole. The infalling material forms a luminous accretion disk that emits x-rays and should be detectable by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the researchers said.

"This is a new mechanism for ignition of a white dwarf that results in a very different type of supernova than the standard type Ia, and it is followed by an x-ray source," Ramirez-Ruiz said.

He estimated that this type of event would occur about 100 times less frequently than the standard type Ia supernovae, but should be detectable by future surveys designed to observe large numbers of supernovae. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), planned for completion in 2013, is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of type Ia supernovae per year.

"These exotic creatures will start showing up in the data from the LSST," Ramirez-Ruiz said. "We want to predict the light curves so we can look for them in the survey data."

The mechanism described in the paper requires a black hole that is neither too small nor too big. Such intermediate-mass black holes (500 to 1,000 times the mass of the Sun) may reside in some globular star clusters, but there is much less evidence for their existence than there is for the relatively small stellar black holes (tens of times the mass of the Sun) or for supermassive black holes (a few million times the mass of the Sun), found at the centers of galaxies.

The new paper describes in detail the disruption of a white dwarf with two-tenths the mass of the Sun by a black hole 1,000 times the mass of the Sun. The researchers also found that they can vary the mass of the white dwarf and still get the same outcome--tidal disruption and ignition of the white dwarf.

"We can ignite the whole mass range of white dwarfs if they get close enough to the black hole," Rosswog said.

This research was supported by the Department of Energy's Program for Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing


SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Spacecraft photographs avalanches on Mars
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE


PASADENA, Calif. - A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars has taken the first ever image of active avalanches near the Red Planet's north pole. The image shows tan clouds billowing away from the foot of a towering slope, where ice and dust have just cascaded down.




Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
[biggy piccy HERE

 
 
The High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took the photograph Feb. 19. It is one of approximately 2,400 HiRISE images being released today.

Ingrid Daubar Spitale of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who works on targeting the camera and has studied hundreds of HiRISE images, was the first person to notice the avalanches. "It really surprised me," she said. "It's great to see something so dynamic on Mars. A lot of what we see there hasn't changed for millions of years."

The camera is looking repeatedly at selected places on Mars to track seasonal changes. However, the main target of the Feb. 19 image was not the steep slope.

"We were checking for springtime changes in the carbon-dioxide frost covering a dune field, and finding the avalanches was completely serendipitous," said Candice Hansen, deputy principal investigator for HiRISE, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The full image reveals features as small as a desk in a strip of terrain 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) wide and more than 10 times that long, at 84 degrees north latitude. Reddish layers known to be rich in water ice make up the face of a steep slope more than 700 meters (2,300 feet) tall, running the length of the image.

"We don't know what set off these landslides," said Patrick Russell of the University of Berne, Switzerland, a HiRISE team collaborator. "We plan to take more images of the site through the changing Martian seasons to see if this kind of avalanche happens all year or is restricted to early spring."

More ice than dust probably makes up the material that fell from the upper portion of the scarp. Imaging of the site during coming months will track any changes in the new deposit at the base of the slope. That will help researchers estimate what proportion is ice.

"If blocks of ice broke loose and fell, we expect the water in them will be changing from solid to gas," Russell said. "We'll be watching to see if blocks and other debris shrink in size. What we learn could give us a better understanding of one part of the water cycle on Mars."



SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHNOW.ORG
 

Offline turnipsock

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Beekeeper to the unsuspecting
    • View Profile
It looks like a glacial flow sort of thing, and there is a big drop at the edge.
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
SNR 0509-67.5:
Action Replay Of Powerful Stellar Explosion



SNR 0509-67.5
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Warren, J.Hughes; Optical (Light Echo): NOAO/AURA/NSF/Harvard/A.Rest et al.; Optical (LMC): NOAO/AURA/NSF/S.Points, C.Smith & MCELS team

Bigger PICCY HERE

This combination of X-ray and optical images shows the aftermath of a powerful supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160,000 light years from Earth. The debris from this explosion, the supernova remnant SNR 0509-67.5, is shown in a Chandra X-ray Observatory image (upper inset), where the lowest energy X-rays are shown in red, the intermediate energies are green and the highest energies are blue. In 2004, scientists used Chandra to show that SNR 0509-67.5 was likely caused by a Type Ia supernova, using an analysis of the elements, such as silicon and iron, that were detected. A Type Ia is thought to result from a white dwarf star in a binary system that reaches a critical mass and explodes.


The light echo image , from the National Science Foundation's Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, shows optical light from the original supernova explosion that has bounced off dust clouds in the neighboring regions of the LMC (the light echoes are shown in blue and stars in orange). The light from these echoes travels a longer path than the light that travels straight toward us, and so can be seen hundreds of years after the supernova itself. This image is one of a sequence of 5 images taken between 2001 and 2006 that are shown separately in a time-lapse movie.


The large optical image is from the Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey (MCELS), obtained with the University of Michigan's 0.9-meter Curtis Schmidt telescope at CTIO. Emission lines of hydrogen (H-alpha) are red, singly-ionized sulfur is green and doubly-ionized oxygen is blue. The image highlights regions of star formation in the LMC, including supernova remnants and giant structures carved out by multiple supernovas.

For the first time astronomers have used two methods - X-ray observations of a supernova remnant and optical observations of the expanding light echoes from the explosion - to estimate the energy of a supernova explosion. In two separate papers, astronomers concluded that the supernova occurred about 400 years ago (in Earth's time frame), and was unusually bright and energetic. This is the best ever determination of the power of a supernova explosion long after it was visible from Earth.

In the new optical study spectra of the light echo, obtained with Gemini Observatory, were used to confirm that the supernova was a Type Ia and to unambiguously determine the particular class of explosion and therefore its energy. In the new X-ray study, spectra from Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton Observatory were then independently used to calculate the amount of energy involved in the original explosion, using an analysis of the supernova remnant and state-of-the-art explosion models. The X-ray work also concluded that the explosion was an especially energetic and bright variety of Type Ia supernova, confirming the validity of the explosion models.


SOURCE:chandra.harvard.edu
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Molecular Cloud Barnard 68


Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

Explanation: Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured above. That no stars are visible in the center indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form. It is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light.

SOURCE:http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap080323.html
 

Offline Simulated

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7188
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Simulated..What more do you needa know :P
    • View Profile
    • Facebook
Thanks Neil :) I like that picture :)
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Thanks Neil :) I like that picture :)

You're welcome chum...here's a link to big version http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0803/barnard68_vlt_big.jpg
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Across the Universe


 How far can you see? Even the faintest stars visible to the eye are merely hundreds or thousands of light-years distant, all well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. Of course, if you know where to look you can also spot the Andromeda Galaxy as a pale, fuzzy cloud, around 2.5 million light-years away. But staring toward the northern constellation Bootes on March 19th, even without binoculars or telescope you still could have witnessed a faint, brief, flash of light from a gamma-ray burst. The source of that burst has been discovered to lie over halfway across the Universe at a distance of about 7.5 billion light-years. Now holding the distinction of the most distant object that could be seen by the unaided eye and the intrinsically brightest object ever detected, the cosmic explosion is estimated to have been over 2.5 million times more luminous than the brightest known supernova. The monster burst was identified and located by the orbiting Swift satellite, enabling rapid distance measurements and follow-up observations by large ground-based telescopes.





 The fading afterglow of the gamma-ray burster, cataloged as GRB080319B, is shown in these two panels in X-rays (left) and ultraviolet light (right).


Credit: NASA Swift Team, Stefan Immler (GSFC) et al


 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
The N44 Complex


 A truly giant complex of emission nebulae, N44 is about 1,000 light-years across. It shines in southern skies as a denizen of our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, 170,000 light-years away. Winds and intense radiation from hot, young, luminous stars in N44 excite and sculpt filaments and streamers of the glowing nebular gas. But supernovae - the death explosions of the massive short lived stars - have also likely contributed to the region's enormous, blown-out shapes. The cluster of young stars seen near the center lies in a superbubble nearly 250 light-years across. This detailed, false-color view of the intricate structures codes emission from hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur in shades of blue and green.







Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman, Macedon Ranges Observatory
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Galaxy Wars: M81 versus M82

 On the left, surrounded by blue spiral arms, is spiral galaxy M81. On the right marked by red gas and dust clouds, is irregular galaxy M82. This stunning vista shows these two mammoth galaxies locked in gravitational combat, as they have been for the past billion years. The gravity from each galaxy dramatically affects the other during each hundred million-year pass. Last go-round, M82's gravity likely raised density waves rippling around M81, resulting in the richness of M81's spiral arms. But M81 left M82 with violent star forming regions and colliding gas clouds so energetic the galaxy glows in X-rays. In a few billion years only one galaxy will remain.






 Credit: Rainer Zmaritsch & Alexander Gross
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Embryonic planet imaged around young star
BY EMILY BALDWIN
ASTRONOMY NOW
Posted: April 2, 2008






This is an image from
 the computer simulation of HL Tau and its
surrounding disc. In the model the dense clump
 (seen here at top right) forms with a mass
of about 8 times that of Jupiter at a distance
 from the star about 75 times that from the
Earth to the Sun. Image: Greaves, Richards,
 Rice & Muxlow 2008
).


The youngest planet ever to be seen has been captured in its earliest stage of formation in a disc of gas and rocky debris around a star 520 light years away.

Using the MERLIN and Very Large Array radio observatories in the UK and US respectively, a team of astronomers lead by Dr Jane Greaves of the University of St Andrews studied the disc of gas and rocky particles surrounding the extremely young star HL Tau and identified a 'clump' of material at a distance of about 65 AU from the parent star, twice as far from HL Tau as Neptune is from our Sun.

 
 
"This star is probably less than 100,000 years old," says Greaves, "and we see a distinct ball of gas and dust orbiting around it, which is exactly how a protoplanet should look." The protoplanet is made up of dust grains and fist-sized rocks, and could form a planet about 14 times as massive as Jupiter.

Using computer simulations, team member Dr Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh showed that a massive protoplanet of around 8 Jupiter masses could condense out of a disc into a self-constrained structure at a distance comparable to that observed by the radio telescopes. "The simulations show that the gravitational instability model really does work," comments Greaves. "This is the first image of a protoplanet that has ever been made and we've also captured the environment in which the planet is forming."

The team hope to use the eMERLIN telescope array to make similar observations of other protoplanetary discs, which may be able to resolve Earth-sized exoplanets.

SOURCE:SPACEFLIGHTNOW.ORG
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
South of Orion
Credit & Copyright: Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory)




BIGGY PICCY

This tantalizing array of nebulae and stars can be found about 2 degrees south of the famous star-forming Orion Nebula. The region abounds with energetic young stars producing jets and outflows that push through the surrounding material at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second. The interaction creates luminous shock waves known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. For example, the graceful, flowing arc just right of center is cataloged as HH 222, also called the Waterfall Nebula. Seen below the Waterfall, HH 401 has a distinctive cone shape. The bright bluish nebula below and left of center is NGC 1999, a dusty cloud reflecting light from an embedded variable star. The entire cosmic vista spans over 30 light-years, near the edge of the Orion molecular cloud complex some 1,500 light-years distant.

 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums