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Old 27-10-2010, 07:40 PM   #241
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http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-...tron-star.html

Astronomers discover most massive neutron star yet known (w/ Video)

October 27, 2010

Pulses from neutron star (rear) are slowed as they pass near foreground white dwarf. This effect allowed astronomers to measure masses of the system. CREDIT: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF
(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered the most massive neutron star yet found, a discovery with strong and wide-ranging impacts across several fields of physics and astrophysics.

"This neutron star is twice as massive as our Sun. This is surprising, and that much mass means that several theoretical models for the internal composition of neutron stars now are ruled out," said Paul Demorest, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). "This mass measurement also has implications for our understanding of all matter at extremely high densities and many details of nuclear physics," he added.
Neutron stars are the superdense "corpses" of massive stars that have exploded as supernovae. With all their mass packed into a sphere the size of a small city, their protons and electrons are crushed together into neutrons. A neutron star can be several times more dense than an atomic nucleus, and a thimbleful of neutron-star material would weigh more than 500 million tons. This tremendous density makes neutron stars an ideal natural "laboratory" for studying the most dense and exotic states of matter known to physics.

Explaining the Scientific Implications
The scientists used an effect of Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity to measure the mass of the neutron star and its orbiting companion, a white dwarf star. The neutron star is a pulsar, emitting lighthouse-like beams of radio waves that sweep through space as it rotates. This pulsar, called PSR J1614-2230, spins 317 times per second, and the companion completes an orbit in just under nine days. The pair, some 3,000 light-years distant, are in an orbit seen almost exactly edge-on from Earth. That orientation was the key to making the mass measurement. As the orbit carries the white dwarf directly in front of the pulsar, the radio waves from the pulsar that reach Earth must travel very close to the white dwarf. This close passage causes them to be delayed in their arrival by the distortion of spacetime produced by the white dwarf's gravitation. This effect, called the Shapiro Delay, allowed the scientists to precisely measure the masses of both stars.

"We got very lucky with this system. The rapidly-rotating pulsar gives us a signal to follow throughout the orbit, and the orbit is almost perfectly edge-on. In addition, the white dwarf is particularly massive for a star of that type. This unique combination made the Shapiro Delay much stronger and thus easier to measure," said Scott Ransom, also of NRAO.
The astronomers used a newly-built digital instrument called the Green Bank Ultimate Pulsar Processing Instrument (GUPPI), attached to the GBT, to follow the binary stars through one complete orbit earlier this year. Using GUPPI improved the astronomers' ability to time signals from the pulsar severalfold.
The researchers expected the neutron star to have roughly one and a half times the mass of the Sun. Instead, their observations revealed it to be twice as massive as the Sun. That much mass, they say, changes their understanding of a neutron star's composition. Some theoretical models postulated that, in addition to neutrons, such stars also would contain certain other exotic subatomic particles called hyperons or condensates of kaons.
"Our results rule out those ideas," Ransom said.
Demorest and Ransom, along with Tim Pennucci of the University of Virginia, Mallory Roberts of Eureka Scientific, and Jason Hessels of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and the University of Amsterdam, reported their results in the October 28 issue of the scientific journal Nature.
Their result has further implications, outlined in a companion paper, scheduled for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "This measurement tells us that if any quarks are present in a neutron star core, they cannot be 'free,' but rather must be strongly interacting with each other as they do in normal atomic nuclei," said Feryal Ozel of the University of Arizona, lead author of the second paper.
There remain several viable hypotheses for the internal composition of neutron stars, but the new results put limits on those, as well as on the maximum possible density of cold matter.
The scientific impact of the new GBT observations also extends to other fields beyond characterizing matter at extreme densities. A leading explanation for the cause of one type of gamma-ray burst -- the "short-duration" bursts -- is that they are caused by colliding neutron stars. The fact that neutron stars can be as massive as PSR J1614-2230 makes this a viable mechanism for these gamma-ray bursts.
Such neutron-star collisions also are expected to produce gravitational waves that are the targets of a number of observatories operating in the United States and Europe. These waves, the scientists say, will carry additional valuable information about the composition of neutron stars.
"Pulsars in general give us a great opportunity to study exotic physics, and this system is a fantastic laboratory sitting out there, giving us valuable information with wide-ranging implications," Ransom explained. "It is amazing to me that one simple number -- the mass of this neutron star -- can tell us so much about so many different aspects of physics and astronomy," he added.

More information: http://www.nrao.edu/index.php/about/facilities/gbt

Provided by National Radio Astronomy Observatory (news : web)
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Old 27-10-2010, 07:43 PM   #242
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http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-...-galaxies.html

Spiral galaxies stripped bare

October 27, 2010

Six spectacular spiral galaxies are seen in a clear new light in pictures from ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The pictures were taken in infrared light, using the impressive power of the HAWK-I camera to help astronomers understand how the remarkable spiral patterns in galaxies form and evolve. From left to right the galaxies are NGC 5427, Messier 100 (NGC 4321), NGC 1300, NGC 4030, NGC 2997 and NGC 1232. Credit: ESO
Six spectacular spiral galaxies are seen in a clear new light in images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The pictures were taken in infrared light, using the impressive power of the HAWK-I camera, and will help astronomers understand how the remarkable spiral patterns in galaxies form and evolve.


HAWK-I is one of the newest and most powerful cameras on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). It is sensitive to infrared light, which means that much of the obscuring dust in the galaxies' spiral arms becomes transparent to its detectors. Compared to the earlier, and still much-used, VLT infrared camera ISAAC, HAWK-I has sixteen times as many pixels to cover a much larger area of sky in one shot and, by using newer technology than ISAAC, it has a greater sensitivity to faint infrared radiation. Because HAWK-I can study galaxies stripped bare of the confusing effects of dust and glowing gas it is ideal for studying the vast numbers of stars that make up spiral arms.
The six galaxies are part of a study of spiral structure led by Preben Grosbøl at ESO. These data were acquired to help understand the complex and subtle ways in which the stars in these systems form into such perfect spiral patterns.
The first image shows NGC 5247, a spiral galaxy dominated by two huge arms, located 60-70 million light-years away. The galaxy lies face-on towards Earth, thus providing an excellent view of its pinwheel structure. It lies in the zodiacal constellation of Virgo (the Maiden).
The galaxy in the second image is Messier 100, also known as NGC 4321, which was discovered in the 18th century. It is a fine example of a "grand design" spiral galaxy — a class of galaxies with very prominent and well-defined spiral arms. About 55 million light-years from Earth, Messier 100 is part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies and lies in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice's Hair, named after the ancient Egyptian queen Berenice II).
The third image is of NGC 1300, a spiral galaxy with arms extending from the ends of a spectacularly prominent central bar. It is considered a prototypical example of barred spiral galaxies and lies at a distance of about 65 million light-years, in the constellation of Eridanus (the River).
The spiral galaxy in the fourth image, NGC 4030, lies about 75 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Virgo. In 2007 Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut who doubles as an amateur astronomer, spotted a supernova — a stellar explosion that is briefly almost as bright as its host galaxy — going off in this galaxy.
The fifth image, NGC 2997, is a spiral galaxy roughly 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Antlia (the Air Pump). NGC 2997 is the brightest member of a group of galaxies of the same name in the Local Supercluster of galaxies. Our own Local Group, of which the Milky Way is a member, is itself also part of the Local Supercluster.
Last but not least, NGC 1232 is a beautiful galaxy some 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus (the River). The galaxy is classified as an intermediate spiral galaxy — somewhere between a barred and an unbarred spiral galaxy. An image of this galaxy and its small companion galaxy NGC 1232A in visible light was one of the first produced by the VLT (eso9845). HAWK-I has now returned to NGC 1232 to show a different view of it at near-infrared wavelengths.
As this galactic gallery makes clear, HAWK-I lets us see the spiral structures in these six bright galaxies in exquisite detail and with a clarity that is only made possible by observing in the infrared.


Provided by ESO (news : web)
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:09 AM   #243
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Mirach's Ghost
Credit & Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis (TWAN) Explanation: As far as ghosts go, Mirach's Ghost isn't really that . In fact, Mirach's Ghost is just a faint, fuzzy galaxy, well known to astronomers, that happens to be seen nearly along the line-of-sight to Mirach, a bright star. Centered in this star field, Mirach is also called Beta Andromedae. About 200 light-years distant, Mirach is a star, cooler than the Sun but much larger and so intrinsically much brighter than our parent star. In most telescopic views, glare and tend to hide things that lie near Mirach and make the faint, fuzzy galaxy look like a ghostly internal reflection of the almost overwhelming starlight. Still, appearing in this sharp image just above and to the right of Mirach, Mirach's Ghost is cataloged as galaxy NGC 404 and is estimated to be some 10 million light-years away.
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Old 30-10-2010, 10:05 AM   #244
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Ghost of the Cepheus Flare
Credit & Copyright: Stephen Leshin Explanation: Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136 is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation.
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Old 30-10-2010, 07:10 PM   #245
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truly beautiful pictures
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Old 31-10-2010, 09:49 PM   #246
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Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula
Credit: Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Observatoire de Paris) et al., ESA, NASA Explanation: Halloween's origin is ancient and astronomical. Since the fifth century BC, has been celebrated as a cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an equinox (equal day / equal night) and a solstice (minimum day / maximum night in the northern hemisphere). With a modern calendar, however, the real cross-quarter day will occur next week. Another cross-quarter day is Halloween's modern celebration retains historic roots in dressing to scare away the spirits of the dead. Perhaps a fitting tribute to this ancient holiday is this view of the Ghost Head Nebula taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Similar to the icon of a , NGC 2080 is actually a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way Galaxy. The Ghost Head Nebula spans about 50 light-years and is shown in representative colors.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:28 AM   #247
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The Milky Way Over the Peak of the Furnace
Credit & Copyright: Luc Perrot Explanation: On , it is known simply as "The Volcano." To others, it is known as the , which is French for the Peak of the Furnace. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The Volcano started a new eruption last month by spewing hot lava as high as 10 meters into the air from several vents. Pictured above, the recent eruption was a star filled southern sky, appearing somehow contained beneath the arching band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Also visible in the background sky is the Pleiades open star cluster, the constellation of Orion, the brightest star Sirius, and the neighboring Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies. (Can you find them?) The Piton de la Fournaise erupted for months in 2006, and for days in 2007, 2008, and in . Nobody knows how long the current eruption will last, or when The Volcano will erupt next.
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:56 PM   #248
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Spicules: Jets on the Sun
Credit: K. Reardon (Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, INAF) IBIS, DST, NSO Explanation: Imagine a pipe as wide as a state and as long as the Earth. Now imagine that this pipe is filled with hot gas moving 50,000 kilometers per hour. Further imagine that this pipe is not made of metal but a transparent magnetic field. You are envisioning just one of thousands of young spicules on the active Sun. Pictured above is one of the highest resolution image yet of these enigmatic solar flux tubes. Spicules line the above frame of solar active that crossed the Sun last month, but are particularly evident converging on the sunspot on the lower left. have recently shown that spicules last about five minutes, starting out as tall tubes of rapidly rising gas but eventually fading as the gas peaks and falls back down to the . What determines the creation and dynamics of spicules remains a topic of active research.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:49 PM   #249
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The Necklace Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Romano Corradi (IAC), et al., IPHAS Explanation: The small constellation Sagitta sports this large piece of cosmic jewelry, dubbed the Necklace Nebula. The newly discovered example of a ring-shaped planetary nebula is about 15,000 light-years distant. Its bright ring with pearls of glowing gas is half a light-year across. are created by sun-like stars in a final phase of stellar evolution. But the Necklace Nebula's central star, near the center of a ring strongly tilted to our line of sight, has also been shown to be binary, a close system of two stars with an orbital period of just over a day. Astronomers estimating the apparent age of the ring to be around 5,000 years, also find more distant gas clouds perpendicular to the ring plane, seen here at the upper left and lower right. Those clouds were likely ejected about 5,000 years before the clouds forming the necklace. This false color image combines emission from ionized hydrogen in blue, oxygen in green, and nitrogen in red.
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:02 PM   #250
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http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-...stly-dead.html

Cosmic Curiosity Reveals Ghostly Glow of Dead Quasar

November 3, 2010

The green Voorwerp in the foreground remains illuminated by light emitted up to 70,000 years ago by a quasar in the center of the background galaxy, which has since died out. Credit: WIYN/William Keel/Anna Manning
(PhysOrg.com) -- While sorting through hundreds of galaxy images as part of the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project two years ago, Dutch schoolteacher and volunteer astronomer Hanny van Arkel stumbled upon a strange-looking object that baffled professional astronomers. Two years later, a team led by Yale University researchers has discovered that the unique object represents a snapshot in time that reveals surprising clues about the life cycle of black holes.


In a new study, the team has confirmed that the unusual object, known as Hanny’s Voorverp (Hanny’s “object” in Dutch), is a large cloud of glowing gas illuminated by the light from a quasar—an extremely energetic galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. The twist, described online in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is that the quasar lighting up the gas has since burned out almost entirely, even though the light it emitted in the past continues to travel through space, illuminating the gas cloud and producing a sort of “light echo” of the dead quasar.
“This system really is like the Rosetta Stone of quasars,” said Yale astronomer Kevin Schawinski, a co-founder of Galaxy Zoo and lead author of the study. “The amazing thing is that if it wasn’t for the Voorverp being illuminated nearby, the galaxy never would have piqued anyone’s interest.”
The team calculated that the light from the dead quasar, which is the nearest known galaxy to have hosted a quasar, took up to 70,000 years to travel through space and illuminate the Voorverp—meaning the quasar must have shut down sometime within the past 70,000 years.
Until now, it was assumed that supermassive black holes took millions of years to die down after reaching their peak energy output. However, the Voorverp suggests that the supermassive black holes that fuel quasars shut down much more quickly than previously thought. “This has huge implications for our understanding of how galaxies and black holes co-evolve,” Schawinski said.
“The time scale on which quasars shut down their prodigious energy output is almost entirely unknown,” said Meg Urry, director of the Yale Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics and a co-author of the paper. “That's why the Voorwerp is such an intriguing—and potentially critical—case study for understanding the end of black hole growth in quasars.”
Although the galaxy no longer shines brightly in X-ray light as a quasar, it is still radiating at radio wavelengths. Whether this radio jet played a role in shutting down the central black hole is just one of several possibilities Schawinski and the team will investigate next.
“We’ve solved the mystery of the Voorverp,” he said. “But this discovery has raised a whole bunch of new questions.”


More information: Kevin Schawinski et al 2010 ApJ 724 L30 DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/724/1/L30
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:57 AM   #251
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Comet Hartley 2 Flyby
Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UMD, EPOXI Mission Explanation: Follow these 5 frames clockwise starting from the top left to track the view from the EPOXI mission spacecraft as it approached, passed under, and then looked back at the nucleus of comet Hartley 2 on November 4. Its closest approach distance was about 700 kilometers. In fact, this encounter was the fifth time a spacecraft from planet Earth has imaged a comet close-up. But Hartley 2's nucleus is definitely the smallest one so far, its long axis spanning only about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). Though Hartley 2 is small, these stunning images showing jets of dust and gas indicate an impressively active surface. The jets are seen originating from the rough surface areas, with sunlight illuminating the nucleus from the right. Remarkably, rough areas at both ends of the elongated nucleus are joined by a narrower, smooth waist. The EPOXI mission reuses the Deep Impact spacecraft that launched a probe impacting the nucleus of comet Tempel 1 in 2005.
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:58 AM   #252
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http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-...-galaxies.html

Herschel's hidden talent: digging up magnified galaxies

November 4, 2010 Enlarge
This image composite shows a warped and magnified view of a galaxy discovered by the Herschel Space Observatory, one of five such galaxies uncovered by the infrared telescope. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Keck/SMA
(PhysOrg.com) -- It turns out the Herschel Space Observatory has a trick up its sleeve. The telescope, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions, has proven to be excellent at finding magnified, faraway galaxies. Like little kids probing patches of dirt for insects, astronomers can use these new cosmic magnifying lenses to study galaxies that are hidden in dust.



"I was surprised to learn that Herschel is so good at finding these cosmic lenses," said Asantha Cooray of the University of California, Irvine. "Locating new lenses is an arduous task that involves slogging through tons of data. With Herschel, we can find a lot of them much more efficiently." Cooray is a co-author of a paper about the discovery, appearing in the Nov. 5 issue of the journal Science. The lead author is Mattia Negrello of the Open University in the United Kingdom.
A cosmic magnifying lens occurs when a massive galaxy or cluster of galaxies bends light from a more distant galaxy into a warped and magnified image. Sometimes, a galaxy is so warped that it appears as a ring -- an object known as an Einstein ring after Albert Einstein who first predicted the phenomenon, referred to as gravitational lensing. The effect is similar to what happens when you look through the bottom of a soda bottle or into a funhouse mirror.
These lenses are incredibly powerful tools for studying the properties of distant galaxies as well as the mysterious stuff -- dark matter and dark energy -- that makes up a whopping 96 percent of our universe.
"With these lenses, we can do cosmology and study galaxies that are too distant and faint to be seen otherwise," said Cooray.
Cooray and a host of international researchers made the initial discovery using Herschel. Launched in May 2009, this space mission is designed to see longer-wavelength light than that we see with our eyes -- light in the far-infrared and submillimeter portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scanning Herschel images of thousands of galaxies, the researchers noticed five never-before-seen objects that jumped out as exceptionally bright.

At that time, the galaxies were suspected of being magnified by cosmic lenses, but careful and extensive follow-up observations were required. Numerous ground-based telescopes around the world participated in the campaign, including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and three telescopes in Hawaii: the W.M. Keck Observatory, the California Institute of Technology's Submillimeter Observatory, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Submillimeter Array.

Enlarge
This diagram illustrates a cosmic phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, in which a galaxy magnifies a second, more distant galaxy, making it appear brighter and easier to study. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The results showed that all five of the bright galaxies were indeed being magnified by foreground galaxies. The galaxies are really far away -- they are being viewed at a time when the universe was only two to four billion years old, less than a third of its current age. The Herschel astronomers suspect that they are just scratching the surface of a much larger population of magnified galaxies to be uncovered. The images studied so far make up just two percent of the entire planned survey, a program called the Herschel Astrophysical Terahertz Large Area Survey, or Herschel-ATLAS.
"The fact that this Herschel team saw five lensed galaxies is very exciting," said Paul Goldsmith, the U.S. project scientist for Herschel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This means that we can probably pick out hundreds of new lensed galaxies in the Herschel data."
The five galaxies are young and bursting with dusty, new stars. The dust is so thick, the galaxies cannot be seen at all with visible-light telescopes. Herschel can see the faint warmth of the dust, however, because it glows at far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths. Because the galaxies are being magnified, astronomers can now dig deeper into these dusty, exotic places and learn more about what makes them tick.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:29 AM   #253
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The Elephant's Trunk in IC 1396
Credit & Copyright: Rolf Geissinger Explanation: Like an illustration in a galactic Just So Story, the Elephant's Trunk Nebula winds through the emission nebula and young star cluster complex IC 1396, in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Of course, the cosmic elephant's trunk is over 20 light-years long. This composite was recorded through narrow band filters that transmit the light from ionized hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms in the region. The resulting image highlights the bright swept-back ridges that outline pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. Such embedded, dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within the obscuring cosmic dust. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a large region on the sky, spanning over 5 degrees. This dramatic close-up covers a 2 degree wide field, about the size of 4 Full Moons.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:36 PM   #254
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The Center of Centaurus A
Credit: E.J. Schreier (AUI) et al., Hubble, NASA; Inset: NOAO Explanation: A fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, gigantic glowing gas clouds, and imposing dark dust lanes surrounds the central region of the active galaxy Centaurus A. This mosaic of Hubble Space Telescope images taken in blue, green, and red light has been processed to present a natural color picture of this cosmic maelstrom. Infrared images from the Hubble have also shown that hidden at the center of this activity are what seem to be disks of matter spiraling into a black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun! Centaurus A itself is apparently the result of a collision of two galaxies and the left over debris is steadily being consumed by the black hole. Astronomers believe that such black hole central engines generate the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by and other active galaxies. But for an Centaurus A is close, a mere 10 million light-years away, and is a relatively convenient laboratory for exploring these powerful sources of energy.
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Old 10-11-2010, 11:44 PM   #255
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Huge Gamma Ray Bubbles Found Around Milky Way
Credit: NASA, DOE, Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, LAT detector, D. Finkbeiner et al. Explanation: Did you know that our Milky Way Galaxy has huge bubbles emitting gamma rays from the direction of the galactic center? Neither did anybody. As the data from the Earth-orbiting Fermi satellite began accumulating over the past two years, however, a large and unusual feature toward our Galaxy's center became increasingly evident. The two bubbles are visible together as the red and white spotted oval surrounding the center of the above all sky image, released yesterday. The plane of our Galaxy runs horizontally across the image center. Assuming the bubbles emanate from our Galaxy's center, the scale of the bubbles is huge, rivaling the entire Galaxy in size, and spanning about 50,000 light years from top to bottom. Earlier indications of the bubbles has been found on existing all sky maps in the radio, microwave, and X-ray. The cause of the bubbles is presently unknown, but will likely be researched for years to come.
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Old 10-11-2010, 11:45 PM   #256
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NGC 4452: An Extremely Thin Galaxy
Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA Explanation: Why is there a line segment on the sky? In one of the more precise alignments known in the universe, what is pictured above is actually a disk galaxy being seen almost perfectly edge on. The image from the is a spectacular visual reminder of just how thin disk galaxies can be. NGC 4452, a galaxy in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, is so thin that it is actually difficult to determine what type of disk galaxy it is. Its lack of a visible dust lane indicates that it is a low-dust , although it is still possible that a view from on top would reveal spiral structure. The unusual stellar line segment spans about 35,000 light years from end to end. Near NGC 4452's center is a slight bulge of stars, while hundreds of background galaxies are visible far in the distance. Galaxies that appear this thin are rare mostly because our Earth must reside (nearly) in the extrapolated planes of their thin galactic disks. Galaxies that actually are this thin are relatively common -- for example our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to be about this thin.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:46 AM   #257
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NGC 7023: The Iris Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Daniel López, IAC Explanation: Like delicate cosmic petals, these clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and dutifully cataloged as NGC 7023, this is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers. Still, this beautiful digital image shows off the Iris Nebula's range of colors and symmetries in impressive detail. Within the Iris, dusty nebular material surrounds a hot, young star. The dominant color of the brighter reflection nebula is blue, characteristic of dust grains reflecting starlight. Central filaments of the dusty clouds glow with a faint reddish photoluminesence as some dust grains effectively convert the star's invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Infrared observations indicate that this nebula may contain complex carbon molecules known as PAHs. As shown here, the bright blue portion of the Iris Nebula is about six light-years across.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:35 PM   #258
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2/3/05 - The Hubble Space Telescope’s latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns ever since the star suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:38 PM   #259
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As if to don a crown of heavenly jewels, the Cone Nebula rises 7 light-years into the Monoceros constellation. The column is destined to evolve into countless stars, and perhaps even generate some planets.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:41 PM   #260
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Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have helped settle a mystery that has puzzled scientists concerning the exact distance to the famous nearby star cluster known as the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. The Pleiades cluster, named by the ancient Greeks, is easily seen as a small grouping of stars lying near the shoulder of Taurus, the Bull, in the winter sky. Although it might be expected that the distance to this well-studied cluster would be well established, there has been an ongoing controversy among astronomers about its distance for the past seven years. 6/1/2004
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