Hubble, News, Observations, Science, Space

New images of Tarantula Nebula may help refine star formation theory

starnebula

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently completed one of its most thorough and ambitious mozaic projectes. Astronomers at Hubble, stitched together some 438 separate images, both in visible and infra-red light, to complete the most accurate picture of the Tarantula Nebula so far, spanning across no less than 600 light-years. The Tarantula nebula contains some 800,000 newly born or developing stars, and these latest developments will hopefully help scientists answer some puzzling questions on star formation. One such question is whether super-massive stars – stars with mass at least 50 times greater than the sun – form exclusively in star clusters or not. The Tarantula Nebula, located 170,000 light-years away in…

Hubble, News, Space

Universe at your fingertips – 3D prints of Hubble photos let the blind ‘see’

ngc-star-cluster-for-blind

Captioned above is one of Hubble‘s most famous and beautiful space photos. The photo features NGC 609 – a magnificent star cluster, which Hubble captured complete with colored gas, dust and a slew of stars of various brightness. Pictures like these remind people of the tremendous gift they have – sight. How can one share and hope to convey a fraction of the stunning beauty one experiences when looking at pictures like NGC 609 to those less fortunate, deprived of sight? The full valor of visual beauty may never be reproduced to the blind (one can imagine however relaying electrical signals through an EEG directly to the brain, creating an…

Hubble, News, Observations, Space

Hubble goes farther than ever before: images reveal deepest view of the Universe yet

Abell 2744, Pandora's Cluster. Photo: : NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team

This year Hubble will embark on one its most ambitious projects yet, as it’s scheduled to glimpse farther away into the Universe than ever before. Six new “deep field” images are slated, and recently astronomers at Hubble have delivered the first to the public. The image reveals extremely faint, tiny galaxies that may be more than 12 billion light-years away, and offer tantalizing clues of things to come in the next parts of the project – findings that could show how the Universe looked like in its infancy and how the cosmos formed in its present form. “It is the deepest view of the universe ever taken,” says project leader…

Hubble, Observations, Space

The stars of the densest galaxy discovered thus far are 25 times closer than in Milky Way

This galaxy weighs more than 200 million suns, over half of which is concentrated within a radius of just 80 light years. (c) NASA/CXC/MSU/J.Strader et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, followed by observations done with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes, astronomers have identified what’s considered to be the densest galaxy found so far in the nearby part of the Universe. Classed as an  “ultra-compact dwarf galaxy” and dubbed as M60-UCD1, the density of stars in the galaxy is about 15,000 greater than  that found in Earth’s neighborhood in the Milky Way, meaning that the stars are about 25 times closer. Subsequent observations made by the W. M. Keck Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, found M60-UCD1 to be the most luminous galaxy of its type observed thus far, while being one of the most massive at…

Hubble, Observations, Space

Farthest supernova discovered by Hubble helps unravel Universe secrets

NASA and ESA

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have come across the farthest supernova of its type found thus far - a type Ia supernova which exploded some 10 billion years ago. The discovery isn’t just about setting milestones, however. Supernovae act as beacons that help astronomers measure the expansion of the Universe, and this latest finding will help deepen our understanding, especially concerning dark energy. Dubbed UDS10Wil and nicknamed SN Wilson after the former American President Woodrow Wilson, it took 10 billion years for the light of this violent star explosion to reach Earth. “This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode,”…

Hubble, Space

Hubble takes brilliant picture of young star population in elderly company

Click the pic for full size.

The great pics from Hubble just never end! This time, the brave telescope offered an impressive view of the center of globular cluster NGC 6362. The image of this spherical collection of stars takes a deeper look at the core of the globular cluster, which contains a high concentration of stars with different colors. Seeing what appears to be young stars came as quite a surprise, considering that globular clusters are composed of old stars, which, at around 10 billion years old, are way older than the Sun. These clusters are quite common both in our galaxy (over 150 found so far) and in other galaxies. Also, globular clusters are…

Astrophysics, Hubble

Keep your children close – zombie planet roams once more

The general consensus was that a star called Fomalhaut doesn’t host any planet. But astronomers, the thorough people they are, decided to take another look at it using the Hubble Space Telescope – and the results contradicted the everything, claiming that Fomalhaut does in fact have a planet, and furthermore, this planet (Fomalhaut b) is a unique object, completely shrouded by dust. The system lies 25 light years from us, the constellation Piscis Austrinus. During the first study, in 2008, researchers suggested that the exoplanet lies “inside a vast ring of debris surrounding but offset from the host star”. The location and mass (about 3 times that of Jupiter) seemed…

Astrophysics, Hubble, Space

Universe expansion speed measured better than ever

universe expanding

The universe is expanding – fast. Researchers had a pretty good idea how fast, but now, they measured in even greater detail: it is expanding at a rate of 74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec being about 3 million light-years). Hard to wrap your head around it? Don’t worry, I’m gonna go explain how it all works, in layman terms. The Hubble constant and the Doppler effect The fact that the Universe is expanding faster and faster came as quite a shock to most of the scientific world in the 1990s, earning the 2011 Nobel prize. I mean,…

Astrophysics, Hubble, Observations, Space

Faint galaxy sheds light on the dawn of the Universe – many more to be found

old galaxy

The first galaxies formed very fast after the Big Bang – in cosmic time, that is. It’s estimated that the earliest ones appeared some 500 million years after the Big Bang, a period about which researchers know very little. How they observed it Even though they are typically very bright, such galaxies are quite hard to observe because they are very far away and only a small fraction of their light can make its way towards Earth, a fraction so small it’s almost impossible to pick up. However, the Hubble telescope managed to detect light from a small galaxy emitted just 500 million years post-Big Bang, a period when the…

Discoveries, Hubble, Space

Quasars “snack” regularly, instead of “feasting in one gulp”

Quasar Faint Light

Quasars are some of the brightest objects in the Universe. Their formed after black holes devour captured material, like  gas dust and stars that come too close, and release bright light that can be seen across the universe. Most of the popular astronomy today is orientated towards the particularly extremely bright quasars; those formed in a singular event consisting of the merger of a black holes with other galaxies that drive huge streams of gas and dust into their centers. A new NASA survey however has found that more often than not, there are fainter quasars that thrive in normal-looking spiral galaxies, making the bulk of the Universe’s quasar population. A census of 30 quasar…