Astronomy, Observations

Scientists discover extremely rare quadruple quasar system

It's like winning the lottery - twice. Astronomers have spotted a rare cluster of four quasars—some of the brightest objects in the universe, formed from active black holes. Photograph by Hennawy and Arrigoni Battaia, MPIA.

A team of astronomers has discovered a unique system of quadruple quasars. The quartet, discovered at the very edge of the universe, is one of the most massive structures in the known universe.

News, Observations, Space

Mercury has magnetic field, astronomers report

MASCS/MDIS color mosaics of Mercury. Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The MESSENGER spacecraft spent four years orbiting Mercury, gathering valuable information and sending it back to Earth. But even in its final moments, as it crashed towards the surface of the planet, the spacecraft still did its job – it reported that Mercury has a magnetic field, likely millions of years old.

News, Observations, Space

Hubble Discovers Huge Halo Around Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy seen in infrared by the Spitzer Space Telescope, one of NASA's four Great Space Observatories. Image via Wikipedia.

In an article published in the Astrophysical Journal last week, astronomers described a massive halo around the Andromeda Galaxy, extending up close to Earth. The team spotted the halo through NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and consider it one of the galaxy’s most important features.

News, Observations, Space

Astronomers discover farthest galaxy yet

The galaxy EGS-zs8-1 sets a new distance record. It was discovered in images from the Hubble Space Telescope's CANDELS survey.
Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Oesch and I. Momcheva (Yale University), and the 3D-HST and HUDF09/XDF teams

A team of astronomers from Yale and the University of California-Santa Cruz have looked back in time, discovering a galaxy that was formed when the Universe was only 5% of its current age. This is now the farthest, and youngest galaxy known to date.

News, Observations, Space

Satellite reveals huge solar filament blazing out from the Sun

filament_c2_c3

Last week, the Sun ejected a huge solar filament – a gigantic burst of hot plasma – and a satellite was just in the right place to capture the whole thing on tape.

Astronomy, News, Observations

High school students help astronomers discover spectacular pulsar

PSR J1930-1852. Image credit: J. K. Swiggum et al.

Highschool students analyzing data obtained with the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope have discovered an exotic pulsar with the widest orbit known to date. Pulsars (pulsating radio stars) are some of the most spectacular things in the known Universe. They are basically highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit beams of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation can be observed when the beam

News, Observations, Space

Astronomers take best picture of Pluto

nh-stern_6

The New Horizons spacecraft snapped a picture of Pluto – the best we have so far. NASA released the information and pictures yesterday, along with the theory that Pluto may have a polar cap.

Observations, Space

How cryogenic sleep could soon bring astronauts to Mars

cryogenic-sleep

Cryogenic sleep is usually the stuff of science fiction, most recently featured in the award winning blockbuster Interstellar. Of course, the most epic display of cryosleep can be found in Alien. Nevertheless, the theme is the same: cosmic voyagers are suspended in sort of low metabolic state where vital functions are kept to a bear minimum by cooling the body, while not actually killing the person. It’s quite useful, especially when you consider interstellar travel involving years, decades or even perhaps centuries of traveling. It’s no wonder then that NASA is interested in actually turning this into a real-life application

News, Observations, Space

Pluto – now in color, courtesy of New Horizon

Pluto and Charon. Image: NASA

These two dim dots are none other than Pluto, the dwarf plant, and Charon, its largest moon. Though it might not look like much, this is the first ever colored photograph of the two cosmic bodies ever taken. We have NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to thank for this, which used its Ralph color imager to make the shot from 71 million miles away.

News, Observations, Physics, Space

First dark matter map spots the invisible substance that might help form galaxies

The map traces the distribution of dark matter across a portion of the sky. The color scale represents projected mass density: red and yellow represent regions with more dense matter.

This is the first map in a series of maps that will be stitched together to form a grand picture of how dark matter is distributed across the Universe. Dark matter is basically invisible, which is why it’s called dark in the first place, so scientists rely on indirect observations like the gravitational effects it poses to locate and map it. What we’re seeing now is only 3% of the area of sky that the Dark Energy Survey (DES) will document over its slated five-year-long mission.