Results tagged “astronomy”

Birth of a Black Hole

When a massive star exhausts its fuel, it collapses under its own gravity and produces a black hole, an object so dense that not even light can escape its gravitational grip.

Supernova Remnant SNR 0519

These delicate wisps of gas make up an object known as SNR B0519-69.0, or SNR 0519 for short. The thin, blood-red shells are actually the remnants from when an unstable progenitor star exploded violently as a supernova around 600 years ago.

Staring at a small patch of sky for more than 50 hours with the ultra-sensitive Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), astronomers have for the first time identified discrete sources that account for nearly all the radio waves coming from distant galaxies. They found that about 63 percent of the background radio emission comes from galaxies with gorging black holes at their cores and the remaining 37 percent comes from galaxies that are rapidly forming stars.

ESA's Herschel space observatory has exhausted, as planned, its supply of liquid helium coolant, concluding over three years of pioneering observations of the cool Universe.

Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope, along with radio telescopes around the world, to find and study a bizarre stellar pair consisting of the most massive neutron star confirmed so far, orbited by a white dwarf star.

This year, astronomers around the world have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of X-ray astronomy. Few objects better illustrate the progress of the field in the past half-century than the supernova remnant known as SN 1006.

A team including Mat Page (UCL Space and Climate Physics) has discovered an extremely distant galaxy making stars more than 2,000 times faster than our own Milky Way. Seen at a time when the universe was less than a billion years old, its mere existence challenges our theories of galaxy evolution. The observations were carried out using the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory.

Researchers using the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have captured the most detailed mid-infrared images yet of a massive star condensing within a dense cocoon of dust and gas.

An international collaboration whose search for dark matter is powered by detectors being fabricated at Texas A&M University has for the first time observed a concrete hint of what physicists believe to be the particle behind dark matter and therefore nearly a quarter of the universe -- a WIMP, or weakly interacting massive particle.

Most Massive Binary Star Identified

Astronomers have observed a binary star that potentially weighed 300 to 400 solar masses at birth. The present day total mass of the two stars is between 200 and 300 times that of the Sun, depending on its evolutionary stage, which possibly makes it the most massive binary star known to date.

Hubble Catches Dusty Detail

The soft glow in this image is NGC 2768, an elliptical galaxy located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). NGC 2768 appears here as a bright oval on the sky, surrounded by a wide, fuzzy cloud of material.

NASA's Kepler space telescope has witnessed the effects of a dead star bending the light of its companion star. The findings are among the first detections of this phenomenon -- a result of Einstein's general theory of relativity -- in binary, or double, star systems.

The Farthest Supernova

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the farthest supernova so far of the type used to measure cosmic distances. Supernova UDS10Wil, nicknamed SN Wilson after American President Woodrow Wilson, exploded more than 10 billion years ago.

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is one of the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbors. Even though it is a small, or so-called dwarf galaxy, the SMC is so bright that it is visible to the unaided eye from the Southern Hemisphere and near the equator. Many navigators, including Ferdinand Magellan who lends his name to the SMC, used it to help find their way across the oceans.

How Spiral Galaxies Get Their Arms

Spiral galaxies are some of the most beautiful and photogenic residents of the universe. Our own Milky Way is a spiral. Our solar system and Earth reside somewhere near one of its filamentous arms. And nearly 70 percent of the galaxies closest to the Milky Way are spirals.

Star Birth in Cepheus

Watching starbirth isn't easy: tens of millions of years are needed to form a star like our Sun. Much like archeologists who reconstruct ancient cities from shards of debris strewn over time, astronomers must reconstruct the birth process of stars indirectly, by observing stars in different stages of the process and inferring the changes that take place.

Hunting High-mass Stars with Herschel

In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA's Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.

Direct Imaging of "Tatooine"

Fig. 1. 2MASS0103(AB)b in November 2012, with NACO in L' band. The green arrow shows the position of the companion in 2002. The light-blue circle identifies the expected position of the companion if it had been a background source.

A New Kind of Supernova

Until now, supernovas came in two main "flavors." A core-collapse supernova is the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our Sun, while a Type Ia supernova is the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf. Today, astronomers are reporting their discovery of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax. This new class is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both varieties come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf.

Acquired by ESA's Planck space telescope, the most detailed map ever created of the cosmic microwave background - the relic radiation from the Big Bang - was released today revealing the existence of features that challenge the foundations of our current understanding of the Universe.

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