Really just a pretty picture of a star-forming region, but it really is a pretty picture. Go here to decide for yourself.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
So, yesterday I posted about a new telescope being built to detect and study warm dust (and by dust, I mean molecules surprisingly similar to cigarette smoke) in the universe. Where does this dust come from? No one is really sure, but the best bet is that it forms when the material ejected in supernova cools. Go here to read about the recent discovery of newly formed dust in a supernova remnant, as well as look at a gorgeous picture of a pulsar wind nebula. Enjoy!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Okay, this is admittedly an absolutely atrocious pun, but ESO is building a new telescope called APEX in the Atacama desert. Why? Well, the Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth not located in Antarctica, which means that light at wavelengths which are normally absorbed by water in the atmosphere can reach the ground. So? Warm dust, which is a good signpost for star formation and the existence of very massive stars, emit most of their light in this region. Go here for the first results. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
It's free. Go here for details. Nominal registration deadline is TODAY! Sorry for the late notice.
This time coming from distortions in the shapes of galaxies observed by the Hubble Space Telescopes. How, you ask? Go here to read the details. And if doesn't make sense, please leave questions below. I like questions. Maybe I can even answer them.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
While the technical challenges of sending people to Mars (and returning them) are certainly formidable, possibly the most difficult aspect is the human one - can a small number of people survive being cooped together in a very small space for more than a year while they travel from Earth to Mars. ESA is trying to find out, as described here. Enjoy the article, though I'm not sure how much the human test subjects will enjoy the simulation...
Thursday, April 8, 2010
By using the magnification resulting from gravitational lensing caused by a massive galaxy cluster coincidentally sitting between us and distant galaxy SMM J2135-0102, astronomers were able to map out where stars are forming in this galaxy - which happens to be forming ~250 new stars every year! Go here for more details. Interesting.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
.... I've seen in a while. Go here to read it. The planet that was discovered is interesting, but all the speculation at the end? Ugh. It just really annoyed me for whatever reason. Feel free to disagree with me below. Of course, I am posting about it, which is probably all they wanted....
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Astronomers believed that at the center of essentially every galaxy is a supermassive black hole (supermassive = more material than a million Suns. Some are believed to have a mass more than a billion times that of the Sun). Where these black holes come from, no one really knows, but they gain mass by accreting (think swallowing) the surrounding gas. This gas forms a disk as it falls into the black hole, in which gas particles can stick together to form molecules - which astronomers call "dust." The older the disk, the more dust that should be there - or so goes the current thinking. By this logic, using Spitzer astronomers just found a couple supermassive black holes with very young disks. Go here to read more. Not necessarily the most convincing argument, but interesting nevertheless.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Even though it was launched to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, Planck also detected emission from warm dust since they emit light at the similar wavelengths. Go here to check out an amazing image it has made of "nearby" dust in the Milky Way. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
... Mars Express"? (Yeah, I know, the jokes are getting lamer by the post. Sorry. There is a very good reason why I'm an astronomer and not a comedian). Well, even if it wasn't, the ESA space craft Mars Express passed within 70 km (!!!) of Mars's moon Phobos, and took these wonderful pictures as a result. Enjoy!
Friday, April 2, 2010
It's not just a Johnny Cash song. Inside the Sun, very hot, ionized gas (plasma, which is essentially the same thing as fire), circulates deep below the layer that produces most of the optical light we see (called the photosphere). However, we can infer its properties based on its observable effects when it happens to skim the Sun's "surface." Go here to read how it might be responsible for the very few Sun spots being detected over the last few years.