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Topic: Galaxy

NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes discover galaxy at the edge of our seeable Universe

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have spotted what might be one of the most distant galaxies known, harkening back to a time when our universe was only about 650 million years old (our universe is 13.8 billion years old).

The galaxy, known as Abell2744 Y1, is about 30 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy and is producing about 10 times more stars, as is typical for galaxies in our young universe.

This image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744 was obtained with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The zoomed image shows the region around the galaxy Abell2744_Y1, one of the most distant galaxy candidates known, harkening back to a time when the universe was 650 million years old.

This image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744 was obtained with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The zoomed image shows the region around the galaxy Abell2744_Y1, one of the most distant galaxy candidates known, harkening back to a time when the universe was 650 million years old.

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NASA’s Hubble, Chandra, NuSTAR and Fermi spacecrafts to observe newly discovered Supernova

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on January 21st has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy M82 and lies only about 12 million light-years away.

This makes it the nearest optical supernova in two decades and potentially the closest type Ia supernova to occur during the life of currently operating space missions.

Swift's UVOT captured the new supernova (circled) in three exposures taken on Jan. 22, 2014. Mid-ultraviolet light is shown in blue, near-UV light in green, and visible light in red. Thick dust in M82 scatters much of the highest-energy light, which is why the supernova appears yellowish here. The image is 17 arcminutes across, or slightly more than half the apparent diameter of a full moon. (NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU)

Swift’s UVOT captured the new supernova (circled) in three exposures taken on Jan. 22, 2014. Mid-ultraviolet light is shown in blue, near-UV light in green, and visible light in red. Thick dust in M82 scatters much of the highest-energy light, which is why the supernova appears yellowish here. The image is 17 arcminutes across, or slightly more than half the apparent diameter of a full moon. (NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spots possible set of circling Black Holes

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have spotted what appear to be two supermassive black holes at the heart of a remote galaxy, circling each other like dance partners. The incredibly rare sighting was made with the help of NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

Follow-up observations with the Australian Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, Australia, and the Gemini South telescope in Chile, revealed unusual features in the galaxy, including a lumpy jet thought to be the result of one black hole causing the jet of the other to sway.

Two black holes are entwined in a gravitational tango in this artist's conception. Supermassive black holes at the hearts of galaxies are thought to form through the merging of smaller, yet still massive black holes, such as the ones depicted here. (NASA)

Two black holes are entwined in a gravitational tango in this artist’s conception. Supermassive black holes at the hearts of galaxies are thought to form through the merging of smaller, yet still massive black holes, such as the ones depicted here. (NASA)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer data used to bring Galaxies out of Hiding

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s WISE mission has released a new and improved atlas and catalog brimming with data on three-quarters of a billion objects detected during two full scans of the sky.

WISE, which stands for Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, scanned the entire sky in infrared light in 2010, snapping a dozen pictures of every star and galaxy. By October of that year, the spacecraft ran out of the coolant needed to chill some of its heat-seeking detectors. NASA then decided to fund a second scan of the sky to look for asteroids and comets, in a project called NEOWISE.

The new AllWISE catalog will bring distant galaxies that were once invisible out of hiding, as illustrated in this image.

The new AllWISE catalog will bring distant galaxies that were once invisible out of hiding, as illustrated in this image.

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NASA’s Space Telescopes help Astronomers separate two galaxies that appeared as one

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What might look like a colossal jet shooting away from a galaxy turns out to be an illusion. New data from the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) reveal that two galaxies, one lying behind the other, have been masquerading as one.

In a new image highlighting the chance alignment, radio data from the VLA are blue and infrared observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are yellow and orange, respectively. Visible data are also shown, with starlight in purplish blue and heated gas in rose.

The edge-on spiral galaxy UGC 10288 appeared to be a single object in previous observations. However, new detailed radio data from the NRAO's Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed that the large perpendicular extension of UGC 10288's halo (blue) is really a distant background galaxy with radio jets. (VLA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SDSS/NOAO/University of Manitoba)

The edge-on spiral galaxy UGC 10288 appeared to be a single object in previous observations. However, new detailed radio data from the NRAO’s Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed that the large perpendicular extension of UGC 10288′s halo (blue) is really a distant background galaxy with radio jets. (VLA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SDSS/NOAO/University of Manitoba)

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NASA Scientists look for ways to measure Dark Matter and Dark Energy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How do you measure something that is invisible? It’s a challenging task, but astronomers have made progress on one front: the study of dark matter and dark energy, two of the most mysterious substances in our cosmos.

Dark matter is intermixed with normal matter, but it gives off no light, making it impossible to see. Dark energy is even more slippery, yet scientists think it works against gravity to pull our universe apart at the seams.

Galaxy warping occurs naturally in nature in a phenomenon called strong gravitational lensing. The gravity of matter in front of a more distant galaxy, either dark or normal matter, bends and twists the galaxy's light, resulting in wacky shapes and sometimes multiple versions of the same galaxy. It's like seeing a galaxy in a funhouse mirror. Scientists use these natural lenses to make maps of dark matter, an invisible substance permeating our cosmos.

Galaxy warping occurs naturally in nature in a phenomenon called strong gravitational lensing. The gravity of matter in front of a more distant galaxy, either dark or normal matter, bends and twists the galaxy’s light, resulting in wacky shapes and sometimes multiple versions of the same galaxy. It’s like seeing a galaxy in a funhouse mirror. Scientists use these natural lenses to make maps of dark matter, an invisible substance permeating our cosmos.

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope detects blast from Kilonova

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. -  A new kind of stellar blast called a kilonova, which happens when a pair of compact objects such as neutron stars crash together, has been detected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.  Hubble observed the fading fireball from a kilonova last month, following a short gamma ray burst (GRB) in a galaxy almost 4 billion light-years from Earth.

“This observation finally solves the mystery of short gamma ray bursts,” says Nial Tanvir of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, who led a team of researchers conducting this research.

This sequence illustrates the kilonova model for the formation of a short-duration gamma-ray burst. 1. A pair of neutron stars in a binary system spiral together. 2. In the final milliseconds, as the two objects merge, they kick out highly radioactive material. This material heats up and expands, emitting a burst of light called a kilonova. 3. The fading fireball blocks visible light but radiates in infrared light. 4. A remnant disk of debris surrounds the merged object, which may have collapsed to form a black hole.

This sequence illustrates the kilonova model for the formation of a short-duration gamma-ray burst. 1. A pair of neutron stars in a binary system spiral together. 2. In the final milliseconds, as the two objects merge, they kick out highly radioactive material. This material heats up and expands, emitting a burst of light called a kilonova. 3. The fading fireball blocks visible light but radiates in infrared light. 4. A remnant disk of debris surrounds the merged object, which may have collapsed to form a black hole.

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NASA Scientists explain how they Search for Habitable Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – There is only one planet we know of, so far, that is drenched with life. That planet is Earth, as you may have guessed, and it has all the right conditions for critters to thrive on its surface. Do other planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, also host life forms?

Astronomers still don’t know the answer, but they search for potentially habitable planets using a handful of criteria. Ideally, they want to find planets just like Earth, since we know without a doubt that life took root here. The hunt is on for planets about the size of Earth that orbit at just the right distance from their star – in a region termed the habitable zone.

This artist's concept shows a Super Venus planet on the left, and a Super Earth on the right. Researchers use a concept known as the habitable zone to distinguish between these two types of planets, which exist beyond our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames)

This artist’s concept shows a Super Venus planet on the left, and a Super Earth on the right. Researchers use a concept known as the habitable zone to distinguish between these two types of planets, which exist beyond our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames)

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NASA reports Radio Bursts from Beyond Our Galaxy Discovered

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that Astronomers, including a team member from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, have detected the first population of radio bursts known to originate from galaxies beyond our own Milky Way.

The sources of the light bursts are unknown, but cataclysmic events, such as merging or exploding stars, are likely the triggers.

A radio burst is a quick surge of light from a point on the sky, made up of longer wavelengths in the radio portion of the light spectrum. A single radio burst was detected about six years ago, but researchers were unclear about whether it came from within or beyond our galaxy.

This image shows the Parkes telescope in Australia, part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Researchers, including a team member from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, used the telescope to detect the first population of radio bursts known to originate from beyond our galaxy. (Image courtesy Shaun Amy)

This image shows the Parkes telescope in Australia, part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Researchers, including a team member from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, used the telescope to detect the first population of radio bursts known to originate from beyond our galaxy. (Image courtesy Shaun Amy)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data helps Astronomers discover Star Cluster with Transiting Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Approximately 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, Astronomers have found two planets smaller than three times the size of Earth orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded stellar cluster.

This finding demonstrates that small planets can form and persist in a densely packed cluster environment, and implies that the frequency and properties of planets in open clusters are consistent with those of planets around field stars not associated with clusters, like our sun, in the galaxy.

In the star cluster NGC 6811, astronomers have found two planets smaller than Neptune orbiting sun-like stars.  (Michael Bachofner)

In the star cluster NGC 6811, astronomers have found two planets smaller than Neptune orbiting sun-like stars.
(Michael Bachofner)

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