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Topic: Big Bang

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) to help explore the nature of Dark Energy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have discovered that a mysterious pressure dubbed “dark energy” makes up about 68% of the total energy content of the cosmos, but so far we don’t know much more about it.

Exploring the nature of dark energy is one of the primary reasons NASA is building the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a space telescope whose measurements will help illuminate the dark energy puzzle. With a better understanding of dark energy, we will have a better sense of the past and future evolution of the universe.

An artist's rendering of NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which will study multiple cosmic phenomena, including dark energy. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

An artist’s rendering of NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which will study multiple cosmic phenomena, including dark energy. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovered Cloaked Black Hole

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered evidence for the farthest “cloaked” black hole found to date. At only about 6% of the current age of the universe, this is the first indication of a black hole hidden by gas at such an early time in the history of the cosmos.

Supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of times more massive than our Sun, typically grow by pulling in material from a disk of surrounding matter. Rapid growth generates large amounts of radiation in a very small region around the black hole. Scientists call this extremely bright, compact source a “quasar.”

Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed what may be the most distant shrouded black hole. (X-ray: NASA/CXO/Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile/F. Vito; Radio: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); optical: Pan-STARRS)

Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed what may be the most distant shrouded black hole. (X-ray: NASA/CXO/Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile/F. Vito; Radio: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); optical: Pan-STARRS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveals oldest Galaxies brighter than expected

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The universe’s earliest galaxies were brighter than expected according to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope data. The excess light is a byproduct of the galaxies releasing incredibly high amounts of ionizing radiation.

The finding offers clues to the cause of the Epoch of Reionization, a major cosmic event that transformed the universe from being mostly opaque to the brilliant starscape seen today.

In a new study, researchers report on observations of some of the first galaxies to form in the universe, less than 1 billion years after the big bang (or a little more than 13 billion years ago).

This deep-field view of the sky (center) taken by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes is dominated by galaxies - including some very faint, very distant ones - circled in red. The bottom right inset shows the light collected from one of those galaxies during a long-duration observation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Spitzer/P. Oesch/S. De Barros/I.Labbe)

This deep-field view of the sky (center) taken by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes is dominated by galaxies – including some very faint, very distant ones – circled in red. The bottom right inset shows the light collected from one of those galaxies during a long-duration observation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Spitzer/P. Oesch/S. De Barros/I.Labbe)

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NASA uses data from several Telescopes to locate Smaller Black Holes

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Scientists have taken major steps in their hunt to find black holes that are neither very small nor extremely large. Finding these elusive intermediate-mass black holes could help astronomers better understand what the “seeds” for the largest black holes in the early Universe were.

The new research comes from two separate studies, each using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.

Black holes that contain between about one hundred and several hundred thousand times the mass of the Sun are called “intermediate mass” black holes, or IMBHs.

The COSMOS Legacy Survey shows data that have provided evidence for the existence of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). (X-ray: NASA/CXC/ICE/M.Mezcua et al.; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Illustration: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

The COSMOS Legacy Survey shows data that have provided evidence for the existence of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). (X-ray: NASA/CXC/ICE/M.Mezcua et al.; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Illustration: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory study shows Black Holes stop Star Formation in “Red Nugget” Galaxies

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – About a decade ago, astronomers discovered a population of small, but massive galaxies called “red nuggets.” A new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in these galaxies and may have used some of the untapped stellar fuel to grow to unusually massive proportions.

Red nuggets were first discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope at great distances from Earth, corresponding to times only about three or four billion years after the Big Bang. They are relics of the first massive galaxies that formed within only one billion years after the Big Bang.

Artist's illustration and X-ray image of "red nugget" galaxy Mrk 1216. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MTA-Eötvös University/N. Werner et al., Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

Artist’s illustration and X-ray image of “red nugget” galaxy Mrk 1216. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MTA-Eötvös University/N. Werner et al., Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope used to precisely measure distance to Old Star Cluster

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have for the first time precisely measured the distance to one of the oldest objects in the universe, a collection of stars born shortly after the big bang.

This new, refined distance yardstick provides an independent estimate for the age of the universe. The new measurement also will help astronomers improve models of stellar evolution. Star clusters are the key ingredient in stellar models because the stars in each grouping are at the same distance, have the same age, and have the same chemical composition. They therefore constitute a single stellar population to study.

This ancient stellar jewelry box, a globular cluster called NGC 6397, glitters with the light from hundreds of thousands of stars. (NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and S. Casertano (STScI) ; Acknowledgement: NASA, ESA, and J. Anderson (STScI))

This ancient stellar jewelry box, a globular cluster called NGC 6397, glitters with the light from hundreds of thousands of stars. (NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and S. Casertano (STScI) ; Acknowledgement: NASA, ESA, and J. Anderson (STScI))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope measurements show Universe expanding faster then expected

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.

That’s because the latest Hubble finding confirms a nagging discrepancy showing the universe to be expanding faster now than was expected from its trajectory seen shortly after the big bang. Researchers suggest that there may be new physics to explain the inconsistency.

This illustration shows three steps astronomers used to measure the universe's expansion rate (Hubble constant) to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.3 percent. The measurements streamline and strengthen the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near to and far from Earth. The latest Hubble study extends the number of Cepheid variable stars analyzed to distances of up to 10 times farther across our galaxy than previous Hubble results. (NASA, ESA, A. Feild (STScI), and A. Riess) (STScI/JHU)

This illustration shows three steps astronomers used to measure the universe’s expansion rate (Hubble constant) to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.3 percent. The measurements streamline and strengthen the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near to and far from Earth. The latest Hubble study extends the number of Cepheid variable stars analyzed to distances of up to 10 times farther across our galaxy than previous Hubble results. (NASA, ESA, A. Feild (STScI), and A. Riess) (STScI/JHU)

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NASA uncovers most distant Supermassive Black Hole ever discovered

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have uncovered a rare relic from the early universe: the farthest known supermassive black hole. This matter-eating beast is 800 million times the mass of our Sun, which is astonishingly large for its young age. Researchers report the find in the journal Nature.

“This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form,” said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This artist's concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. (Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science)

This artist’s concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. (Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science)

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NASA says Dark Energy Survey helps us understand structure of the Universe

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What is our universe made of, and has its composition changed over time? Scientists have new insights about these fundamental questions, thanks to an international collaboration of more than 400 scientists called the Dark Energy Survey (DES).

Three scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are part of this group that is helping to further our understanding of the structure of the universe.

The advances in astrophysics from DES are crucial to preparations for two upcoming space missions that will probe similar questions about the nature of the universe: ESA’s Euclid mission (which has significant NASA participation) and NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission, both expected to launch in the 2020s.

Map of dark matter made from gravitational lensing measurements of 26 million galaxies in the Dark Energy Survey. The map covers about 1/30th of the entire sky and spans several billion light years in extent. Red regions have more dark matter than average, blue regions less dark matter. (Chihway Chang/Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago/DES Collaboration)

Map of dark matter made from gravitational lensing measurements of 26 million galaxies in the Dark Energy Survey. The map covers about 1/30th of the entire sky and spans several billion light years in extent. Red regions have more dark matter than average, blue regions less dark matter. (Chihway Chang/Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago/DES Collaboration)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers universe expanding faster than expected

 

Written by Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than expected.

“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation,” said study leader and Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland.

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of the galaxies in the survey to refine the measurement for how fast the universe expands with time, called the Hubble constant. (NASA, ESA and A. Riess (STScI/JHU))

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of the galaxies in the survey to refine the measurement for how fast the universe expands with time, called the Hubble constant.
(NASA, ESA and A. Riess (STScI/JHU))

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