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Topic: Galaxies

NASA moves forward with Spectro-Photometer Space Telescope

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s upcoming space telescope, the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx, is one step closer to launch. The mission has officially entered Phase C, in NASA lingo.

That means the agency has approved preliminary design plans for the observatory, and work can begin on creating a final, detailed design, as well as on building the hardware and software.

The preliminary design for the spacecraft, including hexagonal sun shields that will help keep the instruments cool. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The preliminary design for the spacecraft, including hexagonal sun shields that will help keep the instruments cool. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observes Quasar emitting Energy across the Galaxy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using the unique capabilities of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers has discovered the most energetic outflows ever witnessed in the universe. They emanate from quasars and tear across interstellar space like tsunamis, wreaking havoc on the galaxies in which the quasars live.

Quasars are extremely remote celestial objects, emitting exceptionally large amounts of energy. Quasars contain supermassive black holes fueled by infalling matter that can shine 1,000 times brighter than their host galaxies of hundreds of billions of stars.

This is an illustration of a distant galaxy with an active quasar at its center. A quasar emits exceptionally large amounts of energy generated by a supermassive black hole fueled by infalling matter. Using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that blistering radiation pressure from the vicinity of the black hole pushes material away from the galaxy's center at a fraction of the speed of light. (NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI))

This is an illustration of a distant galaxy with an active quasar at its center. A quasar emits exceptionally large amounts of energy generated by a supermassive black hole fueled by infalling matter. Using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that blistering radiation pressure from the vicinity of the black hole pushes material away from the galaxy’s center at a fraction of the speed of light. (NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI))

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NASA uses Slime Mold Simulations to Map Dark Matter Holding Universe Together

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says the behavior of one of nature’s humblest creatures is helping astronomers probe the largest structures in the universe.

The single-cell organism, known as slime mold (Physarum polycephalum), builds complex filamentary networks in search of food, finding near-optimal pathways to connect different locations. In shaping the universe, gravity builds a vast cobweb structure of filaments tying galaxies and clusters of galaxies together along faint bridges hundreds of millions of light-years long.

Astronomers have gotten creative in trying to trace the elusive cosmic web, the large-scale backbone of the cosmos. Researchers turned to slime mold, a single-cell organism found on Earth, to help them build a map of the filaments in the local universe (within 500 million light-years from Earth) and find the gas within them. (NASA, ESA, and J. Burchett and O. Elek (UC Santa Cruz))

Astronomers have gotten creative in trying to trace the elusive cosmic web, the large-scale backbone of the cosmos. Researchers turned to slime mold, a single-cell organism found on Earth, to help them build a map of the filaments in the local universe (within 500 million light-years from Earth) and find the gas within them. (NASA, ESA, and J. Burchett and O. Elek (UC Santa Cruz))

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NASA’s SOFIA telescope discovers how Swan Nebula was born

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions in our galaxy, the Omega or Swan Nebula, came to resemble the shape resembling a swan’s neck we see today only relatively recently.

New observations reveal that its regions formed separately over multiple eras of star birth. The new image from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is helping scientists chronicle the history and evolution of this well-studied nebula.

“The present-day nebula holds the secrets that reveal its past; we just need to be able to uncover them,” said Wanggi Lim, a Universities Space Research Association scientist at the SOFIA Science Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Composite image of the Swan Nebula. SOFIA detected the blue areas (20 microns) near the center, revealing gas as it’s heated by massive stars located at the center and the green areas (37 microns) that trace dust as it’s warmed both by massive stars and nearby newborn stars. (NASA/SOFIA/De Buizer/Radomski/Lim; NASA/JPL-Caltech; ESA/Herschel)

Composite image of the Swan Nebula. SOFIA detected the blue areas (20 microns) near the center, revealing gas as it’s heated by massive stars located at the center and the green areas (37 microns) that trace dust as it’s warmed both by massive stars and nearby newborn stars. (NASA/SOFIA/De Buizer/Radomski/Lim; NASA/JPL-Caltech; ESA/Herschel)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope uses new technique to find Small Clumps of Dark Matter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and a new observing technique, astronomers have found that dark matter forms much smaller clumps than previously known. This result confirms one of the fundamental predictions of the widely accepted “cold dark matter” theory.

All galaxies, according to this theory, form and are embedded within clouds of dark matter. Dark matter itself consists of slow-moving, or “cold,” particles that come together to form structures ranging from hundreds of thousands of times the mass of the Milky Way galaxy to clumps no more massive than the heft of a commercial airplane. (In this context, “cold” refers to the particles’ speed.)

Each snapshot shows four distorted images of a background quasar (an extremely bright region in the center of some distant galaxies), surrounding the core of a massive foreground galaxy. The gravity of the foreground galaxy magnifies the quasar, an effect called gravitational lensing. (NASA, ESA, A. Nierenberg, T. Treu)

Each snapshot shows four distorted images of a background quasar (an extremely bright region in the center of some distant galaxies), surrounding the core of a massive foreground galaxy. The gravity of the foreground galaxy magnifies the quasar, an effect called gravitational lensing. (NASA, ESA, A. Nierenberg, T. Treu)

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NASA is Illuminating the Gas Between Galaxies with Supercomputing

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Galaxies contain millions of stars, and they grow by pulling in gas to make even more. How gases ebb and flow between galaxies and their surroundings is an essential question that NASA’s supercomputers are helping to answer.

Galaxies are constantly pulling in new gas that forms new generations of stars. As these stars evolve and eventually die, they often explode as supernovae – ejecting gas filled with new chemical elements back into intergalactic space. In this way, the gases between galaxies serve as a reservoir of recycled material that’s available to create new stars.

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NASA says Stars Pollute, but Galaxies Recycle

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that galaxies were once thought of as lonely islands in the universe: clumps of matter floating through otherwise empty space. We now know they are surrounded by a much larger, yet nearly invisible cloud of dust and gas.

Astronomers call it the circumgalactic medium, or CGM. The CGM acts as a giant recycling plant, absorbing matter ejected by the galaxy and later pushing it right back in.

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

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NASA creates Sensor Chip Electronics for ESA Dark Energy Mission, Euclid

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, set to launch in 2022, will investigate two of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy: dark matter and dark energy. A team of NASA engineers recently delivered critical hardware for one of the instruments that will fly on Euclid and probe these cosmic puzzles.

Based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the engineers designed, fabricated and tested 20 pieces of sensor-chip electronics (SCEs) hardware for Euclid (16 for the flight instrument and four backups).

The cryogenic (cold) portion of the Euclid space telescope's Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument. NASA led the procurement and delivery of the detectors for the NISP instrument. The gold-coated hardware is the 16 sensor-chip electronics integrated with the infrared sensors. (Euclid Consortium/CPPM/LAM)

The cryogenic (cold) portion of the Euclid space telescope’s Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument. NASA led the procurement and delivery of the detectors for the NISP instrument. The gold-coated hardware is the 16 sensor-chip electronics integrated with the infrared sensors. (Euclid Consortium/CPPM/LAM)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers stars kicked from their Galaxies

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Evidence that pairs of stars have been kicked out of their host galaxies has been found by scientists. This discovery, made using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, is one of the clearest examples of stellar pairs being expelled from their galactic base.

Astronomers use the term “binary” system to refer to pairs of stars orbiting around each other. These stellar pairs can consist of combinations of stars like our Sun, or more exotic and denser varieties such as neutron stars or even black holes.

Binary stars ejected from Fornax cluster. (NASA/CXC/Nanjing University/X. Jin et al.)

Binary stars ejected from Fornax cluster. (NASA/CXC/Nanjing University/X. Jin et al.)

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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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