Tag Archives: star

Astronomers discover a star-creating galaxy that sheds light on the galactic cooling problem

Massive galaxy cluster spawns more than 700 stars a year

A newly discovered cluster of galaxies, more than 5 billion light years from Earth…is among the most massive clusters of galaxies in the universe, and produces X-rays at a rate faster than any other known cluster.

It also creates new stars at an “unmatched” pace of more than 700 per year, said Michael McDonald. “This extreme rate of star formation was unexpected,” he said during a NASA news conference Wednesday, noting that the Milky Way forms just one or two stars a year.

In addition to being massive, unique, and the biggest star-nursery in the universe, this area, called Phoenix, also helps theorists with something, the galactic cooling problem.

 

Phoenix Cluster: a combination of the X-ray, Optical, and Ultraviolet images, left; artists concept of the central galaxy, right. (photo: NASA)

 

For years scientists have been coming up with explanations for how stars are formed. The earliest being a mass of molecules would collapse in on themselves as fusion begins. The mass would then accumulate until its gravity becomes strong enough to spin, turn into a sphere, and pull on everything around it, collecting planets, asteroids, and other debris into its solar system.

But, this doesn’t take into account thermodynamics, specifically why doesn’t the star expand as it heats up. Indeed, several half-stars were observed in the universe stuck in this state of expansion unable to contract into the ultra-compact ball of a star.

That’s where a new theory comes in, the galactic “cooling flow”.

**There appears to be no name for the theory, all references are to a general theory theory of star formation.

This says the creation of stars is a lot like an explosion, with an initial burst of heat which then dissipates bringing cool air back into the explosion zone. In this case, thermonuclear fusion ignites much of the galaxy and begins sucking into the center lots of mass, including the surrounding galaxies.

As the (star) forms, this plasma initially heats up due to the gravitational energy released from the infall of smaller galaxies.

As the gas cools, it should condense and sink inward, a process known as a “cooling flow.” 

In the cluster’s center, this cooling flow can lead to very dense cores of gas, termed “cool cores,” which should fuel bursts of star formation in all clusters that go through this process. Most of these predictions had been confirmed with observations – the X-ray glow, the lower temperatures at the cluster centers – but starbursts accompanying this cooling remain rare. – TG Daily

 

A step forward in our knowledge of star formation, but something tells me we are not there yet.

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Crowdsource the launch of a nano-satellite into space – Kickstarter

We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm “1U” CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth’s equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world’s inhabited regions.

SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube’s balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You’ll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube’s balloon isn’t just for visibility. It will – within 3 weeks – bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery “grand finale” that avoids any buildup of space debris.

 

PLEDGES

$1 - Sponsors 10 seconds of the mission. You can broadcast one (1) 120-character message from the satellite.

$6 - Sponsors 1 minute of the mission. You can broadcast six (6) 120-character messages from space, and request one (1) image from the satellite.

$100 - Sponsors 15 minutes of the mission. An ideal family pack – we’ll send you two (2) SkyCube mission T-shirts! And you can broadcast one hundred (100) 120-character messages from the satellite, and request twenty (20) images from the satellite at any time during the mission.

$1,000 – Sponsors 2 hours of the mission – a great high school or university classroom sponsorship package. We’ll send you a radio receiver which you can use to detect transmissions from SkyCube and other satellites already in orbit! You’ll also get a flying SpaceX Falcon 9 model rocket, and twenty (20) SkyCube mission T-shirts. You can broadcast one thousand (1000) 120-character messages from space, and request up to two hundred (200) images from the satellite.

 

Learn more, join the project - SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You!

 

 

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Photos – parachutist breaks speed of sound in free-fall, planets in the sky, glaciers

Pictured over Chile’s Atacama desert, the blue star cluster to the left is the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Second from left is Jupiter, followed by Venus and the star Aldebaran. Jupiter and Venus remained large and bright in the early morning through the rest of July.

 

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Astronomers discover a close new planet – covered in oceans of magma

In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”

Thirty-three light years away, “we have a sub-Earth-sized planet that’s slightly larger than Mars and essentially right around the corner, at least on a cosmic scale,” said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary scientist now at the University of Chicago

UCF-1.01 is about 5,200 miles (8,400 kilometers) wide, making about a quarter the volume of Earth. And with a year that lasts only 1.4 Earth days, the new planet’s orbit takes UCF-1.01 searingly close to its star.

“It could be a thousand degrees Fahrenheit [540 degrees Celsius]. That may be hot enough to make an ocean of molten rock.”

Researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope essentially stumbled upon the new planet while studying a hot, Neptune-size planet called GJ 436b.

 

Learn more: National Geographic - New Planet Found: Molten “Mars” Is “Right Around the Corner”

 

 

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Researchers discover our twin solar system, GJ676A – where everything is 4x larger

Astronomers have detected our “grotesque” twin: A planetary system arranged much like our own solar system, a new study says.

Dubbed GJ676A, the system has two rocky planets orbiting close to its host star, and two gas giants orbiting far away. This means the system is arranged like our system—though in GJ676A, everything is much larger.

For instance, the smallest rocky planet in GJ676A is at least four times the mass of Earth, while the largest gas giant is five times the size of Jupiter.

Other multiple-planet systems have been discovered, such as HD10180, which has been called the richest exoplanetary find ever because of the seven to nine planets orbiting its host star.

But HD10180′s planets are all gas giants in relatively close orbits, while GJ676A has both rocky and gas planets—and its “Neptune-like” planet takes 4,000 days to make one orbit.

The long orbits of GJ676A’s gas giants and the short orbits of its close-in, extremely hot super Earths are what led the astronomers to dub GJ676A our solar system’s twin.

 

Source: National Geographic News - Solar System’s “Grotesque” Twin Found

 

 

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So long Andy Griffith – a memoir from Ron Howard

A memoir of Andy Griffith from Ron Howard:

Early in the second season of “The Andy Griffith Show,” I ventured a suggestion for a line change to make it sound more “like the way a kid would say it.”

I was just 7 years old. But my idea was accepted and I remember standing frozen, thrilled at what this moment represented to me.

Andy asked me, “What you grinnin’ at, youngin’?” I said it was the first idea of mine they’d ever said yes to. Without a pause, Andy responded for all to hear: “It was the first idea that was any damn good. Now let’s do the scene.”

That inclusiveness that allowed a child to truly be a part of something as unique and memorable as “The Andy Griffith Show”is something I will forever be grateful for.

He was known for ending shows by looking at the audience and saying “I appreciate it, and good night.” Perhaps the greatest enduring lesson I learned from eight seasons playing Andy’s son Opie on the show was that he truly understood the meaning of those words, and he meant them, and there was value in that.

Keep readingRon Howard: What I learned from Andy Griffith

 

All 786 known planets, to scale

All 786 known planets, to scale.

“This” (tiny gray box) is our solar system. The rest of these orbit other stars and were only discovered recently. Most of them are huge because these are the kind we learned to detect first, but now we’re finding that small ones are actually more common.

We know nothing about what’s on any of them. With better telescopes that would change.

This is an exciting time.

 

 

Find the original graphic on XKCD.

Scientists watch a black hole devour a star

Back when single-celled organisms ruled Earth, a gigantic black hole lurking quietly at the center of a distant galaxy dismantled and devoured a star.

On Wednesday, astronomers reported that they watched the whole thing unfold over a period of 15 months starting in 2010, the first time such an event had been witnessed in great detail from start to finish.

“The star got so close that it was ripped apart by the gravitational force of the black hole,” said Johns Hopkins University astronomer Suvi Gezari, lead author of a paper about the observations that was published online by the journal Nature.

***

Veering close to the black hole — about the same distance as Mercury lies from the sun — the gaseous star was stretched out and torn asunder by the black hole’s intense gravity.

“It turned into this really thin piece of spaghetti,” Gezari said.

About 76 days after the star was ripped apart, the black hole began devouring its remains, taking at least a year to finish off the meal.

***

Astronomers call these star-obliterating events tidal disruptions. The process is similar to….keep readingGiant black hole is seen gobbling up a star

May the 4th be with you – #HappyStarWarsDay

May 4 is considered a holiday by Star Wars fans to celebrate Star Wars culture and honor the films.

May 4 is called Star Wars Day because of the popularity of a common pun spoken on this day. Since the phrase “May the Force be with you” is a famous quote often spoken in the Star Wars films, fans commonly say “May the fourth be with you” on this day.

Current day Star Wars fans were not the first to introduce the line “May the fourth be with you”: when Margaret Thatcher was elected Britain’s first female Prime Minister on May 4, 1979, her party placed an advertisement in The London Evening News that said “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.” This reading of the line has also been recorded in the UK Parliament’s Hansard.

In a 2005 interview on German news TV channel N24, George Lucas was asked to say the famous sentence “May the Force be with you.” The interpreter simultaneously interpreted the sentence into German as Am 4. Mai sind wir bei Ihnen (“We shall be with you on May 4″). This was captured by TV Total and aired on May 18, 2005.

In 2011, the first organized celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Festivities included an Original Trilogy Trivia Game Show; a costume contest with celebrity judges; and the web’s best tribute films, mash-ups, parodies, and remixes on the big screen. The second annual edition is scheduled to take place on Friday, May 4, 2012.

via Wikipedia

 

 

…and don’t forget tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day.

 

// Photo – Amanda Blain