A new paper accepted for publication this month has highlighted how spiral galaxies came to form in the early Universe. By using the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a team lead by Roberto Maiolino has individuated the mechanism through which galaxies gather stellar mass. For a star to form a certain amount of […]
We all get the munchies, but when you’re a supermassive black hole (SMBH) your hunger might have dire consequences. And just like that an SMBH has outgrown its galaxy and jumped to the top of the heavyweight objects in the universe.
About 12 billion light years from us, there is a galaxy called CID-947. It has a mass similar to our own Milky Way (about 1000 billion times the mass of the Sun) and it was only remarkable because it had an active galactic nucleus (AGN, i.e. an accreting SMBH).
As I mentioned in a previous post, there are a few ways to measure the distance of a star in our galaxy. Unfortunately when the Luminosity is unknown and it is too far away to use parallaxes method, we are stumped for ways to estimate the distance.
Once in a while though we get lucky and we have events that allow us to calculate distance in other ways. Circinus X-1 is one of these events. Circinus X-1 is an x-ray binary; an x-ray binary is a system of two stars where material from one companion is accreting on the neutron star, which in turns emits x-rays.
Pluto, not to be confused with Micky Mouse’s dog, is going to be in the news a lot soon, as we are finally going to take a closer look to the elusive dwarf planet. Pluto Stats: Discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on the 18th of February 1930, it is smaller than our Moon with a 1184 […]
I have a mathematician friend who believes that anything that it is mathematically possible exists somewhere in the multiverse. She believes that there are some features that are so beautiful, that it would be a crime if they were simply quirks of the Universal language.
6th of March – Dawn arrives at Ceres. The space probe Dawn, which recently took some stunning pictures of the asteroid Vesta, will encounter Ceres in March. Ceres is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt and the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. It has a diameter of 950 km and a […]
Pluto is still not officially a planet. No matter what most people think, both scientist and non, until the International Astronomical Union has a vote, Pluto remains a dwarf planet.
The Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms) is the largest of the lunar maria (seas) covering roughly 4 million square kilometers (about the surface area of the EU). Its wide flat basaltic surface was believed to be the result of a major impact on the Moon surface in the early days of our satellite, which was […]
The Seven Wonders of the Milky Way are: The Sagittarius stream, a long, complex, structure made of stars that wrap in polar orbit around the Galaxy. It consists of tidally stripped stars from the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy. The multi-planet planetary system around the millisecond pulsar PSR 1257+12.
The exoplanet finder extraordinaire that is the Kepler telescope significantly changed our understanding of the type of planets that can exist in our galaxy. We only find two types of planets in our solar system: small rocky planets (like the Earth) and giant gassy planets (like Uranus). The scientist working on Kepler’s data have identified […]
When galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes (SMBH) at their centre merge after a long spiralling dance around each other. Several studies have been conducted to underpin everything that happens from the beginning of the galaxy mergers to the SMBHs becoming one; the final details of this process are still unclear (this is called “The […]
Dutch Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope were able to measure the rotational speed of a planet outside the Solar System for the first time. Ignas Snellen and his colleagues at Leiden University in the Netherlands used infrared light and its absorption in the planet atmosphere to calculate the length of the day of β Pictoris b.
Associate Professor Kevin Luhman of Penn State University has discovered the coldest brown dwarf yet using the NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. A brown dwarf is a massive gaseous object which is on the low end of the stellar mass and temperature scale. There’s an heated (pardon the pun) debate regarding the classifications of brown […]
The NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope team have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone”. The habitable zone, also known as the “Goldilock zone”, is the area around a start where planets (or satellite) are in the right range of temperature to posses liquid water on their surface. A condition we […]
Exactly one year ago, astronomer Carl Murray a scientist from Queen Mary University of London discovered a curious disturbance in the A ring of Saturn. Analysing the data of the Cassini probe which was keeping an eye on the moon Prometheus (the bright white dot in the picture), Murray noticed that the distortions of the […]
The Associate Press has released a video from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory of a flare erupting from the Sun. Solar Flares are sudden brightening of the Sun’s surface. They occur when the strong magnetic field of the Sun (in a yet poorly understood mechanism) accelerates charged particles to near the speed of light.
A new dwarf planet has recently been discovered in the solar system, orbiting at about 10 light hours from our Star. This is the furthest object belonging to our planetary system that we have been able to observe.
It was announced on Monday that the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarisation 2 (BICEP2 – don’t you love projects acronyms?) experiment at the South Pole found a special pattern in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The pattern they found is the B-mode polarisation signal in the CMB. Waves that can oscillate in more than one orientation […]
NASA has announced that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped some interesting photos that seem to indicate that water still flows on the surface of the red planet during the summer months. No water was directly detected but the presence of those long dark lines stretching from the slope suggest the a wet process is taking place. […]
From the NASA website: Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and a suite of other telescopes to reveal one of the most powerful black holes known. The black hole has created enormous structures in the hot gas surrounding it and prevented trillions of stars from forming.
An amateur Russian astronomer has observed a Supernova in M82, a galaxy that is only 12 million light years away (a walk to the chemist on cosmic scales). The supernova has been confirmed as a Type Ia supernova. These supernovae occur when a white dwarf in a binary system accretes enough mass from the companion […]