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Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe: Curious Dark Nebula Seen As Never Before

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Credit: ESO’s La Silla Observatory

The Pipe Nebula is a prime example of a dark nebula. Originally, astronomers believed these were areas in space where there were no stars. But it was later discovered that dark nebulae actually consist of clouds of interstellar dust so thick it can block out the light from the stars beyond. The Pipe Nebula appears silhouetted against the rich star clouds close to the centre of the Milky Way in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer).

Barnard 59 forms the mouthpiece of the Pipe Nebula and is the subject of this new image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope. This strange and complex dark nebula lies about 600–700 light-years away from Earth.

The nebula is named after the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard who was the first to systematically record dark nebulae using long-exposure photography and one of those who recognised their dusty nature.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1233/

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Recreating A Slice Of The Universe

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Credit: CfA/UCSD/HITS/M. Vogelsberger (CfA) & V. Springel (HITS)

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) have invented a new computational approach that can accurately follow the birth and evolution of thousands of galaxies over billions of years. For the first time it is now possible to build a universe from scratch that brims with galaxies like we observe around us.

Our cosmic neighborhood is littered with majestic spiral galaxies like Andromeda, the Pinwheel, and the Whirlpool. Spirals are common, but previous simulations had trouble creating them. Instead, they produced lots of blobby galaxies clumped into balls, without the broad disks and outstretched arms of a typical spiral.

The new software, called Arepo, solves this problem. Created by Volker Springel (HITS), Arepo generates a full-fledged simulation of the universe, taking as input only the observed afterglow of the Big Bang and evolving forward in time for 14 billion years.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2012/pr201223.html

Orbiter Views NASA’s New Mars Rover In Color

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Image credit: NASNASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The first color image taken from orbit showing NASA’s rover Curiosity on Mars includes details of the layered bedrock on the floor of Gale Crater that the rover is beginning to investigate.

“The rover appears as double bright spot plus shadows from this perspective, looking at its shadowed side, set in the middle of the blast pattern from the descent stage,” said HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona, Tucson. “This image was acquired from an angle looking 30 degrees westward of straight down. We plan to get one in a few days looking more directly down, showing the rover in more detail and completing a stereo pair.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-243