Archive

Archive for February 12, 2013

Massive Stellar Winds Are Made Of Tiny Pieces

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment

ESA’s XMM-Newton space observatory has completed the most detailed study ever of the fierce wind from a giant star, showing for the first time that it is not a uniform breeze but is fragmented into hundreds of thousands of pieces.

Massive stars are relatively rare, but play a very important role in recycling materials in the Universe. They burn their nuclear fuel much more rapidly than stars like the Sun, living only for millions of years before exploding as a supernova and returning most of their matter to space.

But even during their brief lives, they lose a significant fraction of their mass through fierce winds of gas driven off their surfaces by the intense light emitted from the star. The winds from massive stars are at least a hundred million times stronger than the solar wind emitted by our own Sun and can significantly shape their surrounding environment.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Massive_stellar_winds_are_made_of_tiny_pieces

Gamma Ray Camera Will Give New Insights Into The Birth And Evolution Of Stars

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment

A major step forward in our understanding of the structure and behaviour of some of the most elusive atomic nuclei in existence, some of which occur only briefly on the surface of exploding stars, is now taking place thanks to the first experiments to come from the new Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA).

AGATA has been developed by the STFC’s Nuclear Physics Group, and a group of UK Universities funded by STFC, with the aim of studying the very rarest and heaviest elements predicted to exist. This is research that could answer some of the most fundamental questions about our universe. AGATA is currently based at the GSI (link opens in a new window) Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany.

A thousand times more sensitive than any previous detector built, and with an unparalleled level of sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, AGATA will, at final set up, be able to observe the structure and interior of these rare and exotic nuclei by measuring the gamma rays they emit as they decay. The exciting potential of this spectrometer led to the creation of the international AGATA collaboration of 12 European counties involving 40 institutions.

Full Story: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/News%20and%20Events/43392.aspx

A Valentine Rose

February 12, 2013 1 comment

Credit: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Credit: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

This image of a planetary nebula, which may suggest a rose to some, was obtained with the wide-field view of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Mosaic 1 camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Sh2-174 is an unusual ancient planetary nebula. A planetary nebula is created when a low-mass star blows off its outer layers at the end of its life. The core of the star remains and is called a white dwarf. Usually the white dwarf can be found very near the center of the planetary nebula. But in the case of Sh2-174 it is off to the right.

Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2013/pr1301.php