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Archive for January 17, 2014

Spanish Researchers Discover The First Black Hole Orbiting A ‘Spinning’ Star

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Spanish scientists have discovered the first binary system ever known to consist of a black hole and a ‘spinning’ star —or more accurately, a Be-type star. Although predicted by theory, none had previously been found. The observations that led to the discovery were performed with the Liverpool and Mercator telescopes at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Canary Islands, Spain). The discovery is published today in Nature.

Be-type stars are quite common across the Universe. In our Galaxy alone more than 80 of them are known in binary systems together with neutron stars. “Their distinctive property is their strong centrifugal force: they rotate very fast, close to their break-up speed. It is like they were cosmic spinning tops” says Jorge Casares from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and La Laguna University (ULL). Casares is the lead author and an expert in stellar-mass black holes (he presented the first solid proof of their existence back in 1992).

The newly discovered black hole orbits the Be star known as MWC 656, located in the constellation Lacerta (the Lizard) —8,500 light years from Earth. The Be star rotates so fast that its surface speed exceeds 1 million kilometres per hour.

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Hubble And Galaxy Zoo Find Bars And Baby Galaxies Don’t Mix

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300. Credit: HST / NASA / ESA

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300. Credit: HST / NASA / ESA

Harnessing the power of both the Hubble Space Telescope and the citizen science project Galaxy Zoo, scientists from the University of Portsmouth have found that bar-shaped features in spiral galaxies accelerate the galaxy aging process.

The astronomers found that the fraction of spiral galaxies with bar features has doubled in the last eight billion years – the latter half of the history of the universe. The scientists publish their results, the first from the Galaxy Zoo: Hubble project, in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

University of Portsmouth postgraduate researcher Tom Melvin led the new study as part of his thesis work. He and the rest of the Galaxy Zoo science team used classifications provided by citizen scientists to select spiral galaxies across the Universe for the study. Light from the furthest galaxies has taken eight billion years to reach us, so we see them as they appeared eight billion years ago or when the cosmos was a little over half its present age. This allows astronomers to study how the characteristics of galaxies change over this time.

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The 365 Days Of Astronomy Will Continue Its Quest In 2014

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

365 Days of Astronomy will continue its service in 2014! This time we will have more days available for new audio. Have something to share? We’re looking for content from 10 minutes long up to an hour! Since 2009, 365 Days of Astronomy has brought a new podcast every day to astronomy lovers around the world to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. Fortunately, the project has continued until now and we will keep going for another year in 2014. This means we will continue to serve you for a 6th year.

Through these years, 365 Days Of Astronomy has been delivering daily podcasts discussing various topics in the constantly changing realm of astronomy. These include history of astronomy, the latest news, observing tips and topics on how the fundamental knowledge in astronomy has changed our paradigms of the world. We’ve also asked people to talk about the things that inspired them, and to even share their own stories, both of life doing astronomy and science fiction that got them imagining a more scientific future.

365 Days of Astronomy is a community podcast that relies on a network of dedicated podcasters across the globe who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences in astronomy with the world and it will continue that way. In 2013, 365 Days of Astronomy started a new initiative with CosmoQuest. We now offer great new audio every weekend, while on weekdays we serve up interesting podcasts from CosmoQuest and other dedicated partners. We also have several monthly podcasts from dedicated podcasters and have started two new series: Space Stories and Space Scoop. The former is a series of science fiction tales, and the latter is an astronomy news segment for children.

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