University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer R. Brent Tully, who recently shared the 2014 Gruber Cosmology Prize and the 2014 Victor Ambartsumian International Prize, has led an international team of astronomers in defining the contours of the immense supercluster of galaxies containing our own Milky Way. They have named the supercluster “Laniakea,” meaning “immense heaven” in Hawaiian. The paper explaining this work is the cover story of the September 4 issue of the prestigious journal Nature.
Galaxies are not distributed randomly throughout the universe. Instead, they are found in groups, like our own Local Group, that contain dozens of galaxies, and in massive clusters containing hundreds of galaxies, all interconnected in a web of filaments in which galaxies are strung like pearls. Where these filaments intersect, we find huge structures, called “superclusters.” These structures are interconnected, but they have poorly defined boundaries.
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 14 Million Euros to a team of European astrophysicists to construct the first accurate image of a black hole. The team will test the predictions of current theories of gravity, including Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, The funding is provided in the form of a Synergy Grant, the largest and most competitive type of grant of the ERC.
The team led by three principal investigators, Heino Falcke, Radboud University Nijmegen, Michael Kramer, Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, and Luciano Rezzolla, Goethe University in Frankfurt, hopes to measure the shadow cast by the event horizon of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, find new radiopulsars near this black hole, and combine these measurements with advanced computer simulations of the behaviour of light and matter around black holes as predicted by theories of gravity. They will combine several telescopes around the globe to peer into the heart of our own Galaxy, which hosts a mysterious radio source, called Sagittarius A* and which is considered to be the central supermassive black hole.
TheSkyNet is celebrating its two year anniversary today with the official launch of a new research project, as well as a range of improvements and new features to make contributing to astronomical research at home more enjoyable, and even easier.
Launched on September 13th 2011, theSkyNet is a community computing project dedicated to astronomy, initiated by the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia. By using the idle processing power of thousands of computers connected to the Internet, theSkyNet simulates a powerful single machine and processes data collected by telescopes around the world.
Today theSkyNet launches T2 – Transform 2 – a new version of its website that brings new citizen science and membership features. At theskynet.org members can view the credits they’ve earned by processing data, trophies they’ve been awarded as part of their contribution, the actual galaxies they’ve processed data from and can join alliances to process together.
A recently discovered mineral appears to be clear but may have a tinge of light blue. No matter its color, you won’t be able to make earrings from it.
For one, you can’t see the material with the naked eye. Hutcheonite, recently named after Lawrence Livermore meteorite researcher Ian Hutcheon, can be seen only with high powered scanning electron microscopes.
Known also by its chemical makeup, Ca3Ti2SiAl2O12, hutcheonite was discovered in a refractory inclusion in the Allende meteorite by Sasha Krot (University of Hawaii) and Chi Ma (Caltech) and named in honor of Hutcheon, who has made numerous contributions to the study of meteorites and what they can tell us about the evolution of the early solar system.
Holland Ford, an astronomer at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., has received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal for his outstanding contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Ford attributes his success to the thousands of people in government, industry, science institutes, and academia who worked together to build and use Hubble to revolutionize our view of the universe. “What a privilege to be part of this great endeavor!” he says.
The Distinguished Public Service Medal is NASA’s highest form of recognition, awarded to someone who has made a profound impact on the success of a NASA mission. The medal is one of several Agency Honor Awards given annually in a ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington and at each NASA center. Each nominee undergoes a careful selection process before the NASA administrator approves the final recipients.
Mercedes Richards, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, is being honored as the July 2013 Woman Physicist of the Month by the American Physical Society.
Richards studies close pairs of stars, called interacting binaries, which are pairs of stars that were formed at the same time, like twins, but in which each star matures at different rates and affects the evolution of its companion. Richards was lauded for her research on the dynamic interactions between close binary stars by the society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics. In particular, the committee cited her research involving 2D and 3D Doppler tomography for measuring the flow of material between the stars in these paired systems, and her hydrodynamic simulations of the gas flowing between the paired stars.
Tucson planetary scientist William K. Hartmann was today presented with the Shoemaker Distinguished Lunar Scientist Award, given each year to a scientist who has significantly contributed to the field of lunar science throughout the course of their scientific career.
The award was presented to Hartmann, a Senior Scientist and co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute, by the new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) – formerly the NASA Lunar Science Institute – at the 2013 virtual Lunar Science Forum, held July 16-18 from NASA Ames Research Center. More than 300 people attended the virtual event.
Speaking from Tucson, Ariz., Hartmann said, “It’s an honor just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Gene Shoemaker, who did so much to increase our understanding of asteroid impacts and craters like Arizona’s Meteor Crater.”