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Posts Tagged ‘astronomers’

The Star That Should Not Exist

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

A star that should not exist

Image Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

A team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down a star in the Milky Way that many thought was impossible. They discovered that this star is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with only remarkably small amounts of other chemical elements in it. This intriguing composition places it in the “forbidden zone” of a widely accepted theory of star formation, meaning that it should never have come into existence in the first place. The results will appear in the 1 September 2011 issue of the journal Nature.

A faint star in the constellation of Leo (The Lion), called SDSS J102915+172927, has been found to have the lowest amount of elements heavier than helium (what astronomers call “metals”) of all stars yet studied. It has a mass smaller than that of the Sun and is probably more than 13 billion years old.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1132/

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Hubble Movies of Supersonic Jets from Young Stars

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Stellar jets HH 47, HH 34 and HH 2. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Hartigan (Rice University)

Stellar jets HH 47, HH 34 and HH 2. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Hartigan (Rice University)

Stars  aren’t shy about sending out birth announcements. They fire off  energetic jets of glowing gas travelling at supersonic speeds in  opposite directions through space.

Although  astronomers have looked at still pictures of stellar jets for decades,  now they can watch movies, thanks to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space  Telescope.

 

 

 

Full Story: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1113/

‘Once in a Generation’ Supernova Discovered

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

A supernova discovered Wednesday is closer to Earth ––approximately 21 million light years away –– than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion –– a rare feat for events of this type.

The discovery of a supernova so early in its life, and so close to Earth has energized the astronomical community. Scientists around the world are scrambling to observe it with as many telescopes as possible, including the Hubble Space Telescope, and telescopes from the UC Santa Barbara-affiliated Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT).

Full Story: http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2550

NASA’S Swift Satellite Spots Black Hole Devouring A Star

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Two studies appearing in the Aug. 25 issue of the journal Nature provide new insights into a cosmic accident that has been streaming X-rays toward Earth since late March. NASA’s Swift satellite first alerted astronomers to intense and unusual high-energy flares from the new source in the constellation Draco.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-271_Swift_Black_Hole.html

Astronomers Find Ice and Possibly Methane on Snow White, a Distant Dwarf Planet

August 22, 2011 Leave a comment

An artist's conception of 2007 OR10, nicknamed Snow White. Astronomers suspect that its rosy color is due to the presence of irradiated methane. Credit: NASA

An artist's conception of 2007 OR10, nicknamed Snow White. Astronomers suspect that its rosy color is due to the presence of irradiated methane. Credit: NASA

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10—nicknamed Snow White—is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes. The new findings also suggest that the red-tinged dwarf planet may be covered in a thin layer of methane, the remnants of an atmosphere that’s slowly being lost into space.

Full Story: http://news.caltech.edu/press_releases/13445

Interstellar Crashes Could Throw Out Habitable Planets

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula.

One of the protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula. Credit: NASA / ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)

Our solar system, where planets have a range of sizes and move in near-circular paths, may be rather unusual, according to a German-British team led by Professor Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn. The astronomers, who publish their model in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, find that forming planetary systems may be knocked around by crashes with nearby clumps of material, leading to systems where planets have highly inclined orbits and where the smaller (and potentially habitable) worlds are thrown out completely.

Full Story: http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/217-news2011/2002-interstellar-crashes-could-throw-out-habitable-planets