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Posts Tagged "milky way"

Basic Space

Twinkle twinkle globular star cluster

Messier 107, taken by Hubble. Credit: NASA/ESA

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 took this picture of a cluster of ancient stars in the Milky Way, known as Messier 107. It is a globular cluster that is eighty light years across and about 20,000 light years from the solar system. Globular clusters contain hundreds of thousands of stars held together [...]

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Basic Space

Supernova turns inside out and kicks neutron star

Astronomers have taken a fresh look at an old supernova and found that it was turned inside out during its explosion. Iron, which forms during the stars death, is usually in the centre of the supernova remnant. But in Cassiopeia A they found it on the outside instead. This analysis has also shed some light [...]

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Basic Space

One billion stars (and a huge amount of data)

The above picture, zoomed in even more on the star forming region. There are still over ten thousand stars in this picture. Click for a bigger version. Credit:  Mike Read (WFAU), UKIDSS/GPS and VVV

To say a picture is worth a thousand words would be selling this one rather short. This edge-on image of the Milky Way contains at least a billion stars. The full version is available here. But be warned: it’s 39,300 by 3,750 pixels. My laptop was not at all happy when I tried to download it, [...]

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Basic Space

An impossible star?

In the beginning, the only elements that existed were hydrogen, helium and very small amounts of lithium. All of the other elements in the period table came later and, rather than forming out of the primordial soup of sub-atomic particles that existed shortly after the big bang, the elements from lithium up to and including [...]

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Basic Space

For a realistic Milky Way simulation, just add clustered star formation

Judging by its starlight and gas content (as seen in the image above), Eris looks to be a near match for our own Milky Way galaxy — except that it exists only as a simulation inside a supercomputer. Until recently, realistic simulations of the Milky Way were not forthcoming. Now astrophysicists at The University of [...]

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Dark Star Diaries

How to See a Black Hole: Introducing Dark Star Diaries

Sagittarius A*

The image you see here is a computer-generated model of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which we call Sagittarius A*. More precisely, it is a model of the “shadow” that Sagittarius A*, with its mass of four million suns, should cast. The glowing blob in the lower right corner is [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Voyager’s Exit To The Stars…In 17,000 Years

eso1316a

Recent debates over whether or not the Voyager 1 spacecraft has ‘left the solar system’ typically leave out some critical details. The limits of the Sun’s particle radiation is not the physical edge of the contents of the solar system, but it is the point of changeover to the exceedingly tenuous atmosphere of matter and [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Andromeda mon amour

Andromeda (GALEX/NASA/JPL)

There is something beautiful yet ominous about our nearest large galactic neighbor. The Andromeda galaxy is a trillion star behemoth that spans some six times the diameter of the full Moon when seen through a telescope. At only 2.5 million light years away from the Milky Way it’s barely an intergalactic stone’s throw from us, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Hole Roundup

Spinning black hole (NASA)

Black holes, black holes, and more black holes. In the past few weeks I’ve been thinking, talking, and even dreaming about black holes (yes really, somnolent thoughts seem well suited to these fantastic objects). Mostly this has been an effect of my book Gravity’s Engines hitting the shelves, but it’s also because barely a day [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Holes are Everywhere

Holes are everywhere, if you look...

This post is the second in a series that accompanies the upcoming publication of my book ‘Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos’ (Scientific American/FSG). Black holes, even the really hugely massive ones, are tiny – positively microscopic pinpricks scattered throughout the vastness of spacetime. Even the largest, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

From Andromeda With Love

Here comes another galaxy... (Credit: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay and R. van der Marel (STScI), T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger)

Some recent research on the long-term future of the Milky Way prompted me to dig out and re-polish this post from the Life, Unbounded archives of 2010. Turns out it’s more relevant than ever… The galactic theme in the context of planets and life is an interesting one. Take our own particular circumstances. As unappealingly [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Holes Are Coming!

The center of the Milky Way seen in 6cm radio emission. Our central supermassive black hole lurks in the spiral-ring like structure to the right.(Credit: VLA, Prof. K.Y. Lo, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Astronomy)

On August 14th 2012 my new book, Gravity’s Engines, will launch. I’m enormously excited about this, and over the next couple of months – increasingly so as publication date approaches, Life, Unbounded will carry some posts that talk about the science between the covers. The subject matter of Gravity’s Engines may appear a little surprising [...]

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Life, Unbounded

‘Mass Effect’ Solves The Fermi Paradox?

Who's been munching my galaxy?

Right now, all across the planet, millions of people are engaged in a struggle with enormous implications for the very nature of life itself. Making sophisticated tactical decisions and wrestling with chilling and complex moral puzzles, they are quite literally deciding the fate of our existence. Or at least they are pretending to. The video [...]

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Observations

Zoom through a Stunning Panorama of the Milky Way

The Spitzer Space Telescope'ss GLIMPSE project has created a huge zoomable panorama of the Milky Way. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GLIMPSE Team

Do yourself a favor. Don’t read this article just yet—first, take a moment to zoom around this incredible panorama of our galaxy and soak in the splendor: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360/aladin. Okay, are you back? Now we can talk science. The photograph you just saw—actually, a mosaic of two million photographs—represents the infrared view of the disk of [...]

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Observations

Dung Beetles Follow the Stars

dung beetle milky way stars orient straight path

The humble dung beetle makes its living rolling big balls of excrement to feed its offspring and itself. But this lowly occupation doesn’t mean the insect doesn’t have its eye on the skies—even when the sun goes down. Recent research has shown that African ball-rolling dung beetles (Scarabaeus satyrus) use strong light cues from the [...]

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The Scicurious Brain

IgNobels 2013! The dung beetle and the stars

800px-Scarabaeus_laticollis_2

“Some people think our research is crap.” You might think that a phrase like that from the mouth of a scientist would be followed shortly by a tirade on other scientists who’ve done them wrong, or maybe people who don’t think their grant deserves funding. But no, this phrase was part of the opening statement [...]

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