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Posts Tagged "galaxies"

@ScientificAmerican

Getting Ready for Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

We’re counting down the days here until the Scientific American tweet-up at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, January 18, starting at 6 p.m. Full details are on my earlier blog post. We’ll enjoy talks, a tour of the “Beyond Planet Earth” exhibition–and some conversations over cocktails. Attendance is free for followers of [...]

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Basic Space

Zooming in on an intergalactic collision

New image of Centaurus A. See bottom of post for link to bigger version. Credit: ESO

Point a camera at a particular patch of sky for more than 50 hours and what do you get? This image of Centaurus A, a galaxy 12 million light years away: Well, for “camera” read (after taking a deep breath) “Wide Field Imager of the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla [...]

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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

International Women’s Day: Butterflies and Galaxies

The Sculptor Galaxy. Credit:  {link url="http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1025a/"}ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. {/link}

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, here’s a post showcasing just a couple of the many really amazing discoveries made by women in astronomy. * Annie Maunder was born in Ireland in 1868. She won a scholarship to go to Cambridge, where she studied mathematics. She was top in her year, but did not [...]

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Basic Space

CLASH of the Galaxy Clusters

Galaxy cluster MACS 1206 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope (click for a bigger version). Credit: {link url="http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2011/25/"}NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH Team{/link}

Galaxies do not usually exist alone. They tend to bunch together in small groups, like the Local Group of galaxies in which the Milky Way sits, or larger groups called clusters. This is useful for cosmologists, as it gives them a chance to study one of the most elusive substances in the universe: dark matter. [...]

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Basic Space

Light from starburst galaxies makes the best cosmic disinfectant

NGC 5253, the dwarf starburst galaxy studied by Jordan Zastrow and her colleagues. Credit: {link url="http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso0434/"}ESO{/link)

If you’re reading this at night, look outside. Even in a city you’ll be able to see a few stars, if it’s not too cloudy and your eyes are up to it. If you’re lucky, the view from your window or garden will include a whole host of stars. Either way, you will be looking [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Andromeda Beckons Across The Void

A mega-portrait of Andromeda - see the link further down this page (Subaru Telescope, NOAJ)

                          The Andromeda galaxy holds a particular fascination. Not just because it’s the nearest large galaxy to our own, some 2.5 million light years away, but because it shares a destiny with us. Eventually there will be no more Milky Way and Andromeda, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

A Galactic Flyby Can Be Deadly, But Beautiful

326 million light years away a galactic encounter destroys a galaxy but creates something lovely (NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage team, STScI/AURA, Wide Field Camera 3, visible light + near infrared image

Galaxies across the observable universe are engaged in ultra-slow motion interactions with each other, close encounters, flybys, and sometimes collisions. The outcome may be different in every case. Sometimes the presence of a neighboring galaxy’s gravitational pull as it passes by can disturb, or harass, the processes of star and planet formation. In other cases [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Cosmic Cartography: Here Is Your (Local) Universe

Our local cosmic terrain (Credit: Helene Courtois)

A new video tours the nearby universe and makes it charmingly familiar. When I was a graduate student I spent a lot of time studying maps of our universe. These were being constructed using great surveys of galaxies. Each of these fuzzy specks was triangulated on the sky and located in depth by its apparent [...]

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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

The Stars Are Beginning To Go Out…

The galaxy NGC 1365 aglow with H-alpha light (Credit: ESO)

They really are. The universe is apparently well past its prime in terms of making stars, and what new ones are being made now across the cosmos will never amount to more than a few percent on top of the numbers already come and gone. This is the rather disquieting conclusion of a new and [...]

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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 to the Rescue

The birth of a galaxy. An overlay of the X-ray light (blue) and ultraviolet light (red) coming from a system 12 billion years ago (with thanks to Wil van Breugel and Ian Smail)

This post is the fourth in a series that accompanies the publication of my book ‘Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos’ (Scientific American/FSG). Ten years ago the universe was in trouble. Or rather, our puny human theories about the nature of all the stars and galaxies in [...]

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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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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

Strange Signal at Galactic Center–Is It Dark Matter?

Dark matter distribution around the Milky Way

Are there dark doings near the center of the Milky Way? That may be so when it comes to the collision of dark matter particles. Although such particles are invisible, we could still theoretically see the mess they make when they collide. It’s this idea that leads physicists to scour the galaxy for some glimmer [...]

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Observations

Astronomers Identify Very Distant (But Not the Most Distant) Galaxy

distant galaxy 13 billion years ago

The universe is a big place, and by peering across it astronomers get to look back in time. A galaxy or supernova so far away that it takes two billion years for its light to reach us will be seen here as it appeared two billion years ago. Remarkably, today’s best telescopes can look across [...]

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The Countdown

The Countdown, Episode 1: Earliest Spiral Galaxy, Earth as Art, the Pioneer Anomaly, a Rocket-Loving Gopher, 7 Minutes of Terror

Welcome to The Countdown, the Scientific American show that counts down the five coolest things happening now in space news. Episode 1: July 26, 2012 Story 5 Galaxies from the early universe usually look kind of lumpy or blobby, but scientists have spotted one with a spiral structure, making it look a lot like our [...]

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