This year, however, had a particularly special treat for everyone. On Monday, June 3rd, and Tuesday, June 4th, anyone with the gusto and interest could come to the meeting and attend special talks and events for public and amateur astronomers. To celebrate this, the Indiana Astronomical Society held a star party on June 3rd to get everyone ready for the exciting news unleashed in the following days. Now for the meat and potatoes…
We start with a new Hubble result. Using its near-infrared vision to peer 9 billion years back in time, the Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered an extraordinary population of young dwarf galaxies brimming with star formation. While dwarf galaxies are the most common type of galaxy in the universe, the rapid star-birth observed in these newly found examples may force astronomers to reassess their understanding of the ways in which galaxies form.
The galaxies are a hundred times less massive, on average, than the Milky Way, yet churn out stars at such a furious pace that their stellar content would double in just 10 million years. By comparison, the Milky Way would take a thousand times longer to double its star population.
“In addition to the images, Hubble has captured spectra that show us the oxygen in a handful of galaxies and confirmed their extreme star-forming nature,” said co-author Amber Straughn at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Spectra are like fingerprints. They tell us the galaxies’ chemical composition.”
As Maggie mentioned in her intriguing post last week, things have been quite busy around here recently. So here is a bit of a catch-up edition of your weekly Awesomeness Round-Up. Enjoy!
Historically, astronomy has always required a great deal of patience as astronomers spent long, cold nights at the telescope, but that was only the beginning. NASA’s Chandra satellite exercised even more extreme measures of patience while it stared at a tiny patch of sky for more than six weeks in order to observe the incredibly faint galaxies visible in the Chandra Deep Field South (pictured below). Chandra’s team announced last week that they had examined over 200 distant galaxies as they were approximately 800 to 950 million years after the Big Bang, finding that black holes were far more common in the early Universe than was ever previously suspected. These baby black holes will have continued to evolve into today’s supermassive black holes over the Universe’s 13 billion year lifetime.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Hawaii/E.Treister et al; Infrared: NASA/STScI/UC Santa Cruz/
G.Illingworth et al; Optical: NASA/STScI/S.Beckwith et al
Here at Blueshift, we’re big fans of increasing the awesome. In fact, it’s pretty much our top priority when we’re picking the stories that we want to share (and why we call this the “awesomeness round-up,” and not “some random stuff we found”). So we really loved this video by Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers, explaining how NASA is increasing the awesome with a very small portion of your tax money!
To keep the awesome rolling, this week’s round-up will be all videos! So get ready for a playlist of last week’s most awesome space-themed news. Read more »
Sorry we were slow with posts last week – we were swamped with preparations for the government shut-down that (thankfully) never happened. We’ve got a bunch of things in the works, but we’ll start with a link round-up.
Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs) are huge explosions in space, and scientists think they happen either when a very massive star explodes or when two very dense neutron stars collide. Either way, it’s thought that a GRB signals the birth of a black hole. Very short duration GRBs are less common than another kind of burst that lasts longer, more than two seconds. Also, their shorter duration makes them harder to study. This new supercomputer simulation of short GRBs has shown that merging neutron stars could indeed power short GRBs. You can read all the details in this web feature.
It’s been a cold and wintery January here at NASA Goddard – not much accumulation yet (certainly nothing like last year’s snowpocalypse), but plenty of ice and sleet! We’re hearing predictions of another storm this week, so we’ll see how things look in a few days. A light dusting is lovely outside our cleanroom building, though, isn’t it?
It was a pretty quiet week in space news, but we’ve got a few things to share! Read more »
This past week marked a major milestone in mankind’s exploration and understanding of comets – the EPOXI mission flew just 700 km from the nucleus of comet Hartley 2 and snapped some amazing images! This close pass will give researchers incredible new insight into the structure of comets. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Hubble also took a look at Hartley 2. Numerous fantastic images and more information on the mission at the EPOXI site, and nice summaries of the mission available from Phil Plait and The Planetary Society.
Last week was apparently a great week for astronomy – the shared file where Maggie and I gather all of the images, videos, and stories that we see all week was absolutely overflowing with possible content for today’s round-up! So we’ve distilled it to the best of the best, and I hope you’ll enjoy the variety that we’re featuring. This may be a monster round-up, but it is the day after Halloween. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
First up, this movie is a zoom into the giant globular star cluster Omega Centauri, from a ground-based image to one from the Hubble Space Telescope. The ending is especially cool – the simulated motion definitely looks like a swarm of bees, I can see why they’re referring to it as a “beehive” in the news release! Scientists are interested in studying this motion, and also whether there’s a black hole lurking among the stars.