Space Hubble Telescope News

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Intense Flash from Milky Way's Black Hole Illuminated Gas Far Outside of Our Galaxy

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About 3.5 million years ago, our distant hominid ancestors might have noticed a mysterious glowing spot along the arc of the star-studded Milky Way. Today we know that this would have been evidence for a tremendous explosion around a black hole that rocked the center of our galaxy. Scientists using Hubble now see the aftermath of that enormous flash of light that beamed out of our galaxy's center way back then. It illuminated a huge, ribbon-like tail of gas orbiting the Milky Way. Called the Magellanic Stream, this long trail lies far outside of our galaxy, at an average distance of 200,000 light-years. Like an aircraft contrail, It extends from neighboring dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Researchers made careful ultraviolet measurements of distant quasars behind the Magellanic Stream. As the ultraviolet light from the quasars passed through the stream, Hubble recorded the telltale fingerprints of how the flash altered the gas.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Opens Doorway to Systematic Search for Black Holes

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Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing black hole hunt has bagged yet another supermassive black hole in the universe. The compact object - equal to the mass of two billion suns - lies at the heart of the edge-on galaxy NGC 3115, located 30 million light-years away in the constellation Sextans.

This result promises to open the way to systematic demographic studies of very massive black holes that might once have powered quasars - objects that are incredibly small, yet release a gusher of light and other radiation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Opens Doorway to Systematic Search for Black Holes

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Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing black hole hunt has bagged yet another supermassive black hole in the universe. The compact object - equal to the mass of two billion suns - lies at the heart of the edge-on galaxy NGC 3115, located 30 million light-years away in the constellation Sextans.

This result promises to open the way to systematic demographic studies of very massive black holes that might once have powered quasars - objects that are incredibly small, yet release a gusher of light and other radiation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Provides Multiple Views of How to Feed a Black Hole

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Astronomers have obtained an unprecedented look at the nearest example of galactic cannibalism – a massive black hole hidden at the center of a nearby giant galaxy that is feeding on a smaller galaxy in a spectacular collision. Such fireworks were common in the early universe, as galaxies formed and evolved, but are rare today.

The Hubble telescope offers a stunning unprecedented close-up view of a turbulent firestorm of star birth along a nearly edge-on dust disk girdling Centaurus A, the nearest active galaxy to Earth. The picture at upper left shows the entire galaxy. The blue outline represents Hubble's field of view. The larger, central picture is Hubble's close-up view of the galaxy. Brilliant clusters of young blue stars lie along the edge of the dark dust lane. Outside the rift the sky is filled with the soft hazy glow of the galaxy's much older resident population of red giant and red dwarf stars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Science Release: Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe

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New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early Universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, as far back as when the Universe was just 500 million years old.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Provides Multiple Views of How to Feed a Black Hole

low_STSCI-H-p-9814-k1340x520.png


Astronomers have obtained an unprecedented look at the nearest example of galactic cannibalism – a massive black hole hidden at the center of a nearby giant galaxy that is feeding on a smaller galaxy in a spectacular collision. Such fireworks were common in the early universe, as galaxies formed and evolved, but are rare today.

The Hubble telescope offers a stunning unprecedented close-up view of a turbulent firestorm of star birth along a nearly edge-on dust disk girdling Centaurus A, the nearest active galaxy to Earth. The picture at upper left shows the entire galaxy. The blue outline represents Hubble's field of view. The larger, central picture is Hubble's close-up view of the galaxy. Brilliant clusters of young blue stars lie along the edge of the dark dust lane. Outside the rift the sky is filled with the soft hazy glow of the galaxy's much older resident population of red giant and red dwarf stars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Observatories Combine to Crack Open the Crab Nebula

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In the summer of the year 1054 AD, Chinese astronomers saw a new "guest star," that appeared six times brighter than Venus. So bright in fact, it could be seen during the daytime for several months. Halfway around the world, Native Americans made pictographs of a crescent moon with the bright star nearby that some think may also have been a record of the supernova.

This "guest star" was forgotten about until 700 years later with the advent of telescopes. Astronomers saw a tentacle-like nebula in the place of the vanished star and called it the Crab Nebula. Today we know it as the expanding gaseous remnant from a star that self-detonated as a supernova, briefly shining as brightly as 400 million suns. The explosion took place 6,500 light-years away. If the blast had instead happened 50 light-years away it would have irradiated Earth, wiping out most life forms.

In the late 1960s astronomers discovered the crushed heart of the doomed star, an ultra-dense neutron star that is a dynamo of intense magnetic field and radiation energizing the nebula. Astronomers therefore need to study the Crab Nebula across a broad range of electromagnetic radiation, from X-rays to radio waves. This composite picture from five observatories captures the complexity of this tortured-looking supernova remnant.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe

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In Greek mythology the first deities born from the universe's origin in "the Chaos," created a race of Titans. The powerful Titans were eventually superseded by the gods of Olympus. In modern cosmology, the stellar equivalent of the legendary Titans are so-called Population III stars, that would have been the very first stars born after the big bang. These hypothetical stars are as elusive as the Titans. Unlike the stars of today—like our Sun (that contains heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron)—the Population III stars would have been solely made out of the few primordial elements first forged in the seething crucible of the big bang. Much more massive and brighter than our Sun, they would have defiantly blazed as lords over the inky void of the newborn universe.

A team of European researchers, led by Rachana Bhatawdekar of the European Space Agency, set out to find the elusive first-generation stars by probing from about 500 million to 1 billion years after the big bang. In their quest they used observations from Hubble, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory. They used the gravitational lensing power of a massive foreground galaxy cluster (that acts as a giant magnifying lens in space) to find brightened images of far more distant background galaxies 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed. Unfortunately, the team found no evidence of these first-generation Population III stars in this cosmic time interval they explored. These results are nevertheless important because they show that galaxies must have formed even earlier after the big bang than previously thought.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe

low_STScI-H-p2034a-d-1280x720.png


In Greek mythology the first deities born from the universe's origin in "the Chaos," created a race of Titans. The powerful Titans were eventually superseded by the gods of Olympus. In modern cosmology, the stellar equivalent of the legendary Titans are so-called Population III stars, that would have been the very first stars born after the big bang. These hypothetical stars are as elusive as the Titans. Unlike the stars of today—like our Sun (that contains heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron)—the Population III stars would have been solely made out of the few primordial elements first forged in the seething crucible of the big bang. Much more massive and brighter than our Sun, they would have defiantly blazed as lords over the inky void of the newborn universe.

A team of European researchers, led by Rachana Bhatawdekar of the European Space Agency, set out to find the elusive first-generation stars by probing from about 500 million to 1 billion years after the big bang. In their quest they used observations from Hubble, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory. They used the gravitational lensing power of a massive foreground galaxy cluster (that acts as a giant magnifying lens in space) to find brightened images of far more distant background galaxies 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed. Unfortunately, the team found no evidence of these first-generation Population III stars in this cosmic time interval they explored. These results are nevertheless important because they show that galaxies must have formed even earlier after the big bang than previously thought.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Intense Flash from Milky Way's Black Hole Illuminated Gas Far Outside of Our Galaxy

low_STScI-H-2033a-d-1280x720.png


About 3.5 million years ago, our distant hominid ancestors might have noticed a mysterious glowing spot along the arc of the star-studded Milky Way. Today we know that this would have been evidence for a tremendous explosion around a black hole that rocked the center of our galaxy. Scientists using Hubble now see the aftermath of that enormous flash of light that beamed out of our galaxy's center way back then. It illuminated a huge, ribbon-like tail of gas orbiting the Milky Way. Called the Magellanic Stream, this long trail lies far outside of our galaxy, at an average distance of 200,000 light-years. Like an aircraft contrail, It extends from neighboring dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Researchers made careful ultraviolet measurements of distant quasars behind the Magellanic Stream. As the ultraviolet light from the quasars passed through the stream, Hubble recorded the telltale fingerprints of how the flash altered the gas.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Joined
Jul 28, 2004
Location
Terra
Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe

low_STScI-H-p2034a-d-1280x720.png


In Greek mythology the first deities born from the universe's origin in "the Chaos," created a race of Titans. The powerful Titans were eventually superseded by the gods of Olympus. In modern cosmology, the stellar equivalent of the legendary Titans are so-called Population III stars, that would have been the very first stars born after the big bang. These hypothetical stars are as elusive as the Titans. Unlike the stars of today—like our Sun (that contains heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron)—the Population III stars would have been solely made out of the few primordial elements first forged in the seething crucible of the big bang. Much more massive and brighter than our Sun, they would have defiantly blazed as lords over the inky void of the newborn universe.

A team of European researchers, led by Rachana Bhatawdekar of the European Space Agency, set out to find the elusive first-generation stars by probing from about 500 million to 1 billion years after the big bang. In their quest they used observations from Hubble, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory. They used the gravitational lensing power of a massive foreground galaxy cluster (that acts as a giant magnifying lens in space) to find brightened images of far more distant background galaxies 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed. Unfortunately, the team found no evidence of these first-generation Population III stars in this cosmic time interval they explored. These results are nevertheless important because they show that galaxies must have formed even earlier after the big bang than previously thought.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Completes Eight-Year Effort to Measure Expanding Universe

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The Hubble Space Telescope Key Project team today announced that it has completed efforts to measure precise distances to far-flung galaxies, an essential ingredient needed to determine the age, size and fate of the universe.

The team used the Hubble telescope to observe 19 galaxies out to 108 million light-years. They discovered almost 800 Cepheid variable stars, a special class of pulsating star used for accurate distance measurements. Here is a picture of one of those galaxies. It is the spiral galaxy NGC 4603, the most distant galaxy in which Cepheid variables have been found. It is associated with the Centaurus cluster, one of the most massive assemblages of galaxies in the nearby universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Trio of Galaxies Mix It Up

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Though they are the largest and most widely scattered objects in the universe, galaxies do go bump in the night. The Hubble Space Telescope has photographed many pairs of galaxies colliding. Like snowflakes, no two examples look exactly alike. This is one of the most arresting galaxy smash-up images to date.

At first glance, it looks as if a smaller galaxy has been caught in a tug-of-war between a Sumo-wrestler pair of elliptical galaxies. The hapless, mangled galaxy may have once looked more like our Milky Way, a pinwheel-shaped galaxy. But now that it's caught in a cosmic Cuisinart, its dust lanes are being stretched and warped by the tug of gravity. Unlike the elliptical galaxies, the spiral is rich in dust and gas for the formation of new stars. It is the fate of the spiral galaxy to be pulled like taffy and then swallowed by the pair of elliptical galaxies. This will trigger a firestorm of new stellar creation. If there are astronomers on any planets in this galaxy group, they will have a ringside seat to seeing a flurry of starbirth unfolding over many millions of years to come. Eventually the ellipticals should merge too, creating one single super-galaxy many times larger than our Milky Way. This trio is part of a tight cluster of 16 galaxies, many of them being dwarf galaxies. The galaxy cluster is called the Hickson Compact Group 90 and lies about 100 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Galaxy on Edge

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The magnificent galaxy NGC 4710 is tilted nearly edge-on to our view from Earth. This perspective allows astronomers to easily distinguish the central bulge of stars from its pancake-flat disk of stars, dust, and gas. What's striking in the image is a ghostly "X" pattern of stars. This natural-color photo was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys on January 15, 2006.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Beyond the Brim, Sombrero Galaxy's Halo Suggests a Turbulent Past

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Like a desperado in the Wild West, the broad "brim" of the Sombrero galaxy's disk may conceal a turbulent past. The Sombrero (M104) has never been a galaxy to fit the mold. It has an intriguing mix of shapes found in disk-shaped spiral galaxies, as well as football-shaped elliptical galaxies. The story of its structure becomes stranger with new evidence from the Hubble Space Telescope indicating the Sombrero is the result of major galaxy mergers, though its smooth disk shows no signs of recent disruption.

The galaxy's faint halo offers forensic clues. It's littered with innumerable stars that are rich in heavier elements (called metals), because they are later-generation stars. Such stars are usually only found in a galaxy's disk. They must have been tossed into the halo through mergers with mature, metal-rich galaxies in the distant past. The iconic galaxy now looks a bit more settled in its later years. It is now so isolated, there is nothing else around to feed on. This finding offers a new twist on how galaxies assemble themselves in our compulsive universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Slime Mold Simulations Used to Map the Dark Matter Holding the Universe Together

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A simple single-cell organism that may be growing on your lawn is helping astronomers probe the largest structures in the universe.

These organisms, called slime mold, feed on dead plant material, and they have an uncanny ability to seek out food sources. Although brainless, the organism's "genius" at creating efficient networks to reach their food goal has caught the attention of scientists. Researchers have recreated the slime mold's behavior in computer algorithms to help solve large-scale engineering problems such as finding the most efficient traffic routes in large cities, solving mazes, and pinpointing crowd evacuation routes.

A team of astronomers has now turned to slime mold to help them trace the universe's large-scale network of filaments. Built by gravity, these vast cobweb structures, called the cosmic web, tie galaxies and clusters of galaxies together along faint bridges of gas and dark matter hundreds of millions of light-years long.

To trace the filaments, the research team designed a computer algorithm informed by slime-mold behavior. The team seeded the algorithm with the charted positions of 37,000 galaxies and ran it to generate a filamentary map. The astronomers then used archival observations from the Hubble Space Telescope to detect and study the faint gas permeating the web at the predicted locations.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Quasar Tsunamis Rip Across Galaxies

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The weather forecast for galaxies hosting monster, active black holes is blustery. Engorged by infalling material, a supermassive black hole heats so much gas that it can shine 1,000 times brighter than its host galaxy. But that’s not all.

Hubble astronomers found that the region around the black hole emits so much radiation that it pushes out material at a few percent the speed of light (a speed fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in a few minutes). This material slams into a host galaxy’s lanes of gas and dust, preventing the formation of new stars. The torrential winds are snowplowing the equivalent of hundreds of solar masses of material each year. And, the forecast is that this stormy weather will continue for at least ten million years.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Awards Prize Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2020

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NASA has selected 24 new Fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support at a university or research center of their choosing in the United States.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Finds Best Evidence for Elusive Mid-Sized Black Hole

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Like detectives carefully building a case, astronomers gathered evidence and eliminated suspects until they found the best evidence yet that the death of a star, first witnessed in X-rays, could be traced back to an elusive mid-sized black hole. The result is a long-sought win for astronomy, as the mid-sized "missing link" in the black hole family has thus far thwarted detection. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was used to follow up on multiple X-ray observations of a suspected tidal disruption event. This is caused when a wayward star comes too close to the gravity well of a black hole and gets shredded by its tidal forces. The intense heat from stellar cannibalism betrays the black hole's presence with a burst of X-rays. Hubble resolved the source region of this X-ray flare as a star cluster outside the Milky Way galaxy. Such clusters have been considered likely places to find an intermediate-mass black hole. The discovery eliminated the possibility that the X-rays came from another type of source within the Milky Way.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Probes Alien Comet's Chemical Makeup

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Astronomers have uncovered more than 4,000 planets that orbit stars outside our solar system. But they have few details on the planets' chemical makeup and how they were assembled inside a swirling disk of rock and ice encircling their stars.

The stars are too far away for us ever to visit them and see the planet-making recipe close-up.

Now, a sample from a distant star system has landed in our solar system's back yard. Comet Borisov, the first vagabond comet ever to enter our solar system, offers chemical clues to the composition of an object born around another star. Comets are made of gas, ice, and dust that are part of a planet's building blocks.

Borisov's unusual abundance of carbon monoxide, as gleaned through Hubble ultraviolet spectroscopic observations, is largely unlike comets belonging to our solar system. Researchers say this abundance points to the comet originating from a circumstellar disk around a class of star called a cool red dwarf.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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