29
Jun 16

Hubble nets a cosmic tadpole

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1612

heic1612aLEDA 36252, a cosmic tadpole.
image credits:NASA, ESA, and D. Elmegreen (Vassar College), B. Elmegreen (IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center), J. Almeida, C. Munoz-Tunon, and M. Filho (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias), J. Mendez-Abreu (University of St. Andrews), J. Gallagher (University of Wisconsin-Madison), M. Rafelski (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and D. Ceverino (Center for Astronomy at Heidelberg University)

This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows a cosmic tadpole, with its bright head and elongated tail, wriggling through the inky black pool of space. Tadpole galaxies are rare and difficult to find in the local Universe. This striking example, named LEDA 36252, was explored as part of a Hubble study into their mysterious properties — with interesting results.(learn more)

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25
May 16

Hubble finds clues to the birth of supermassive black holes

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1610

This artist’s impression shows a possible seed for the formation of a supermassive black hole. Two of these possible seeds were discovered by an Italian team, using three space telescopes: the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope.

Artist’s impression of supermassive black hole seed.
Image credits: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss.

Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from Hubble and two other space telescopes, Italian researchers have found the best evidence yet for the seeds that ultimately grow into these cosmic giants.(learn more)

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17
Apr 16

Giant black hole found in an unlikely place

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1607

ann16007aThe elliptical galaxy NGC 1600, 200 million light-years away.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Digital Sky Survey 2

Astronomers have uncovered one of the biggest supermassive black holes, with the mass of 17 billion Suns, in an unlikely place: the centre of a galaxy that lies in a quiet backwater of the Universe. The observations, made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. The results of this study are released in the journal Nature. (learn more)

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23
Mar 16

The Wilds of the Local Group

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1610

eso1610aThe WLM galaxy on the edge of the Local Group .
Image credits: ESO.

This scene, captured by ESO’s OmegaCAM on the VLT Survey Telescope, shows a lonely galaxy known as Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte, or WLM for short. Although considered part of our Local Group of dozens of galaxies, WLM stands alone at the group’s outer edges as one of its most remote members. In fact, the galaxy is so small and secluded that it may never have interacted with any other Local Group galaxy — or perhaps even any other galaxy in the history of the Universe. (learn more)

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5
Mar 16

Hubble breaks cosmic distance record

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1604

heic1604aMost distant galaxy .
Image credits: NASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University)

By pushing the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to its limits astronomers have shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the distance to the most remote galaxy ever seen in the Universe. This galaxy existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang and provides new insights into the first generation of galaxies. This is the first time that the distance of an object so far away has been measured from its spectrum, which makes the measurement extremely reliable. The results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.(learn more)

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11
Feb 16

The sleeping giant

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1602

heic1602aThe sleeping giant NGC 4889.
Image credits: NASA & ESA.

The placid appearance of NGC 4889 can fool the unsuspecting observer. But the elliptical galaxy, pictured in this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, harbours a dark secret. At its heart lurks one of the most massive black holes ever discovered.(learn more)

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27
Jan 16

The Milky Way’s Clean and Tidy Galactic Neighbour

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1603

eso1603aThe dwarf galaxy IC 1613.
Image credits: ESO.

Many galaxies are chock-full of dust, while others have occasional dark streaks of opaque cosmic soot swirling in amongst their gas and stars. However, the subject of this new image, snapped with the OmegaCAM camera on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, is unusual — the small galaxy, named IC 1613, is a veritable clean freak! IC 1613 contains very little cosmic dust, allowing astronomers to explore its contents with great clarity. This is not just a matter of appearances; the galaxy’s cleanliness is vital to our understanding of the Universe around us. (learn more)

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8
Dec 15

Galactic politics

Source: ESA/Hubble

Only rarely does an astronomical object have a political association. However, the spiral galaxy NGC 7252 acquired exactly that when it was given an unusual nickname. In December 1953, the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech advocating the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes. This  “Atoms for Peace” speech was significant for the scientific community, as it brought nuclear research into the public domain, and NGC 7252, which has a superficial resemblance to an atomic nucleus surrounded by the loops of electronic orbits, was dubbed the Atoms for Peace galaxy in honour of this. These loops are well visible in a wider field of view image. This nickname is quite ironic, as the galaxy’s past was anything but peaceful. Its peculiar appearance is the result of a collision between two galaxies that took place about a billion years ago, which ripped both galaxies apart. The loop-like outer structures, likely made up of dust and stars flung outwards by the crash, but recalling orbiting electrons in an atom, are partly responsible for the galaxy’s nickname. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the inner parts of the galaxy, revealing a pinwheel-shaped disc that is rotating in a direction opposite to the rest of the galaxy. This disc resembles a spiral galaxy like our own galaxy, the Milky Way, but is only about 10 000 light-years across — about a tenth of the size of the Milky Way. It is believed that this whirling structure is a remnant of the galactic collision. It will most likely have vanished in a few billion years’ time, when NGC 7252 will have completed its merging process.

Only rarely does an astronomical object have a political association. However, the spiral galaxy NGC 7252 acquired exactly that when it was given an unusual nickname.(learn more)

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20
Nov 15

The Birth of Monsters

Source: ESO Science Release eso1545

eso1545aMassive galaxies discovered in the early Universe.
Image credits:ESO/UltraVISTA team.
Acknowledgement: TERAPIX/CNRS/INSU/CASU

ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared.(read more)

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20
Apr 15

ALMA Reveals Intense Magnetic Field Close to Supermassive Black Hole

Source: ESO Science Release eso1515

eso1515aArtist’s impression of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy.
Image credits: ESO/L. Calçada

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has revealed an extremely powerful magnetic field, beyond anything previously detected in the core of a galaxy, very close to the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. This new observation helps astronomers to understand the structure and formation of these massive inhabitants of the centres of galaxies, and the twin high-speed jets of plasma they frequently eject from their poles. The results appear in the 17 April 2015 issue of the journal Science. (learn more)

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16
Apr 15

Death of giant galaxies spreads from the core — Hubble and VLT observations show that star formation shuts down in the centres of elliptical galaxies first

Source:ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1508

heic1508aImage credit:ESA/Hubble & NASA
Image acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt and J. Blakeslee (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory). Note that the image is not related to science release content.
Science acknowledgement: M. Carollo (ETH, Switzerland)

Astronomers have shown for the first time how star formation in "dead" galaxies sputtered out billions of years ago. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed that three billion years after the Big Bang, these galaxies still made stars on their outskirts, but no longer in their interiors. The quenching of star formation seems to have started in the cores of the galaxies and then spread to the outer parts. The results will be published in the 17 April 2015 issue of the journal Science. (learn more)

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10
Mar 15

An Old-looking Galaxy in a Young Universe

Source: ESO Science Release eso1508

Location of the distant dusty galaxy  A1689-zD1 behind the galaxThe rich galaxy cluster Abell 1689. A1689-zD1, is located in the box — although it is still so faint that it is barely seen in this picture. Image credits: NASA; ESA; L. Bradley (Johns Hopkins University); R. Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz); H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University); and G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz)

One of the most distant galaxies ever observed has provided astronomers with the first detection of dust in such a remote star-forming system and tantalising evidence for the rapid evolution of galaxies after the Big Bang. The new observations have used ALMA to pick up the faint glow from cold dust in the galaxy A1689-zD1 and used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to measure its distance. (learn more)

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7
Mar 15

Abell 2597: NASA's Chandra Observatory Finds Cosmic Showers Halt Galaxy Growth

Source: NASA /Chandra

a2597_w11Abell 2597. Image credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Michigan State Univ/G.Voit et al; Optical: NASA/STScI & DSS; H-alpha: Carnegie Obs./Magellan/W.Baade Telescope/U.Maryland/M.McDonald.

This galaxy cluster comes from a sample of over 200 that were studied to determine how giant black holes at their centers affect the growth and evolution of their host galaxy, as reported in our latest press release. This study revealed that an unusual form of cosmic precipitation enables a feedback loop of cooling and heating, stifling star formation in the middle of these galaxy clusters.

Abell 2597, shown here, is a galaxy cluster located about one thousand million light years from Earth. This image contains X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey (yellow) and emission from hydrogen atoms (red) from the Walter Baade Telescope in Chile.

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8
Jan 15

Hubble captures the sharpest ever view of neighbouring spiral Galaxy

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1502

Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda GalaxyAndromeda Galaxy.
Image credits: NASAESA, J. Dalcanton (University of Washington, USA),
B. F. Williams (University of Washington, USA), L. C. Johnson
(University of Washington, USA), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest and biggest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as Messier 31. The enormous image is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years.(learn more)

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22
Jul 14

Hubble traces the halo of a galaxy more accurately than ever before

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1415

Centaurus A haloCentaurus A halo.
Image credits: ESA/Hubble, NASA, Digitized Sky Survey, MPG/ESO.

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have probed the extreme outskirts of the stunning elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. The galaxy’s halo of stars has been found to extend much further from the galaxy’s centre than expected and the stars within this halo seem to be surprisingly rich in heavy elements. This is the most remote portion of an elliptical galaxy ever to have been explored.(learn more)

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22
Aug 13

Hubble explores the origins of modern galaxies

Source:ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1315
heic1315a

Astronomers have used observations from Hubble’s CANDELS survey to explore the sizes, shapes, and colours of distant galaxies over the last 80% of the Universe’s history. In the Universe today galaxies come in a variety of different forms, and are classified via a system known as the Hubble Sequence — and it turns out that this sequence was already in place as early as 11 billion years ago.

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6
Aug 13

Starburst to Star Bust — ALMA Sheds Light on Mystery of Missing Massive Galaxies

Source: ESO Science Release eso1334

eso1334a

New observations from the ALMA telescope in Chile have given astronomers the best view yet of how vigorous star formation can blast gas out of a galaxy and starve future generations of stars of the fuel they need to form and grow. The dramatic images show enormous outflows of molecular gas ejected by star-forming regions in the nearby Sculptor Galaxy. These new results help to explain the strange paucity of very massive galaxies in the Universe. The study is published in the journal Nature on 25 July 2013.(read more)

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14
Jun 13

Chandra Turns up Black Hole Bonanza in Galaxy Next Door

Source: NASA

m31_core_665

Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have been used to discover 26 black hole candidates in the Milky Way's galactic neighbor, Andromeda, as described in our latest press release. This is the largest number of possible black holes found in a galaxy outside of our own.

A team of researchers, led by Robin Barnard of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used 152 observations of Chandra spanning over 13 years to find the 26 new black hole candidates. Nine were known from earlier work. These black holes belong to the stellar-mass black hole category, which means they were created when a massive star collapsed and are about 5 to 10 times the mass of the Sun.

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10
Jun 13

Galactic pinwheel

Source: ESA

M101_large
Pinwheel Galaxy in ultraviolet.
Image credits: ESA/XMM & R. Willatt.

The face-on Pinwheel spiral galaxy is seen at ultraviolet wavelengths in this image taken by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope.

Also known as M101, the galaxy lies 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It measures 170 000 light-years across – nearly twice the diameter of our own Milky Way Galaxy – and contains at least a trillion stars. About a billion of these stars could be similar to our own Sun.(read more)

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24
May 13

Rare merger reveals secrets of galaxy evolution

Source: ESA/Herschel

Massive_galaxy_merger_caught_in_the_act_large
Massive galaxy merger caught in the act.
Image credits:ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Irvine/STScI/Keck/NRAO/SAO.

A rare encounter between two gas-rich galaxies spotted by ESA’s Herschel space observatory indicates a solution to an outstanding problem: how did massive, passive galaxies form in the early Universe? (read more)

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