6
Jan 10

Astronomers say Alien dust is nothing to sneeze at

Credit: Gemini


Artist's impression of the events around HD 131488.
Credit: Lynette Cook for Gemini Observatory/AURA

Using the Gemini South telescope in Chile, astronomers at UCLA have found dusty evidence for the formation of young, rocky planets around a star some 500 light years distant. But these potential extrasolar worlds are alien in an even more intriguing way… In the aftermath of collisions between planetary embryos around this star the researchers discovered that the dusty debris bears no resemblance to the planetary building blocks of our own Solar System. (read more)

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6
Jan 10

Astronomers are finding millisecond pulsars faster than ever

Credit: ASTRON

Astronomers of an international team that is discovering the exotic stars known as "millisecond pulsars" at an astonishing rate. Whereas in the last 30 years only 60 millisecond pulsars have been identified in the disk of our Galaxy, 17 new millisecond pulsars have been found in just the last 3 months by using large radio telescopes to target sources of high-energy gamma-rays recently found with NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. (read more)

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6
Jan 10

Massive Stars: Good Targets for Planet Hunts, Bad Targets for SETI

Credit: Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Artist's conception shows a Jupiter-sized planet forming from a disk of dust and gas
surrounding a young, massive star. The planet's gravity has cleared a gap in the disk.
Credit: David A. Aguilar, CfA

Most searches for planets around other stars, also known as exoplanets, focus on Sun-like stars. Those searches have proven successful, turning up more than 400 alien worlds.

The prospects for hypothetical alien life are, by opposite, disappointing. The habitable zone, or region where liquid water could exist on a rocky surface, is at a greater distance from the star for A and B stars than for sun-like stars due to their greater luminosity. However, that luminosity comes at the price of a short lifetime. A and B stars live for only about 10 - 500 million years before running out of fuel. (read more)

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6
Jan 10

From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross

Scheduled for the 8th and the 10th of January, the "From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross" project intends to bring the two hemispheres together - truly One People, One Sky!

For this project there will be two telescopes - one in the northern hemisphere and one in the south - on two different nights. No experience is needed. This is a chance to watch as an experienced telescope operator and guide show how they capture the wonders of the night sky.

Join other members of AWB Affiliates around the world. Chat will be available between participants and with the telescope operator. Join in or just watch.

For more information take a look at www.astronomerswithoutborders.org.

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6
Jan 10

From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross

Scheduled for the 8th and the 10th of January, the "From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross" project intends to bring the two hemispheres together - truly One People, One Sky!

For this project there will be two telescopes - one in the northern hemisphere and one in the south - on two different nights. No experience is needed. This is a chance to watch as an experienced telescope operator and guide show how they capture the wonders of the night sky.

Join other members of AWB Affiliates around the world. Chat will be available between participants and with the telescope operator. Join in or just watch.

For more information take a look at www.astronomerswithoutborders.org.

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6
Jan 10

Galaxy Exposes Its Dusty Inner Workings in New Spitzer Image

Source: NASA/JPL

The infrared portrait of the Small Magellanic Cloud, taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured an action-packed picture of the nearby Small Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that looks like a wispy cloud when seen from Earth.

From Spitzer's perch up in space, the galaxy's clouds of dust and stars come into clear view. The telescope's infrared vision reveals choppy piles of recycled stardust -- dust that is being soaked up by new star systems and blown out by old ones. (read more)

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6
Jan 10

Hubble finds most distant primeval galaxies

Source: NASA/ESA News Release - heic1001

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has broken the distance limit for galaxies and uncovered a primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that have never been seen before. The data from the Hubble’s new infrared camera, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), on the Ultra Deep Field (taken in August 2009) have been analysed by five international teams of astronomers. Some of these early results are being presented by various team members on 6 January 2010, at the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington DC, USA. (read more)

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6
Jan 10

Sagittarius A: New data about the Milky Way's central black hole

Source: Chandra@Harvard


Supermassive black hole Sgr A* and its surrounding region.
Credit: NASA/CXC/MIT/F. Baganoff, R. Shcherbakov et al.

Astronomers have long known that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short), is a particularly poor eater. (read more)

Related Links:
Chandra at NASA

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6
Jan 10

Earth-Like Planet Probably A Wasteland

Source: Space Daily

Artist's impression of an extrasolar planet.

When scientists confirmed in October that they had detected the first rocky planet outside our solar system, it advanced the longtime quest to find an Earth-like planet hospitable to life.

Now scientists led by a University of Washington astronomer say that if CoRoT-7 b's orbit is not almost perfectly circular, then the planet might also be undergoing fierce volcanic eruptions. It could be even more volcanically active than Jupiter's moon Io, which has more than 400 volcanoes and is the most geologically active object in our solar system. (read more)

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