"[Our philosopher] asserted that he knew the whole secret...[H]e surveyed the two celestial strangers from top to toe, and mantained to their faces that their persons, their worlds, their suns and their stars, were created solely for the use of man. At this assertion our two travelers let themselves fall against each other, seized with a fit of...inextinguishable laughter"
-- Voltaire (1752)
Hello all. My name is Lu. This is a science blog, on a microscopic and astronomical scale (and a combination of both--extraterrestrials!). I'm biology student, pretty much in love with the universe.
Message for URL to my personal Tumblr.
New Star System Similar to Ours —“We Cannot Stress Just How Important This Discovery Is” | The Daily Galaxy
A team of European astrophysicists has discovered the most extensive planetary system to date that orbit star KOI-351 – with seven planets, more than in other known planetary systems arranged in a similar fashion to the eight planets in the Solar System, with small rocky planets close to the parent star and gas giant planets at greater distances. Although the planetary system around KOI-351 is packed together more tightly, “We cannot stress just how important this discovery is. It is a big step in the search for a ‘twin’ to the Solar System, and thus also in finding a second Earth,” said Juan Cabrera, an astrophysicist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof.
Figure Eights and Peanut Shells: How Stars Move at the Center of the Galaxy | ScienceDaily
Two months ago astronomers created a new 3D map of stars at the centre of our Galaxy (the Milky Way), showing more clearly than ever the bulge at its core. Previous explanations suggested that the stars that form the bulge are in banana-like orbits, but a paper published this week in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society suggests that the stars probably move in peanut-shell or figure of eight-shaped orbits instead.
The difference is important; astronomers develop theories of star motions to not only understand how the stars in our galaxy are moving today but also how our galaxy formed and evolves. The Milky Way is shaped like a spiral, with a region of stars at the centre known as the “bar,” because of its shape. In the middle of this region, there is a “bulge” that expands out vertically.
In the new work Alice Quillen, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester, and her collaborators created a mathematical model of what might be happening at the centre of the Milky Way. Unlike the Solar System where most of the gravitational pull comes from the Sun and is simple to model, it is much harder to describe the gravitational field near the centre of the Galaxy, where millions of stars, vast clouds of dust, and even dark matter swirl about. In this case, Quillen and her colleagues considered the forces acting on the stars in or near the bulge.
’Smoking Gun’ After Gamma-Ray Blast | Hubble
Cosmic “Sonic Boom” Brightens Tycho’s Supernova —Its Light Reached Earth in 1572 | The Daily Galaxy
When a star explodes as a supernova, it shines brightly for a few weeks or months before fading away. Yet the material blasted outward from the explosion still glows hundreds or thousands of years later, forming a picturesque supernova remnant. What powers such long-lived brilliance? In the case of Tycho’s supernova remnant, astronomers have discovered that a reverse shock wave racing inward at Mach 1000 (1000 times the speed of sound) is heating the remnant and causing it to emit X-ray light.
"We wouldn’t be able to study ancient supernova remnants without a reverse shock to light them up," says Hiroya Yamaguchi, who conducted this research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
Dark Matter Ring in Galaxy Cluster | NASA
I highly suggest you follow [this link] to get the full resolution image. You’d be able to see almost clearly the individual galaxies.
What a universe we live in.
The Violent Lives of Galaxies: Caught in the Cosmic Dark Matter Web | NASA
Astronomers assembled this photo by combining a visible-light image of the Abell 901/902 supercluster taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, with a dark matter map derived from observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The magenta-tinted clumps represent a map of the dark matter in the cluster. Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the universe’s mass. The image shows that the supercluster galaxies lie within the clumps of dark matter.
Hubble cannot see the dark matter directly. Astronomers inferred its location by analyzing the effect of so-called weak gravitational lensing, where light from more than 60,000 galaxies behind Abell 901/902 is distorted by intervening matter within the cluster. Researchers used the observed, subtle distortion of the galaxies’ shapes to reconstruct the dark matter distribution in the supercluster.
In observational astronomy an Einstein ring is the deformation of the light from a source (such as a galaxy or star) into a ring through gravitational lensing of the source’s light by an object with an extremely large mass (such as another galaxy, or a black hole). This occurs when the source, lens and observer are all aligned. The first complete Einstein ring, designated B1938+666, was discovered by collaboration between astronomers at theUniversity of Manchester and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1998.
The Dumbbell Nebulais a planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula, at a distance of about 1,360 light years.
This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arcminutes, it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.
Mars MAVEN Mission Poised for Launch —Will Seek to Answer: “If Mars Was Once Habitable, What Happened?” | The Daily Galaxy
When life was just beginning to emerge on Earth, Mars could also have been a watery world shrouded in a dense atmosphere that supported life. One of the reasons water no longer flows on Mars’s surface is because its atmosphere is less than 1% of the density of the Earth’s.
NASA’s next mission to Mars is on schedule for its upcoming launch. MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, will blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket at 1:28 p.m. Eastern Time on November 18. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds—such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water—from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars atmosphere and climate change, liquid water, and the possibility of ancient life. “When we think about climate and habitability, Earth is all we know about right now,” University of Colorado’s Dave Brain, a co-investigator for the $670 million mission, told NBC News. “But wouldn’t it be neat if, long ago, Mars looked like Earth?”
Auroras in the Solar System | HubbleImages
Supernova Remnant N 63A Menagerie | Hubble
New Insights on How Life can be Identified on Alien Planets | The Daily Galaxy
Current efforts to find exoplanets with the potential to harbor life habitable planets and exoplanets with life focus on smaller stars than the Sun, because these so called M dwarfs or red dwarfs make up more than 75% of stars in the solar neighborhood. It may be possible to find habitable planets around these small stars with the current level of technology. Thus searching for habitable planets around M dwarfs is considered the fast track to find a second Earth. High levels of atmospheric oxygen are considered the most promising indicator for life on exoplanets.
M42 Orion Nebula In “Narrow Band” | John Castillo
Three Moons Cast Shadows on Jupiter | Hubble
Habitable Earthlike Planets in the Milky Way May be a Billion-Plus Years Older | The Daily Galaxy
Habitable conditions on Earth will be possible for at least another 1.75 billion years – according to astrobiologists at the University of East Anglia. Findings published today in the journal Astrobiology reveal the habitable lifetime of planet Earth – based on our distance from the sun and temperatures at which it is possible for the planet to have liquid water.The amount of habitable time on a planet is very important because it tells us about the potential for the evolution of complex life – which is likely to require a longer period of habitable conditions. Looking at habitability metrics is useful because it allows us to investigate the potential for other planets to host life, and understand the stage that life may be at elsewhere in the galaxy.
To date, no true Earth analogue planet has been detected. But it is possible that there will be a habitable, Earth-like planet within 10 light-years, which is very close in astronomical terms. However reaching it would take hundreds of thousands of years with our current technology.