Stunning New Image of Cat’s Paw Nebula

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The Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) is a vast region of star formation. The whole gas cloud is about 50 light-years across.

ESO has just released a stunning new image of the vast cloud known as the Cat’s Paw Nebula or NGC 6334. This complex region of gas and dust, where numerous massive stars are born, lies near the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, and is heavily obscured by intervening dust clouds.

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How Galaxies Came to Be: Astronomers Explain Hubble Sequence

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A figure illustrating the Hubble sequence.

For the first time, two astronomers have explained the diversity of galaxy shapes seen in the universe. The scientists, Dr Andrew Benson of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Dr Nick Devereux of Embry-Riddle University in Arizona, tracked the evolution of galaxies over thirteen billion years from the early Universe to the present day.

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Black Hole Found to Be Much Closer to Earth Than Previously Thought

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An international team of astronomers has accurately measured the distance from Earth to a black hole for the first time.

An international team of astronomers has accurately measured the distance from Earth to a black hole for the first time. Without needing to rely on mathematical models the astronomers came up with a distance of 7800 light years, much closer than had been assumed until now. The researchers achieved this breakthrough by measuring the radio emissions from the black hole and its associated dying star.

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Watching a Cannibal Galaxy Dine

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This image of the central parts of Centaurus A reveals the parallelogram-shaped remains of a smaller galaxy that was gulped down about 200 to 700 million years ago.

A new technique using near-infrared images, obtained with ESO’s 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT), allows astronomers to see through the opaque dust lanes of the giant cannibal galaxy Centaurus A, unveiling its “last meal” in unprecedented detail — a smaller spiral galaxy, currently twisted and warped. This amazing image also shows thousands of star clusters, strewn like glittering gems, churning inside Centaurus A.

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Close-Up Movie Shows Hidden Details in the Birth of Super-Suns

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Artist’s conception of the “boiling disk” surrounding the massive young stellar object known as Orion Source I. A disk of hot, ionized gas surrounds the central star, blocking our view

The constellation of Orion is a hotbed of massive star formation, most prominently in the Great Nebula that sits in Orion’s sword. The glowing gas of the Nebula is powered by a group of young massive stars, but behind it is a cluster of younger stars and clumps of gas. Still gathering together under gravity’s pull, these gas clumps will eventually ignite into stars.

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Two Earth-sized Bodies With Oxygen Rich Atmospheres Found, But They’re Stars Not Planets

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Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopy of this inconspicuous blue object.

Astrophysicists at the University of Warwick and Kiel University have discovered two earth sized bodies with oxygen rich atmospheres — however there is a bit of a disappointing snag for anyone looking for a potential home for alien life, or even a future home for ourselves, as they are not planets but are actually two unusual white dwarf stars.

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Middleweight Black Hole: Swift, XMM-Newton Satellites Tune Into X-ray Source

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Swift X-ray observations of galaxy NGC 5408 indicate its ultraluminous X-ray source undergoes periodic changes every 115.5 days.

While astronomers have studied lightweight and heavyweight black holes for decades, the evidence for black holes with intermediate masses has been much harder to come by. Now, astronomers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., find that an X-ray source in galaxy NGC 5408 represents one of the best cases for a middleweight black hole to date.

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Towards Other Earths: 32 New Exoplanets Found

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One of the 32 new exoplanets recently discovered using the HARPS spectrograph is surrounding the star Gliese 667 C, which belongs to a triple system. The 6 Earth-mass exoplanet circulates around its low-mass host star at a distance equal to only 1/20th of the Earth-Sun distance. The host star is a companion to two other low-mass stars, which are seen here in the distance.

Today, at an international ESO/CAUP exoplanet conference in Porto, the team who built the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, better known as HARPS, the spectrograph for ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope, reports on the incredible discovery of some 32 new exoplanets, cementing HARPS’s position as the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter. This result also increases the number of known low-mass planets by an impressive 30%. Over the past five years HARPS has spotted more than 75 of the roughly 400 or so exoplanets now known.

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Milky Way’s Tiny But Tough Galactic Neighbor

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Astronomers obtained this portrait of Barnard’s Galaxy using the Wide Field Imager attached to the 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile.

A stunning new image reveals one of our nearest galactic neighbors, Barnard’s Galaxy, also known as NGC 6822. The galaxy contains regions of rich star formation and curious nebulae, such as the bubble clearly visible in the upper left of this remarkable vista. The strange shapes of these cosmic misfits help researchers understand how galaxies interact, evolve and occasionally “cannibalize” each other, leaving behind radiant, star-filled scraps.

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‘Ram Pressure’ Stripping Galaxies, Hubble Space Telescope Scientists Find

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This composite shows the two ram pressure stripping galaxies NGC 4522 and NGC 4402.

A newly released set of images, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope before the recent Servicing Mission, highlight the ongoing drama in two galaxies in the Virgo Cluster affected by a process known as “ram pressure stripping”, which can result in peculiar-looking galaxies.

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Computer Code Gives Astrophysicists First Full Simulation Of Star’s Final Hours

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Using Maestro, researchers simulate the radial velocity surfaces of a Type 1a Supernova as it approaches the point of ignition.

The precise conditions inside a white dwarf star in the hours leading up to its explosive end as a Type Ia supernova are one of the mysteries confronting astrophysicists studying these massive stellar explosions. But now, a team of researchers, composed of three applied mathematicians at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and two astrophysicists, has created the first full-star simulation of the hours preceding the largest thermonuclear explosions in the universe. Continue reading… “Computer Code Gives Astrophysicists First Full Simulation Of Star’s Final Hours”

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