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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Carbon Atmosphere Discovered On Neutron Star

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New evidence from Chandra suggests that the neutron star at the center of the Cas A supernova remnant has an ultra-thin carbon atmosphere.

Evidence for a thin veil of carbon has been found on the neutron star in the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. This discovery, made with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, resolves a ten-year mystery surrounding this object.

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NASA’s Fermi Telescope Detects Gamma Rays From ‘Star Factories’ In Other Galaxies

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Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) shows that an intense star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud named 30 Doradus is also a source of diffuse gamma rays.

Nearby galaxies undergoing a furious pace of star formation also emit lots of gamma rays, say astronomers using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Two so-called “starburst” galaxies, plus a satellite of our own Milky Way galaxy, represent a new category of gamma-ray-emitting objects detected both by Fermi and ground-based observatories.

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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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Dirty Stars Make Good Solar System Hosts

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Pebble density increases with time. The black regions have no pebbles, blue regions have a moderate density, and bright regions have high density of pebbles. The square represents a small part of the disk of gas and dust that surrounds the star before the planets form, referred to as the protoplanetary disk, seen from above.

Some stars are lonely behemoths, with no surrounding planets or asteroids, while others sport a skirt of attendant planetary bodies. New research published this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters explains why the composition of the stars often indicates whether their light shines into deep space, or whether a small fraction shines onto orbiting planets.

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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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NASA’s Spitzer Spots Clump Of Swirling Planetary Material

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This artist’s conception shows a lump of material in a swirling, planet-forming disk.

Astronomers have witnessed odd behavior around a young star. Something, perhaps another star or a planet, appears to be pushing a clump of planet-forming material around. The observations, made with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, offer a rare look into the early stages of planet formation.

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Swift Makes Best-ever Ultraviolet Portrait Of Andromeda Galaxy

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This mosaic of M31 merges 330 individual images taken by the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope aboard NASA’s Swift spacecraft.

In a break from its usual task of searching for distant cosmic explosions, NASA’s Swift satellite has acquired the highest-resolution view of a neighboring spiral galaxy ever attained in the ultraviolet. The galaxy, known as M31 in the constellation Andromeda, is the largest and closest spiral galaxy to our own.

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Oddball Stars Explained: New Observations Solve Longstanding Mystery Of Tipped Stars

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stars now explained. New observations on the double star system.

A pair of unusual stars known as DI Herculis has confounded astronomers for three decades, but new observations by MIT researchers and their colleagues have provided data that they say solve the mystery once and for all.

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Sophisticated Telescope Camera Debuts With Peek At Nest Of Black Holes

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This is a near-infrared image of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the largest satellite galaxy circling the Milky Way.

Less than two months after they inaugurated the world’s largest telescope, University of Florida astronomers have used one of the world’s most advanced telescopic instruments to gather images of the heavens. Continue reading… “Sophisticated Telescope Camera Debuts With Peek At Nest Of Black Holes”

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Astrophysics: High Energy Galactic Particle Accelerator Located

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The Messier 87 galaxy.

An unprecedented measuring campaign has succeeded in precisely defining the place of origin of high-energy gamma radiation in the galaxy Messier 87. This radiation can only be produced by accelerating elementary particles to very high energies in enormous cosmic objects. Now the underlying extreme physical processes and inherent implications can be investigated in more detail.

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