Celestial Rosetta Stone: White Dwarf Star, Circling Companion Star, Could Explode In A Few Million Years


Illustration of the white dwarf and its companion HD49798. If it was possible to look at the system up-close, it would look something like this.

ESA’s XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray telescope has uncovered a celestial Rosetta stone: the first close-up of a white dwarf star, circling a companion star, that could explode into a particular kind of supernova in a few million years. These supernovae are used as beacons to measure cosmic distances and ultimately understand the expansion of our Universe.

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Component Of Mothballs Is Present In Deep-space Clouds


Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud some 1,500 light-years away.

Interstellar clouds, drifting through the unimaginable vastness of space, may be the stuff dreams are made of. But it turns out there’s an unexpectedly strange component in those clouds, and it’s not dreams but—mothballs?

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The Milky Way Doomed to be Destroyed by Galactic Bombardment? Probably Not, Study Says


This image from a supercomputer simulation shows the density of dark matter in our Milky Way galaxy which is known to contain an ancient thin disk of stars.

As scientists attempt to learn more about how galaxies evolve, an open question has been whether collisions with our dwarf galactic neighbors will one day tear apart the disk of the Milky Way.

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Galaxy Zoo Hunters Help Discover Rare ‘Green Peas’ Galaxies


The Green Peas stuck out because of their small size and green color compared to the more common galaxies

A team of astronomers has discovered a group of rare galaxies called the “Green Peas” with the help of citizen scientists working through an online project called Galaxy Zoo. The finding could lend unique insights into how galaxies form stars in the early universe.


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Physicists Search For Dark Matter


Milky Way Galaxy

95%. That is the percentage of the known Universe that is missing. As in it is not there. Or at least if it is there, we can’t see it. We call this unseen stuff “dark matter”. That has been well known for sometime. What is trickier in answering is why? Why is it that 95% of the universe is made up of this so-named “dark matter?” An even trickier question is where? As in where is this dark matter? It is those two questions that have plagued physicists for decades. Dark matter, by its own definition cannot be seen, hence its name. So how do we “see” it, how do we know “where” to look?


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New Portrait Of Omega Nebula’s Glistening Watercolors


Three-colour composite image of the Omega Nebula

The Omega Nebula, sometimes called the Swan Nebula, is a dazzling stellar nursery located about 5500 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). An active star-forming region of gas and dust about 15 light-years across, the nebula has recently spawned a cluster of massive, hot stars. The intense light and strong winds from these hulking infants have carved remarkable filigree structures in the gas and dust.

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Galaxies Coming Of Age In Cosmic Blobs


This is the first of a pair of artist’s representations showing what one of the
galaxies inside a blob might look like if viewed at a relatively close distance.

The “coming of age” of galaxies and black holes has been pinpointed, thanks to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. This discovery helps resolve the true nature of gigantic blobs of gas observed around very young galaxies.

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New Light Shed On ‘Dark’ Gamma-ray Bursts



Dense knots of dust in otherwise normal galaxies dim the light of a dark gamma-ray burst

Gamma-ray bursts are the universe’s biggest explosions, capable of producing so much light that ground-based telescopes easily detect it billions of light-years away. Yet, for more than a decade, astronomers have puzzled over the nature of so-called dark bursts, which produce gamma rays and X-rays but little or no visible light. They make up roughly half of the bursts detected by NASA’s Swift satellite since its 2004 launch.

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Herschel’s Daring Test: A Glimpse Of Things To Come


far-infrared image of M51, the ‘whirlpool galaxy’

Herschel opened its ‘eyes’ on 14 June and the Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer obtained images of M51, ‘the whirlpool galaxy’ for a first test observation. Scientists obtained images in three colours from the observation, which clearly demonstrate the excellence of Herschel, the largest infrared space telescope ever flown.

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