Hypervelocity Neutron Stars Crashing Into White Dwarfs — A Scenario for the Loneliest Supernovae?

by Shannon Hall August 8, 2014

It’s hard to comprehend the vast emptiness of space. Especially when we detect odd signatures, such as luminous explosions that are neither as bright nor as long as traditional supernovae, originating in the unfathomable emptiness. But a team of astronomers is now beginning to understand these so-called calcium-rich transients, often referred to as the Universe’s […]

Read the full article →

New VLT Observations Clear Up Dusty Mystery

by Shannon Hall July 11, 2014

The Universe is overflowing with cosmic dust. Planets form in swirling clouds of dust around a young star; Dust lanes hide more-distant stars in the Milky Way above us; And molecular hydrogen forms on the dust grains in interstellar space. Even the soot from a candle is very similar to cosmic carbon dust. Both consist […]

2 comments Read the full article →

Which Star Will Explode Next?

by Fraser Cain March 17, 2014

Come on Betelguese, explode already. Or maybe it’ll be Eta Carinae. Which of the billions of stars in the galaxy can we count on to explode next, and when? When a new supernova is discovered, we can take that as a reminder that we live in a terribly hostile Universe. Sometimes stars just explode, and […]

2 comments Read the full article →

Astronomy Cast Ep. 337: Photometry

by Fraser Cain March 10, 2014

There’s a lot you can learn by just staring at an object, watching how it changes in brightness. This is the technique of photometry, and it has helped astronomers discover variable stars, extrasolar planets, minor planets, supernovae, and much more. Fraser Cain on Google+

Read the full article →

Is Eta Carinae Heading Toward Another Eruption?

by Shannon Hall February 19, 2014

Massive stars can devastate their surroundings, unleashing hot winds and blasting radiation. With a mass over 100 times heavier than the Sun and a luminosity a million times brighter than the Sun, Eta Carinae clocks in as one of the biggest and brightest stars in our galaxy. The enigmatic object walks a thin line between […]

2 comments Read the full article →