In the vastness of space, astronomers are likely to find instances of almost every astronomical phenomena if they look hard enough. Many planetary phenomena are starting to come into sharper focus as the astronomy community continues to focus on finding exoplanets. Now a team led by Yifan Zhou at UT Austin has directly imaged a gas giant still in formation.Continue reading “Astronomers are Watching a gas Giant Grow, Right in Front of Their Eyes”
Astrophotography is one of the most gratifying parts of space exploration, and there’s nothing better at it than Hubble. Recently, it celebrated the 31st anniversary of its launch by taking a spectacular image of one of the most impressive stars in the sky – AG Carinae. In the not too distant future, Hubble, or a successor, might be able to capture an even more spectacular display from the star when it goes supernova.Continue reading “Instead of Betelgeuse, Keep Your eye on AG Carinae, Another Star That’s About to go Supernova”
We thought we understood how stars are formed. It turns out, we don’t. Not completely, anyway. A new study, recently conducted using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, is sending astronomers back to the drawing board to rewrite the accepted model of stellar formation.Continue reading “Newly Forming Stars Don’t Blast Away Material as Previously Believed. So Why Do They Stop Growing?”
The disappearance of a star can take many forms. It could go supernova. It could turn into a black hole. Or it could just fade away quietly. Sometimes, the last of these is actually the most interesting to observe. That is the case for one of the largest stars ever found – VY Canis Majoris, a red supergiant approximately 3840 light years away in the Canis Major constellation.Continue reading “VY Canis Majoris is “Like Betelgeuse on Steroids””
Jupiter is notorious for capturing objects that venture too close to the gas giant and its enormous pull of gravity. Asteroids known as Jupiter Trojans are a large group of space rocks that have been snared by the planet, which usually remain in a stable orbit near one of the Jupiter’s Lagrangian points.
But now, the Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a comet near Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid population. This is the first time a comet has been found in this region, and the team of scientists studying the object – named P/2019 LD2 (LD2) – think the unexpected comet is only a temporary visitor.Continue reading “Jupiter has Added a Comet to its Trojan Collection”
Audio narration by the author is available above
10 billion years ago, galaxies of the Universe were ablaze with the light of newly forming stars. This epic phase of history is known as “Cosmic Noon” – the height of all star creation. Galaxies like our Milky Way aren’t creating stars at nearly the rates they were in the ancient past. However, there is a time when galaxies in the present can explode with star formation – when they collide with each other. This recently published collage of merging galaxies by the Hubble HiPEEC survey (Hubble imaging Probe of Extreme Environments and Clusters) highlights six of these collisions which help us understand star formation in the early Universe.Continue reading “The Universe in Formation. Hubble Sees 6 Examples of Merging Galaxies”
Storms on Neptune seem to follow a pattern of forming, strengthening and then dissipating over the course of about two Earth years. But a Neptunian storm spotted in the planet’s atmosphere over two years ago has done something quite different: it has reversed course and is still going strong.Continue reading “Hubble Releases a New Image of Neptune, Revealing a Rapidly Shifting Storm”
We use the term ‘supermassive black hole’ with a kind of casual familiarity. But stop and think about what they really are: Monstrous, beguiling singularities where the understood laws of physics and cosmology are brought to their knees. A region where gravity is so powerful that it warps everything around it, drawing material in—even light itself—and sometimes spitting out jets of energy at near-light-speed.Continue reading “Hubble Sees Dark Shadows That Could Be Cast by a Supermassive Black Hole”
I wear glasses for astigmatism. But, as a stargazer with a visual impediment, turns out I’m in good company. The GREGOR telescope, a solar telescope located at the Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands also suffered from an astigmatism that was recently corrected…to very stellar results.
Opened in 2012, GREGOR is part of a new generation of solar (Sun observing) telescopes. Before 2002, solar scopes were quite small in diameter; under one metre. The Sun is close, and VERY bright, so your telescope doesn’t need to be as wide as those used for deep-space imaging. GREGOR itself is 1.5m (compare that to some of the largest telescopes imaging distant faint objects like the Keck Observatory at 10m. But without the special filters/optics used by a solar scope, a regular telescope staring at the Sun would be destroyed by the Sun’s light). A telescope’s power is often related to its ability to magnify. But just like enlarging a low-resolution photo, the more you magnify, the fuzzier the image becomes (that’s why those scenes in crime shows where they yell ‘enhance!’ and a photo grows to reveal a criminal are not realistic). Ultimately, a telescope’s diameter provides the higher resolution photo. GREGOR is designed to take those high-resolution images of our local Star. How high resolution? Imagine being able to distinguish a 50km wide feature on the Sun from 140 million km away – basically the same as being able to read the text on a coin from a kilometre away.Continue reading “A Sunspot, Revealed in Incredible Detail by Europe’s Newly Upgraded GREGOR Telescope”
It’s possible that you’ve seen the Andromeda galaxy (M31) without even realizing it. The massive spiral galaxy appears as a grey, spindle-shaped blob in the night sky, visible with the naked eye in the right conditions. It’s the nearest major galaxy to ours, and astronomers have studied it a lot.
Now astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to map out Andromeda’s enormous halo of hot gas.Continue reading “Hubble Shows the True Size of Andromeda”