The Venerable Hubble Space Telescope Keeps Delivering

The Hubble Space Telescope is amazing! It's still going strong more than 34 years after it was launched. This Hubble image showcases a nearly edge-on view of the lenticular galaxy NGC 4753. ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Kelsey

The world was much different in 1990 when NASA astronauts removed the Hubble Space Telescope from Space Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay and placed it into orbit. The Cold War was ending, there were only 5.3 billion humans, and the World Wide Web had just come online.

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Do Clashing Galaxies Create Odd Radio Circles?

This multiwavelength image of the Cloverleaf ORC (odd radio circle) combines visible light observations from the DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) Legacy Survey in white and yellow, X-rays from XMM-Newton in blue, and radio from ASKAP (the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) in red. X. Zhang and M. Kluge (MPE), B. Koribalski (CSIRO)

Within the last five years, astronomers have discovered a new type of astronomical phenomenon that exists on vast scales – larger than whole galaxies. They’re called ORCs (odd radio circles), and they look like giant rings of radio waves expanding outwards like a shockwave. Until now, ORCs had never been observed in any wavelength other than radio, but according to a new paper released on April 30 2024, astronomers have captured X-rays associated with an ORC for the first time.

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Astronomers Find the Most Massive Pair of Supermassive Black Holes Ever Seen

Artist's illustration of binary black holes

Supermassive black holes have been found at the heart of most galaxies but understanding how they have formed has eluded astronomers for some time. One of the most popular theories suggests they merge over and over again to form larger black holes. A recent discovery may support this however the pair of supermassive black holes are orbiting 24 light years apart and measure an incredible 28 billion solar masses making it the heaviest ever seen. 

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Hubble Sees a Bridge of Stars Connecting Two Galaxies

The galaxy NGC 5427 shines in this new NASA Hubble Space Telescope image. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and R. Foley (University of California – Santa Cruz); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

The poetic-minded among us like to point out how Nature is a dance. If they’re right, then galaxies sometimes form unwieldy pairs. With the Hubble Space Telescope, we can spot some of these galactic pairs as they approach one another.

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The JWST Solves the Mystery of Ancient Light

This image shows the galaxy EGSY8p7, a bright galaxy in the early Universe where light emission is seen from, among other things, excited hydrogen atoms — Lyman-alpha emission. The galaxy was identified in a field of young galaxies studied by Webb in the CEERS survey. In the bottom two panels, Webb’s high sensitivity picks out this distant galaxy along with its two companion galaxies, where previous observations saw only one larger galaxy in its place. This discovery of a cluster of interacting galaxies sheds light on the mystery of why the hydrogen emission from EGSY8p7, shrouded in neutral gas formed after the Big Bang, should be visible at all. Image Credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, S. Finkelstein (UT Austin), M. Bagley (UT Austin), R. Larson (UT Austin), A. Pagan (STScI), C. Witten, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb)

The very early Universe was a dark place. It was packed with light-blocking hydrogen and not much else. Only when the first stars switched on and began illuminating their surroundings with UV radiation did light begin its reign. That occurred during the Epoch of Reionization.

But before the Universe became well-lit, a specific and mysterious type of light pierced the darkness: Lyman-alpha emissions.

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JWST Sees Merging Galaxies Releasing the Light of a Trillion Suns

ARP 220 is a pair of merging galaxies about 250 million light years away. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

If we want to know what it’ll look like in about 4.5 billion years when our galaxy merges with Andromeda, we might take a look at ARP 220. ARP 220 is a pair of galaxies that are in the process of merging. The merging galaxies emit brilliant infrared light, and the James Webb Space Telescope captured that light in a vivid portrait.

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Astronomers Uncover Mass Migration of Stars into Andromeda

Astronomers at NSF’s NOIRLab found new evidence for a mass immigration of stars into the Andromeda Galaxy. This image shows individual stars from blue (moving toward us) to red (moving away from us). Image Credit: KPNO/NOIRLab/AURA/NSF/E. Slawik/D. de Martin/M. Zamani

Astronomers know that galaxies grow over time through mergers with other galaxies. We can see it happening in our galaxy. The Milky Way is slowly absorbing the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.

For the first time, astronomers have found evidence of an ancient mass migration of stars into another galaxy. They spotted over 7,000 stars in Andromeda (M31), our nearest neighbour, that merged into the galaxy about two billion years ago.

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The Perfect Tidal Tail Connects These two Galaxies Seen by Hubble

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows two of the galaxies in the galactic triplet Arp 248. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Dark Energy Survey/Department of Energy/Fermilab Cosmic Physics Center/Dark Energy Camera/Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory/NOIRLab/National Science Foundation/AURA Astronomy; J. Dalcanton

Sometimes it’s tempting to imagine a supernatural hand behind the arrangement of celestial bodies. But the Universe is big, huge even, and nature’s flow presents many fascinations.

So it is with the galactic triplet Arp 248, an arrangement of interacting galaxies that’s both visually and scientifically fascinating.

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Part of the Milky Way Is Much Older Than Previously Believed

Basic structure of our home galaxy, edge-on view. The new results from ESA's Gaia mission provide for a reconstruction of the history of the Milky Way, in particular of the evolution of the so-called thick disc. Image Credit: Stefan Payne-Wardenaar / MPIA

The Milky Way is older than astronomers thought, or part of it is. A newly-published study shows that part of the disk is two billion years older than we thought. The region, called the thick disk, started forming only 0.8 billion years after the Big Bang.

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Astronomers see an Enormous Shockwave, 60 Times Bigger Than the Milky Way

Astronomers have a thing for big explosions and collisions, and it always seems like they are trying to one-up themselves in finding a bigger, brighter one.  There’s a new entrant to that category – an event so big it created a burst of particles over 1 billion years ago that is still visible today and is 60 times bigger than the entire Milky Way.

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