If the Universe has adolescent galaxies, they’re the ones that formed about 2 to 3 billion years after the Big Bang. New research based on the James Webb Space Telescope shows that these teenage galaxies are unusually hot. Not only that, but they contain some unexpected chemical elements. The most surprising element found in these galaxies is nickel.Continue reading “Adolescent Galaxies are Incandescent and Contain Unexpected Elements”
If you take a Universe worth of hydrogen and helium, and let it stew for about 13 billion years, you get us. We are the descendants of the primeval elements. We are the cast-off dust of the first stars, and many generations of stars after that. So our search for the first stars of the cosmos is a search for our own history. While we haven’t captured the light of those first stars, some of their direct children may be in our own galaxy.Continue reading “We Can't See the First Stars Yet, but We Can See Their Direct Descendants”
One of the biggest puzzles in astronomy, and one of the hardest ones to solve, concerns the formation and evolution of galaxies. What did the first ones look like? How have they grown so massive?
A tiny galaxy only 20 million light-years away might be a piece of the puzzle.Continue reading “A Star was Blocking a Galaxy, but Now it’s Moved Enough That Astronomers can Finally Examine What it Was Hiding”
Jupiter is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. The amounts of each closely conform to the theoretical quantities in the primordial solar nebula. But it also contains other heavier elements, which astronomers call metals. Even though metals are a small component of Jupiter, their presence and distribution tell astronomers a lot.
According to a new study, Jupiter’s metal content and distribution mean that the planet ate a lot of rocky planetesimals in its youth.Continue reading “Jupiter is up to 9% Rock and Metal, Which Means it Ate a lot of Planets in its Youth”
Astronomers have known for years that galaxies are cannibalistic. Massive galaxies like our own Milky Way have gained mass by absorbing smaller neighbours.
Now it looks like smaller galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud have also feasted on smaller neighbours.Continue reading “The Large Magellanic Cloud Stole one of its Globular Clusters”
Planetary nebulae are the most beautiful objects in the night sky. Their gossamer shells of gas are otherworldly and evocative. They captivate the eye, and viewers need no scientific knowledge to get drawn in.
How are they created, and why do they look so beautiful?Continue reading “Why do Planetary Nebulae Look the Way They Do?”
One of the ways we categorize stars is by their metallicity. That is the fraction of heavier elements a star has compared to hydrogen and helium. It’s a useful metric because the metallicity of a star is a good measure of its age.Continue reading “Some of the Milky Way’s oldest stars aren’t where they’re expected to be”
Like other spiral galaxies, the Milky Way has a bulging sphere of stars in its center. It’s called “The Bulge,” and it’s roughly 10,000 light-years in radius. Astronomers have debated the bulge’s origins, with some research showing that multiple episodes of star formation created it.
But a new survey with the NOIRLab’s Dark Energy Camera suggests that one single epic burst of star formation created the bulge over 10 billion years ago.Continue reading “The Spherical Structure at the Core of the Milky Way Formed in a Single Burst of Star Formation”
The Search for Life can be a lot messier than it sounds. The three words make a nice, tidy title, but what it entails is extraordinarily difficult. How, in this vast galaxy, can we find life and the planets or moons that might host it? We’re barely at the point of either discovering or ruling out other life in our own Solar System.
Finding it somewhere else in the galaxy, even in our own interstellar neighbourhood, is a task so daunting it can be hard to comprehend.
So any time scientists think they’ve found something that can give them an edge in their near-impossible task, it deserves to be talked about.Continue reading “Searching for Phosphorus in Other Stars”
Some stars die a beautiful death, ejecting their outer layers of gas into space, then lighting it all up with their waning energy. When that happens, we get a nebula. Astronomers working with the Gemini Observatory just shared a new image of one of these spectacular objects.Continue reading “Here’s a New Planetary Nebula for Your Collection: CVMP 1”