So these galaxies are going to be the setting for all future Star Wars/Trek crossover fanfics now, right?
"Merger" is usually such a dull word. Companies merge. Lanes of traffic merge. But it's not all bland and boring, because large galaxies can also merge with one another to form what is scientifically referred to as a "super-giant elliptical galaxy," according to NASA -- and apparently it's happening right now. Or it did 11 billion years ago, at least. Light-years are weird, guys.Read More
It's with great sadness today that we bring you news of the passing of the Herschel Space Observatory. After more than three years of dutiful service to astronomers and appreciators of the beauty of space, the telescope's supply of liquid helium coolant has run dry, and it is officially out of commission.Read More
The Herschel Space Observatory's mission to photograph the stars is winding down, so we wanted to take the chance to remember some of the finest images Herschel captured during its three-year tour of duty. Now, yes, some of these images are color corrected and touched up to highlight the more spectacular points contained within them -- like the star forming inside a galactic bubble eight times more massive than our sun. In our view, that doesn't make them any less valuable to astronomers studying them, which is the whole point. It also makes them way better eye-candy for the rest of us to gape at, so we're just going to be thankful for it, rather than nitpicky.Read More
Since it's launch in 2009, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope has treated us to some truly amazing images of space. All good things must come to an end, though, and the ESA's shiniest toy is just about out of time. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, the liquid helium tanks that provide coolant for the telescope's impressive instrumentation will run dry, marking the close of a good run for one of the most powerful instruments ever used to capture images of space.Read More
The asteroid Apophis, clearly named for the Stargate SG-1 villain, has been called a "doomsday asteroid," because in 2004 there was a study that said there was a 2.7% chance of Apophis hitting Earth when it flies past us in 2029. That study has since been disproved, but astronomers are keeping a close eye on Apophis anyhow, which is due for another pass in 2036. One telescope in Europe has captured new images of Apophis that reveal it's even larger than initially believed. That can't be good.Read More
The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that the Herschel Space Observatory has found the first significant evidence of molecular oxygen in the Orion Nebula. The amount of oxygen found is ten times larger than was expected based on previous observations of other molecular clouds, however is still well below theoretical expectations. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the Universe (after hydrogen and helium) and is a critical part of the chemistry of molecular clouds. It is also fundamental to life on Earth, which makes finding it in space the subject of intense research. The Herschel results suggest that under the right circumstances, heat from newly created stars can free oxygen frozen on grains of dust. This would increase the amount of molecular oxygen that is able to form in warm, dense gas clouds like the Orion Nebula.Read More
A low-mass protostar in the early stages of its development that shoots large gas jets of hydrogen and oxygen (the components of water) out of its poles in pulsating surges has been discovered. Located approximately 750 light years from earth, the baby star shoots these jets at speeds equivalent to 80x the muzzle velocity of an Ak-47 assault rifle.Each blast creates shockwaves around the star and may even sprinkle the hydrogen and oxygen compounds across its universe. The protostar that was recently discovered is located in the Perseus constellation in an object labelled L1448-MM. It can be seen from earth to the right of the Pleiades, also know as the Seven Sisters star cluster, which is located in the constellation Taurus. Read More