Space image: Carina Nebula: 14,000+ Stars

The Carina Nebula is a star-forming region in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way that is 7,500 light years from Earth and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has detected more than 14,000 stars in the region.

Chandra’s X-ray vision provides strong evidence that massive stars have self-destructed in this nearby star-forming region. Firstly, there is an observed deficit of bright X-ray sources in the area known as Trumpler 15, suggesting that some of the massive stars in this cluster were already destroyed in supernova explosions. Trumpler 15 is located in the northern part of the image and is one of ten star clusters in the Carina complex.

The detection of six possible neutron stars, the dense cores often left behind after stars explode in supernovas, provides additional evidence that supernova activity is increasing up in Carina. Previous observations had only detected one neutron star in Carina.

Link >>

Advertisements

Possibly the most distant object known

The most distant objects in the universe are also the oldest — or at least that is how they appear to us, because their light has had to travel for billions of years to get here. They are also extraordinarily faint since they are so far away, and only in the last decade have astronomers been able to stretch their vision using the newest telescopes and clever techniques.

One such innovation occurred with the launch of the NASA Swift satellite in 2004; it searches for bursts of gamma-ray emission, called GRBs. These flashes, thought to result from the especially spectacular deaths of massive stars, are the brightest events in the cosmos during their brief (only seconds-long) existence. But because they are so bright, they can be seen even when they are very, very far away.

A large international team of astronomers including CfA astronomers Edo Berger, Alicia Soderberg, and Ryan Foley used the Swift satellite to spot a GRB that rapid, ground-based followup studies determined was possibly the most distant object known (but measurement uncertainties allow a few other candidates to compete for this title). The light from this object has been traveling towards us for about 13.2 billion years, or 96% of the age of the universe. Since the universe is not static but expanding, today this object is much farther away than 13.2 billion light-years – more like about thirty billion light-years.

The scientists were unable to detect any faint trace of the putative galaxy in which this massive star once lived, helping to confirm the great distance of this GRB. Other important details in their new paper confirm that the object is similar to more nearby GRBs, and consequently that – even at this early stage of cosmic life – at least some stars already resembled stars in our local universe.

Link >>

Star Found Shooting Water “Bullets”

Seven hundred and fifty light-years from Earth, a young, sunlike star has been found with jets that blast epic quantities of water into interstellar space, shooting out droplets that move faster than a speeding bullet.

The discovery suggests that protostars may be seeding the universe with water. These stellar embryos shoot jets of material from their north and south poles as their growth is fed by infalling dust that circles the bodies in vast disks.

“If we picture these jets as giant hoses and the water droplets as bullets, the amount shooting out equals a hundred million times the water flowing through the Amazon River every second,” said Lars Kristensen, a postdoctoral astronomer at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“We are talking about velocities reaching 200,000 kilometers [124,000 miles] per hour, which is about 80 times faster than bullets flying out of a machine gun,” said Kristensen, lead author of the new study detailing the discovery, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Located in the northern constellation Perseus, the protostar is no more than a hundred thousand years old and remains swaddled in a large cloud—gas and dust from which the star was born.

Using an infrared instrument on the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, researchers were able to peer through the cloud and detect telltale light signatures of hydrogen and oxygen atoms—the building blocks of water—moving on and around the star.

Read more >>

“Vampire” Stars Found in Heart of Our Galaxy

 

The stellar version of vampires—stars that drain life away from other stars—have been discovered for the first time in the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.

Called blue stragglers, these cannibal stars have been spotted in other parts of the Milky Way. They seem to lag in age next to the other stars with which they formed—appearing hotter, and thus younger and bluer.

Astronomers suspect blue stragglers look so youthful because they’ve stolen hydrogen fuel from other stars, perhaps after colliding into their victims.

These cannibal stars are routinely found in dense star clusters, where stars have many chances to feed off each other. Now, however, scientists have found blue stragglers in the Milky Way’s galactic bulge, a dense region of stars and gas surrounding the galaxy’s center.

“For a long time, it was suspected there were blue stragglers in the bulge, but no one knew how many there might be,” said Will Clarkson, an astronomer at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of California, Los Angeles.

“At long last, we’ve shown they’re there.”

Read more >>

The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam

It wasn’t Omar’s poetry that made him important: It was the Poetry of His Life. (From the Movie “The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam)

Scene with Daniel Black as young Omar, Sarah Hadaway as Omar’s mother and Rade Serbedzija as Imam Muaffak.

COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGES: Persian and English

Star’s Fourth World Stumps Astronomers

If three’s a crowd, a new planet recently discovered orbiting a sunlike star is really cluttering up its neighborhood.

The new planet is the fourth Jupiter-like world to be found around the young star HR 8799, astronomers announced today. The same team had previously found the other three planets in 2008, when they took a direct picture of the star system.

Of the more than 500 planets discovered to date outside our solar system, most have been found via indirect methods, such as looking for planets’ gravitational tugs on their host stars or for dips in starlight when planets pass in front of their hosts.

The new planet was also found in a direct image of the HR 8799 system. But based on the masses of the planets and their distances from the star, the fourth world challenges current theories of planet formation, according to the study authors.

“This is the first multiplanet system directly imaged so far, so it’s quite a feat,” said lead study author Christian Marois, an astronomer at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Canada.

“But we are now stuck with four planets [and] we cannot explain their formation and their current locations by any of our models.”

Read more >>