SpaceJibe

February 11, 2017

Ten reasons why NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will kick some cosmic butt

Filed under: Big Bang, Cool, Cosmology, Extraterrestrial Life, Gadgets, Space Exploration — bferrari @ 3:05 pm

Here are ten amazing facts about the JWST that you might not have known.

James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope

1. It’s as big as a tennis court

With a sunshield 22 metres (72 feet) in length, the size of a tennis court, and a mirror 6.5 metres (21 feet) wide the JWST, which is due to launch in October 2018, is over twice the size of the Hubble Space Telescope, making it the largest space telescope ever launched.
2. The mirrors are coated in a golf ball’s worth of gold
The JWST’s mirrors are covered in gold to optimise them for infrared light, with the gold further protected by a thin layer of glass. The thickness of this gold coating is 0.00001 centimetres across the 25 square-metre mirror’s surface, and in total the gold weighs 48.25 grams, roughly equivalent to the weight of a golf ball.
3. It’ll be about four times further from Earth than the Moon

The JWST will take about a month to reach a position 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) from Earth known as Lagrange point 2, or L2. Here the telescope’s observations will be unhindered by Earth and the Moon although, if it malfunctions (as happened with Hubble), we currently have no way to go and fix it.

 

4. It could see a penny 24 miles away

The angular resolution of the JWST, which is the sharpness of the images, is incredibly precise. It can see at a resolution of 0.1 arc-seconds, which means that it could resolve a penny 24 miles (40 kilometres) away or a football 340 miles (550 kilometres) away.

5. It could find water on exoplanets

One of the JWST’s most notable abilities is that it will be able to detect planets around nearby stars by measuring infrared radiation, and it will even be able to measure the atmospheres of exoplanets by studying the starlight that passes through. By doing this it will be able to determine if an exoplanet has liquid water on its surface.

6. It’s seven times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope

The giant mirror of the JWST is made of 18 individual hexagonal segments composed of lightweight beryllium. It is almost three times the size of Hubble’s mirror, boasting a light-collecting area seven times greater, but both mirrors weigh almost the same owing to the lighter materials used on the JWST’s mirror.

7. It’ll see the first light of the universe

One of the goals of the JWST is to observe the first stars and galaxies that formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, an era of the universe that is not fully understood. The telescope will be sensitive to infrared light, which will enable it to do this.

8. It will unfold to its massive size in space

Many features of the JWST, including its giant mirrors and sunshield, are designed to be launched on a rocket in a smaller payload. The telescope will launch in a compact outfit and will unfold in its full configuration once it reaches space.

9. One side is hotter than Death Valley, the other is colder than Antarctica

The side of the JWST that will always face the Sun, the bottom of the sunshield, will reach temperatures of 85°C (185 °F). The other side, which houses the mirrors and science instruments, will operate at a much nippier -233°C (-388 °F).

10. It could keep working for a decade

The official mission lifespan for the JWST is between five and ten years. The telescope is limited by the amount of fuel it has on board used to maintain its position, which will be enough for a ten-year lifetime. Of course, other factors like budget cuts or malfunctions could end the mission earlier.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

April 19, 2016

Large Hadron Collider results may hint at a new era of physics

Filed under: Big Bang, Black Holes, Cool, Wierd — bferrari @ 2:00 pm
The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) tunnel. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) tunnel. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

Are we about to enter a new era of physics?  Data collected by the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland may have identified particle activity that doesn’t fit the standard laws of physics.

The analysis by scientists including physicists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN) could have huge scientific implications.

“There are some indications that physicists working at the LHC accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva may see the first traces of physics beyond the current theory which describes the structure of matter,” said the IFJ PAN, in a recent press release.

The structure of matter is described by a theoretical framework called The Standard Model, which identifies the roles played by different particles. Boson particles, for example, are carriers of forces, whereas photons are related to electromagnetic interactions. Matter is formed by particles called fermions.

However, scientists, analyzing data collected by the LHCb experiment in 2011 and 2012, noticed an anomaly in the decay of a particle called a B Meson. According to the research, the traditional method for determining the particle’s decay may lead to false results.

Related: Science breakthrough? Physicists may have discovered Higgs boson relative

Could the anomaly hint at a new understanding of the Universe? Scientists are certainly intrigued by the anomaly. To put it in terms of the cinema, where we once only had a few leaked scenes from an much-anticipated blockbuster, the LHC has finally treated fans to the first real trailer,” said Professor Mariusz Witek of IFJ PAN, in the release.

Witek notes that the framework used to describe the structure of matter poses plenty of questions for scientists. “The Standard Model cannot explain all the features of the Universe,” he said. “It doesn’t predict the masses of particles or tell us why fermions are organized in three families. How did the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe come about? What is dark matter? Those questions remain unanswered.”

To further illustrate his point, the Professor notes that gravity isn’t even included in the Standard Model.

However, scientists caution that more research is needed on the B Meson anomaly. “We can’t call it a discovery. Not yet,” said the IFJ PAN.

CERN spokesman Arnaud Marsollier told FoxNews.com that the B Meson data, which first emerged last year, are not conclusive. “More data are needed before we can tell anything significant on this, so we will have to wait for the LHC to restart (soon),” he explained via email, noting the importance of patience when recording and analyzing data. “Science needs time!” he added.

Related: Revamped Large Hadron Collider set to restart

CERN is currently starting powering tests on the huge particle accelerator. “Beams should be back by the end of the month or early April, and collisions sometimes next month if everything goes as planned,” said Marsollier.

Oxford University Physics Professor Guy Wilkinson, who serves as the spokesman for the LHCb experiment, told FoxNews.com that CERN’s B Meson data is “extremely interesting,” but noted that it could be a couple of years before scientists perform a full analysis. “When we analyse this new sample in a year or two we will be able to make a fresh and, I hope, more categorical statement on this topic,” he explained, via email.

The 17-mile LHC was built between 1998 and 2008 to help scientists test some theories of particle and high-energy physics and advance understanding of physical laws.

In 2012 the Collider won global acclaim with the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson  particle, which explains the behavior of other particles. Physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were subsequently awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Source

Leave a Comment

February 11, 2016

Scientists find evidence of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein

Filed under: Big Bang, Black Holes, Cool, Cosmology, Gamma Ray Bursts — bferrari @ 11:54 am
File image - An image from a simulation showing how matter might be moved around in the extreme environment around a black hole. (Özel/Chan) (Özel/Chan)

File image – An image from a simulation showing how matter might be moved around in the extreme environment around a black hole. (Özel/Chan) (Özel/Chan)

After decades of searching, scientists announced Thursday that they have detected gravitational waves which are ripples in the fabric of space-time that were predicted by Einstein.

 

An international team of astrophysicist said that they detected the waves from the distant crash of two black holes, using a $1.1 billion instrument. The Ligo Collaboration was behind the discovery and it has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Related: Meteorite probably didn’t kill man in India, NASA says

“We have detected gravitational waves,” Caltech’s David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory, told journalists at a news conference in Washington DC.

The news, according to the Associated Press, is being compared by at least one theorist to Galileo taking up a telescope and looking at the planets and the biggest discovery since the discovery of the Higgs particle. It has stunned the world of physics and astronomy, prompting scientists to say it the beginning of a new era in physics that could lead to scores more astrophysical discoveries and the exploration of the warped side of the universe.

“Our observation of gravitational waves accomplishes an ambitious goal set out over five decades ago to directly detect this elusive phenomenon and better understand the universe, and, fittingly, fulfills Einstein’s legacy on the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity,” Reitze said in a statement.

Related: Hundreds of hidden galaxies glimpsed behind Milky Way

The discovery confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. Gravitation waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained from elsewhere.

Not only have they fascinated by scientist by found their way into pop culture – namely through movies such as “Back To The Future,” where the space-time continuum was used a medium for the DeLorean time machine to go back in time. It also featured in the “Terminator” series.

Their existence was first demonstrated in the 1970s and 1980s by Joseph Taylor, Jr., and colleagues. In 1974, Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered a binary system composed of a pulsar in orbit around a neutron star. Taylor and Joel M. Weisberg in 1982 found that the orbit of the pulsar was slowly shrinking over time because of the release of energy in the form of gravitational waves. For discovering the pulsar and showing that it would make possible this particular gravitational wave measurement, Hulse and Taylor were awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Related: White House proposes $19 billion NASA budget

In the latest breakthrough, the gravitational waves were detected on Sept. 14, 2015 by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.

Based on the observed signals, LIGO scientists estimate that the black holes for this event were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, and the event took place 1.3 billion years ago. About three times the mass of the Sun was converted into gravitational waves in a fraction of a second — with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe.

By looking at the time of arrival of the signals — the detector in Livingston recorded the event 7 milliseconds before the detector in Hanford — scientists can say that the source was located in the Southern Hemisphere.

Related: New star puts on a show in stunning image

According to general relativity, a pair of black holes orbiting around each other lose energy through the emission of gravitational waves, causing them to gradually approach each other over billions of years, and then much more quickly in the final minutes. In a final fraction of a second, the two black holes collide and form one massive black hole. A portion of their combined mass is converted to energy, according to Einstein’s formula E=mc2, and this energy is emitted as a final strong burst of gravitational waves.

These are the gravitational waves that LIGO observed.

“With this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the universe — objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime. Colliding black holes and gravitational waves are our first beautiful examples,” Caltech’s Kip Thorne said.

 

Source

Leave a Comment

February 1, 2016

Surprise! Monster Black Hole Found in Dwarf Galaxy

Filed under: Big Bang, Black Holes, Cool — bferrari @ 11:10 am

Size doesn’t matter…

This image shows a huge galaxy, M60, with the small dwarf galaxy that is expected to eventually merge with it. (NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute/European Space Agency)

This image shows a huge galaxy, M60, with the small dwarf galaxy that is expected to eventually merge with it. (NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute/European Space Agency)

Astronomers have just discovered the smallest known galaxy that harbors a huge, supermassive black hole at its core.

The relatively nearby dwarf galaxy may house a supermassive black hole at its heart equal in mass to about 21 million suns. The discovery suggests that supermassive black holes may be far more common than previously thought.

A supermassive black hole millions to billions of times the mass of the sun lies at the heart of nearly every large galaxy like the Milky Way. These monstrously huge black holes have existed since the infancy of the universe, some 800 million years or so after the Big Bang. Scientists are uncertain whether dwarf galaxies might also harbor supermassive black holes. [Watch a Space.com video about the new dwarf galaxy finding]

“Dwarf galaxies usually refer to any galaxy less than roughly one-fiftieth the brightness of the Milky Way,” said lead study author Anil Seth, an astronomer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. These galaxies span only several hundreds to thousands of light-years across, much smaller than the Milky Way’s 100,000-light-year diameter, and they “are much more abundant than galaxies like the Milky Way,” Seth said.

The researchers investigated a rarer kind of dwarf galaxy known as an ultra-compact dwarf galaxy; such galaxies are among the densest collections of stars in the universe. “These are found primarily in galaxy clusters, the cities of the universe,” Seth told Space.com.

This is an illustration of the supermassive black hole located in the middle of the very dense galaxy M60-UCD1. It weighs as much as 21 million times the mass of our Sun. Lying about 50 million light-years away, M60-UCD1 is a tiny galaxy with a diameter of 300 light-years — just 1/500th of the diameter of the Milky Way! Despite its size it is pretty crowded, containing some 140 million stars. Because no light can escape from the black hole, it appears simply in silhouette against the starry background. The black hole’s intense gravitational field warps the light of the background stars to form ring-like images just outside the dark edges of the black hole’s event horizon. Combined observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Gemini North telescope determined the presence of the black hole inside M60-UCD1.

This is an illustration of the supermassive black hole located in the middle of the very dense galaxy M60-UCD1. It weighs as much as 21 million times the mass of our Sun. Lying about 50 million light-years away, M60-UCD1 is a tiny galaxy with a diameter of 300 light-years — just 1/500th of the diameter of the Milky Way! Despite its size it is pretty crowded, containing some 140 million stars. Because no light can escape from the black hole, it appears simply in silhouette against the starry background. The black hole’s intense gravitational field warps the light of the background stars to form ring-like images just outside the dark edges of the black hole’s event horizon. (Combined observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Gemini North telescope determined the presence of the black hole inside M60-UCD1.)

Now, Seth and his colleagues have discovered that an ultra-compact dwarf galaxy may possess a supermassive black hole, which would make it the smallest galaxy known to contain such a giant.

The astronomers investigated M60-UCD1, the brightest ultra-compact dwarf galaxy currently known, using the Gemini North 8-meter optical-and-infrared telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. M60-UCD1 lies about 54 million light-years away from Earth. The dwarf galaxy orbits M60, one of the largest galaxies near the Milky Way, at a distance of only about 22,000 light-years from the larger galaxy’s center, “closer than the sun is to the center of the Milky Way,” Seth said.

The scientists calculated the size of the supermassive black hole that may lurk inside M60-UCD1 by analyzing the motions of the stars in that galaxy, which helped the researchers deduce the amount of mass needed to exert the gravitational field seen pulling on those stars. For instance, the stars at the center of M60-UCD1 zip at speeds of about 230,000 mph (370,000 km/h), much faster than stars would be expected to move in the absence of such a black hole.

The supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way has a mass of about 4 million suns, taking up less than 0.01 percent of the galaxy’s estimated total mass, which is about 50 billion suns. In comparison, the supermassive black hole that may lie in the core of M60-UCD1 appears five times larger than the one in the Milky Way, and also seems to make up about 15 percent of the dwarf galaxy’s mass, which is about 140 million suns.

“That is pretty amazing, given that the Milky Way is 500 times larger and more than 1,000 times heavier than the dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1,” Seth said in a statement.

Astronomers have debated the nature of ultra-compact dwarf galaxies for years — whether they were extremely massive clusters of stars that were all born together, or whether they were the centers or nuclei of large galaxies that had their outer layers stripped away during collisions with other galaxies. These new findings hint that ultra-compact dwarf galaxies are the stripped nuclei of larger galaxies, because star clusters do not host supermassive black holes.

The researchers suggest M60-UCD1 was once a very large galaxy, with maybe 10 billion stars, “but then it passed very close to the center of an even larger galaxy, M60, and in that process, all the stars and dark matter in the outer part of the galaxy got torn away and became part of M60,” Seth said in a statement. “That was maybe as much as 10 billion years ago. We don’t know.”

Eventually, M60-UCD1 “may merge with the center of M60, which has a monster black hole in it, with 4.5 billion solar masses — more than 1,000 times bigger than the supermassive black hole in our galaxy,” Seth said in a statement. “When that happens, the black hole we found in M60-UCD1 will merge with that monster black hole.”

The astronomers suggest the way stars move in many other ultra-compact dwarf galaxies hints that they may host supermassive black holes, as well. All in all, the scientists suggest that ultra-compact dwarf galaxies could double the number of supermassive black holes known in the nearby regions of the universe. The researchers are participating in ongoing projects that may provide conclusive evidence for supermassive black holes in four other ultra-compact dwarfs.

The scientists detailed their findings in the Sept. 18 issue of the journal Nature.

Source

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Monster Galaxy Cluster Is Biggest Ever in the Early Universe

Filed under: Big Bang, Black Holes, Cool — bferrari @ 10:54 am
This image of the massive galactic cluster IDCS 1426 combines data taken by three major NASA telescopes. The off-center core of X-rays is shown in blue-white near the middle of the cluster, and was captured by Chandra. Visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope is green, and infrared light from Spitzer is shown in red.

This image of the massive galactic cluster IDCS 1426 combines data taken by three major NASA telescopes. The off-center core of X-rays is shown in blue-white near the middle of the cluster, and was captured by Chandra. Visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope is green, and infrared light from Spitzer is shown in red. (NASA, ESA, and M. Brodwin (University of Missouri))

KISSIMMEE, Fla. ─ The most massive collection of galaxies in the early universe has been spotted. Although not the largest collection of galaxies ever found, it holds the record as the largest group in the early universe, appearing surprisingly old for the time.

“Of all the structures we’ve ever seen, this is the most massive in the first 4 billion years of the universe,” astronomer Mark Brodwin, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said at a news conference unveiling the discovery here at the 47th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Brodwin led the team that identified the evolved ancient galaxy cluster.

“It should be consistent with the largest cluster in the observable universe.” [The History and Structure of the Universe in Images]

Galaxy clusters are collections of galaxies that formed once stars and individual galaxies had been built. Gravity binds hundreds of thousands of galaxies together in collections so large, they can distort the fabric of space-time. According to present understanding, the massive objects should take billions of years to form.

In 2012, scientists used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the galactic cluster IDCS 1426, which lies approximately 10 billion light-years from Earth. Because light takes a full year to travel the distance of 1 light-year, that means astronomers are able to study the cluster as it appeared when the universe was only 3.8 billon years old. [Related: How Old Is the Universe?]

Initial estimates suggested that IDCS 1426 contained an enormous mass at a significant distance, but were not conclusive. Brodwin and his colleagues decided to use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Keck Observatory and Chandra X-ray Observatory to refine measurements of the mass of the cluster, using three different methods.

Hubble and Keck studied IDCS 1426 in optical light. Because clusters bend space-time, they are frequently used as natural magnifying glasses to observe objects behind the cluster in a process known as gravitational lensing. A more massive cluster produces a higher gravitational force that bends the light more strongly; by observing how the light traveled around the cluster, the scientists could calculate its weight.

At the same time, Chandra studied the object in the X-ray wavelength. The more massive a galaxy cluster is, the more the gas within it is compressed and heated, producing more X-rays. By observing those X-rays, the scientists were able to compute the mass of the cluster.

All three observations independently provided a mass 250 trillion times higher than the mass of the sun, or 1,000 times more massive than the Milky Way.

IDCS 1426 is not the most massive galaxy cluster in the universe. That distinction is held by a massive cluster that lies only 7 billion light-years from Earth. Known informally as ‘El Gordo,’the hefty cluster weighs in at a whopping 3 quadrillion times the mass of the sun (that’s 3 followed by 15 zeros, or one thousand million million). However, according to Brodwin, the cluster is on track to grow into something that large.

“Statistically speaking, it is a progenitor of ‘El Gordo,'” he said.

After another 3 billion years, the ancient collection should weigh in fairly close to the larger cluster.

The research will be published in The Astrophysical Journal, though a preprint of the study is available on the site Arxiv.org.

The enormous mass of IDCS 1426 in the early in the life of the universe isn’t the only indication of its unusual evolution. In addition to studying its mass, Chandra also took the temperature of the heart of the distant cluster, and found something surprising.

The core of a galactic cluster is an active place, with objects moving around and bumping into one another. This ongoing activity keeps the core hot for the cluster’s early lifetime. Once things slow down, however, conditions in the core begin to relax, and the center begins to release energy in the form of X-rays, causing the center to slowly cool.

Chandra revealed a bright knot of X-rays at the center of IDCS 1426 that were surprisingly cool. In fact, it is the first “cool core” cluster at such an early age in the universe. The cool heart of the cluster provides even more evidence for its formation early in the life of the universe.

“A cool core is a property of an evolved cluster,” Brodwin said.

A collision may have added the extra kick to the formation of the young cluster. The cool core lies not in the center of the IDCS 1426 but off to one side by a few hundred thousand light-years.

“When it is hit by another group or cluster, the cool core will slosh around like wine in the bottom of the wine glass,” Brodwin said.

“Eventually it will settle towards the center, but it hasn’t settled yet.”

All of these suggest an advanced age for the cluster that came as a surprise for a feature so early in the life of the universe.

“The cluster looks at least a billion years old,” Brodwin said.

“It probably really started forming 2 to 3 billion years earlier, which is very early for something of that size.”

Source

 

Leave a Comment

January 16, 2016

Astronomers may have found most powerful supernova

Filed under: Big Bang, Black Holes, Cool, Cosmology, Gamma Ray Bursts, Supernova — bferrari @ 4:51 pm
130227173855-black-hole-exlarge-169

Enter a caption

An international team of astronomers may have discovered the biggest and brightest supernova ever.

The explosion was 570 billion times brighter than the sun and 20 times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy combined, according to a statement from The Ohio State University, which is leading the study. Scientists are straining to define its strength.

“This may be the most powerful supernova ever seen by anybody … it’s really pushing the envelope on what is possible,” study co-author Krzysztof Stanek, an astronomer at Ohio State, was quoted as saying in The Los Angeles Times.

The team of astronomers released their findings this week in the journal Science. The explosion and a gas cloud that resulted are called ASASSN-15lh after the team of astronomers, All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, that discovered it last June.

A supernova is a rare and often dramatic phenomenon that involves the explosion of most of the material within a star. Supernovas can be very bright for a short time and usually release huge amounts of energy.

Searching for the power source

This blast created a massive ball of hot gas that the astronomers are studying through telescopes around the world, Ohio State said. It cannot be seen with the naked eye because it is 3.8 billion light years from Earth.

There’s an object about 10 miles across in the middle of the ball of gas that astronomers are trying to define.

“The honest answer is at this point that we do not know what could be the power source for ASASSN-15lh,” said Subo Dong, lead author of the Science paper, according to Ohio State. He is a Youth Qianren Research Professor of astronomy at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University.

Todd Thompson, professor of astronomy at Ohio State, said the object in the center may be a rare type of star called a millisecond magnetar. Spawned by a supernova, it’s a rapidly spinning, dense star with a powerful magnetic field.

Could it be a ‘supermassive black hole’?

To achieve the brightness recorded, the magnetar would have to spin 1,000 times a second and “convert all that rotational energy to light with nearly 100% efficiency,” Thompson said, according to the Ohio State press release. “It would be the most extreme example of a magnetar that scientists believe to be physically possible.”

The question of whether a suprnova truly caused the space explosion may be settled later this year with help from the Hubble Space Telescope, which will allow astronomers to see the host galaxy surrounding the object in center of the ball of gas, Ohio State said.

If it’s not a magnetar, it may be unusual nuclear activity around “a supermassive black hole,” Ohio State said.

Source

Leave a Comment

June 19, 2015

Version 0.1 super-stars built the universe – and they lived all the way over there

Filed under: Big Bang, Cool, Cosmology — bferrari @ 3:00 pm
Super-bright galaxy CR7 spotted by 'scopes

Super-bright galaxy CR7 spotted by ‘scopes

Pic Astronomers have recorded the brightest galaxy yet seen in the universe. It was formed 800 million years after the Big Bang, and has evidence of an until-now theoretical type of star.

The galaxy, dubbed Cosmos Redshift 7 aka CR7, is three times brighter than anything astronomers have seen so far, but the distances involved mean that it took the combined efforts of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Earth-bound Keck Observatory, the ESO Very Large Telescope, and Japanese-run Subaru Telescope, to spot it.

But what’s inside CR7 is what’s really excited scientists. Research accepted for publication in The Astrophysics Journal claims the galaxy contains a type of early star that has long been hypothesized but never seen: a Population III star.

“It doesn’t really get any more exciting than this,” said David Sobral from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences.

“The discovery challenged our expectations from the start as we didn’t expect to find such a bright galaxy. Then, by unveiling the nature of CR7 piece by piece, we understood that not only had we found by far the most luminous distant galaxy, but also started to realize that it had every single characteristic expected of Population III stars.”

Population I stars are all around us, indeed the Sun that powers our planet is one. They contain a significant amount of complex metals and chemicals formed by nucleosynthesis in the hearts of other stars long since gone nova. Population II stars are similar, but contain much less metal.

In the 1970s, scientists predicted the existence of Population III stars, formed in the very earliest stages of the universe. These would be built almost entirely from hydrogen and helium, with maybe trace amounts of lithium and beryllium.

Such stars would be enormous – thousands of times larger than our Sun – and would be much brighter than most other stars, and last a comparatively brief few million years before burning out. CR7 looks to have a cluster of such stars lighting up its core, with spectrometers finding nothing heavier than helium emanating from the galaxy.

“I have always wondered where we come from,” said Jorryt Matthee, second author of the paper.

“Even as a child I wanted to know where the elements come from: the calcium in my bones, the carbon in my muscles, the iron in my blood. I found out that these were first formed at the very beginning of the Universe, by the first generation of stars. With this discovery, remarkably, we are starting to actually see such objects for the first time.”

Source

Leave a Comment

May 6, 2015

Astronomers find galaxy 13.1 billion light-years away

Filed under: Big Bang, Cool, Cosmology — bferrari @ 5:41 am
This handout photo provided by NASA and the European Space Agency, taken in 2013 with NASA's Hubble space telescope, shows a galaxy from the farthest distance recorded: 13.1 billion light-years. It is from a time just 670 million years after the Big Bang. (AP)

This handout photo provided by NASA and the European Space Agency, taken in 2013 with NASA’s Hubble space telescope, shows a galaxy from the farthest distance recorded: 13.1 billion light-years. It is from a time just 670 million years after the Big Bang. (AP)

Astronomers have spotted a baby blue galaxy that is farther away in space and time than any other galaxy ever seen. It is among the universe’s first generation of galaxies, from approximately 13.1 billion years ago.

Yale and University of California Santa Cruz scientists used three telescopes to spot and calculate the age of the blurry infant galaxy. By measuring how the light has shifted, they determined the galaxy, named EGS-zs8-1, is from about 670 million years after the Big Bang.

Because when astronomers look farther away from Earth, they are looking back further in time, this is both the most distant galaxy and the furthest back in time. It is 13.1 billion light-years away, in the constellation Bootes. A light-year is 5.8 trillion miles.

This beats the old record by about 30 million years, which isn’t much, but was difficult to achieve, said astronomer Garth Illingworth of the University of California Santa Cruz, who co-authored the paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters announcing the discovery.

The photo they took was from a crucial time in the early universe, after what was called the Dark Ages, when galaxies and stars were just starting to form and the universe was only one five hundredth the mass it is now, Illingworth said.

This galaxy – larger than most of the others from that time, which is why astronomers using the most powerful telescopes can see it – was probably only about 100 million years also, but was quite busy, Illingworth said.

“We’re looking here at an infant that’s growing at a great rate,” he said. The galaxy was giving birth to stars at 80 times the rate our Milky Way does now. “These objects would like nothing like our sun. It would look much, much bluer.”

Yale astronomer Pascal Oesch was looking through Hubble Space Telescope images in 2013 when he saw a bright object. He then used the Spitzer space telescope to see it again. The hardest work was confirming the age and distance using the ground-based Keck Observatory in Hawaii to separate light waves.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source

Leave a Comment

April 28, 2015

Biggest structure ever found is a really cold hole

Filed under: Big Bang, Cool, Cosmology — bferrari @ 8:19 pm
Largest Structure Ever Found is a Really Cold Hole. Image from the Planck telescope shows the Cold Spot, circled.  (ESA and the Planck Collaboration)

Largest Structure Ever Found is a Really Cold Hole. Image from the Planck telescope shows the Cold Spot, circled. (ESA and the Planck Collaboration)

Largest Structure Ever Found is a Really Cold Hole. Image from the Planck telescope shows the Cold Spot, circled. (ESA and the Planck Collaboration)

Researchers using NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer and a telescope in Maui have discovered what they are calling the “largest individual structure ever identified by humanity,” reports the Royal Astronomical Society.

So large, in fact, that the only way to measure its size is in light-years—1.8 billion of them. The so-called supervoid is about 3 billion light-years away, a distance astrophysicists call “close” in the scheme of things.

The researchers were on the hunt for a supervoid in the direction of what’s known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB) Cold Spot, they report in the Society’s Monthly Notices.

First discovered in 2004, the Cold Spot has led some to question our understanding of the Big Bang theory, which doesn’t account for such large, cold spaces.

The latest study suggests that this supervoid—which isn’t empty but rather less dense, essentially “missing” 10,000 galaxies, reports the Guardian—found in the middle of the Cold Spot drains energy from light that travels through it.

Still, the mystery continues, as this drain accounts for only 10% of the Cold Spot’s extreme temperature dip. “It’s like the Everest of voids—there has to be one that’s bigger than the rest,” says one researcher.

“But it doesn’t explain the whole Cold Spot, which we’re still in the dark about.” Experts say “exotic physics” that we’re not familiar with could be at play.

Still, the discovery does provide evidence “for the existence of dark energy,” an outside researcher says. (How close to absolute zero is the “coldest place in the universe”?)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Largest Structure Ever Found Is a Really Cold Hole

Leave a Comment

October 29, 2014

Religion vs Science.. but does it have to be that way ?

Filed under: Big Bang, Cool, Cosmology, Life — bferrari @ 8:57 am

Think of this comparison when you read the following article.

Dark Energy:
A mysterious quantity that makes up nearly three-fourths of the universe, yet scientists are unsure not only what it is but how it operates. How, then, can they know this strange source exists?

GOD:
A mysterious quantity that makes up nearly three-fourths of the universe, yet scientists are unsure not only what it is but how it operates. How, then, can they know this strange source exists?

I don’t know … could go either way…. just sayin.

Francis believes evolution and the Big Bang are compatible with religion, saying God doesn’t have a ‘magic wand.’
On Monday, when Pope Francis addressed prelates and scientists attending a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he yet again challenged all we’ve come to expect a pope to say.

Instead of asking those at the meeting to consider God as the supreme creator, he asked them to consider God as a sort of supreme helper.  While he stopped short of endorsing the Big Bang theory as the definitive origin of the universe, he did say that science and scripture have a lot in common and believing one does not mean forsaking the other.

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a magic wand able to make everything,” Francis said.  “But it is not so.”

How’s that again? “The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it,” Francis said. “The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a three-day workshop in Rome with Nobel Prize-winning scholars and high ranking bishops to discussEvolving Concepts of Nature in order to produce a document to better guide Catholic scientists and teachers as they reconcile science and scripture.

The notion that God is responsible for creating the humans who developed the science behind evolution is a small step into a brave new world for Catholics, who excommunicated Galileo in the 17th century for anti-Church teaching, including his notion that the earth revolves around the sun.  Galileo eventually was forgiven, some 400 years later, and given a post-mortem pardon in 2008, but the Church has always remained staunch in its belief that God ultimately is responsible for the world we know today.

Traditionally the scientific theory of how the world began is an either/or concept that tends to pit religious believers against atheists with little middle ground to agree on.   Francis instead encouraged scientists at the session to continue their work with the goal not to make science fit into the Church teaching, but to help humankind.  “Science is able to build a world suited to His dual corporal and spiritual life,” Francis said, referring to what he called “the participation of God’s power.”

“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it.”

Both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II had softened the Church’s stance on science during their pontificates.  In 1996, John Paul II called the Big Bang theory “more than a hypothesis.”  But in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI seemed to dial back on the acceptance of science in the creation of the universe, when he touched on the issue of evolution at a mass celebrating the Epiphany, the day the Three Wise Men are believed to have followed the Star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the newborn baby Jesus.

Benedict stuck with the long-standing theory that only God was responsible for a grand design, with little wiggle room for interpretation.  “The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe,” Benedict said.  “Contemplating it, we are invited to read something profound into it: the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God.”

At the Pontifical Academy of Sciences seminar, during which Pope Francis inaugurated a bronze bust of his predecessor Benedict XVI, he instead opened the door to a slightly more intuitive interpretation.

In the Book of Genesis, God gives human beings “freedom,” said Pope Francis, “and he tells man to name everything and to go ahead through history. This makes him responsible for creation, so that he might dominate it in order to develop it until the end of time. Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature.”

In 2013, Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, may have put the basic principle of this approach to religion and learning even more simply. He told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that there was plenty of middle ground for Catholics and scientists. “If we don’t accept science, we don’t accept reason,” Sánchez said. “And reason was created by God.”

Source

Leave a Comment
Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.