Tag Archives: Hubble Space Telescope

We’re not alone – but the universe may be less crowded than we think

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University.

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the universe. The long view stirred theories of untold thousands of distant, faint galaxies. The new research, appearing in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, however, offers a theory that reduces the estimated number of the most distant galaxies by 10 to 100 times. (more…)

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Hubble spots azure blue planet

Astronomers from the University of Exeter using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope along with an international team of researchers have, for the first time, determined the true colour of a planet orbiting another star.

If seen up close this planet, known as HD 189733b, would be a deep cobalt blue, reminiscent of Earth’s colour as seen from space.

But that’s where the similarities end. This deep blue dot is a huge gas giant orbiting very close to its host star. The planet’s atmosphere is scorching with a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celsius, and it rains glass, sideways, in howling 7000 kilometre-per-hour winds. (more…)

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Spiral galaxies like Milky Way bigger than thought, says CU-Boulder study

Let’s all fist bump: Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way appear to be much larger and more massive than previously believed, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study by researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope.

CU-Boulder Professor John Stocke, study leader, said new observations with Hubble’s $70 million Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, or COS, designed by CU-Boulder show that normal spiral galaxies are surrounded by halos of gas that can extend to over 1 million light-years in diameter. The current estimated diameter of the Milky Way, for example, is about 100,000 light-years. One light-year is roughly 6 trillion miles. (more…)

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‘Sideline quasars’ helped to stifle early galaxy formation, says CU study

University of Colorado Boulder astronomers targeting one of the brightest quasars glowing in the universe some 11 billion years ago say “sideline quasars” likely teamed up with it to heat abundant helium gas billions of years ago, preventing small galaxy formation.

CU-Boulder Professor Michael Shull and Research Associate David Syphers used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at the quasar — the brilliant core of an active galaxy that acted as a “lighthouse” for the observations — to better understand the conditions of the early universe. The scientists studied gaseous material between the telescope and the quasar with a $70 million ultraviolet spectrograph on Hubble designed by a team from CU-Boulder’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy. (more…)

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The Supernova That Cried Wolf

A luminous supernova in a galaxy 67 million light years away from us has finally exploded for good, a UA-led team of astronomers has discovered. This event sheds light on how massive stars end their lives.

Astronomers have announced that a massive star, which they have watched repeatedly mimic a supernova since 2009, has finally exploded for real.

The report was presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. by Jon Mauerhan of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, in collaboration with Nathan Smith, also of the UA, and Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley.

The result is of special interest because it provides new critical information on the final death throes of massive stars in the years leading up to their explosion. The work has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (more…)

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Astronomers Using the Hubble Space Telescope Report the Earliest Spiral Galaxy Ever Seen

Astronomers have witnessed for the first time a spiral galaxy in the early universe, billions of years before many other spiral galaxies formed. In findings reported July 19 in the journal Nature, the astronomers said they discovered it while using the Hubble Space Telescope to take pictures of about 300 very distant galaxies in the early universe and to study their properties. This distant spiral galaxy is being observed as it existed roughly three billion years after the Big Bang, and light from this part of the universe has been traveling to Earth for about 10.7 billion years.

“As you go back in time to the early universe, galaxies look really strange, clumpy and irregular, not symmetric,” said Alice Shapley, a UCLA associate professor of physics and astronomy, and co-author of the study. “The vast majority of old galaxies look like train wrecks. Our first thought was, why is this one so different, and so beautiful?” (more…)

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A Prime Seat to a Once-in-a-Lifetime Spectacle

Hosted by world-renowned astrophotographer Adam Block at the UA’s Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, a group of sky and astronomy enthusiasts watched Venus cross the sun from the highest vantage point in Southern Arizona.

On Nov. 24, 1639, in the tiny village of Much Hoole not far from Liverpool, England, a poor farmer’s son and self-taught astronomer affixed a sheet of paper in front of a makeshift telescope pointed at the sun and waited.

Thirty-five minutes before sunset, a dark, round spot appeared right next to the bright disc that was the sun’s face projected on the paper, and made Jeremiah Horrocks, only 20 years old at the time, the first known human to predict, observe and record a transit – the passage of a planet across the sun as seen from Earth.

Almost 373 years later, a group of sky enthusiasts is gathered beneath the dome of one of the University of Arizona’s observatories on Mount Lemmon just north of Tucson, Ariz. (more…)

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Gravitational Lens Reveals Details of Distant, Ancient Galaxy

Thanks to the presence of a natural “zoom lens” in space, University of Chicago scientists working with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a uniquely close-up look at the brightest gravitationally magnified galaxy yet discovered.

The imagery offers a visually striking example of gravitational lensing, in which one massive object’s gravitational field can magnify and distort the light coming from another object behind it. Such optical tricks stem from Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity can warp space and time, including bending the path that light travels. (more…)

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