The view won’t last forever!
In the quarter-century that it’s been eyeing the cosmos, the Hubble Space Telescope has taken some pretty spectacular photos. But few are as dramatic as a new image (above) of what the space agency termed “a dying star’s final moments.”
In more down-to-Earth terms, the image shows NGC 6565, a planetary nebula in the constellation Sagittarius. Planetary nebulas are glowing shells of gas given off by old stars at the end of their lives.
And the term “moments” is perhaps a bit of a stretch, as the star’s death is unfolding over a period that will last tens of thousands of years. At the end of that span of time, the star’s light will fall off dramatically and the nebula will fade from view.
For now, enjoy!
Previous research held that supernovas–explosions of stars in their death throes–spewed out massive amounts of dust into the early universe. However, astronomers didn’t know if that dust was able to withstand shockwaves from the explosion to serve as fodder for planets and stars to form.
Now, for the first time, an international team of astronomers has directly observed a cloud of cosmic dust that did survive in the turbulent environment of a supernova remnant, providing support for the theory that supernovas produced the vast amount of cosmic dust in the early universe.
“Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths,” lead researcher Dr. Ryan Lau, a postdoctoral associate for astronomy at Cornell, said in a written statement.
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Posted with permission from iDigital Times
The spring equinox, also known as the first day of spring, falls on Friday, Mar. 20. Not only is the day special because of the start of the new season, but it is also the first solar eclipse of 2015 and according to Universe Today, this is the first time since 1662 that a total solar eclipse coincides with the spring equinox.
“The dark umbral shadow cone of the moon will trace a curved path primarily over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, beginning off the southern tip of Greenland and then winding its way counterclockwise to the northeast, passing between Iceland and the United Kingdom,” reports NBC News.
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Almost a decade after its discovery, astronomers have learned that a compact star dubbed US 708 is moving faster than any other star ever observed in the Milky Way galaxy.
The record-setting hypervelocity star has been clocked at 746 miles per second, or 2.7 million miles per hour. That’s so fast that astronomers say it will escape the gravity of our galaxy (in 25 million years).
“At that speed, you could travel from Earth to the moon in five minutes,” Dr. Eugene Magnier, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and one of the researchers involved in the discovery, said in a written statement.
The ultra-fast star was first discovered in 2005, Discovery News reported. Then, over the past several years, Magnier and his colleagues used the Keck II and Pan-STARRS1 telescopes in Hawaii to measure the star’s velocity and trajectory.
The observations showed that US 708 — now a helium star — was likely once a red giant in orbit around a massive white dwarf. As the white dwarf stripped US 708 of hydrogen and helium, it exploded in a supernova and sent US 708 flying. (Check out the video above for an animation of the violent event.)
“It’s like if you are riding a swing carousel, where you are connected with a chain, and you cut the chain — then you fly away from the carousel,” Dr. Stephan Geier, a postdoctoral researcher at the European Southern Observatory and a co-author of a paper describing the discovery, told . “In this case the carousel explodes.”
The paper was published online March 6 in the journal Science.