Two space telescopes’ lucky perspectives have revealed an unusual brown dwarf that seems to be crowding close to a small star.
When a huge cloud of gas is pulled together by gravity, it can collapse down into a ball. Often, it becomes dense enough that the center bursts into nuclear fusion and that ball becomes a star. If it’s not dense enough, but is close, it will instead become a ball of gas called a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs can have orbiting systems of planets of their own at times, and they can also orbit stars. But for some reason, researchers rarely find a brown dwarf orbiting within three Earth-sun distances of a sun-mass star. Continue reading Telescope Team-Up Holds Cosmic Lens to Rare Brown Dwarf
Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have announced the discovery of huge stars that spin so fast they start to resemble awesome stellar pumpkins. And these “pumpkin stars” are incredible X-ray generators, producing radiation hundreds of times more powerful than our sun. Continue reading ‘Pumpkin Stars’ Are All You Need for a Stellar Halloween
The X-ray emissions were discovered by chance beyond the Milky Way and no one really knows what is causing them. Jimmy Irwin wasn’t looking to get a paper published in Nature when he gave three of his University of Alabama undergraduate students an assignment.
He told them to comb through archived Chandra and XMM-Newton telescope data for examples of bright X-ray emissions coming from galaxies beyond the Milky Way. The catch was to find examples emanating from globular cluster galaxies, a type of very old galaxy. Continue reading Weird Deep Space X-Ray Flashes Stump Astronomers
The discovery of a small rocky exoplanet at Proxima Centauri brings the search for life beyond the solar system into our home turf. The star closest to the sun is home to an Earth-sized planet with temperatures suitable for water — if any exists — to pool on its surface, a scenario that is believed to be favorable for life, research published Wednesday shows. Continue reading Confirmed! Sun’s Nearest Neighbor Has ‘Earth-Like’ World
The shockwave generated by the explosion of an ageing giant star has been observed by an international team of astronomers. The discovery, accepted for publishing in the Astrophysical Journal, will help scientists understand the life cycle of stars, said study co-author Brad Tucker of the Australian National University. Continue reading Astronomers See Supernova Shockwave for First Time
A huge, windy swirl of gas — usually found in the largest, most active galaxies — commands the center of a spiral similar to the Milky Way and may disrupt the galaxy’s star formation process, new research shows.
The galaxy, spotted by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton satellite telescope observatory, is, like the Milky Way, a spiral with a supermassive black hole at the center. But its center’s ability to produce new stars is compromised due to a fierce wind coming from that black hole as it swallows up its surroundings, ESA officials said in a statement. The gases and winds swirl around the black hole at about 10 percent of the speed of light, the statement said. Continue reading Powerful Black-Hole Wind Ruffles Spiral Galaxy
The hunt is on! NASA has begun a quest to select its next big instrument to study the cosmos.
Observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope have revolutionized humanity’s view of the cosmos. And upcoming projects, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the WFIRST-AFTA mission — which the agency aims to launch in 2018 and the mid-2020s, respectively — promise to make big discoveries of their own. Continue reading NASA’s Next Great Space Telescope: The Quest Begins
Black holes are notorious for gobbling stars and ripping apart galaxies, but it’s not always a quick process. Astronomers reported Thursday they watched a star being swallowed from beginning to end over a period of several months. Continue reading Scientists Watch Black Hole Have Leisurely Meal