The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357, which extends one degree on the sky in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Part of the nebula is ionised by the youngest (bluest) heavy stars in Pismis 24. The intense ultraviolet radiation from the blazing stars heats the gas surrounding the cluster and creates a bubble in NGC 6357. The brightest point of light above the centre of this image is Pismis 24-1, once thought to be the most massive known star but now known to be a binary system.
Photograph: HST/NASA/ESA                                                via: Wikipedia

The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357, which extends one degree on the sky in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Part of the nebula is ionised by the youngest (bluest) heavy stars in Pismis 24. The intense ultraviolet radiation from the blazing stars heats the gas surrounding the cluster and creates a bubble in NGC 6357. The brightest point of light above the centre of this image is Pismis 24-1, once thought to be the most massive known star but now known to be a binary system.

Photograph: HST/NASA/ESA                                                via: Wikipedia

A Hypergiant Star And Its Clingy Companion
This enormous star is a million times brighter than the sun.
by Francie Diep
The astronomer who discovered the size of this star says it’s shaped like a peanut, but we disagree; that one “lobe” is much too large. Perhaps that’s because the larger star is, in fact, one of the 10 largest stars ever discovered. Its diameter is 1,315 times that of Earth’s sun.
Astronomers have seen the star, named HR 5171, before. In a new study, however, an international team of scientists learned much more about it. For example, they discovered that HR 5171 is a binary system with a small companion star that touches and orbits the larger star. The astronomers also calculated HR 5171 A’s (the bigger star’s) surprising size. The star is almost twice as large as scientists expect for stars of its type.
HR 5171 A is a yellow hypergiant, a type of star that’s rare in our galaxy. Like its type-mates, HR 5171 A is big, bright and unstable. It’s about 1 million times brighter than the sun. Over the past four decades, it’s been cooling, enlarging and expelling material outwards…
(read more: Popular Science)
image: European Southern Observatory

A Hypergiant Star And Its Clingy Companion

This enormous star is a million times brighter than the sun.

by Francie Diep

The astronomer who discovered the size of this star says it’s shaped like a peanut, but we disagree; that one “lobe” is much too large. Perhaps that’s because the larger star is, in fact, one of the 10 largest stars ever discovered. Its diameter is 1,315 times that of Earth’s sun.

Astronomers have seen the star, named HR 5171, before. In a new study, however, an international team of scientists learned much more about it. For example, they discovered that HR 5171 is a binary system with a small companion star that touches and orbits the larger star. The astronomers also calculated HR 5171 A’s (the bigger star’s) surprising size. The star is almost twice as large as scientists expect for stars of its type.

HR 5171 A is a yellow hypergiant, a type of star that’s rare in our galaxy. Like its type-mates, HR 5171 A is big, bright and unstable. It’s about 1 million times brighter than the sun. Over the past four decades, it’s been cooling, enlarging and expelling material outwards…

(read more: Popular Science)

image: European Southern Observatory

Stellar Shrapnel Seen in Aftermath of Explosion
This beautiful composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A new long observation from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown in blue, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object being blown out of a debris field left over from an exploded star.
In order to detect this bullet, a team of researchers led by Sangwook Park of Penn State University used Chandra to observe N49 for over 30 hours. This bullet can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the image (roll your mouse over the image above or click here) and is rich in silicon, sulphur and neon. The detection of this bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric…
(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Stellar Shrapnel Seen in Aftermath of Explosion

This beautiful composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A new long observation from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown in blue, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object being blown out of a debris field left over from an exploded star.

In order to detect this bullet, a team of researchers led by Sangwook Park of Penn State University used Chandra to observe N49 for over 30 hours. This bullet can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the image (roll your mouse over the image above or click here) and is rich in silicon, sulphur and neon. The detection of this bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric…

(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

This infographic shows you the insane scale of our solar system

by Ria Misra

You may have seen graphics comparing the objects in our solar system by size, but this visualization offers a slightly different spin on the theme, by comparing objects by their total mass. Plus, it also features 460 tiny versions of former planet Pluto bouncing off of Earth like a game of interstellar marbles.

The visualization is the work of astronomer Rhys Taylor, who also previously made a similar visualization comparing the size of the gas giants in our solar system by mass.

Check it out here:

How Big are the Gas Giants?

(via: io9)

Sun Unleashes Monster Solar Flare, Biggest of 2014
by Miriam Kramer
The sun fired off a major solar flare late Monday (Feb. 24), making it the most powerful sun eruption of the year so far and one of the strongest in recent years. 
The massive X4.9-class solar flare erupted from an active sunspot, called AR1990,  at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 Feb. 25 GMT). NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured high-definition video of the monster solar flare. The spaceecraft recording amazing views the solar flare erupting with a giant burst of plasma, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.
Sunspot AR1990 (previously named AR1967) is located on the southeastern limb of the sun, pointed away from Earth. This is the third time this sunspot has rotated onto the Earth-facing side of the sun…
(read more: Live Science)
image: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Sun Unleashes Monster Solar Flare, Biggest of 2014

by Miriam Kramer

The sun fired off a major solar flare late Monday (Feb. 24), making it the most powerful sun eruption of the year so far and one of the strongest in recent years. 

The massive X4.9-class solar flare erupted from an active sunspot, called AR1990,  at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 Feb. 25 GMT). NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured high-definition video of the monster solar flare. The spaceecraft recording amazing views the solar flare erupting with a giant burst of plasma, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.

Sunspot AR1990 (previously named AR1967) is located on the southeastern limb of the sun, pointed away from Earth. This is the third time this sunspot has rotated onto the Earth-facing side of the sun…

(read more: Live Science)

image: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The beautiful leftover debris from an exploded star
This image of the debris of an exploded star - known as supernova remnant 1E 0102.2-7219, or “E0102” for short - features data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. E0102 is located about 190,000 light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way. It was created when a star that was much more massive than the Sun exploded, an event that would have been visible from the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth over 1000 years ago.

Chandra first observed E0102 shortly after its launch in 1999. New X-ray data have now been used to create this spectacular image and help celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Chandra’s launch on July 23, 1999. In this latest image of E0102, the lowest-energy X-rays are colored orange, the intermediate range of X-rays is cyan, and the highest-energy X-rays Chandra detected are blue. An optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope (in red, green and blue) shows additional structure in the remnant and also reveals foreground stars in the field…
(read more: Wired Science)
Caption: Chandra Telescope Team

 X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Dewey et al. & NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale); Optical (NASA/STScI)

The beautiful leftover debris from an exploded star

This image of the debris of an exploded star - known as supernova remnant 1E 0102.2-7219, or “E0102” for short - features data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. E0102 is located about 190,000 light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way. It was created when a star that was much more massive than the Sun exploded, an event that would have been visible from the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth over 1000 years ago.

Chandra first observed E0102 shortly after its launch in 1999. New X-ray data have now been used to create this spectacular image and help celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Chandra’s launch on July 23, 1999. In this latest image of E0102, the lowest-energy X-rays are colored orange, the intermediate range of X-rays is cyan, and the highest-energy X-rays Chandra detected are blue. An optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope (in red, green and blue) shows additional structure in the remnant and also reveals foreground stars in the field…

(read more: Wired Science)

Caption: Chandra Telescope Team

 X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Dewey et al. & NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale); Optical (NASA/STScI)

Scientists directly image brown dwarf for the first time at Keck Observatory (Phys.org) — A team of researchers led by Justin R. Crepp, the Freimann Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, has directly imaged a very rare type of brown dwarf that can serve as a benchmark for studying objects with masses that lie between stars and planets. Their paper on the discovery was published recently in Astrophysical Journal…
(read more)Image: CREPP ET AL. 2014, APJ

Scientists directly image brown dwarf for the first time at Keck Observatory

(Phys.org) — A team of researchers led by Justin R. Crepp, the Freimann Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, has directly imaged a very rare type of brown dwarf that can serve as a benchmark for studying objects with masses that lie between stars and planets. Their paper on the discovery was published recently in Astrophysical Journal…

(read more)

Image: CREPP ET AL. 2014, APJ




 This Just In: Storms Expected on Brown Dwarfs 






This artist’s concept shows what the weather might look like on cool star-like bodies known as brown dwarfs. These giant balls of gas start out life like stars, but lack the mass to sustain nuclear fusion at their cores, and instead, fade and cool with time.
New research from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that most brown dwarfs are racked with colossal storms akin to Jupiter’s famous “Great Red Spot.” These storms may be marked by fierce winds, and possibly lightning. The turbulent clouds might also rain down molten iron, hot sand or salts — materials thought to make up the cloud layers of brown dwarfs…
(read more: NASA/JPL-CalTech)
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook University
This Just In: Storms Expected on Brown Dwarfs

This artist’s concept shows what the weather might look like on cool star-like bodies known as brown dwarfs. These giant balls of gas start out life like stars, but lack the mass to sustain nuclear fusion at their cores, and instead, fade and cool with time.

New research from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that most brown dwarfs are racked with colossal storms akin to Jupiter’s famous “Great Red Spot.” These storms may be marked by fierce winds, and possibly lightning. The turbulent clouds might also rain down molten iron, hot sand or salts — materials thought to make up the cloud layers of brown dwarfs…

(read more: NASA/JPL-CalTech)

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook University

Stellar Trio Could Put Einstein’s Theory of Gravity to the Test
by Adrian Cho
In a cosmic coup, astronomers have found a celestial beacon known as a pulsar in orbit with not one, but two other stars. The first-of-its-kind trio could soon be used to put Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity, to an unprecedented test. “It’s a wonderful laboratory that nature has given us,” says Paulo Freire, a radio astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who was not involved in the work. “It’s almost made to order.”
A pulsar consists of a neutron star, the leftover core of a massive star that has blown up in a supernova explosion. The core’s own gravity squeezes it so intensely that the atomic nuclei meld into a single sphere of neutrons. The spinning neutron star also shines out a beam of radio waves that sweeps the sky just as the light beam from a lighthouse sweeps the sea. In fact, pulsars flash so regularly that they make natural timepieces whose ticking can be as steady as that of an atomic clock…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
image: Bill Saxton; NRAO/AUI/NSF

Stellar Trio Could Put Einstein’s Theory of Gravity to the Test

by Adrian Cho

In a cosmic coup, astronomers have found a celestial beacon known as a pulsar in orbit with not one, but two other stars. The first-of-its-kind trio could soon be used to put Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity, to an unprecedented test. “It’s a wonderful laboratory that nature has given us,” says Paulo Freire, a radio astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who was not involved in the work. “It’s almost made to order.”

A pulsar consists of a neutron star, the leftover core of a massive star that has blown up in a supernova explosion. The core’s own gravity squeezes it so intensely that the atomic nuclei meld into a single sphere of neutrons. The spinning neutron star also shines out a beam of radio waves that sweeps the sky just as the light beam from a lighthouse sweeps the sea. In fact, pulsars flash so regularly that they make natural timepieces whose ticking can be as steady as that of an atomic clock…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

image: Bill Saxton; NRAO/AUI/NSF

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After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds with the help of a special starlight-blocking device, called a coronagraph, built at the American Museum of Natural History.
This is Gemini Planet Imager’s first-light image of the light scattered by a disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796. The narrow ring is thought to be dust from asteroids or comets left behind by planet formation; some scientists have theorized that the sharp edge of the ring is defined by an unseen planet.
Processing by Marshall Perrin, Space Telescope Science Institute

amnhnyc:  

After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds with the help of a special starlight-blocking device, called a coronagraph, built at the American Museum of Natural History.

This is Gemini Planet Imager’s first-light image of the light scattered by a disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796. The narrow ring is thought to be dust from asteroids or comets left behind by planet formation; some scientists have theorized that the sharp edge of the ring is defined by an unseen planet.

Processing by Marshall Perrin, Space Telescope Science Institute