NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2015 May 6

Summer Triangles over Japan

Have you ever seen the Summer Triangle? The bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair form a large triangle on the sky that can be seen rising in the early northern early spring during the morning and rising in the northern fall during the evening. During summer months, the triangle can be found nearly overhead near midnight. Featured here, the Summer Triangle asterism was captured last month from Gunma, Japan. In the foreground, sporting a triangular shape of its own, is a flowering 500 year old cherry tree, standing about 15 meters tall. The triangular shape of the asterism is only evident from the direction of Earth – in actuality the stars are thousands of light years apart in space.

Found: The Furthest Galaxy From Earth

More than 13 billion light years from our tiny planet, an ancient galaxy lurks. Named EGS-zs8-1, it’s an extremely luminous cluster of stars—and it’s the farthest galaxy we’ve ever seen.

EGS-zs8-1 was identified originally by images taken with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, but this most recent research pinpointed the galaxy’s exact location using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Keck’s new MOSFIRE (Multi-Object Spectrograph for Infrared Exploration) instrument allows researchers to study the light shifts from several galaxies at one time, giving a clearer indication of just how far the galaxies sit.

The light shifts of EGS-zs8-1 indicate that it’s barely younger than the Big Bang, which is thought to have occurred 13.8 billion years ago. If the measurements from Keck are correct, then this galaxy formed just 670 million years after that cataclysmic birth. In the timescale of the universe, our dimension was in its infancy.

Since the light from this galaxy takes 13.1 billion years to travel to our puny eyes, we’re actually seeing back in time, to when this star cluster first formed. And at such a young age, EGS-zs8-1 was already a massive galaxy to behold. “While we saw the galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago, it had already built more than 15 percent of the mass of our own Milky Way today,” Pascal Oesch, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “But it had only 670 million years to do so. The universe was still very young then.”

Perhaps in EGS-zs8-1, on a remote desert planet orbiting two suns, a young padawan is contemplating his destiny.

Evidence Suggests Planet Formation Around Distant Star

This image of a young star and a dusty disc of material circling it became famous late last year. It was the first observation made by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory in its recently upgraded, most powerful setting. ALMA project partner European Southern Observatory said the image exceeded all expectations and revealed unexpectedly fine detail of HL Tauri, a young star less than a million years old that is some 450 light years from Earth.

“These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disc,” ALMA Deputy Director Stuartt Corder said at the time. “This is surprising since such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image.”

Now a team from the University of Toronto and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics has offered proof that is exactly what is going on, marking the first time humans have ever seen a forming planetary system.

Keep reading


Wonderful. Chromoscope:

Ever wanted X-ray specs or super-human vision? Chromoscope lets you explore our Galaxy (the Milky Way) and the distant Universe in a range of wavelengths from gamma-rays to the longest radio waves.

From top to down:

Quick Tour of Chromoscope


The Shape of the Universe that Sends Chills Down your Spine

According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, gravity and energy effect the shape of space.

You can imagine this by looking at gravity not as a ‘force’ but as a downwards indentation in space. If you take a towel and have it pulled flat then drop a bowling ball in the middle, the area around the bowling ball will have been pressed down. The Moon orbiting Earth is just following a straight trajectory around this downward curvature of space.

Energy does the opposite of gravity. It makes a positive curvature.

When you look at the big picture, you’ve got a universe whose overall shape is dictated by whether or not it’s got an overall positive, negative or zero amount of energy.

We know, thanks to measuring the gravity of regular matter, dark matter and the strange anti-gravitational force called 'dark energy’, that we can make an equation with energy on one side and gravity on the other.

This equation will tell us the shape of the universe.

A negative answer means our universe is shaped like a saddle. A positive one means our universe is shaped like a globe (closed). An answer of zero means the universe has flat geometry.

Want the mysterious part?

Scientists have found that the universe is somehow, shockingly *perfectly tuned*. The measured amount of dark energy combined with the average density of matter is approximately zero. Our universe is flat.

With a flat universe, a universe with a net total of zero energy, we have a case of an entire universe being created out of nothing.

Somehow the matter and gravitational energies that otherwise cancelled each other out in a state of 'zero-ness’ were separated. Our universe may have in fact been created out of nothing.

It gets more odd. If you were to add (which we can’t) a single gram of matter (just one gram) it totally changes the entire shape of the universe. Our universe would be a closed one that would end in a 'Big Crunch’ where all things collapse and fall into a singularity: a perfect opposite of the Big Bang.

Scientists don’t like it when things seem to be fine tuned. It usually means we’re missing something. This means that our universe is many times more incredible and mysterious than you may have ever imagined before…


Best of 2014!













Still not satisfied? Relive the previous year in science!

the-randomness-blogger asked:

Okay so my friend and i were arguing for fun about antimatter, dark matter, and antigravity, but couldnt prove if one of us was correct. Could you help us out with some facts about these, or the differences in these things

Sure So I’ll just run through some facts for you. I’ll start with definitions and I’ll try to make it as simple as possible. I’ll include as many sources as I can so everyone can fact check and let me know if I need to change anything.

You should also check out this NASA page on the subject: http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/


Antimatter: is matter made from antiparticles (duh?) So the followup question would be: what are antiparticles? well, now we’re getting into Quantum Physics so buckle in! [side note, CERN has several definitions for these small scale phenomenon available at their ATLAS experiments glossary (link here).]

Antiparticle: has the same mass as its partner particle, but the opposite charge. This charge could be either the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. When a particle meets its antiparticle it “evaporates“. A nice gif of particle - antiparticle annihilation (credit & source):

Quick Quantum Rundown: There are 2 classifications of particles in QM (Quantum Mechanics)

  • Fermions: any particle that follows the Fermi-Dirac statistic models. Fermions include all Quarks and Leptons. All of these have a property know as odd-half-integer spin (not important to the casual person).
    • Quark: 3 of these combine to form Hadrons - such as Protons and Neutrons. More info here:
    • Lepton: this is a particle that has only half-integer spin. The best known example of these are electrons.
  • Bosons: any particle that follows the Bose-Eisenstein statistics models. Bosons are either elementary or composite.
    • Elementary: An elementary particle such as a photon
    • Composite: Most Bosons are composite. Such as the four gauge bosons (γ · g · Z · ) and the Higgs boson (H0).

For those of you who like charts:

Dark Matter: is a hypothetical kind of matter that does not interact with the electromagnetic spectrum. Because dark matter does not emits or absorbs light we can only measure it indirectly. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest mysteries in modern Astrophysics.

It is mostly related to large scale structures within our cosmos. There seems to be more dark matter than actual matter within out universe.

This Video Shows how dark matter clubs form in large scale structures:


[ credit: http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_matter.html ]

About “Anti-gravity”: sorry to disappoint you but it doesn’t technically exist. However, anti-gravity is hypothetically the theorized graviton is discovered. For “false gravity“ applications in human space flight you can read this previous ask: Rotating Torus in human space flight. I think you may find that interesting if you’re trying to find a way to “cheat“ gravity. 

P.S. A serious shout out to all of my followers who ask me the best questions, I’m sorry I can’t answer them all but I will try my best to answer them when I can as best as I can. You are all seriously awesome curious people! Thanks for the great questions & support!

Astronomers Set a New Galaxy Distance Record

Astronomers continue to peer toward the beginning of time as observations confirmed the most distant galaxy currently measured. Using the combined data from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes along with the Keck Observatory, a team of astronomers led by Yale and U. of California found a luminous galaxy that appears to be only 100 million years old. The galaxy is so far away that the light we receive left the galaxy over 13 billion years ago, and it is just arriving now.


Big Bang May Have Created a Mirror Universe Where Time Runs Backwards

By Tim De Chant

Why does time seem to move forward? It’s a riddle that’s puzzled physicists for well over a century, and they’ve come up with numerous theories to explain time’s arrow. The latest, though, suggests that while time moves forward in our universe, it may run backwards in another, mirror universe that was created on the “other side” of the Big Bang.

Two leading theories propose to explain the direction of time by way of the relatively uniform conditions of the Big Bang. At the very start, what is now the universe was homogeneously hot, so much so that matter didn’t really exist. It was all just a superheated soup. But as the universe expanded and cooled, stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies formed, birthing the universe’s irregular structure and raising its entropy.

Continue Reading


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2015 January 28

Comet Lovejoy in a Winter Sky

Which of these night sky icons can you find in this beautiful and deep exposure of the northern winter sky? Skylights include the stars in Orion’s belt, the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades star cluster, the bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, the California Nebula, Barnard’s Loop, and Comet Lovejoy. The belt stars of Orion are nearly vertical in the central line between the horizon and the image center, with the lowest belt star obscured by the red glowing Flame Nebula. To the belt’s left is the red arc of Barnard’s Loop followed by the bright orange star Betelgeuse, while to the belt’s right is the colorful Orion Nebula followed by the bright blue star Rigel. The blue cluster of bright stars near the top center is the Pleiades, and the red nebula to its left is the California nebula. The bright orange dot above the image center is the star Aldebaran, while the green object with the long tail to its right is Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). The featured image was taken about two weeks ago near Palau village in Spain.