A Black Hole in a Grand Design Spiral Galaxy - M74

Grand Design Spiral Galaxies are classified by their symmetrical spiral arms emanating from a central nucleus. M74, or NGC628, is a face-on spiral galaxy known for its grand design structure. M74 is home to some 100 billion stars; It is and is dotted with clusters of young blue stars and glowing pink regions that will form protostars. In 2002, the Chandra Space Observatory gained evidence that M74 contains an intermediate mass black hole. After studying variations in the amount of X-rays emitted by certain stars, Astrophysicists determined that the mass of the black hole is approximately 10,000 times the mass of our sun.

CreditNASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, Chandra Space Observatory  

Ancient Quasar Pulses With The Light Of A Million Billion Suns

Astronomers have discovered a monster black hole at the cosmic dawn of our Universe powering an ultraluminous, high-energy quasar.

The huge black hole has a mass 12 billion times that of the Sun and its associated quasar pumps out energy a million billion times that of the Sun.

Quasars are formed as the central supermassive black hole sucks in surrounding materials and gases, which heats up and emits a tremendous amount of light, so much that it actually push away the material getting sucked in behind it. It is quasars that limit the growth of black holes, which is one of the reasons why this ultraluminous quasar around this gigantic black hole is so puzzling.

The other reason is how ancient they are. The quasar is in the high redshift of light, which is a measure of how much the wavelength of the light has been stretched by the expansion of the Universe before it reaches us here on Earth. Using this measure, scientists are able to date quasars and they’ve put this one in the early cosmic dawn, just 900 million years after the Big Bang.

The Lobster Nebula seen with ESO’s VISTA telescope

This image from ESO’s VISTA telescope captures a celestial landscape of vast, glowing clouds of gas and tendrils of dust surrounding hot young stars. This infrared view reveals the stellar nursery known as NGC 6357 in a new light. It was taken as part of the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) survey, which is currently scanning the Milky Way in a bid to map our galaxy’s structure and explain how it formed.

Credit: ESO/VVV Survey/D. Minniti. Acknowledgement: Ignacio Toledo

A Hubble Sweep of the Dust Filaments of NGC 4217
by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

     In this image the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope takes a close look at the spiral galaxy NGC 4217, located 60 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy is seen almost perfectly edge on and is a perfect candidate for studying the nature of extraplanar dust structures — the patterns of gas and dust above and below the plane on the galaxy, seen here as brown wisps coming off NGC 4217.
     These tentacle-like filaments are visible in the Hubble image only because the contrast with their surroundings is so high. This implies that the structures are denser than their surroundings. The image shows dozens of dust structures some of which reach as far as 7,000 light-years away from the central plane. Typically the structures have a length of about 1,000 light-years and are about 400 light-years in width.
     Some of the dust filaments are round or irregular clouds, others are vertical columns, loop-like structures or vertical cones. These structures can help astronomers to identify the mechanisms responsible for the ejection of gas and dust from the galactic plane of spiral galaxies and reveal information on the transport of the interstellar medium to large distances away from galactic disks.
     The properties of the observed dust structures in NGC 4217 suggest that the gas and dust were driven out of the mid-plane of the galaxy by powerful stellar winds resulting from supernovae — explosions that mark the deaths of massive stars.
     Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: R. Schoofs

Dark Energy Camera Catches Breathtaking Glimpse of Comet Lovejoy

On December 27, 2014, while scanning the southern sky as part of the Dark Energy Survey, researchers snapped the above shot of comet Lovejoy. The image above was captured using the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, the world’s most powerful digital camera. Each of the rectangular shapes above represents one of the 62 individual fields of the camera.

At the time this image was taken, the comet was passing about 51 million miles from Earth – a short distance for the Dark Energy Camera, which is sensitive to light up to 8 billion light years away. The comet’s center is a ball of ice roughly three miles across, and the visible head of the comet is a cloud of gas and dust about 400,000 miles in diameter.

Astronomers Discover A Supermassive Black Hole Dating To Cosmic Dawn

"SDSS J0100+2802 is the rather understated name scientists have given to an exceptionally luminous, newly discovered quasar. It’s 12.8 billion light years away and shines as brightly as 420 million suns. At its center, there’s a super-sized black hole — as massive as 12 billion suns — that formed some 900 million years after the Big Bang.

It’s far larger than any other known black hole, and astronomers aren’t sure how it grew so big so fast.”

Read more at npr.

The signs as completely unrelated things

Aries: ceiling fan

Taurus: Portland, Oregon 

Gemini: a blue whale named Dave 

Cancer: The phantom of the opera 

Leo: drinks out of mason jars probably

Virgo: has ascended the three dimensional plane, also a giant nerd 

Libra: Eggshell white 

Scorpio: I love you, you giant asshole

Sagittarius: the science of cooking

Capricorn: A beautiful lie by 30 seconds to mars

Aquarius: bees??

Pisces: hundreds of hot chocolate packets scattered across the room 


Does Dark Matter Cause Extinctions?

New discoveries into two weird things that may have played havoc with the ancient solar system: dark matter and a wandering star.