GJ 504 b: Pretty in Pink

For those of you who love the color pink, you might enjoy a recent discovery in the world of astronomy. NASA scientists have discovered a gas giant planet around four times the size of Jupiter, and it is entirely pink!

We want to make the world a more sciencey place. We’re doing that. With your help, we can do even more.

Read more about this fascinating planet here: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/gj-504-b-pretty-in-pink/

Image Credit: BeeSadie on DeviantArt


Night Skies Landscapes

Finnish photographer Mikko Lagerstedt goes on captivating us with his incredible Instagram pictures taken in the fringes of Finland. Milky way, northern lights, red twilight, when nature spread all its magic, the photographer offers us spectacular photographs of it, almost unreal.

via: fubiz

milky way, photographed by stereo b, 21st-22nd january 2007.

the plane of the galaxy around scorpius. the second brightest object in the image, above the galaxy, is antares. the very brightest, above and left, must be a planet - perhaps mars. the pair of bright stars that just sneak into frame at bottom right are alpha and beta centauri; one of the stars in the alpha centauri star system, proxima centauri, is the closest star to the sun.

18 frames over 22 hours. on january 21st, the spacecraft used a lunar gravity assist to escape the earth-moon system and enter a heliocentric orbit.

image credit: nasa/stereo. animation: ageofdestruction.

Star Formation Triggers

This composite image, combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope shows the star-forming cloud Cepheus B, located in our Milky Way galaxy about 2,400 light years from Earth. A molecular cloud is a region containing cool interstellar gas and dust left over from the formation of the galaxy and mostly contains molecular hydrogen. The Spitzer data, in red, green and blue shows the molecular cloud (in the bottom part of the image) plus young stars in and around Cepheus B, and the Chandra data in violet shows the young stars in the field.

The Chandra observations allowed the astronomers to pick out young stars within and near Cepheus B, identified by their strong X-ray emission. The Spitzer data showed whether the young stars have a so-called “protoplanetary” disk around them. Such disks only exist in very young systems where planets are still forming, so their presence is an indication of the age of a star system.

These data provide an excellent opportunity to test a model for how stars form. The new study suggests that star formation in Cepheus B is mainly triggered by radiation from one bright, massive star (HD 217086) outside the molecular cloud. According to the particular model of triggered star formation that was tested – called the radiation- driven implosion model – radiation from this massive star drives a compression wave into the cloud triggering star formation in the interior, while evaporating the cloud’s outer layers.

Different types of triggered star formation have been observed in other environments. For example, the formation of our solar system was thought to have been triggered by a supernova explosion. In the star-forming region W5, a “collect-and-collapse” mechanism is thought to apply, where shock fronts generated by massive stars sweep up material as they progress outwards. Eventually the accumulated gas becomes dense enough to collapse and form hundreds of stars. The radiation-driven implosion model mechanism is also thought to be responsible for the formation of dozens of stars in W5. The main cause of star formation that does not involve triggering is where a cloud of gas cools, gravity gets the upper hand, and the cloud falls in on itself.


Question: Which Star is Likely to go Supernova in Our Lifetimes?

Question: I have read that supernovae only happen in our galaxy every hundred years or so, so which star is the most likely candidate to go nova soon? What will it look like from Earth?“

Answer: It’s difficult to be sure exactly which star will be the first to go, but we have a few candidates to consider. The first candidate is one of the brightest stars in the sky. Eta Carinae, as its called, is a heavyweight star located some 7,500 light-years from Earth. Moving onward, we have IK Pegasus, one of two stars in an ill-fated binary system. One of the stars, IK Pegasus A, will soon transform into a red-giant (this transformation marks the beginning of the end for sun-like stars), subsequently transferring matter to its companion white-dwarf, IK Pegasus B. This process will culminate in a type 1a supernova blast.

Of course, we can’t ignore Antares, a super-giant in the constellation of Scorpio. It too has a companion star that will explode in a type 1a blast. Neither of these are more likely to explode than Betelgeuse. (Perhaps if we say it three times, we’ll get to see it in our lifetimes? Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!)

Find out more about the star and how it will look on Earth, here: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/question-which-star-is-likely-to-go-supernova-in-our-lifetimes/

Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada (Larger image: http://ow.ly/stGvG)