The Cosmic Web Imager at Palomar Observatory has been studying a system 10 billion light years away illuminated by two quasars. Now, a Caltech team has published pictures of the giant swirling disk of a protogalaxy being fed cool - 30,000 degree - gas by a filament of the cosmic web. This is the first time we have ever seen a galaxy being built, and it reveals unique new evidence about the early Universe and the still poorly-understood life and evolution of the galactic population. Abstract of letter in Nature (full paper paywalled).
Thick clouds of dust and gas prevent our eyes from seeing much of our Milky Way galaxy. But infrared light travels through that dust easily. Using infrared light, the Spitzer Space Telescope has been taking high-resolution images of our galactic center since 2003. Combining over 400,000 of those images in multiple wavelengths of light reveals a new view of our galaxy. Floating along the Milky Way (in 4k60p if your computer can handle it).
Astronomers discover that our galaxy is a suburb of a supercluster of 100,000 large galaxies they have called Laniakea
Chandra Sky Map - Joe DePasquale runs through the process of creating the map and some helpful tips for using the interactive tool.
January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
eXtreme Deep Field (1.4 MB JPG) is the deepest-ever view of the universe - a new assemblage of 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs focused on a small area at the center of the original Ultra Deep Field. With a cumulative exposure time of 2 million seconds, XDF shows approximately 5,500 galaxies - some of them 10 billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
Obese, gluttonous, and cannibalistic is no way to go through life, son: profile of a multi-core galaxy 20 times larger than the Milky Way.
Galaxy Zoo 2: Help astronomers sort through 250,000 galaxies! The Sloan Digital Sky Survey found hundreds of thousands of galaxies which needed to be accurately classified; the original Galaxy Zoo project was a collaborative effort by tens of thousands of volunteers around the world to sort these galaxies into spiral and elliptical categories. Now, it's entered its second phase: describing the details of these galaxies. Read the tutorial, and then you can jump in and start classifying. [more inside]
Astronomers searching for amino acids in space have discovered something unexpected -- the center of our galaxy tastes like raspberries and smells like rum. [more inside]
A sixteen year long astronomical study, led by Dr. Reinhard Genzel of the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, has provided what is considered to be the best empirical evidence yet of the existence of supermassive black holes, specifically one a relatively cozy 27,000 light years away.... "The stellar orbits [QT] in the Galactic Centre [QT] show that the central mass concentration of four million solar masses must be a black hole, beyond any reasonable doubt." [more inside]
Today is the first birthday of Galaxy Zoo. The largest astronomical collaboration in history, Galaxy Zoo has enlisted nearly a 150,000 volunteers to help classify over a million galaxies and released four science papers. It's made a number of interesting discoveries such as a large number of ring galaxies, Hanny’s Voorwerp, and a large number of visually (but not physically) overlapping galaxies. You can help classify galaxies or classify galaxy mergers. Don't miss the visual catalog of over 250 Objects of the Day--pretty much every one of them stunning.
Breathtaking Hubble picture of the Sombrero Galaxy (also identified as M104). The Hubble Heritage team took the original images during May and June of this year using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and multiple color filters. They then stitched 6 images together to make the final composite image.
3-D Maps of Nearby Space "The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy...The new map, produced by University of California, Berkeley, and French astronomers, alters the reigning view of the solar neighborhood." (one view|another view|links to bigger images)
A computer aided simulation builds a spiral galaxy from its beginning. In all, 390,000 particles were placed in an arrangement similar to a newborn galaxy. The end result after three months is an event that is believed to take billions of years to occur. (animation)