This slice of the Andromeda Galaxy glitters with more than 100 million stars in a zoomable, epic panorama from the Hubble Space Telescope.
SEATTLE — Each January, thousands of astronomers get together and spend four days talking about stars, galaxies, planets, the cosmos, and everything in between.
Three time zones away, National Geographic’s Erika Engelhaupt and Dan Vergano worked overtime with me to bring you tales from the stars.
We published one of the early meeting highlights, a new Hubble image of the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation, on Monday.
A new image of Earth’s nearest large galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, is aglow with the light of more than 100 million stars. Fun Fact: Scientists can now pinpoint Saturn’s exact location to within roughly one mile, by combining information from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and NSF’s Very Long Baseline Array. If there’s one thing astronomers are learning about exoplanets, it’s that alien worlds are common throughout the galaxy. The Venus Zone is where an exoplanet is likely to exhibit atmospheric and surface conditions similar to the planet Venus. Take two parts iron and oxygen, one part each of magnesium and silicon, add a handful of other ingredients, and shape into a sphere.
That’s the recipe astronomer Courtney Dressing figured out for cooking rocky planets – at least those that are 1.6 times Earth’s size and smaller. BOSS mapped more than 1 million galaxies and used their positions to study the expanding universe.
The Universe is still flat – perhaps even flatter than Kansas, which is officially flatter than a pancake – according to the latest results from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey.
As described at the meeting, results from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite also point to a flat cosmology. For the briefest of moments, a young pulsar blasted jets of radio waves in Earth’s direction, seven times per second.
X-rays detected by NASA’s NuSTAR telescope are overlaid on an image of two colliding galaxies, called Arp 299.
Packed with the mass of many billions of suns, supermassive black holes are like enormous cosmic drains that churn in the hearts of galaxies.
Nearer to Earth, however, another pair of supermassive black holes appear to be on a collision course. A strange exoplanetary system includes both a brown dwarf and giant Jupiter orbiting a binary sunlike star. Astronomers have spotted the first binary star system known to include both a Jupiter-type planet and a brown dwarf – a failed star that’s just a little bit too light to ignite. In the future, these inflatable modules could be used to construct a space habitat, or hotel. Nadia Drake is a science journalist who grew up thinking about cosmic questions and staring at Saturn through giant telescopes.
Her work has also appeared in Science News, Nature, New Scientist, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and WIRED.
DisclaimerThe views expressed are those of the writer and are not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Usamos cookies en todos nuestros sitios webs para mejorar tu experiencia durante tu navegacion asi como para obtener datos estadisticos. Las cookies son pequenos archivos de texto que se almacenan en su ordenador cuando usted visita ciertos sitios web. Death of an early star One of the first stars in the universe explodes, bursting through its halo of invisible dark matter and seeding space with carbon, oxygen, and other elements. Detecting the (almost) undetectable In a Stanford University clean room, research assistant John Mark Kreikebaum inspects silicon disks that might one day register the subtle energy signal of dark matter particles—which are believed to be ubiquitous but have yet to be observed. Simulation and reconstruction: Steffen Hess and Francisco-Shu Kitaura, Leibniz Institutefor Astrophysics Potsdam. The invisible scaffolding of space We can’t see dark matter, but its gravity sculpts what we do see from our vantage point inside the Milky Way galaxy.
Message from the Milky Way A NASA telescope orbiting Earth has detected unusually intense gamma rays coming from the center of our galaxy. A view from Chileof cosmic expansionThe Dark Energy Survey will map an eighth of the sky at high resolution.

If you caught COSMOS last night on National Geographic Channel, you may be feeling a little small. Spring in the northern hemisphere officially begins this Sunday, March 20th—coinciding with International Happiness Day!
This year’s winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society was held in Seattle from Jan. The next day, the planet-hunting Kepler mission announced a handful of new exoworlds, including a clutch of planet candidates that could be true Earthy twins. We’ve got one more story in the works and have gotten word of some exciting announcements that will be arriving in the coming months. Scientists took long looks at a portion of the spiral galaxy’s disk, then published a panorama of 7,398 incredibly high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope images (above).
It’s not easy; he first selects worlds that are capable of holding onto a moon, and for which a moon should be detectable. ESA’s Gaia spacecraft, which is mapping the locations of roughly one billion stars, observes about 5,000 stars each second.
That’s the question San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane asked on Thursday, in one of the conference’s exoplanet sessions. Stars spin more slowly as they age, meaning that the rate at which a star spins should betray how old it is. The survey used sound waves from the early universe to plot the positions of 1.4 million galaxies and 300,000 quasars. Speaking of Planck, the team still hasn’t released its joint analysis with the BICEP2 team, which in March of last year announced the detection of primordial gravitational waves – a key piece of evidence supporting the theory of cosmic inflation. Then, almost as quickly as they had appeared, jets from the dead, spinning star began fading. Long ago, a cascade of catastrophic collisions may have obliterated several planets in the inner solar system and left oddball Mercury as the only survivor.
Roughly 134 million light-years away, two merging galaxies, collectively called Arp 299, are slowly drifting toward a galactic smashup. ESA’s Planck satellite managed to indirectly detect what’s called the cosmic neutrino background – particle radiation imprinted on the universe two seconds after the Big Bang. This is her space to talk about space -- from other worlds to exploding stars to the fabric of the universe. Phenomena is hosted by National Geographic magazine, which invites you to join the conversation. Uniendo el escepticismo y el asombro, el tejido ciencia rigurosa con elementos visuales, emocionales y espirituales, esta sera una experiencia trascendente - una vision del cosmos en la mayor escala que conocemos. Puede eliminar las cookies que ya estan almacenadas en su ordenador, pero pueden impedir el uso de partes de nuestro sitio web. This supercomputer simulation, which looks at our cosmic neighborhood from the outside, is a realistic, data-driven reconstruction of the web of dark matter that guided galaxies to their present positions. The gamma rays are represented by the patch of bright colors superimposed on this picture of the Milky Way. The Dark Energy Survey’s 570-megapixel camera, mounted on a telescope in Chile, is designed to image 300 million galaxies in five years. Neil deGrasse Tyson provides an exclusive look at how the producers decided to design the look of the new COSMOS, and how they re-imagined the Ship of Imagination.
4-8, and it was so stuffed with science that I didn’t even get a glimpse of the city’s Space Needle…while covering a space conference. And Thursday, we reported that one of the galaxy’s most massive and peculiar star systems, Eta Carinae, has produced the brightest X-ray flares yet recorded (don’t miss the stunning 3-D simulations that helped scientists peer into the unstable heart of this “erratic stellar monster”). In the meantime, I’ve written these eight short meeting reports to share some more of the meeting’s celestial happenings, starting with that spectacularly star-studded image of the Andromeda Galaxy, above. If those exoworlds are anything like the planets in our solar system, some of them have potentially habitable exomoons.
While many scientists are focused on figuring out how common exo-Earths are, Kane points out that exo-Venuses could slip into those calculations. Smaller stars called M-dwarfs are slightly less likely to host these roasted worlds, and Kane suggests exo-Venuses might live around 30 percent of them. But this has been a tricky relationship to parse, especially for stars that are cooler than the sun.

Those positions, when combined with data from other projects, strongly confirm the existence of dark matter, says Harvard University’s Daniel Eisenstein, and point to a flat cosmology.
There’s been much discussion over the past year about whether the BICEP analysis was done correctly, and scientists are eager to see whether the Planck data confirm or refute the BICEP finding.
Puzzled, astronomers raced to study the object, termed J1906+0746, which is 25,000 light-years away in a globular cluster known as Terzan 5.
According to the new theory, there were once more planets inside Earth’s orbit than there are today.
This is what scientists expect will happen in about 1 million years or so in a distant galaxy known as PG1302-102. But only one of the galaxies, as observed by NASA’s NuSTAR telescope, has an active supermassive black hole.
The cosmic neutrino background is both older and colder than the better-known cosmic microwave background, which dates to roughly 400,000 years post-Big Bang.
Where huge dark tendrils cross, bright galaxies cluster; the Virgo cluster alone includes thousands. Peering out eight billion light-years, it could see how fast the cosmos was expanding billions of years ago—when its acceleration by dark energy is thought to have begun. And while the ship has changed, the ground rules of the COSMOS adventure remain the same: test ideas by experiment and observation, build on those ideas that pass the test, reject the ones that fail, follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything.
But the galaxyscape is more than just a pretty picture: It’s providing clues about Andromeda’s evolutionary history that teams are using to piece together how the galaxy formed and grew up. But looking at each candidate world requires about 50,000 hours of processing time, he said at the meeting. Now, by measuring the frequency with which rotating star spots appear in a 2.5 billion-year-old cluster, astronomers are getting closer to developing a reliable stellar clock.
Observations indicated that the incredibly dense, spinning star wasn’t alone: It was orbiting another dense, dead star, once every four hours. There, scientists saw that the bright beacon of light shining from the galaxy’s center wasn’t shining ever so steadily. And while a mere four centuries ago, with no telescopes, our tiny world was unaware of the cosmos, today we have the tools available to give us a cosmic perspective. Among those clues are hints that Andromeda may have had a much more violent past than the Milky Way, and that older stars in its disk are behaving more erratically than younger stars. That stellar corpse’s gravity was so strong, though, that it had bent the fabric of space-time and was causing the pulsar to wobble in its orbit (or precess). The team suspects those blips in the quasar’s light are the product of two supermassive black holes orbiting one another, less than a light-year apart. The strange configuration is 314 light-years away and appeared in data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s MARVELS observation program. To help gain this perspective, COSMOS takes viewers on a journey aboard the Ship of the Imagination, free from the shackles of space and time, so we can travel anywhere. This year, with upcoming time on NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer and a new computing cluster, he should be able to look at 300 more.
The eventual collision will likely release as much energy as 100 million supernovas and obliterate the galaxy – but it’s 3.7 billion light-years away, so not to worry. For six years, MARVELS has surveyed 60 stars at a time, looking for wobbles that betray the presence of planets. The “very packed environment” of HD 87646 challenges theories describing how planets form, says University of Florida astronomer Jian Ge. They’re also, says CfA astronomer Laura Schaefer, likely to have longer-lived oceans on their surfaces – a condition that is necessary for Life As We Know It.
Scientists at have estimated that the pulsar will again appear as a beacon in its Earth’s radio sky in 2170.
But there’s a catch: While oceans might live longer on super-Earths, they might also take longer to form.
Conversely, Schaefer’s simulations show, oceans might live fast and die hard on planets smaller than Earth.

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