Largest Structure in Universe Discovered | Space.com
Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretches 4 billion light-years from end to end.
The structure is a large quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous galactic nuclei powered by supermassive central black holes. This particular group is so large that it challenges modern cosmological theory, researchers said.
“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe,” lead author Roger Clowes, of the University of Central Lancashire in England, said in a statement. “This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe.”
WISE Infrared Andromeda - This sharp, wide-field view features infrared light from the spiral Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Dust heated by Andromeda’s young stars is shown in yellow and red, while its older population of stars appears as a bluish haze. The false-color skyscape is a mosaic of images from NASA’s new Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite. With over twice the diameter of our Milky Way, Andromeda is the largest galaxy in the local group. Andromeda’s own satellite galaxies M110 (below) and M32 (above) are also included in the combined fields. Launched in December 2009, WISE began a six month long infrared survey of the entire sky on January 14. Expected to discover near-Earth asteroids as well as explore the distant universe, its sensitive infrared detectors are cooled by frozen hydrogen. (via APOD)
Field of Rosette - What surrounds the florid Rosette nebula? To better picture this area of the sky, the famous flowery emission nebula on the far right has been captured recently in a deep and dramatic wide field image that features several other sky highlights. Designated NGC 2237, the center of the Rosette nebula is populated by the bright blue stars of open cluster NGC 2244, whose winds and energetic light are evacuating the nebula’s center. Below the famous flower, a symbol of Valentine’s Day, is a column of dust and gas that appears like a rose’s stem but extends hundreds of light years. Across the above image, the bright blue star just left and below the center is called S Monocerotis. The star is part of the open cluster of stars labelled NGC 2264 and known as the Snowflake cluster. To the right of S Mon is a dark pointy featured called the Cone nebula, a nebula likely shaped by winds flowing out a massive star obscured by dust. To the left of S Mon is the Fox Fur nebula, a tumultuous region created by the rapidly evolving Snowflake cluster. The Rosette region, at about 5,000 light years distant, is about twice as far away as the region surrounding S Mon. The entire field can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). (via APOD)
M42: Wisps of the Orion Nebula - The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image, faint wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye just below and to the left of the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. (via APOD)
Oldest Spiral Galaxy in Universe Discovered
Illustration: An artist’s rendering of galaxy BX442, which is 10.7 billion light-years from Earth, and its companion dwarf galaxy. Credit: Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics/Joe Bergeron
Astronomers have discovered the universe’s most ancient spiral galaxy yet, a cosmic structure that dates back roughly 10.7 billion years, a new study reveals.
The galactic find, discovered by researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, comes as something of a surprise. Other galaxies from such early epochs are clumpy and irregular, not strikingly symmetrical like the newfound spiral, which broadly resembles our own Milky Way.
“The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding,” study lead author David Law, of the University of Toronto, said in a statement. “Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design’ spiral galaxies simply didn’t exist at such an early time in the history of the universe.”
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300 - Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100,000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy’s dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. In fact, on close inspection the nucleus of this classic barred spiral itself shows a remarkable region of spiral structure about 3,000 light-years across. Unlike other spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, NGC 1300 is not presently known to have a massive central black hole. (via APOD)
Planetary Nebula Project - Cast off by dying sunlike stars, planetary nebulae are a brief but glorious final phase of stellar evolution. The gaseous shrouds are ionized by an extremely hot central source, the shrinking core of a star running out of fuel for nuclear fusion. Shining in the cosmic night, their simple symmetries are fascinating and have inspired this planetary nebula poster project. In it, nine planetaries are displayed for comparison in a 3x3 grid. Of course, planetary nebula fans should be able to pick out the bright Messier objects M27 - the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 - the Little Dumbbell, and M57 - the Ring Nebula, as well as NGC 6543, aka the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Lesser known nebulae include the Medusa and the Bug. These planetary nebulae hint at the fate of our own Sun as its core runs out of nuclear fuel in another 5 billion years. (via APOD)
NGC 3314: When Galaxies Overlap - NGC 3314 is actually two large spiral galaxies which just happen to almost exactly line up. The foreground spiral is viewed nearly face-on, its pinwheel shape defined by young bright star clusters. But against the glow of the background galaxy, dark swirling lanes of interstellar dust appear to dominate the face-on spiral’s structure. The dust lanes are surprisingly pervasive, and this remarkable pair of overlapping galaxies is one of a small number of systems in which absorption of light from beyond a galaxy’s own stars can be used to directly explore its distribution of dust. NGC 3314 is about 140 million light-years (background galaxy) and 117 million light-years (foreground galaxy) away in the multi-headed constellation Hydra. The background galaxy would span nearly 70,000 light-years at its estimated distance. (via APOD)
The Great Nebula in Orion - The Great Nebula in Orion is a colorful place. Visible to the unaided eye, it appears as a small fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion. Long exposure, digitally sharpened images like this, however, show the Orion Nebula to be a busy neighborhood of young stars, hot gas, and dark dust. The power behind much of the Orion Nebula (M42) is the Trapezium - four of the brightest stars in the nebula. Many of the filamentary structures visible are actually shock waves - fronts where fast moving material encounters slow moving gas. The Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located about 1500 light years away in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. (via APOD)
Top of the World
This stunning view of the top of the earth was captured by Astronaut Don Pettit.
Known as the Christmas Tree cluster, this colorful collection of stars lies 2,600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Monoceros, the unicorn.
The cluster was first discovered in the 18th century but was captured anew in this stunning image by by the 2.2-meter Max Planck Society/ESO telescope at La Silla observatory in the Atacama Desert. The telescope was outfitted with a specialized astronomical camera called the Wide Field Imager and a series of filters, and then aimed at the cluster for 10 hours to get the full-color image above.
The swirling gas clouds appear red because of ultraviolet light emanating from the young, hot stars that look like blue ornaments on a Christmas tree. The triangular feature near the bottom of the photo is an area of gas called the Cone Nebula.
The brightest star, at the top of the image, can be seen by the naked eye. The furry texture of the light to its right earned that area the name Fox Fur Nebula.
The whole cluster is in a star-forming molecular cloud, and the area between the brightest star and the tip of the cone is a great place for studying how stars are born.