Astronomers have caught a galaxy in the act of recycling material that it previously threw out, which may explain the discrepancy. New observations provide the first direct evidence of gas flowing into distant galaxies that are actively creating baby stars, offering support for the “galactic recycling” theory. Our Milky Way galaxy seems to turn about one solar mass’ worth of matter into new stars every year.
NASA unveiled a new atlas and catalog of the entire infrared sky showing more than a half billion stars, galaxies and other objects captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. WISE launched December 14, 2009, and mapped the entire sky in 2010 with vastly better sensitivity than its predecessors. It collected more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, capturing everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies. Since then, the team has been processing more than 15 trillion bytes of returned data.
A new study found that cosmic inflation, which was first proposed in 1980, is the simplest explanation that fits the measurements of the distribution of matter throughout the universe made by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), a spacecraft that scans radiation left over from the Big Bang. According to inflation, the universe expanded by a factor of at least 1078 (that’s 10 with 78 zeroes after it), all in less than a second.
A group of Japanese physicists has revealed where dark matter is for the first time. As it turns out, the mysterious substance is almost everywhere, drooping throughout intergalactic space to form an all-encompassing web of matter. Dark matter is invisible, It doesn’t interact with light, because of that astronomers cannot actually see it. So far, it has only been observed indirectly by way of the gravitational force it exerts on ordinary, visible matter. On the basis of this gravitational interaction, physicists have inferred that dark matter constitutes 22 percent of the matter-energy content of the universe, while ordinary detectable matter constitutes just 4.5 percent.
Many of the Universe’s galaxies are like our own, displaying beautiful spiral arms wrapping around a bright nucleus. Examples in this stunning image, taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, include the tilted galaxy at the bottom of the frame, shining behind a Milky Way star, and the small spiral at the top center. Other galaxies are even odder in shape. Markarian 779, the galaxy at the top of this image, has a distorted appearance because it is likely the product of a recent galactic merger between two spirals.
NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or Galex, was placed in standby mode as engineers prepare to end mission operations, nearly nine years after the telescope’s launch. The spacecraft is scheduled to be decommissioned. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer was launched on April 28, 2003. Its mission is to study the shape, brightness, size and distance of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history. The 50 centimeter diameter (19.7-inch) telescope onboard the Galaxy Evolution Explorer sweeps the skies in search of ultraviolet-light sources.
More than 20,000 radio antennas will soon connect over the Internet to scan largely unexplored radio frequencies, hunting for the first stars and galaxies and potentially signals of extraterrestrial intelligence. The Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) will consist of banks of antennas in 48 stations in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, all hooked up by fiber optic cables. Currently 16,000 of LOFAR’s antennas and 41 of its stations are up, and the array will be completed by the middle of this year.
Astronomers have combined observations from the LABOCA camera on the ESO-operated 12-meter Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope with measurements made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and others, to look at the way that bright, distant galaxies are gathered together in groups or clusters. The more closely the galaxies are clustered, the more massive are their halos of dark matter, the invisible material that makes up the vast majority of a galaxy’s mass. The new results are the most accurate clustering measurements ever made for this type of galaxy.
The Helix Nebula glows like a giant golden eye in the sky in the image, released on January 19, 2012 by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, and brings to light a rich background of stars and galaxies. The picture was captured by ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The Helix Nebula is one of the closest and most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The Helix Nebula lies in the constellation of Aquarius, about 700 light-years away from Earth. This strange object formed when a star like the sun was in the final stages of its life.