Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet.The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009.GJ1214b is a super-Earth orbiting a red-dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). New observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. GJ1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in our solar system or any other planetary system currently known. To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations but according to researchers GJ 1214b, is something new altogether. This so-called super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet.
The Hubble Space Telescope recently spied a cluster of young blue stars surrounding a rare mid-weight black hole that suggests the black hole was once at the center of a dwarf galaxy. Astronomers think this galaxy was torn apart by the gravity of a larger host galaxy that it orbited. The violent encounter would have stripped away most of the dwarf galaxy’s stars, but it also could have compressed the gas around its central black hole, triggering a new wave of star formation. It is these new stars that Hubble recently saw signs of. The observations suggest that the young stars must be less than 200 million years old, meaning the collision between the parent galaxy and its dwarf likely occurred around that time.
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.
Thanks to the presence of a natural “zoom lens” in space, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope got a uniquely close-up look at the brightest “magnified” galaxy yet discovered. In this image the light from a distant galaxy, nearly 10 billion light-years away, has been warped into a nearly 90-degree arc of light in the galaxy cluster RCS2 032727-132623. The galaxy cluster lies 5 billion light-years away. So-called gravitational lens is produced when space is warped by a massive foreground object, whether it is the sun, a black hole or an entire cluster of galaxies.
In 1995, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took an iconic image of the Eagle nebula, dubbed the “Pillars of Creation,” highlighting its finger-like pillars where new stars are thought to be forming. Now, the Herschel Space Observatory has a new, expansive view of the region captured in longer-wavelength infrared light. The Herschel mission is led by the European Space Agency, with important NASA contributions. The Eagle nebula is a distant star-forming nest of gas and dust about 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Serpens. It contains a young, hot star cluster, NGC6611, visible with modest backyard telescopes, which is sculpting and illuminating the surrounding gas and dust.
Peering deep inside the hub of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a large, rare population of hot, bright stars.
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, which caused a supernova seen in a nearby galaxy.
Astronomers have discovered the most distant developing galaxy cluster known to date, shedding light on the formation of large-scale structure in the early universe. Researchers used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to find five tiny but bright galaxies clustered together 13.1 billion light-years from Earth.
Accroding to David Charbonneau, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could be used as a powerful tool that will enable astronomers to sniff the atmospheres of alien planets.