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Awesomeness Round-Up – 11/16/2011

We start with a new Hubble result. Using its near-infrared vision to peer 9 billion years back in time, the Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered an extraordinary population of young dwarf galaxies brimming with star formation. While dwarf galaxies are the most common type of galaxy in the universe, the rapid star-birth observed in these newly found examples may force astronomers to reassess their understanding of the ways in which galaxies form.

The galaxies are a hundred times less massive, on average, than the Milky Way, yet churn out stars at such a furious pace that their stellar content would double in just 10 million years. By comparison, the Milky Way would take a thousand times longer to double its star population.

“In addition to the images, Hubble has captured spectra that show us the oxygen in a handful of galaxies and confirmed their extreme star-forming nature,” said co-author Amber Straughn at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Spectra are like fingerprints. They tell us the galaxies’ chemical composition.”

Dr. Amber Straughn is one of our guest bloggers at NASA Blueshift – so congrats to her for this discovery! Read the rest of the release.

Here is a related video, showing a zoom into the region observed.

Credit: NASA; ESA; and G. Bacon, STScI

This NASA release is about a proposed mission called the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), that would explore the nature of neutron stars. “We have no way of creating neutron star interiors on Earth, so what happens to matter under such incredible pressure is a mystery – there are many theories about how it behaves,” says Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the Deputy Principal Investigator of the mission. “The closest we come to simulating these conditions is in particle accelerators that smash atoms together at almost the speed of light. However, these collisions are not an exact substitute – they only last a split second, and they generate temperatures that are much higher than what’s inside neutron stars.” NICER’s array of 56 telescopes will collect X-rays generated both from hotspots on a neutron star’s surface and from its powerful magnetic field.

If NASA approves it for construction, the mission will be launched by the summer of 2016 and attached robotically to the International Space Station.

This is an artist’s concept of the NICER instrument on board the International Space Station. NICER is the cube in the foreground on the left. The circular objects protruding from the cube are telescopes that focus X-rays from the pulsar on to the detector. Credit: NASA

How about another gorgeous video from the International Space Station? With some aurorae thrown in for good measure? German videographer Michael König assembled several time-lapse videos taken by the ISS crew into one long continuous production. View the vimeo page for more detail.

As asteroid 2005 YU55 swept past Earth in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 9, telescopes aboard NASA’s Swift satellite joined professional and amateur astronomers around the globe in monitoring the fast-moving space rock. The unique ultraviolet data will aid scientists in understanding the asteroid’s surface composition. Watch the video below and read the release to learn more!

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1 Comment

  • Joshua Huff says:

    In all aspects of nature one only seems to understand what is seen and not understand the large. I enjoy astronomy and space a lot. Ever since I was a little boy ive looked up at the night sky and questioned myself “what is there other then us in this universe?”

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