NASA’s Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision with Andromeda Galaxy

NASA's Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision with Andromeda Galaxy

NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, Sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the Sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.

“Our findings are statistically consistent with a head-on collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy,” said Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.

The solution came through painstaking NASA Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the motion of Andromeda, which also is known as M31. The galaxy is now 2.5 million light-years away, but it is inexorably falling toward the Milky Way under the mutual pull of gravity between the two galaxies and the invisible dark matter that surrounds them both.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Ghostly Gamma-ray Beams Blast from Milky Way’s Center

Ghostly Gamma-ray Beams Blast from Milky Way's Center

As galaxies go, our Milky Way is pretty quiet. Active galaxies have cores that glow brightly, powered by supermassive black holes swallowing material, and often spit twin jets in opposite directions. In contrast, the Milky Way’s center shows little activity. But it wasn’t always so peaceful. New evidence of ghostly gamma-ray beams suggests that the Milky Way’s central black hole was much more active in the past.

“These faint jets are a ghost or after-image of what existed a million years ago,” said Meng Su, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and lead author of a new paper in the Astrophysical Journal.

“They strengthen the case for an active galactic nucleus in the Milky Way’s relatively recent past,” he added.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Space Calendar May 30 – June 5 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for May 30 – June 5 2012. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

The Older We Get, The Less We Know (Cosmologically)

The Older We Get, The Less We Know (Cosmologically)

The universe is a marvelously complex place, filled with galaxies and larger-scale structures that have evolved over its 13.7-billion-year history. Those began as small perturbations of matter that grew over time, like ripples in a pond, as the universe expanded. By observing the large-scale cosmic wrinkles now, we can learn about the initial conditions of the universe. But is now really the best time to look, or would we get better information billions of years into the future – or the past?

New calculations by Harvard theorist Avi Loeb show that the ideal time to study the cosmos was more than 13 billion years ago, just about 500 million years after the Big Bang. The farther into the future you go from that time, the more information you lose about the early universe.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Space Calendar May 23 – May 29 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for May 23 – May 29 2012. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Space Calendar May 16 – May 22 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for May 16 – May 22 2012. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

Hubble Observes a Dwarf Galaxy with a Bright Nebula

Hubble Observes a Dwarf Galaxy with a Bright Nebula

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made detailed observations of the dwarf galaxy NGC 2366. While it lacks the elegant spiral arms of many larger galaxies, NGC 2366 is home to a bright, star-forming nebula and is close enough for astronomers to discern its individual stars.

The starry mist streaking across this image obtained by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the central part of the dwarf galaxy known as NGC 2366. The most obvious feature in this galaxy is a large nebula visible in the upper-right part of the image, an object listed just a few entries prior in the New General Catalogue as NGC 2363.

A nearby yellowish swirl is not in fact part of the nebula. It is a spiral galaxy much further away, whose light is shining right through NGC 2366. This is possible because galaxies are not solid objects. While we see the stars because they shine brightly, galaxies are overwhelmingly made up of the empty space between them. Hubble’s high-resolution image illustrates this perfectly: the stars are small points of light surrounded by the darkness of space.

[SOURCE: spacetelescope.org]

NASA’s Spitzer Sees The Light of Alien ‘Super Earth’

NASA's Spitzer Sees The Light of Alien 'Super Earth'

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a “super-Earth” planet beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.

One Supernova Type, Two Different Sources

One Supernova Type, Two Different Sources

The exploding stars known as Type Ia supernovae serve an important role in measuring the universe, and were used to discover the existence of dark energy. They’re bright enough to see across large distances, and similar enough to act as a “standard candle” – an object of known luminosity. The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of the accelerating universe using Type Ia supernovae. However, an embarrassing fact is that astronomers still don’t know what star systems make Type Ia supernovae.

Two very different models explain the possible origin of Type Ia supernovae, and different studies support each model. New evidence shows that both models are correct – some of these supernovae are created one way and some the other.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Space Calendar May 9 – May 15 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for May 9 – May 15 2012. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.