Superstar Duet in Eta Carinae

A gem from NASA Astrophysics. Eta Carinae is a binary system containing the most luminous and massive star within 10,000 light-years. A long-term study combined data from NASA satellites, ground-based observing campaigns and theoretical modeling to produce the most comprehensive picture of Eta Carinae to date. New findings include Hubble Space Telescope images that show decade-old shells of ionized gas racing away from the largest star at a million miles an hour, and new 3-D models that reveal never-before-seen features of the stars’ interactions.

Located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, Eta Carinae is actually two massive stars whose eccentric orbits bring them close every 5.5 years. Both produce powerful stellar winds, which enshroud the stars and stymy efforts to directly measure their properties. Astronomers have established that the brighter, cooler primary star has about 90 times the mass of the sun and outshines it by 5 million times. Its smaller, hotter companion weighs in at about 30 solar masses and emits a million times the sun’s light.

At closest approach, or periastron, the stars are 225 million kilometers apart, or about the average distance between Mars and the sun. Astronomers observe dramatic changes in the system during Continue reading Superstar Duet in Eta Carinae

Flattr this!

Deeper than the Hubble Deep Field

In landmark observations, the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep Universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for a total of 27 hours the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. The new observations are allowing astronomers to go beyond the Hubble Deep Field and reveal a host of previously unseen objects.

Flattr this!

Age of Hubble – Final Preview

Watch the full 50-minute program early on…… and get a FREE one-year subscription if you visit by tomorrow. The completed program “Age of Hubble” will appear in segments on Vessel over the next few days.

Flattr this!

Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 25 Years in Space

Revel in this spectacular commemorative image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, courtesy of HubbleCast.

Hubble was launched in orbit on 24 April 1990 as the first space telescope of its kind. For two and a half decades, it has beamed back data and images that have changed our understanding of the Universe and how it came to be.

This amazing image of the star cluster Westerlund 2 is a giant cluster of about 3000 stars. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

The stellar nursery is enshrouded by dust, but Hubble’s Camera peered through the dusty veil in near-infrared light, giving us a clear view of its inner workings. The image resolves the dense concentration of stars in the center, about 10 light-years across.

The cluster is only about two million years old, but contains some of the brightest, hottest and most massive stars ever discovered. Some of the heftiest stars are carving deep cavities in the surrounding material by unleashing torrents of ultraviolet light and high speed streams of charged particles, known as stellar winds. These are etching away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud in which Continue reading Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 25 Years in Space

Flattr this!

Black Holes and Dark Matter

A fascinating new simulation from NASA shows how astronomers might use black holes to look for signs of a theoretical dark matter particle called a WIMP. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. When they get whipped up by a black hole, annihilation rates would soar, and we’d be able to see them.

Flattr this!

Galapagos: Realm of Giant Sharks

In the far reaches of the Galapagos archipelago there is a remote island – Darwin Island. Here, a mysterious parade of giant whale sharks passes by. All of them are pregnant females, about to give birth. What has drawn them here? Where are they going?

Galapagos: Realm of Giant Sharks follows a group of researchers who have travelled out to Darwin Island to begin following these dinosaurs of the sea wherever they travel across the globe. But placing satellite tracking devices on giant sharks is not always easy. Steel spear tips bounce off, dangerous currents intervene, and the sharks can deliver bone-crushing swipes with their tails.

In an exciting blend of science and natural history filmmaking, Galapagos: Realm of Giant Sharks uses action-packed, high-resolution photography to draw audiences into the world of one of the ocean’s largest and least understood creatures.

Flattr this!

Cosmic Journeys – Glimpsing the Solar System’s Birth

Where do you look to glimpse the birth of a solar system like ours? Our sun is thought to have formed along with a range of stellar siblings. This star cluster likely moved out on its own, bound by gravity, in what astronomers call a “Moving Group.”

This video explores two nearby moving groups. M67, also known as the King Cobra Cluster, was once pegged as the birth place of our solar system. The evidence now says it’s not, but astronomers have now detected planets there. The other is the Beta Pictoris group, with the most famous of all solar systems in formation, Beta Pictoris. Find out how a solar system is taking shape within the fold of this hot star.

Music by Epidemic Sound (

Flattr this!

Space is exciting