Side Note: The two images shown above are mere crop outs from ESA’s recent hit: The 9 Billion Pixel Image of 84 Million Stars. These two focus on the bright center of the image for the purpose of highlighting what a peak at 84,000,000 stars looks like.
Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile have released a breathtaking new photograph showing the central area of our Milky Way galaxy. The photograph shows a whopping 84 million stars in an image measuring 108500×81500, which contains nearly 9 billion pixels.
It’s actually a composite of thousands of individual photographs shot with the observatory’s VISTA survey telescope, the same camera that captured the amazing 55-hour exposure. Three different infrared filters were used to capture the different details present in the final image.
The VISTA’s camera is sensitive to infrared light, which allows its vision to pierce through much of the space dust that blocks the view of ordinary optical telescope/camera systems.
Rosette, NGC2244 with NB filters 11h20 exposure (by Trois_Merlettes)
Messier 78: a reflection nebula in Orion
In southern region of Lacerta, it’s an extraordinary dimmed and large H-alpha nebulosity lying in the outskirts of Milky Way. The nebula has a filament structure with a length of over 3 degrees, of course we cannot detect the nebula with our naked eyes. The region around the nebula you can see several bright stars distributed loosely, called “Lacerta OB Association” that contains many young stars.
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS2)
Pinwheel Galaxy: M101
M101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, is located 25 million light years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It is about 170,000 light years across, almost twice the size of the Milky Way.
This image is a composite of data from four different telescopes, created to map different forms of activity in the region. Red, infrared light, shows dust lanes heated from new stars. Blue indicates ultraviolet from young stars. Yellow is visible light from stars tracing dust lanes. Purple, x-rays, shows high energy emissions from supernovae and hot matter falling into black holes.
Image from National Geographic, information from National Geographic and NASA.
ALMA: The Cosmos at New Wavelengths |
The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), could only function properly in the extremely dry climate of the Chajnantor plateau in Chile. The 5000+ meter elevation of the Chilean Andes also provides the Atacama desert with one of the driest regions in the world. When combined, the high and dry location is ideal for effective millimeter wavelength observation.
Once fully functional in the Spring of 2013, ALMA will have a much higher sensitivity and higher resolution than existing sub-millimeter telescopes. The antennas can be moved across the desert plateau over distances from 150 m to 16 km, providing ALMA with a powerful “zoom”, similar to the Very Large Array in New Mexico.
Though not yet fully operational, these images are among the first released by the joint European, US, Japanese and Canadian scientific effort. The highest priority scientific applications for ALMA will include the study of planet formation as well as star forming regions of our universe. - ZU
Mystery of the ‘Monster’ Stars |
In 2010 scientists discovered four ‘monster’ sized stars, with the heaviest more than 300 times as massive as our Sun. Despite their incredible luminosity, these exotic objects, located in the giant star cluster R136 in the nearby galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud; have oddly so far been found nowhere else. Now a group of astronomers at the University of Bonn have a new explanation: the ultramassive stars were created from the merger of lighter stars in tight binary systems.
The team present their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), at a distance of 160,000 light years, is the third nearest satellite of the Milky Way galaxy we live in and contains around 10 billion stars. The LMC has many star forming regions, with by far the most active being the 1000 light year diameter ‘Tarantula Nebula’ where the four supermassive stars are found. This cloud of gas and dust is a highly fertile breeding ground of stars in the LMC also known as the “30 Doradus” (30 Dor) complex. Near the centre of 30 Dor is R136, by far the brightest stellar nursery not just in the LMC but in the entire ‘Local Group’ of more than 50 galaxies (including our own) and the site of the perplexing ultramassive stars.
Until the discovery of these objects in 2010, observations of the Milky Way and other galaxies suggested that the upper limit for stars formed in the present day universe was about 150 times the mass of the Sun. This value represented a universal limit and appeared to apply wherever stars formed.
“Not only the upper mass limit but the whole mass ingredient of any newborn assembly of stars appears identical irrespective of the stellar birthplace”, says Prof. Dr Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn, a co-author on the new paper. “The star birth process seems to be universal.” continue reading
Hoag’s Object [1521 x 1489]
This colourful view of the globular star cluster NGC 6362 was captured by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
This new picture, along with a new image of the central region from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, provide the best view of this little-known cluster ever obtained. Globular clusters are mainly composed of tens of thousands of very ancient stars, but they also contain some stars that look suspiciously young.
Globular star clusters are among the oldest objects in the Universe, and NGC 6362 cannot hide its age in this picture. The many yellowish stars in the cluster have already run through much of their lives and become red giant stars. But globular clusters are not static relics from the past — some curious stellar activities are still going on in these dense star cities.