The distorted galaxy in the simulation results from a collision between two galaxies, followed by them merging. Astronomers think such a merger could be the reason why SPT0346-52 is having such a boom of stellar construction. Once the two galaxies collide, gas near the center of the merged galaxy (shown as the bright region in the center of the simulation) is compressed, producing a burst of new stars. The composite inset shows X-ray data from Chandra (blue), short wavelength infrared data from Hubble (green), infrared light from Spitzer (red) at longer wavelengths, and infrared data from ALMA (magenta) at even longer wavelengths. (The light from SPT0346-52 is distorted and magnified by the gravity of an intervening galaxy, producing three elongated images in the ALMA data located near the center of the image. SPT0346-52 is not visible in the Hubble or Spitzer data, but the intervening galaxy causing the gravitational lensing is detected.) There is no blue at the center of the image, showing that Chandra did not detect any X-rays that could have signaled the presence of a growing black hole. Credit: Image courtesy of CXC Press Office.

‘Hyper-starburst’ galaxy churns out stars, clues to universe’s evolution

‘Hyper-starburst’ galaxy churns out stars, clues to universe’s evolution A recently discovered galaxy is undergoing an extraordinary boom of stellar construction, revealed by a group…

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The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of this cosmic community, NGC 4388, is captured in this image, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Located some 60 million light-years away, NGC 4388 is experiencing some of the less desirable effects that come with belonging to such a massive galaxy cluster. It is undergoing a transformation, and has taken on a somewhat confused identity. While the galaxy’s outskirts appear smooth and featureless, a classic feature of an elliptical galaxy, its centre displays remarkable dust lanes constrained within two symmetric spiral arms, which emerge from the galaxy’s glowing core — one of the obvious features of a spiral galaxy. Within the arms, speckles of bright blue mark the locations of young stars, indicating that NGC 4388 has hosted recent bursts of star formation. Despite the mixed messages, NGC 4388 is classified as a spiral galaxy. Its unusual combination of features are thought to have been caused by interactions between NGC 4388 and the Virgo Cluster. Gravitational interactions — from glancing blows to head-on collisions, tidal influencing, mergers, and galactic cannibalism — can be devastating to galaxies. While some may be lucky enough to simply suffer a distorted spiral arm or newly-triggered wave of star formation, others see their structure and contents completely and irrevocably altered. Image credits: ESA/NASA

Hubble Catches a Transformation in the Virgo Constellation

Hubble Catches a Transformation in the Virgo Constellation The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence…

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Artist’s rendition of a typical millisecond pulsar binary system in which the shape of the companion star (l.) is deformed by the gravitational pull of the pulsar (r.) seen emitting beams of radiation. Credit: NASA

Amateur Astronomer Helps Uncover Secrets of Unique Pulsar Binary System

Amateur Astronomer Helps Uncover Secrets of Unique Pulsar Binary System astrophysicist and an amateur astronomer have teamed up to reveal surprising details about an unusual…

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This graphic shows the closest approaches of Cassini's final two orbital phases. Ring-grazing orbits are shown in gray (at left); Grand Finale orbits are shown in blue. The orange line shows the spacecraft's Sept. 2017 final plunge into Saturn. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cassini Makes First Ring-Grazing Plunge

Cassini Makes First Ring-Grazing Plunge NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has made its first close dive past the outer edges of Saturn’s rings since beginning its…

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This view from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on the mast of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows rocky ground within view while the rover was working at an intended drilling site called "Precipice" on lower Mount Sharp. The right-eye camera of the stereo Navcam took this image on Dec. 2, 2016, during the 1,537th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars. On the previous sol, an attempt to collect a rock-powder sample with the rover's drill ended before drilling began. This led to several days of diagnostic work while the rover remained in place, during which it continued to use cameras and a spectrometer on its mast, plus environmental monitoring instruments. In this view, hardware visible at lower right includes the sundial-theme calibration target for Curiosity's Mast Camera. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Rover Team Examining New Drill Hiatus

Curiosity Rover Team Examining New Drill Hiatus NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its…

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Artist's conception of the Spiderweb. In this image, the protogalaxies are shown in white and pink, and the blue indicates the location of the carbon monoxide gas in which the protogalaxies are immersed. CREDIT: ESO/M. Kornmesser. This figure is licensed under CC BY 4.0 International License.

Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas

Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion…

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Gale Crater on surface of Mars was once filled with liquid water for 10,000 to 10 million years, according to findings from the Mars Science Laboratory (MLS). A new study from Penn State scientists suggests dramatic climate cycles may have produced warm periods long enough to thaw the planet and create the water features on the surface today. From Topographic evidence for lakes in Gale Crater, abstract, 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2013). Image: William Dietrich / University of California Berkley

Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars’ surface features

Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars’ surface features Dramatic climate cycles on early Mars, triggered by buildup of greenhouse gases, may be…

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In the galaxy II Zw 40, dust (shown in yellow) is strongly associated with clusters of stars (shown in orange). UCLA researchers have used new observations of this galaxy to confirm that these stars are creating enormous amounts of dust. Credit: S. M. Consiglio et al., Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2016

Astronomers watch star clusters spewing out dust

Astronomers watch star clusters spewing out dust Galaxies are often thought of as sparkling with stars, but they also contain gas and dust. Now, a…

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This delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). It may seem to have no discernable structure, but IC 3583 has been found to have a bar of stars running through its centre. These structures are common throughout the Universe, and are found within the majority of spiral, many irregular, and some lenticular galaxies. Two of our closest cosmic neighbours, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, are barred, indicating that they may have once been barred spiral galaxies that were disrupted or torn apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way. Something similar might be happening with IC 3583. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90. Together, the duo form a pairing known as Arp 76. It’s still unclear whether these flirtations are the cause of IC 3583’s irregular appearance — but whatever the cause, the galaxy makes for a strikingly delicate sight in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, glimmering in the blackness of space. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Hubble Spotlight on Irregular Galaxy IC 3583

Hubble Spotlight on Irregular Galaxy IC 3583 This delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — sits some 30…

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This picture, taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), shows NGC 4696, the largest galaxy in the Centaurus Cluster. The new images taken with Hubble show the dusty filaments surrounding the centre of this huge galaxy in greater detail than ever before. These filaments loop and curl inwards in an intriguing spiral shape, swirling around the supermassive black hole at such a distance that they are dragged into and eventually consumed by the black hole itself. Image credit: NASA, ESA, Andy Fabian

Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity

Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in…

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This artist’s view shows how the light coming from the surface of a strongly magnetic neutron star (left) becomes linearly polarised as it travels through the vacuum of space close to the star on its way to the observer on Earth (right). The polarisation of the observed light in the extremely strong magnetic field suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence, a prediction of quantum electrodynamics (QED). This effect was predicted in the 1930s but has not been observed before. The magnetic and electric field directions of the light rays are shown by the red and blue lines. Model simulations by Roberto Taverna (University of Padua, Italy) and Denis Gonzalez Caniulef (UCL/MSSL, UK) show how these align along a preferred direction as the light passes through the region around the neutron star. As they become aligned the light becomes polarised, and this polarisation can be detected by sensitive instruments on Earth. Credit: ESO

First Signs of Weird Quantum Property of Empty Space?

First Signs of Weird Quantum Property of Empty Space? VLT observations of neutron star may confirm 80-year-old prediction about the vacuum By studying the light…

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