The dim zodiacal constellation Libra harbors just a handful of dim deep-sky objects and no bright stars. But within its boundaries lies the Methuselah Star, an ancient relic of the early universe born from the ashes of the first stars that formed after the Big Bang. It’s likely the oldest object of any kind you will ever see, and it’s an easy target in a pair of binoculars or small telescope. [Read more…] about The Methuselah StarShare This:
Science of Astronomy
Articles about the science of astronomy and objects that are visible in the night sky.
A big star exploded as a supernova in the lovely face-on spiral M101 in Ursa Major this month. At a distance of 20 million light years, this is the closest supernova in five years and the first in this galaxy since 2011. The new supernova isn’t close enough to see with the unaided eye, alas, but it lies within reach of a 5” or larger telescope for visual observers (as of the end of May 2023) and it offers an easy target for imagers. [Read more…] about An Exploding Star in Messier 101Share This:
When it comes to galaxies, gravity and Newton’s first law of motion often combine to put the finest earthbound sculptors to shame. Take the galaxies NGC 2936 and NGC 2937, for instance. Here we see an everyday spiral galaxy bent and molded by the gravitational influence of a featureless elliptical companion galaxy into a graceful arc of stars and gas and dust a hundred thousand light years long. Together, the two bear a remarkable resemblance to a mother penguin holding watch over a shimmering egg. It’s one of the most beautiful galaxy pairs in the heavens [Read more…] about Dancing GalaxiesShare This:
It’s a question that inevitably arises in conversations about the cosmos: does life exist elsewhere in the universe?
For those who hope the answer is “yes”, the harvest of exoplanets by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and other telescopes over the past decade has been hugely encouraging. As of mid 2019, in the small slice of sky under its exacting gaze, analysis of Kepler’s measurements found more than two thousand extrasolar planets, and all telescopes have confirmed some 3,700 exoplanets. Extrapolating these results, astronomers estimate our Milky Way galaxy alone might hold some 10 billion planets that may have the temperature and composition to harbor habitable life. With that much real estate, many believe that complex or even intelligent life must have formed on at least some of these? [Read more…] about Is the Universe Too Dangerous for Life?Share This:
We normally cover really big things in these pages, things like planets, stars and galaxies. But the cosmos is ultimately built from very small bits and pieces that organize themselves on a tiny scale that are at least as beautiful as anything to be seen in the night sky. This video, created by Beauty of Science, shows at an accelerated pace the formation of six kinds of crystals out of solution. Whereas many astronomical objects coalesce because of gravity, these crystals are made from a beautiful interplay of electric forces, geometry, and quantum mechanics. Quite a beautiful sight!Share This: