Hypothesized First-Gen Stars Remain Unseen in Hubble Deep Views

(News from NASA) New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, as far back as when…

Mars May Have Repeatedly Been a Ringed Planet

(News from SETI) Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only…

ESA’s Solar Orbiter Will Fly Through the Tail(s) of Comet ATLAS

(News from ESA) ESA’s Solar Orbiter will cross through the tails of Comet ATLAS during the next few days. Although the recently launched spacecraft was not due to be taking science data at this time, mission experts have worked to ensure that the four most relevant instruments will be switched on during the unique encounter.

NGC 3147: A Spiral Giant

Here’s a view of NGC 3147, a spiral galaxy 130 million light-years away in the constellation Draco. This image is made from data acquired by Hubble’s WFC3/UVIS instrument in November 2017 (PI Adam Riess). NGC 3147 is about 140,000 light-years wide, so almost half again as big as our Milky Way. See this and more…

A Dark Horse in a Different Light

Here’s a view of the famous Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) located 1,375 light-years away from Earth, just under Alnitak, the first star in Orion’s belt. This is a color-composite made from images acquired with Hubble in wide-band infrared in October and November of 2012. (Principal Investigator Z. Levay).

When Galaxies Collide

Here’s a cosmic curiosity: Arp 148, aka “Mayall’s Object,” the aftermath of a collision between two galaxies. It’s located 450 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (of which the Big Dipper is part.) This is my color-composite of Hubble images originally acquired in April 2007 in optical and near-infrared light.

A Dusty Twist Marks the Site of a New Planet’s Birth

  All of the planets in our Solar System formed from a disk of dust and gas surrounding our home star—the Sun—about four and a half billion years ago. Many—maybe even most—of the stars we see in the sky have planets orbiting them, and they all probably formed the same way. But planetary formation is…

Ten Discoveries from SOFIA

(From NASA) Ten years ago, NASA’s telescope on an airplane, SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), first peered into the cosmos. Since the night of May 26, 2010, SOFIA’s observations of infrared light, invisible to the human eye, have made many scientific discoveries about the hidden universe.

The Glowing Shroud of a Newborn Star

Here’s another of my processed Hubble data images: it’s a look into the star-forming region “S106,” made from data captured in infrared wavelengths on Feb. 13, 2011. Here, a newborn star is in the process of blasting away a clear space while still surrounded by the cloud of dust and hydrogen gas it formed within.

Are There “Aliens” in our Solar System?

No, I don’t mean little grey men in hard candy-shaped ships, I mean natural objects that have origins from outside of our own Solar System—small worlds that formed around a different star. It’s entirely possible that objects can be ejected from a star system and find their way into orbit around another, or even gravitationally…