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Tag: Astronomers

Astronomers measure fastest non-lethal stellar blast in history

Astronomers measure fastest non-lethal stellar blast in history

Science
Aug. 2 (UPI) -- New measurements of Eta Carinae suggest the star system produced the fastest non-lethal stellar blast in history. Though the famed binary star system Eta Carinae exploded 170 years ago, scientists are still able to study the blast by measuring its light echoes. Light echoes are produced by light energy produced by stellar events bounce off and become redirected by distant gas clouds. Light echoes produced by the massive Eta Carinae -- witnessed by astronomers and laypeople alike during the mid-1800s -- continue to redirect toward Earth, allowing scientists to peer back into the annals of cosmic history. "A light echo is the next best thing to time travel," Nathan Smith, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, said in a news release. "That's why light echoes are so beau...
Astronomers identify 121 giant planets likely to host habitable moons

Astronomers identify 121 giant planets likely to host habitable moons

Science
June 14 (UPI) -- Astronomers have identified 121 giant planets that potentially host habitable moons. Scientists believe the next generation of telescopes will be able to target alien moons in search of signs of life. Scientists identified the candidates among exoplanet data collected by NASA's Kepler telescope. Kepler's main goal is to help astronomers locate habitable planets outside the solar system. Exoplanets are said to exist in the habitable zone when they orbit their host star at a distance that allows water to persist in solid, liquid and gas forms. Earth-like rocky planets are the first choice for astronomers searching for potentially habitable alien worlds, but as recent studies inside the solar system have revealed, moons surrounding gas giants also possess the potential for ...
Astronomers produce detailed maps of star-forming region in Orion A

Astronomers produce detailed maps of star-forming region in Orion A

Science
May 18 (UPI) -- Newly published maps, produced by a research team led by Yale astronomers, has revealed the Orion A molecular cloud in unprecedented detail. Located 1,350 light-years from Earth, the Orion A molecular cloud is the closest star-forming region of massive stars. Found within Orion A are regions similar to the star-birthing environs that produced our sun. "Our maps probe a wide range of physical scales needed to study how stars form in molecular clouds, and how young stars impact their parent cloud," Yale postdoctoral associate Shuo Kong said in a news release. The maps were compiled using observations collected by a single-dish telescope and an interferometer as part of the CARMA-NRO Orion Survey. "Our survey is a unique combination of data from two very different telescopes...
Astronomers think 'winking' star is consuming cloud of planetary debris

Astronomers think 'winking' star is consuming cloud of planetary debris

Science
Dec. 22 (UPI) -- New data suggests a unique 'winking' star located 550 light-years from Earth is consuming remnants of wrecked planets.Astronomers believe the periodic dimming of RZ Piscium, a star found in the constellation Pisces, is caused by a giant orbiting cloud of dust formed by the debris of one or more disintegrating planets.Normally, the large discs of dust and debris found around young stars disperse after a few million years. But RZ Piscium is between 30 million and 50 million years old and the dimming episodes persist, sometimes last a couple of days."I've been studying young stars near Earth for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this one," Benjamin Zuckerman, a professor of astronomy at UCLA, said in a news release. "Most sun-like stars have lost their planet-forming...
Astronomers observe most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered

Astronomers observe most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered

Science
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Astronomers have spied the most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered using the Magellan Telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.The black hole is positioned at the center of a quasar, the massive, highly luminous accretion disks found at the center of many galaxies. The quasar's light traveled some 13 billion light-years before reaching the Magellan Telescopes.The new observations -- detailed in the journal Nature -- reveal the black hole as it was just 690 million years after the birth of the universe.Scientists were surprised by the black hole's tremendous mass, 800 million times the mass of the sun."Gathering all this mass in fewer than 690 million years is an enormous challenge for theories of supermassive black hole growth," Eduardo BaƱados, an as