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Hubble reveals star cluster Messier 79 doing snow globe impression

Hubble reveals star cluster Messier 79 doing snow globe impression

Science
Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A Hubble Space Telescope image features the star cluster Messier 79 doing its best snow globe imitation. The mass of stars is a "globular" cluster, after all.Globular clusters are gravitationally bound collections of stars. The cluster most recently framed by Hubble's lens hosts roughly 150,000 stars -- small potatoes compared to some clusters, which can feature up to a million stars.M79's stars are packed into a sphere-like shape stretching just 118 light-years across. The star globe is positioned within the constellation Lepus, 41,000 light-years from Earth.Stellar clusters are typically centered around the central hub of our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, but Messier 79 -- sometimes called NGC 1904 -- is found far from our galactic center. Some astronomers estimate the c...
Warm rock rising deep beneath New England, seismic study reveals

Warm rock rising deep beneath New England, seismic study reveals

Science
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Deep beneath New England, a giant mass of warm rock is slowly but steadily rising toward the surface. The revelation undermines some of what scientists thought they understand about plate tectonics and the geology of the mantle."The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England," researcher Vadim Levin, a geophysicist and professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said in a news release.The mass of rock is not on the scale of Yellowstone. It measures a couple hundred miles across, and though it may one day form a new volcanic system, it is unlikely to yield an eruption for millions of years.Scientists were first alerted to something peculiar after noticing a temperature a...
New observations of first-known interstellar asteroid reveals spaceship-like rock

New observations of first-known interstellar asteroid reveals spaceship-like rock

Science
Nov. 20 (UPI) -- According to new observations of A/2017 U1, the first-known interstellar asteroid, the space rock is highly elongated, dark, reddish and rich in metals.The asteroid, dubbed 'Oumuamua, was first spotted on Oct. 19 using the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope. The initial observations of the object -- first classified as a comet and later reclassified as an asteroid -- suggested its origins lied outside the solar system.By the time scientists spotted the asteroid, it was already moving away from their telescopes."We had to act quickly," Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, said in a news release. "'Oumuamua had already passed its closest point to the sun and was heading back into interstellar space."[embedded co...
Study reveals secrets of planet formation

Study reveals secrets of planet formation

Science
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a new explanation for how young stars and their newborn planets avoid "radial drift," a phenomenon that can rob stellar systems of their planet-forming material.Most planets form as material coalesces in a star's circumstellar disk of dust and debris. But debris disks can also diffuse or be eaten up by their host star, and researchers have struggled to figure out why this doesn't happen more often.Gas in a circumstellar disk should exert a drag force on debris, pulling the dust inward where it is consumed by the host star. The process, called radial drift, can deplete the material a young stellar system needs to form and grow planets.But new images of the debris disk surrounding the star V1247 Orionis has offered scientists insights into how youn...
Study reveals importance of hydrogen atoms for star formation

Study reveals importance of hydrogen atoms for star formation

Science
Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Until recently, astronomers assumed hydrogen molecules fueled star formation in young galaxies. But new research suggests atomic hydrogen may be equally important to star formation.In the local universe, most hydrogen found inside galaxies exists as individual atoms. Scientists assumed younger galaxies would host less atomic hydrogen and more molecular hydrogen. But cosmic surveys suggest even the earliest galaxies were rich in atomic hydrogen.Now, new analysis by researchers at the University of Western Australia and the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research confirms even galaxies featuring intense rates of star formation host large amounts of atomic hydrogen.Previous studies of "cosmic noon" galaxies have revealed massive reservoirs of molecular hydrogen. Cos...