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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 286: Trio in Virgo

    07/06/2016 6:12:48 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, July 06, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A remarkable telescopic composition in yellow and blue, this scene features a trio of interacting galaxies almost 90 million light-years away, toward the constellation Virgo. On the right, two, spiky, foreground Milky Way stars echo the trio galaxy hues, a reminder that stars in our own galaxy are like those in the distant island universes. With sweeping spiral arms and obscuring dust lanes, NGC 5566 is enormous, about 150,000 light-years across. Just above it lies small, blue NGC 5569. Near center, the third galaxy, NGC 5560, is multicolored and apparently stretched and distorted by its interaction with NGC 5566....
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Star Only Gets More Mysterious

    05/22/2016 6:39:00 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 53 replies
    Popular Science ^ | May 10, 2016 | Sarah Fecht
    Every now and then, a distant star called KIC 8462852 dims by as much as 20 percent. That's huge. Even a passing planet as big as Jupiter would only block about 1 percent of the star's light. Ruling out a planet, scientists have no idea what could be eclipsing the star (which is informally known as 'Tabby's Star'). The leading hypothesis is a family of really big comets, but that doesn't quite fit. Astronomer Jason Wright pointed out that the light patterns are consistent with what we'd expect if aliens had built a Dyson swarm of solar collectors around the...
  • New study supports natural causes, not alien activity, explain mystery star's behavior

    05/09/2016 8:56:03 PM PDT · by rdl6989 · 16 replies
    phys.org ^ | May 9, 2016 | David Salisbury
    Sorry, E.T. lovers, but the results of a new study make it far less likely that KIC 8462852, popularly known as Tabby's star, is the home of industrious aliens who are gradually enclosing it in a vast shell called a Dyson sphere. Public interest in the star, which sits about 1,480 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, began last fall when Yale astronomer Tabetha ("Tabby") Boyajian and colleagues posted a paper on an astronomy preprint server reporting that "planet hunters" - a citizen science group formed to search data from the Kepler space telescope for evidence of exoplanets - had...
  • Dimming star remains mystery, but it's likely not caused by comets

    01/16/2016 5:52:31 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    cnn ^ | jareen imam
    Theories surrounding the star system KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, ranged from comets to an "alien megastructure" after the online astronomy crowdsourcing site Planet Hunter discovered an unusual light fluctuation in the star system a few years ago. A new analysis of KIC 8462852 shows that the star system, which lies about 1,500 light years away, has been gradually dimming for more than a century, and it's likely not caused by a cloud of orbiting comets. Bradley Schaefer, a physics and astronomy professor at Louisiana State University, examined data from a Harvard University archive of digitally scanned photographic...
  • Clocking the Extreme Spin of a Monster Black Hole

    03/17/2016 6:36:54 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 22 replies
    D-News ^ | 15 Mar, 2016 | IAN O'NEILL
    upermassive black holes are the most extreme objects in the known universe, with masses millions or even billions of times the mass of our sun. Now astronomers have been able to study one of these behemoths inside a strange, distant quasar and they’ve made an astonishing discovery — it’s spinning one-third the speed of light. Studying a supermassive black hole some 3.5 billion light-years away is no easy feat, but this isn’t a regular object: it’s a quasar that shows quasi-periodic brightening events every 12 years or so — a fact that has helped astronomers reveal its extreme nature. Quasars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647

    01/28/2016 6:06:08 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | January 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Giant elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral galaxy NGC 4647 do look like an odd couple in this sharp cosmic portrait from the Hubble Space Telescope. But they are found in a region of space where galaxies tend to gather, on the eastern side of the nearby Virgo Galaxy Cluster. About 54 million light-years distant, bright M60's simpler egg-like shape is created by its randomly swarming older stars, while NGC 4647's young blue stars, gas and dust are organized into winding arms rotating in a flattened disk. Spiral NGC 4647 is estimated to be more distant than M60, some 63...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- High Energy Andromeda

    01/07/2016 12:52:47 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. In this (inset) scan, image data from NASA's Nuclear Spectrosopic Telescope Array has yielded the best high-energy X-ray view yet of our large neighboring spiral, revealing some 40 extreme sources of X-rays, X-ray binary star systems that contain a black hole or neutron star orbiting a more normal stellar companion. In fact, larger Andromeda and our own Milky Way are the most massive members of the local galaxy group. Andromeda is close enough that NuSTAR can examine...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 87: Merging Galaxies from Hubble

    12/10/2015 6:38:48 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | December 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This dance is to the death. Along the way, as these two large galaxies duel, a cosmic bridge of stars, gas, and dust currently stretches over 75,000 light-years and joins them. The bridge itself is strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity. As further evidence, the face-on spiral galaxy on the right, also known as NGC 3808A, exhibits many young blue star clusters produced in a burst of star formation. The twisted edge-on spiral on the left (NGC 3808B) seems to be wrapped in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Centaurus A

    11/19/2015 3:42:37 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | November 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A's fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy's center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black...
  • Galactic Monster Mystery Revealed in Ancient Universe [Galaxies that shouldn't exist!]

    11/19/2015 12:26:11 PM PST · by Red Badger · 34 replies
    Discovery.com ^ | Nov 19, 2015 07:00 AM ET | by Ian O'Neill Source: ESO
    ESO's VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have for the first time found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared. The newly discovered massive galaxies are marked on this image of the UltraVISTA field. [RED CIRCLES] ================================================================================================================ Astronomers have detected something baffling at the furthest frontiers of our observable universe: massive galaxies -- lots of massive galaxies -- that shouldn't even exist. Depending on the wavelength you observe the universe in,...
  • SETI Institute undertakes search for alien signal from Kepler Star KIC 8462852

    10/24/2015 5:31:16 AM PDT · by Momaw Nadon · 16 replies
    PHYS.ORG ^ | October 22, 2015 | Bob King
    "We either caught something shortly after an event like two planets crashing together or alien intelligence," said Dr. Gerald Harp, senior scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, referring to the baffling light variations seen in the Kepler star KIC 8462852. And he and a team from the Institute are working hard at this moment to determine which of the two it is. Beginning last Friday (Oct. 16), the Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA) was taken off its normal survey schedule and instead focused on KIC 8462852, one of the 150,000-plus stars studied by NASA's Kepler Mission to...
  • Did Astronomers Find Evidence of an Alien Civilization? Probably Not. But Still Cool.

    10/15/2015 8:55:50 PM PDT · by Brad from Tennessee · 32 replies
    Slate ^ | October 14, 2015 | By Phil Plait
    The paper doesn’t mention aliens, and it doesn’t even imply aliens. Not directly, at least. But the astronomers found a star so odd, with behavior so difficult to explain, that it’s clear something weird is happening there. And some of the astronomers who did the work are now looking into the idea that what they’ve found might (might!) be due to aliens. But don’t let this idea run away with you. The scientists involved are being very skeptical and approaching this the right way. The star is called KIC 8462852, and it’s one of more than a hundred thousand stars...
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Mystery May Soon Be Solved

    10/28/2015 12:56:27 PM PDT · by ETL · 59 replies
    Space.com ^ | October 28, 2015 | Mike Wall - Space.com Senior Writer
    The mystery behind a strangely dimming star could soon be solved. Astronomers around the world are keeping a close eye on the star KIC 8462852, which has dimmed dramatically numerous times over the past few years, dropping in brightness by up to 22 percent. These big dips have spurred speculation that the star may be surrounded by some type of alien megastructure — a hypothesis that will be put to the test if and when KIC 8462852 dims again. "As long as one of those events occurs again, we should be able to catch it in the act, and then...
  • The strange star that has serious scientists talking about an alien megastructure

    10/15/2015 12:04:31 PM PDT · by grundle · 66 replies
    Washington Post ^ | October 15, 2015 | Sarah Kaplan
    “It was kind of unbelievable that it was real data,” said Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian. “We were scratching our heads. For any idea that came up there was always something that would argue against it.” She was talking to the New Scientist about KIC 8462852, a distant star with a very unusual flickering habit. Something was making the star dim drastically every few years, and she wasn’t sure what. Boyajian wrote up a paper on possible explanations for the star’s bizarre behavior, and it was published recently in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. But she also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 159 and NGC 4725

    09/03/2015 2:38:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pointy stars and peculiar galaxies span this cosmic snapshot, a telescopic view toward the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. Bright enough to show off diffraction spikes, the stars are in the foreground of the scene, well within our own Milky Way. But the two prominent galaxies lie far beyond our own, some 41 million light-years distant. Also known as NGC 4747, the smaller distorted galaxy at left is the 159th entry in the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, with extensive tidal tails indicative of strong gravitational interactions in its past. At about a 100,000 light-years across, its likely companion on...
  • Two giant black holes might crash into each other in 21 years

    05/28/2015 6:23:02 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 57 replies
    Geek.com ^ | 5/23/15 | Ryan Whitwam
    In the center of most galaxies (ours included) there is a supermassive black hole that holds everything together. However, one galaxy 10.5 billion light years away looks like it might have two black holes, and just like in Highlander, there can be only one. Scientists believe the pair are going to crash into each other in just 21 years. This could provide an unprecedented opportunity to observe the mind-boggling physics of such an event. The galaxy in question doesn’t have a snazzy name — it’s known only as PSO J334.2028+01.4075. It’s what is known as a quasar, or an “active...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova 1994D and the Unexpected Universe

    05/31/2015 8:55:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Long ago, far away, a star exploded. Supernova 1994D, visible as the bright spot on the lower left, occurred in the outskirts of disk galaxy NGC 4526. Supernova 1994D was not of interest for how different it was, but rather for how similar it was to other supernovae. In fact, the light emitted during the weeks after its explosion caused it to be given the familiar designation of a Type Ia supernova. If all Type 1a supernovae have the same intrinsic brightness, then the dimmer a supernova appears, the farther away it must be. By calibrating a precise brightness-distance...
  • NASA’s Hubble Finds Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy

    05/09/2015 6:27:38 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    nasa ^ | Rob Gutro
    Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. The dark, nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our own Milky Way galaxy. This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure of majestic giant spirals, one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe. “Halos are the gaseous atmospheres of galaxies. The properties of these gaseous halos control the rate...
  • Accelerating universe? Not so fast

    04/12/2015 9:14:56 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 13 replies
    Eurekalert ^ | 4/10/15
    Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results, reported in two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say. The team, led by UA astronomer Peter A. Milne, discovered that type Ia supernovae, which have been considered so uniform that cosmologists...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Voorwerpjes in Space

    04/04/2015 4:02:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | April 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Mysterious Hanny's Voorwerp, Dutch for "Hanny's Object", is really enormous, about the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and glowing strongly in the greenish light produced by ionized oxygen atoms. It is thought to be a tidal tail of material left by an ancient galaxy merger, illuminated and ionized by the outburst of a quasar inhabiting the center of distant spiral galaxy IC 2497. Its exciting 2007 discovery by Dutch schoolteacher Hanny van Arkel while participating online in the Galaxy Zoo project has since inspired a search and discovery of eight more eerie green cosmic features. Imaged in these...