It will be a few years but when the Webb telescope finally launches I believe we will see even more fantastic and mind boggling things. The History Channel show the universe had a few good episodes on supermassive black holes.
Arguing on the internet is like winning the special olympics, even if you win your still messed up.
Restore the roar!
Saturn has rings — this planet has diamonds
Parent of newly spotted body is a special kind of flashing star, a millisecond pulsar
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Swinburne Astronomy Productions Illustrated is the alien planet PSR J1719-1438, where ultra-high pressures caused carbon to crystallize in the remnant of a dead star, forming the extrasolar world. The resulting planet is made of diamond.
By Nola Taylor Redd
updated 8/25/2011 4:23:45 PM ET
A newly discovered alien planet that formed from a dead star is a real diamond in the rough.
The super-high pressure of the planet, which orbits a rapidly pulsing neutron star, has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into an actual diamond, a new study suggests.
The composition of the planet, which is about five times the size of Earth, is not its only outstanding feature.
The planet's parent star is a special kind of flashing star known as a millisecond pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star formed from a supernova. The entire system, which is only the second of its kind ever discovered, is located about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Serpens (The Snake).
A gem of a find
Seventy percent of millisecond pulsars found have a companion, which provides additional energy to ramp up the pulsars' rapid rotation. Generally, this companion is a dying star called a white dwarf ; more than 180 millisecond pulsars have been found with white dwarfs over the years.
The only planet known to be orbiting in such a system was detected in 1992 — until now. "The pulsar was found in December 2009," lead scientist Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, told Space.com via email. "We've been on the trail of the companion ever since."
From the ashes of a supernova
Known as PSR J1719-1438, this particular pulsar completes more than 10,000 rotations in a minute. Tiny and compact, it's only about 12 miles across, but it has a mass that is 1.4 times that of our sun.
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PSR J1719-1438 transformed from an average star to a radio pulsar when a dying star in a binary system exploded. The compact core of the star formed with a very high rotation speed from the ashes of the supernova.
When the second star in the system reached the end of its life, it expanded as a red giant and finally morphed into a white dwarf. The pulsar began to suck mass off its companion, causing the pulsar to spin faster and faster until it attained its breakneck speed.
From dying star to diamond planet
What happened next depends on the system. Most white dwarfs continue to orbit the new millisecond pulsar, but some are consumed by it.
"The fate depends upon the mass of the white dwarf and how far it is from the pulsar," Bailes said.
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If it is both close and massive, the two spiral together. Astronomers assume this is what happened to the 30 percent of millisecond pulsars found without a companion.
In the case of the diamond planet, astronomers think that the core of the white dwarf failed to merge completely with its companion.
"When they got very close, the star lost a lot of its matter and moved out to its safe distance of about a solar radius," Bailes said.
Now tiny, having lost more than 99.9 percent of its original mass and no longer engaged in the fusion reactions that drive a star, the dead core is classified as a planet.
Ironically, the star-turned-planet is larger than its sun. With a diameter of about 37,300 miles, it's five times the size of Earth, but 3,000 times larger than the millisecond pulsar it orbits.
The planet itself orbits the pulsar in a little more than two hours. The entire system would fit within the diameter of our sun.
The research was published online in the Aug. 25 edition of the journal Science.
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Top Ten Strangest Things in Space
One enormous black hole caught eating another
Scientists find huge cannibal inside spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way
By Charles Q. Choi
updated 8/31/2011 3:30:46 PM ET
A monstrous black hole at the heart of one galaxy is being devoured by a still larger black hole in another, scientists say. The discovery is the first of its kind.
At the centers of virtually all large galaxies are black holes millions to billions of times the mass of the sun. Models simulating the formation and growth of galaxies predict their black holes evolve as the galaxies do, by merging with others.
Astronomers had witnessed the final stages of the merging of galaxies of equal mass, so-called major mergers. Minor mergers between galaxies and smaller companions should be even more common, but, strangely, these had not been seen until now.
Now, scientists may have unexpectedly detected a minor merger about 160 million light-years away in a galaxy dubbed NGC3393. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, investigators have detected two black holes at its center, one about 30 million times the mass of the sun, and one at least 1 million times the mass of the sun, separated by only about 490 light-years.
"Seeing this was altogether a surprise," study lead author Giuseppina Fabbiano, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., told Space.com.
The scientists originally looked at this galaxy only to learn more about what they thought was the sole black hole at its center.
As galaxies collide, the results can be dramatic — for instance, nearby galaxies NGC6240 and Mrk 463, apparently the results of major mergers, show disrupted shapes and many new stars that have formed around their cores.
In contrast, this newfound galactic product of a minor merger surprisingly has a regular spiral shape like the Milky Way and has a mostly old population of stars around its heart. "It doesn't look perturbed or anything," Fabbiano said.
These findings support models that suggest minor mergers may not perturb the larger of the merging galaxies much. This could explain why these relatively commonplace mergers have not been spotted until now — there is not much evidence of the crash in visible wavelengths of light, and even when it comes to X-rays, one can only spot two black holes in a galaxy's core if both happen to be eating stars at the same time and thus unleashing radiation simultaneously.
"Chandra is the only instrument that could have detected this, and even then, it was pushing the envelope of its resolution due to how close these black holes are," Fabbiano said. "Now that we know what is going on, we can go back and look at boring galaxies to see if we find anything."
The scientists detailed their findings in Wednesday's online issue of the journal Nature.
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Astronauts' tracks, trash seen in new moon photos
By SETH BORENSTEIN - AP Science Writer | AP – Tue, Sep 6, 2011
- REUTERS - NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) image released on September 6, 2011 shows the Apollo 17 site on the moon, where the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the …more
- This August 2011 image made available by NASA shows paths left by walking astronauts, …
WASHINGTON (AP) — A spacecraft circling the moon has snapped the sharpest photos ever of the tracks and trash left behind by Apollo astronauts in their visits from 1969 to 1972.
Images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from 13 to 15 miles up show the astronauts' paths when they walked on the moon, as well as ruts left by a moon buggy. Experts could even identify the backpacks astronauts pitched out of their lunar landers before they returned to Earth.
"What we're seeing is a trail," said Arizona State University geology professor Mark Robinson, the orbiter's chief scientist. "It's totally awesome."
However, the photos were not close enough to see individual bootprints, Robinson said.
The pictures were taken two weeks ago and show the landing sites for Apollo 12, 14 and 17. The closest images are of the 1972 Apollo 17 site, the last moon mission.
Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan wrote in an email to The Associated Press that the photo gives him a chance to revisit those days, "this time with a little nostalgia and disappointment. Nostalgia because those special days are fondly etched in my memory and disappointment because it looks like now we will not be going back within the days I have left on this planet."
Two years ago, images from the same spacecraft from 30 and 60 miles out showed fuzzier images. But this year the orbiter dipped down to take about 300,000 more close-ups. The trails left by the astronauts are clear, but the places where backpacks were discarded, Apollo 17's moon buggy, and the bottom parts of the three lunar landers are blurry.
"You have to really look at it for a long time to figure out what you're looking at," Robinson said. For example, when it comes to the moon buggy he said, "if you squint really hard you can resolve the wheels and that the wheels are slightly turned to the left."
At first, scientists thought they had a bit of a mystery: They saw more stuff than they expected. It turned out to be packing material and an insulation blanket, Robinson said.
After 40 years there does not seem to be much moon dust covering the manmade trails. It probably will take about 10 million to 100 million years for dust to cover them, Robinson said.
The photos were released a few days after the debut of the new fictional movie "Apollo 18" and before Thursday's planned launch of NASA's twin robotic spaceships to explore the moon's gravity.
Astronaut in space during attacks shares unique footage of 9/11
Videos courtesy of NASA.
Whenever he sees a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Frank Culberston is reminded of where he was on Sept. 11, 2001. An encounter earlier this year is a good example. On a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia to watch the re-enactment of British occupation, he met a young veteran who had lost both legs while serving as an explosive ordinance device technician in Afghanistan.
As he helped the soldier, who had two artificial legs, navigate the unpaved grounds, Culbertson mentioned he had witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan from above."From where, a C-130?" the soldier asked. A C-130 is a low-flying military aircraft used mainly to deliver troops and supplies to ground forces.
"No, higher," Culbertson replied.
"Oh, a U-2?" the soldier guessed, referring to the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.
"Higher than that."
From Aug. 12 to Dec. 15, 2001, astronaut Frank Culbertson was aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Two hundred fifty miles above the Earth's surface, Culbertson was the only American not on the planet at the time of the terrorist attacks. He -- along with two Russian cosmonauts -- witnessed the horrific events of Sept. 11, as well as the invasion of Afghanistan a month later, from space.
Planet Like 'Star Wars' Tatooine Discovered Orbiting 2 Suns
By Charles Q. Choi , SPACE.com Contributor Space.com | SPACE.com – 11 hrs ago
- Click photo to see more images. (Reuters/NASA)
This story was updated at 2:59 p.m. ET.
It's a real-life Tatooine. A spectacle made popular by the "Star Wars" saga — a planet with two suns — has now been confirmed in space for the first time, astronomers revealed.
Scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope captured details of a giant planet in orbit around the pair of binary stars that make up the Kepler-16 system, which is about 200 light-years away.
"This discovery is stunning," said study co-author Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institute in Washington. "Once again, what used to be science fiction has turned into reality." [See an image and video of Tatooine planet Kepler 16b]
When Tatooine was depicted on film, many scientists doubted that such planets could really exist. Now there's proof.
"It's possible that there's a real Tatooine out there," said John Knoll, visual effects supervisor at the special-effects firm Industrial Light and Magic, which was behind the "Star Wars" films. "Kepler 16b is unambiguous and dramatic proof that planets really do form around binaries."
The new discovery is expanding the bounds of what scientists, as well as filmakers, can conceive, he said.
"Again and again we see that the science is stranger and cooler than fiction," Knoll said during a NASA press conference today. "The very existence of these discoveries gives us cause to dream bigger, to question our assumptions."
The planet, dubbed Kepler-16(AB)-b, passes in front of both stars in view of the satellite, regularly dimming their light. Each star also eclipses its companion as they orbit each other. Altogether, these motions allow scientists to precisely calculate the masses, radii and trajectories of all three bodies.
The newfound planet keeps a distance from its stars nearly three-quarters that of the distance between the Earth and the sun. It is somewhat like Saturn in size, although nearly 50 percent denser, suggesting it is richer in heavy elements. [10 Real Alien Worlds That Could Be In 'Star Wars']
"Kepler-16(AB)-b is not habitable as we know it," said study lead author Laurance Doyle , an astrophysicist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.
This alien world travels on a nearly circular 229-day orbit around its two parent stars, Kepler-16A and Kepler-16B, which are about 69 and 20 percent as massive as the sun, respectively. The stars keep close to each other — only a fifth of the distance between Earth and the sun on average, which is closer than Mercury gets to the sun — completing an orbit around each other every 41 days, researchers added. [Infographic: New Planet is Like "Star Wars'" Tatooine]
Worlds that orbit around two stars, known as circumbinary planets, had been hinted at before. Stars in pairs both orbit around a point in space called barycenter, and researchers at times saw these orbits were slightly off, suggesting the presence of a planet tugging at both stars. However, Kepler-16(AB)-b is the first planet that scientists have detected directly passing in front of, or transiting, its stars, temporarily dimming their light.
Since the movements of this world and its two stars are all virtually confined to the same plane, the researchers suggest they all formed from the same disk of dust and gas. Planets that were captured from other star systems might be expected to orbit at a range of angles.
"Now that we know how to detect circumbinary planets, I think we are going to find a lot more rapidly," Doyle told SPACE.com.
Last edited by BlackDiamond; 09-16-2011 at 03:45 PM.
Space the final frontier! Interesting to go up there. If you can shelve out a lot of cash!
Have A Safe Mother's Day!