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Apr. 30, 2013 — Scientists have used Chandra to make a detailed study of an enormous cloud of hot gas enveloping two large, colliding galaxies. This unusually large reservoir of gas contains as much mass as 10 billion Suns, spans about 300,000 light years, and radiates at a temperature of more than 7 million degrees. This giant gas cloud, which scientists call a "halo," is located in the system called NGC 6240. Astronomers have long known that NGC 6240 is the site of the merger of two large spiral galaxies similar in size to our own Milky Way. Each galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center. The black holes are spiraling toward one another, and may eventually merge to form a larger black hole. Another consequence of the collision between the galaxies is that the gas contained in each individual galaxy has been violently stirred up. This caused a baby boom of new stars that has lasted for at least 200 million years. During this burst of stellar birth, some of the most massive stars raced through their evolution and exploded relatively quickly as supernovas. The scientists involved with this study argue that this rush of supernova explosions dispersed relatively high amounts of important elements such as oxygen, neon, magnesium, and silicon into the hot gas of the newly combined galaxies. According to the researchers, the data suggest that this enriched gas has slowly expanded into and mixed with cooler gas that was already there. During the extended baby boom, shorter bursts of star formation have occurred. For example, the most recent burst of star formation lasted for about five million years and occurred about 20 million years ago in Earth's timeframe. However, the authors do not think that the hot gas was produced just by this shorter burst. What does the future hold for observations of NGC 6240? Most likely the two spiral galaxies will form one young elliptical galaxy over the course of millions of years. It is unclear, however, how much of the hot gas can be retained by this newly formed galaxy, rather than lost to surrounding space. Regardless, the collision offers the opportunity to witness a relatively nearby version of an event that was common in the early Universe when galaxies were much closer together and merged more often. In this new composite image of NGC 6240, the X-rays from Chandra that reveal the hot gas cloud are colored purple. These data have been combined with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows long tidal tails from the merging galaxies, extending to the right and bottom of the image.
IL). The authors in this study were Emanuele Nardini (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. or CfA. Cambridge. and Andreas Zezas (University of Crete. 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. Silvia Pellegrini (University of Bologna.A paper describing these new results on NGC 6240 is available online and appeared in the March 10. MA and currently at Keele University. Margarita Karovska (CfA). UK). . Evanston. Greece and CfA). Martin Elvis (CfA). Junfeng Wang (CfA and currently at Northwestern University. Guido Risalti (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri. Italy). Pepi Fabbiano (CfA). Italy and CfA).
Saturn is one of the largest planets in our Solar System. has been observed in Earth's oceans where warm. salty water lies beneath cool and less salty water. generated by physical instability deep within the giant planet. the result of helium failing to mix with Saturn's hydrogen rich atmosphere. . These findings suggest that the interior structure. Layered convection. and beyond. Instead of heat being transported throughout the planet by large scale (convective) motions. It is primarily made of hydrogen and helium and its excessive brightness has previously been attributed to helium rains. Researchers from the University of Exeter and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon found that layers of gas. 30. Professor Gilles Chabrier from Physics & Astronomy at the University of Exeter said: "Scientists have been wondering for years if Saturn was using an additional source of energy to look so bright but instead our calculations show that Saturn appears young because it can't cool down. These separate layers effectively insulate the planet and prevent heat from radiating out efficiently. 2013 — As planets age they become darker and cooler. The denser. second only in size to massive Jupiter. composition and thermal evolution of giant planets in our Solar System. prevent heat from escaping and have resulted in Saturn failing to cool down at the expected rate. Saturn however is much brighter than expected for a planet of its age -. New research published in the journal Nature Geosciencehas revealed how Saturn keeps itself looking young and hot. may be much more complex than previously thought. it must be partly transferred by diffusion across different layers of gas inside Saturn. salty water prevents vertical currents forming between the different layers and so heat cannot be transported efficiently upwards. like that recently discovered in Saturn. This keeps Saturn warm and bright." Characterised by its distinctive rings.a question that has puzzled scientists since the late sixties. as previously thought.Saturn's Youthful Appearance Explained Apr.
they identified about 2. made it possible to identify the specific objects responsible for nearly all of the radio background emission coming from beyond our own Milky Way Galaxy. in the constellation Draco. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA)." he added. "Advancing technology has revealed more and more of the Universe to us over the past few decades. Previous studies had measured the amount of radio emission coming from the distant Universe. following its decade-long upgrade.Deep. VLA. "The sensitivity and resolution of the VLA. Their field of view. Condon and his colleagues studied a region of sky that previously had been observed by the original. and our study shows individual objects that account for about 96 percent of the background radio emission coming from the distant Universe. astronomers have for the first time identified discrete sources that account for nearly all the radio waves coming from distant galaxies. the remaining 4 percent of the radio emission could be coming from as many as 100 billion very faint objects. In earlier observations.000 discrete radio-emitting objects. the researchers pointed out. the scientists said." he added. However. Detailed Image of Distant Universe Apr. encompassed about one-millionth of the whole sky. that there are about 2 billion such objects in the whole sky. 2013 — Staring at a small patch of sky for more than 50 hours with the ultra-sensitive Karl G. "Before we had this capability. "The VLA now is a million times more sensitive than the radio telescopes that made landmark surveys of the sky in the 1960s. In February and March of 2012. . we could not detect the numerous faint sources that produce much of the background emission." said Jim Condon. which observes infrared light. These are the objects that account for 96 percent of the background radio emission. In that region. and by the Spitzer space telescope." Condon said. radio-emitting objects within their field of view. stronger source of radio waves. but had not been capable of attributing all the radio waves to specific objects. 30. That would indicate. emission from two or more faint objects often was blurred or blended into what appeared to be a single. They carefully analyzed and processed their data. then produced an image that showed the individual. pre-upgrade. of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). They found that about 63 percent of the background radio emission comes from galaxies with gorging black holes at their cores and the remaining 37 percent comes from galaxies that are rapidly forming stars.
the two types of galaxies evolved at the same rate in the early Universe.Further analysis allowed the scientists to determine which of the objects are galaxies containing massive central black holes that are actively consuming surrounding material and which are galaxies undergoing rapid bursts of star formation. Inc. Tessa Vernstrom. and Douglas Scott. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation. Their results indicate that. . Condon worked with William Cotton. and Jasper Wall of the University of British Columbia. and Rick Perley of NRAO. The researchers published their work in theAstrophysical Journal. as previously proposed. Edward Fomalont. operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities." Condon said. Kenneth Kellermann. Neal Miller of the University of Maryland. "What radio astronomers have accomplished over the past few decades is analogous to advancing from the early Greek maps of the world that showed only the Mediterranean basin to the maps of today that show the whole world in exquisite detail.
. 30. "Our current suspicion is that Opportunity rebooted its flight software. Controllers plan to send Curiosity's first set of post-conjunction commands on May 1. Curiosity has reported coming through the conjunction in full health. 2013 — During a moratorium on commanding this month while Mars passed nearly behind the sun -. NASA's other Mars rover." said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pasadena. which landed last year. Calif. "We found the rover in a standby state called automode. if it were to occur. We crafted our solar conjunction plan to be resilient to this kind of rover reset. but waits for instructions from the ground. They prepared fresh commands today (April 29) for sending to the rover to resume operations. Initial indications suggest the rover sensed something amiss while doing a routine camera check of the clarity of the atmosphere on April 22.a phase called solar conjunction . in which it maintains power balance and communication schedules." Opportunity has been working on Mars for more than nine years.Mars Opportunity Rover in Standby as Commanding Moratorium Ends Apr. possibly while the cameras on the mast were imaging the sun. is also nearing the end of its solar conjunction moratorium on commanding. Mission controllers learned of the changed status on April 27 when they first heard from Opportunity after the period of minimized communication during the solar conjunction.NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered a type of standby mode. Curiosity.