Science is the poetry of Nature.

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Posts tagged "Cosmos"


NGC 1999 and Surrounding by Enrico Africa

A dust filled bright nebula with a vast hole of empty space represented by a black patch of sky, as can be seen in the photograph. It is a reflection nebula, and shines from the light of the variable star V380 Orionis.


Herschel Completes Largest Survey of Cosmic Dust in Local Universe

The largest census of dust in local galaxies has been completed using data from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, providing a huge legacy to the scientific community.

Cosmic dust grains are a minor but fundamental ingredient in the recipe of gas and dust for creating stars and planets. But despite its importance, there is an incomplete picture of the dust properties in galaxies beyond our own Milky Way.

Key questions include how the dust varies with the type of galaxy, and how it might affect our understanding of how galaxies evolve.

Before concluding its observations in April 2013, Herschel provided the largest survey of cosmic dust, spanning a wide range of nearby galaxies located 50–80 million light-years from Earth.

The catalogue contains 323 galaxies with varying star formation activity and different chemical compositions, observed by Herschel’s instruments across far-infrared and submillimetre wavelengths.

A sample of these galaxies is displayed in a collage, arranged from dust-rich in the top left to dust-poor in the bottom right.

The dust-rich galaxies are typically spiral or irregular, whereas the dust-poor ones are usually elliptical. Blue and red colours represent cooler and warmer regions of dust, respectively.


Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey 

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'Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey' Pulls In 8.5 Million Viewers:

The launch of Fox’s “Cosmos” TV series reboot on 10 different networks Sunday (March 9) attracted in 8.5 million viewers according to a Neilsen ratings summary, the Los Angeles Times reports today. According to the LA Times’ Ryan Faughnder, Fox’s “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” pulled in a “solid” audience despite tough competition in its 9 p.m. ET/PT time slot

Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the new 13-part “Cosmos” is a 21st-century follow-up the landmark 1980 series hosted by the famed astronomer Carl Sagan, who died in 1996. Sagan’s series brought the wonder of science and space to the public like never before during its 13-episode run on PBS. The new series aims to capture that same spirit, but include stunning visual effects and new discoveries that are now possible with today’s technology.  [The New “Cosmos”: Complete Coverage]

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" debuts on 10 different Fox-affiliated networks Sunday night, including Fox Sports 1 and 2, and was re-aired on the National Geographic Channel Monday night with additional material.  Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan — who co-wrote the original "Cosmos" series —serves as a writer and executive producer of the new series. Seth MacFarlane (of "Family Guy" fame among other work) also serves as an executive producer, as does Brannon Braga ("Star Trek" TV franchise). Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times.


Hunt Is On for ‘Rogue’ Black Holes

Hundreds of wandering “rogue” black holes may dwell in the Milky Way — and now researchers say they know how to detect them. Discovering these strange objects could shed light on the formation of the Milky Way and other galaxies.

No one knows exactly how the Milky Way came to exist. But according to one popular model of galaxy formation, the building blocks of the Milky Way were dwarf galaxies that collided and merged shortly after the Big Bang.

This idea assumes that floating black holes, each containing 1,000 to 100,000 more mass than the sun, could be left over from those early cosmic times — fossil evidence for the growth and mergers of black holes in the infant universe.

This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules; test ideas by experiment and observation, build on those ideas that past the test, reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question.. everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours..

Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey - "Standing Up in the Milky Way" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey [Tomorrow on FOX

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - Episode 1 "Standing up in the Milky Way"

Who was I back then? Just a 17 year old kid from the Bronx with dreams of becoming a scientist. And somehow, the world’s most famous astronomer found time to invite me to Ithaca in upstate New York to spend a Saturday with him.

I remember that snowy day like it was yesterday. He met me at the bust stop and showed me his laboratory at Cornell university. Carl reached behind his desk and inscribed this book for me. ‘For Neil, a future astronomer. - Carl’.

At the end of the day he drove me back to the bus station. The snow was falling harder. He wrote his home phone number on a scrap of paper and he said ‘If the bus can’t get back through, call me, spend a night at my home with my family’. I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon, I learned from Carl, the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me, and to countless others, inspiring so many of us to study, teach and do science. Science is a cooperative enterprise spanning the generations. It’s the passing of a torch, from teacher to student to teacher. A community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars.

Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey - "Standing Up in the Milky Way" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

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The new “Cosmos” might be called the Large Hadron Collider of pop science: expensive, splashy and ambitious. After a series of special showings this week, including one at the White House, it will be shown in 170 countries and 45 languages, on Fox and on the National Geographic Channel — the largest global opening ever for a television series, according to Ann Druyan, Dr. Sagan’s widow and his collaborator on the original “Cosmos,” who is an executive producer and a writer and director of the new series.

I’m not going to pretend to be neutral here. I hope it succeeds and that everyone watches it, not just because I have known Ms. Druyan and admired Dr. Tyson for years, but because we all need a unifying dose of curiosity and wonder.

“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” comes at a critical moment for a society that is increasingly fragmented.

If we are going to decide big issues, like eating genetically modified food, fracking for natural gas, responding to the prospect of drastic climate change, exploring space or engaging in ambitious science research, we are going to have to start from some common experience.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the longtime senator from New York, once said, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. So where are we going to get them?

In science, as in other areas of our culture, there is no dearth of voices, but are we paying attention? In the new New Age, it’s all about which cable channels you watch or whom you follow on Twitter.

We could use a national conversation that is not about scandal or sports. If everybody watches the new “Cosmos,” we can talk about it the way we once argued about “The Sopranos” every Monday morning.


One of the most important TV series ever made in general and specifically for educational and scientific purposes being revived after decades and being presented by a black astrophysicist. Can we talk about how this is a really huge thing and should make it a priority if possible to watch this show. The world needs it and I have faith in Neil deGrasse Tyson.


Stephan’s Quintet in HST-Subaru Composite

Source: Hubble Legacy Archive and 8.2 Meter Subaru Telescope (NAOJ)

Image Assembly and Processing: Robert Gendler and Judy Schmidt

Distance: 260 million light years

This small group of spiral galaxies was first discovered by the French astronomer, Edouard Stephan in 1877 and is often considered the prototype of small compact galactic groups.

It is the first of the compact groups found and probably the most investigated at all wavelengths. Initially Stephan included five relatively bright members (NGC 7317, 7318A/B, 7319, and 7320). In 1961 red shift measurements of the group revealed that NGC7320, the largest member of the group, had a discordant redshift and is receding at a velocity 5000 kilometers per second slower than the other four members.

A redshift is considered discordant if it differs from the median redshift of the group by more than 1000 kilometers per second. Although the case of NGC 7320 still fuels controversy it is generally agreed that all members of the group are gravitationally interacting with the exception of the interloper NGC 7320 which is a foreground galaxy.

Cosmos: Drake’s Equation

Are there advanced civilizations in the Milky Way? If so, How many?


No, Stephen Hawking Did Not Say Black Holes Don’t Exist

You’ve probably seen plenty of headlines this week proclaiming “Stephen Hawking Says Black Holes Don’t Exist,” and heard people who read those headlines chattering excitedly about this seemingly huge shift in astrophysics. But as PopMech wisely points out, that’s not an accurate summary of what Hawking actually said.

All of this stems from a short paper Hawking submitted on January 22nd, titled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes.” And yes, the phrase “there are no black holes” appears in that paper. But there isn’t a period at the end of it. In full, it states “there are no black holes—in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity. There are, however, apparent horizons which persist for a period of time.”

As PopMech explains, Hawking is writing about the things that happen at the event horizon, the very edge of a black hole. The whole discussion is an excellent read, but the main takeaway is this: astrophysicists who understand this complex language consider the new paper a Hawking op-ed. As Don Marolf, a theoretical physicist who studies black holes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told PopMech, “most people that I know that read the paper see this as an expression of his opinion on a current debate without necessarily adding new scientific ingredients.”

Of course, that’s not the last station for the misquote train. Andy Borowitz threw a 55-gallon barrel of kerosene on the confusion fire with his satirical column where he “quoted” Representative Michele Bachmann as saying, “if black holes don’t exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don’t either, like climate change and evolution.” Far too many people took it seriously, which I guess is the mark of skillful satire.


Milky Way’s Huge Black Hole to Gobble Gas Cloud Soon

A giant gas cloud is set to spiral into the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s core in the next few months, and scientists should get a great view of the dramatic celestial action.

NASA’s Swift satellite will have a front-row seat for the enormous gas cloud collision, and astronomers can barely contain their excitement.

"Everyone wants to see the event happening because it’s so rare," Nathalie Degenaar, of the University of Michigan, said in a statement.

Collision coming

In 2003, scientists discovered what seemed to be a cloud of gas, termed G2, which should collide in March or thereabouts with the supermassive black hole that lurks at the heart of the Milky Way. The interaction will reveal much about this black hole, which is known as Sagittarius A* (or Sag A* for short).

Although scientists have observed signs of such feeding in other galaxies, it’s rare to see these events so close to home.

With their enormous gravitational pull, the centers of black holes trap even light, making them difficult to see. But the edges of these odd objects light up up when they feed, emitting energy that can reveal details about black-hole dynamics.

Sag A* is dim even for a class of object known to be challenging to observe —almost 4,000 times fainter than astronomers expect it to be. Every 5 to 10 days, the hungry black hole gobbles down a bit of gas or dust that creates an X-ray flare that telescopes like Swift can capture.

For the last eight years, Degenaar and her team have used Swift to observe the galactic center for 17 minutes a day. On the whole, it’s been fairly quiet.

"Our supermassive black hole is laying low," Degenaar told reporters earlier this month. "It’s not displaying a lot of action at all."

That may well change when G2 crashes into Sag A, since the interaction could create an X-ray flare brighter than those generated by smaller objects. Degenaar’s team, still monitoring Sag A every day, will be in a perfect position to observe the changes, and other instruments will try to get a good look as well.

"Observatories all over the world, space- and ground-based, are ready for this," Degenaar said.

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