This colorful supernova remnant is called W49B, and inside it astronomers think they may have found the Milky Way’s youngest black hole. It’s only 1,000 years old, as seen from Earth, and 26,000 lightyears away.
From a vantage point on NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers observed and measured the remnant and determined it to be very unique. The supernova explosion of this massive star was not symmetrical like most, and instead of collapsing to form a telltale neutron star at its center, this supernova seems to have a black hole.
On Friday, February 15, astronomers will get an unusually good look at a near-Earth asteroid called 2012 DA14. It will be the first time a known object of this size will come this close to Earth—a mere 8 percent the distance between us and our moon.
The asteroid, which measures 150 feet across, was first spotted by astronomers when it zoomed by Earth this time last year. This asteroid’s fly-bys occur about once a year since its orbit around the sun is very similar to our own.
Apophis is a big name in the world of asteroids, and on Wednesday the famed space object will be making an appearance for astronomers across the globe.
A flurry of apocalyptic hoopla was generated
in 2004 when astronomers found an asteroid that looked like it may be headed for Earth. Apophis measures almost 1000 feet across, and if it were to hit Earth, the fateful collision would occur on Friday the 13th, in April of 2029. So astronomers set out to take more pictures of the asteroid’s orbit and better estimate the chances of a collision. As a clearer picture of its orbit emerged, the odds went from 1 in 300, to 1 in 45, to zero. But that doesn’t mean the threat is gone.
A composite image of a molecular cloud used as a model to determine how stars are formed.
Hot off the astronomical press: the star census is complete. An international team of astronomers has conducted the first, comprehensive survey of stellar formation in the universe. The undertaking was ten times bigger than any star formation study before it, and confirmed that the rate of star formation has slowed significantly over time. But the researchers upped the stakes with this one by finding that the universe is now almost out of star-making materials.
Although we can detect the planets orbiting distant stars through indirect methods, an optical image would provide much more information about how planets form and evolve. But those stars are so much brighter than the planets around them that the starlight simply drowns out the smaller orbs, like a flashlight beam in bright daylight. But now, researchers have developed an imaging system called Project 1640—a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory—that can create a dark space around a planet to snap its photo.
Update, July 16: The Project 1640 researchers provided some more images showing how the system works, so we assembled them into the gallery below.
Images courtesy of Project 1640