amateur astronomers reported that a faint star in the constellation of Ophiuchus had suddenly become clearly visible in the night sky without the aid of a telescope. Records show that this so-called recurrent nova, RS Ophiuchi (RS Oph), has previously reached this level of brightness five times in the last 108 years, most recently in 1985. The latest explosion has been observed in unprecedented detail by an armada of space- and ground-based telescopes.
Speaking today (Friday) at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting at Leicester, Professor Mike Bode of Liverpool John Moores University and Dr Tim O'Brien of Jodrell Bank Observatory will present the latest results which are shedding new light on what happens when stars explode.
RS Oph is just over 5,000 light years away from Earth. It consists of a white dwarf star (the super-dense core of a star, about the size of the Earth, that has reached the end of its main hydrogen-burning phase of evolution and shed its outer layers) in close orbit with a much larger red giant star.
The two stars are so close together that hydrogen-rich gas from the outer layers of the red giant is continuously pulled onto the dwarf by its high gravity. After around 20 years, enough gas has been accreted that a runaway thermonuclear explosion occurs on the white dwarf's surface. In less than a day, its energy output increases to over 100,000 times that of the Sun, and the accreted gas (several times the mass of the Earth) is ejected into space at.
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Final space shuttle to carry 5 CU-Boulder-built payloadsThe University of Colorado Boulder is involved with five different space science payloads ranging from antibody tests that may lead to new bone-loss therapys to an experiment to improve vaccine effectiveness for combating salmonella when Atlantis thunders skyward July 8 on the last of NASA's 135 space shuttle missions.
One experiment, sponsored by the global pharmaceutical companies Amgen and UCB, will test an antibody to sclerostin -- a........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/5/2011 8:07:25 PM)
Jupiter's foray robbed Mars of massPlanetary researchers have long wondered why Mars is only about half the size and one-tenth the mass of Earth. As next-door neighbors in the inner solar system, probably formed about the same time, why isn't Mars more like Earth and Venus in size and mass? A paper reported in the journal Nature this week provides the first cohesive explanation and, by doing so, reveals an unexpected twist in the early lives of Jupiter and Saturn as well.
Dr.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/5/2011 8:50:13 PM)
A look inside red giant starsNASA's Kepler Mission is giving astronomers such a clear view of changes in star brightness that they can now see clues about what's happening inside red giant stars.
"No one anticipated seeing this before the mission launched," said Steve Kawaler, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy and a leader of the Kepler Asteroseismic Investigation. "That we could see so clearly down below a red giant star's surface was........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/31/2011 7:07:57 AM)
The rose-red glow of star formationThe object dominating this image may resemble a pool of spilled blood, but rather than being linked to death, such regions of ionised hydrogen -- known as HII regions -- are sites of creation with high rates of recent star birth. NGC 371 is an example of this; it is an open cluster surrounded by a nebula. The stars in open clusters all originate from the same diffuse HII region, and over time the majority of the hydrogen is used up by star........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/30/2011 7:05:28 AM)
Is space like a chessboard?Physicists at UCLA set out to design a better transistor and ended up discovering a new way to think about the structure of space.
Space is commonly considered infinitely divisible � given any two positions, there is always a position halfway between. But in a recent study aimed at developing ultra-fast transistors using graphene, scientists from the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy and the California NanoSystems Institute show that........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/18/2011 6:03:26 PM)
Hubble snaps close-up of the TarantulaThe wispy arms of the Tarantula Nebula were originally thought to resemble spindly spider legs, giving the nebula its unusual name. The part of the nebula visible in this image from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys is criss-crossed with tendrils of dust and gas churned up by recent supernovae. These supernova remnants include NGC 2060, visible above and to the left of the centre of this image, which contains the brightest known pulsar.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/15/2011 7:30:20 AM)
NASA's Glory Satellite scheduled for launch March 4NASA's Glory spacecraft is scheduled for launch on Friday, March 4. Technical issues with ground support equipment for the Taurus XL launch vehicle led to the scrub of the original Feb. 23 launch attempt. Those issues have been resolved.
The March 4 liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is targeted for 5:09:43 a.m. EST, in the middle of a 48-second launch window. Spacecraft separation occurs 13 minutes after launch.
Data from........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/1/2011 9:21:59 PM)
Tracking the origins of speedy space particles Time History of Events and Macroscale Interaction during Substorms (THEMIS) spacecraft combined with computer models have helped track the origin of the energetic particles in Earth's magnetic atmosphere that appear during a kind of space weather called a substorm. Understanding the source of such particles and how they are shuttled through Earth's atmosphere is crucial to better understanding the Sun's complex space weather system and thus........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/1/2011 8:01:40 AM)
Research on Asteroid DeflectionSo you think global warming is a big problem? What could happen if a 25-million-ton chunk of rock slammed into Earth? When something similar happened 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs and other forms of life were wiped out.
"A collision with an object of this size traveling at an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 mile per hour would be catastrophic," as per NASA researcher and New York City College of Technology (City Tech) Associate Professor of........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/28/2011 7:53:26 PM)
Torrent of Star FormationA new Chandra X-ray Observatory image of Messier 82, or M82, shows the result of star formation on overdrive. M82 is located about 12 million light years from Earth and is the nearest place to us where the conditions are similar to those when the Universe was much younger with lots of stars forming.
M82 is a so-called starburst galaxy, where stars are forming at rates that are tens or even hundreds of times higher than in a normal galaxy.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/16/2011 9:49:42 PM)
Taking the pulse of a black hole systemUsing two NASA X-ray satellites, astronomers have discovered what drives the "heartbeats" seen in the light from an unusual black hole system. These results give new insight into the ways that black holes can regulate their intake and severely curtail their growth.
This study examined GRS 1915 105 (GRS 1915 for short), a binary system in the Milky Way galaxy containing a black hole about 14 times more massive than the Sun that is feeding off........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/12/2011 6:33:25 PM)
Longstanding Mystery of Sun's Hot Outer AtmosphereOne of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface.
Now researchers believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona: jets of plasma shooting up from just above the Sun's surface.
The finding addresses a fundamental question in astrophysics: how energy is moved from the Sun's interior to create its hot outer........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/6/2011 6:16:34 PM)
SOHO Spots 2000th CometAs people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year, an ESA/NASA spacecraft has quietly reached its own milestone: on December 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2000th comet.
Drawing on help from citizen researchers around the world, SOHO has become the single greatest comet finder of all time. This is all the more impressive since SOHO was not specifically designed to find comets, but........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/29/2010 6:30:29 AM)
New Planet in Planetary System very similar to our ownAn international team of astronomers has discovered and imaged a fourth giant planet outside our solar system, a discovery that further strengthens the remarkable resemblances between a distant planetary system and our own.
The research is published Dec. 8 in the advance online version of the journal Nature.
The astronomers say the planetary system resembles a supersized version of our solar system.
"Besides having four giant planets,........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 12/9/2010 7:38:28 AM)
ALMA Opens Its EyesScientists presented details about an eagerly awaited new astronomical observatory during a live webcast last Thursday with the National Science Foundation and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
Astronomers Kartik Sheth and Adam Leroy of the NRAO's North American ALMA Science Center, and Brad Whitmore of the Space Telescope Science Institute, discussed details of the first scientific observing cycle with the Atacama Large........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/4/2011 10:05:45 PM)
Big step forward for SKAThe discovery potential of the future international SKA radio telescope has been glimpsed following the commissioning of a working optical fibre link between CSIRO's Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia, and other radio telescopes across Australia and New Zealand.
7 July 2011.
The achievement will be announced at the 2011 International SKA Forum, taking place this week in Banff, Canada.
On 29 June, six........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/7/2011 8:55:18 AM)
Swift and Hubble probe asteroid collision debrisLate last year, astronomers noticed an asteroid named Scheila had unexpectedly brightened, and it was sporting short-lived plumes. Data from NASA's Swift satellite and Hubble Space Telescope showed these changes likely occurred after Scheila was struck by a much smaller asteroid.
"Collisions between asteroids create rock fragments, from fine dust to huge boulders, that impact planets and their moons," said Dennis Bodewits, an astronomer at........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/29/2011 8:39:09 AM)
Frozen comet had a watery pasFor the first time, researchers have found convincing evidence for the presence of liquid water in a comet, shattering the current paradigm that comets never get warm enough to melt the ice that makes up the bulk of their material.
"Current thinking suggests that it is impossible to form liquid water inside of a comet," said Dante Lauretta, an associate professor of cosmochemistry and planet formation at the UA's Lunar and Planetary........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/5/2011 7:03:44 PM)
Clearest Picture Yet of Perseus Galaxy ClusterX-ray observations made by the Suzaku observatory provide the clearest picture to date of the size, mass and chemical content of a nearby cluster of galaxies. The study also provides the first direct evidence that million-degree gas clouds are tightly gathered in the cluster's outskirts.
Suzaku is sponsored by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with contributions from NASA and participation by the international scientific........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/25/2011 7:28:28 AM)
A millisecond from doomESA's Integral gamma-ray observatory has spotted extremely hot matter just a millisecond before it plunges into the oblivion of a black hole. But is it really doomed? These unique observations suggest that some of the matter appears to be making a great escape.
No one would want to be so close to a black hole. Just a few hundred kilometres away from its deadly surface, space is a maelstrom of particles and radiation. Vast storms of particles........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/25/2011 7:25:02 AM)
Seasonal rains on TitanAs spring continues to unfold on Saturn, April showers on the planet's largest moon, Titan, have brought methane rain to its equatorial deserts, as revealed in images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
This is the first time researchers have obtained existing evidence of rain soaking Titan's surface at low latitudes. The observations are released recently in the journal Science
"Titan continues to surprise and amaze us," said Alfred........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/17/2011 10:52:02 PM)
January's Eclipse in DubaiOn 4 January 2011, the people of Dubai had the exciting opportunity to view a partial solar eclipse during the afternoon. Just after noon, viewers could see the celestial body passing over the sun, creating a partial eclipse that lasted for a few hours. This was the first partial eclipse viewed in Dubai since 2008. A full solar eclipse has not occurred since 1999. The next solar eclipse will happen in 2019.
Viewers gathered at the Burj........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/27/2011 7:25:22 PM)
2-timing spacecraft has date with another cometNASA's Stardust spacecraft, equipped with the University of Chicago's Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI), is hurtling at more than 24,000 miles an hour toward a Valentine's Day encounter with comet Tempel 1.
Stardust will approach to within 124 miles of Tempel 1 at 10:56 p.m. CST Monday, Feb. 14. The spacecraft flew within 150 miles of comet Wild 2 in 2004, when it collected thousands of tiny dust particles streaming from the comet's........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/14/2011 7:09:59 AM)
The Best Way to Measure Dark EnergyDark energy is a mysterious force that pervades all space, acting as a "push" to accelerate the Universe's expansion. Despite being 70 percent of the Universe, dark energy was only discovered in 1998 by two teams observing Type Ia supernovae. A Type 1a supernova is a cataclysmic explosion of a white dwarf star.
These supernovae are currently the best way to measure dark energy because they are visible across intergalactic space. Also, they........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/16/2011 9:57:54 PM)
Physicists discover Crab nebula is slowly dimmingThe Crab Nebula, once considered to be a source of energy so stable that astronomers used it to calibrate their instruments, is dimming. LSU physicists Mike Cherry, Gary Case and graduate student James Rodi, together with an international team of colleagues using the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, or GBM, on NASA's Fermi gamma-ray space telescope, discovered the anomaly. This revelation has proven astonishing for astronomers.
The Crab Nebula, one........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/16/2011 9:53:36 PM)
Missing link between young and old galaxiesUniversity of California, Berkeley, astronomers may have found the missing link between gas-filled, star-forming galaxies and older, gas-depleted galaxies typically characterized as "red and dead."
In a poster to be presented this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, UC Berkeley astronomers report that a long-known "early-type" galaxy, NGC 1266, is expelling molecular gas, mostly hydrogen, from its core.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/11/2011 6:27:25 AM)
VISTA stares deeply into the blue lagoonThis new infrared image of the Lagoon Nebula was captured as part of a five-year study of the Milky Way using ESO's VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. This is a small piece of a much larger image of the region surrounding the nebula, which is, in turn, only one part of a huge survey.
Astronomers are currently using ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) to scour the Milky Way's central regions for........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/5/2011 6:44:28 AM)
About gamma-ray burstsGamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fleeting events that last from less than a second to several minutes, are detected by orbiting observatories that can pick up their high energy radiation. Thirteen years ago, however, astronomers discovered a longer-lasting stream of less energetic radiation coming from these violent outbursts, which can last for weeks or even years after the initial explosion. Astronomers call this the burst's afterglow.
While all........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/16/2010 7:22:28 AM)
How Iapetus got its ridgeFor centuries, people wondered how the leopard got its spots. The consensus is pretty solid that evolution played a major role.
But it's only been five years since the arrival of high-resolution Cassini Mission images of Saturn's bizarre moon Iapetus that the international planetary community has pondered the unique walnut shape of the large (735 kilometer radius) body, considered by a number of to be one of the most astonishing........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/13/2010 6:53:27 AM)