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Glowing stellar nurseries in a web of cosmic filaments

26 March 2018 Astronomy Now

A vast star-forming region as seen by the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory shows a tangled web of filaments with embedded hot spots where stars are being born. Observations of such filaments indicate a common process is at work to generate such filaments — and stars — from the interstellar medium.

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Star formation on filaments in RCW106

27 February 2017 Stephen Clark

Stars are bursting into life all over this image from ESA’s Herschel space observatory. It depicts the giant molecular cloud RCW106, a massive billow of gas and dust almost 12,000 light-years away in the southern constellation of Norma, the Carpenter’s Square.

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Record-breaking galaxy cluster discovered

31 August 2016 Astronomy Now

A new record for the most distant galaxy cluster has been set using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. CL J1001+0220 is located about 11.1 billion light-years from Earth. The discovery of this object pushes back the formation time of galaxy clusters — the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity — by about 700 million years.

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The giant stars and the little fox

26 May 2016 Astronomy Now

This infrared image from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory shows the region known as Vulpecula OB1, a ‘stellar association’ in which a batch of truly giant ‘OB’ stars is being born 8,000 light-years away in the constellation of Vulpecula (The Little Fox). There is enough material here to build stars for millions of years to come.

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The secret life of the Orion Nebula

16 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Space bears witness to a constant stream of star births. Whole star clusters are often formed at the same time — and within a comparatively short period. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg have proposed a new mechanism that relies on the interplay between magnetic fields and gravitation to explain this quick formation, investigating a filament of gas and dust which also includes the well-known Orion Nebula.

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2007 OR10: the largest unnamed world in the solar system

12 May 2016 Astronomy Now

By combining data from two space observatories, astronomers have revealed something surprising: a 955-mile-wide dwarf planet named 2007 OR10 is significantly larger than previously thought. Although its 547-year-long elliptical orbit brings it nearly as close to the Sun as Neptune, 2007 OR10 is currently twice as far from the Sun as Pluto.

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Herschel’s view of the Eagle Nebula

22 April 2016 Astronomy Now

The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16 (M16), as seen by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory. A group of young, bright stars, not visible at these infrared wavelengths, are located near the centre of the image. The powerful light emitted by these stars is setting the surrounding gas ablaze, causing it to shine.

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Herschel reveals a ribbon of future stars

30 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Star formation is taking place all around us. The Milky Way is laced with clouds of dust and gas that could become the nursery of the next generation of stars. Thanks to ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, we can now look inside these clouds and see what is truly going on. This image shows a cold cloud filament, known to astronomers as G82.65-2.00.

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Tracing star formation rates in distant galaxies

27 March 2016 Astronomy Now

To understand the physics of the evolution and formation of galaxies it is crucial to know at what rate galaxies form stars, referred to as the star-formation rate. A group of researchers used Earth- and space-based telescopes to create a complete multi-wavelength picture of distant galaxies.

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New research shows quasars slowed pace of star formation

24 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxies reached their busiest star-making pace about 11 billion years ago, then slowed down. Scientists have puzzled for years over the question of what happened. Now researchers have found evidence supporting the argument that the answer was energy feedback from quasars within the galaxies where stars are born.