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First-seen Neutron Star Collision Crashes So Hard The Whole Universe Wobbles and Flings Out Gold 

Two stars slammed into each other sending out ‘huge amounts of gold’ in an alchemical explosion causing the universe to ‘wobble’ scientists said. 

On 17th August, the neutron stars collided 130 million light years away, expelling ‘precious metals’ and elements such as ‘platinum and uranium’, in turn creating a ‘new chapter in astrophysics’, scientists said. 

According to a report in <em>the Independent</em>, the crash has ‘confirmed theories about the origin of the mysterious neutron stars’. 

The gravitational wave signal, which has been named GW170817, was detected at 1.41pm UK time on 17th August, marking only the fifth time this type of wave have been spotted on Earth. 

Scientists say they not only ‘heard’ this phenomenon by measuring vibrations in space-time, they used telescopes to ‘see light and radiation pouring out of the stellar fireball, called a kilonova’. 

Every other wave detection in history has been ‘traced to black holes’ colliding in more than ‘a billion light years away’. 

The Independent writes the two stars, ‘each about 12 miles in diameter, stretched and distorted space-time as they spiralled towards each other and finally collided’. 

Adding, like ‘ripples from a stone thrown in a pond, the gravitational waves fanned out across the universe at the speed of light’. 

The ripples were picked up on Earth by detectors in Washington and Louisiana, which are operated by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). 

British LIGO scientist Professor BS Sathyaprakash, from the University of Cardiff, said: 

"The 12 hours that followed are inarguably the most exciting hours of my scientific life. This event marks a turning point in observational astronomy and will lead to a treasure trove of scientific results." 

The origins of gold, along with many heavy elements has been a mystery for a long time, but recent evidence suggests colliding neutron stars could well be involved in their creation. 

LIGO’s detectors, consisting of L-shaped tunnels with arms 2.5 miles (4km) long, use laser beams bouncing off mirrors to measure movement across a distance 10,000 times smaller than the width of a proton, the kernel of an atom. 

Dr Samantha Oates, also from the University of Warwick, said: 

"This discovery has answered three questions that astronomers have been puzzling for decades: what happens when neutron stars merge? What causes the short duration gamma-ray bursts? Where are the heavy elements, like gold, made? 

In the space of about a week all three of these mysteries were solved." 

The discovery has also ‘solved the mystery of what creates short wave gamma ray bursts which are picked up on Earth and could help pinpoint how fast the universe is expanding’, according to The Telegraph. 

Her colleague Dr Danny Steeghs said it is a ‘new chapter in The new findings were published in research papers in the journals Nature, Nature Astronomy and Science. 

And professor Laura Cadonati, from Georgia Institute of Technology, US, said: 

"This detection has genuinely opened the doors to a new way of doing astrophysics. 

I expect it will be remembered as one of the most studied astrophysical events in history." 

It is being hailed as the first known instance of multi-messenger astrophysics: one source in the universe emitting two kinds of waves, gravitational and electromagnetic. 

To learn more about the event, check out this PBS video below:


A New Type of Galaxy has Been Discovered, and it's Very Different from Ours! (Video) 

Credit: Ryan Beauchemin; The newfound ringed galaxy PGC 1000714, seen here in a telescope image, is one of the rarest types of galaxies ever observed. The left panel shows a false-color image of PGC 1000714, while the right panel highlights the galaxy's outer ring (blue) and diffuse inner ring (light green).

In November, astronomers Mutlu-Pakdil, Mangedarage, Seigar and Trueuthardt published a paper in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society where they stated that they had discovered an extremely rare galaxy. In the paper they presented a photometric study of PGC 1000714, a galaxy that resembles Hoag's Object because it has a complete detached outer ring, which has not yet been described in the literature. 

This rare galaxy is located about 359 million light years from Earth. As the images show, it has a core of older stars that are then surrounded by a completely detached outer ring of newer stars. The older stars are differentiated from the newer stars by their color - they appear red whereas newer stars appear as blue. This unique structure suggests that this particular galaxy went through two different formation periods. At this time, it is not possible to know how this galaxy was formed exactly. The current theories about Hoag-type galaxies postulate that they form when two different galaxies collide. Because of the collision, a ring of gas, dust and stars forms and slowly begins to spread outward, like ripples in a pond.

This discovery is so exciting because, at this moment, only about 0.1% of galaxies that have been discovered thus far have this structure. As one of the authors of the study stated: "Whenever we find a unique or strange object to study, it challenges our current theories and assumptions about how the universe works. It usually tells us that we still have a lot to learn." 

Here's a video in which two of the main authors of the study discuss this new, exciting discovery:

Article by Rajmani Sinclair, January 12, 2017

Don't Miss the November Supermoon; We Haven't Seen a Moon this Big in 70 Years! 

All eyes to the skies on the night of November 14th! That's right, we're in for another supermoon, But this time, the moon will be the closest it has been to Earth since 1948. That's 70 years! 

On the night of Monday, November 14th, the moon will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual. Make sure not to miss it, as the next time the moon will be this close to the Earth will be in November of 2034. 


Supermoon of June 23, 2013 at Umaid Bhawan Palace, India 

But what is a supermoon, you ask? 

"Supermoon" has become a popular word to describe a lunar phenomenon otherwise known as a "perigee moon". In the moon's elliptical orbit around our planet, one side of this orbit, know as the "perigee", is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other side (known as the "apogee"). 

When the moon, Earth and sun line up (with the sun and moon on opposite sides of the Earth) and the moon's perigee side is facing us, we get what is called a perigee-syzygy, or, in Layman's terms, a moon that looks much brighter and larger than usual. 

Believe it or not, supermoons are not super rare. We had a more subtle perigee moon on October 16th of this year, and will have another on December 14th to hail in the holiday season. November 14th's, however, will be the most notable. 

"The full moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century," says NASA. 

 Check out the video below to learn more about what's to come.


If you plan on viewing the supermoon, try to catch it when it's close to the horizon- that's when it appears to be the largest. When the moon is higher in the sky without buildings or landmarks to compare it to, it can be more difficult to discern it's increased size. According to NASA, "When the moon is near the horizon, it can look unnaturally large when viewed through trees, buildings, or other foreground objects... The effect is an optical illusion, but that fact doesn’t take away from the experience." 

Tips for viewing 2016's November supermoon: 

  • Catch the moon when it's still close to the horizon. 
  • Get away from city lights; you'll want a clear, dark sky for optimal viewing. 
  • If you want to try a morning viewing, the moon is actually expected to reach it's peak fullness at 8:52am EST on the 14th. However, visibility is not guaranteed. 

**Note to Australians!** Your supermoon will occur on November 15th and will reach its full phase at about 12:52am AEST. 

So, will you viewing the supermoon? Let us know in the comment section below! 

Author: Nate Morgan

This Month, 2 Eclipses and an Extra-Bright Jupiter will Grace Our Skies 

Skywatchers rejoice! We're in for a busy month. 

An eclipse is usually a notable moment of any year. Our superstitious relatives call us with warnings, many gather outdoors to watch the phenomenon, and some pay heed to the "energetic shifts" that occur around these celestial events. Well, you can expect a lot of that this month, as we are due for two eclipses (one partial lunar, one total solar), as well as an extra-bright Jupiter! Here's everything you need to know: 

March 8th: Jupiter In Opposition 

On Tuesday, March 8th, Jupiter will be "in opposition," which means that the Earth will be located directly between Jupiter and the sun. At this time, Jupiter will be at its closest distance from Earth (about 413 million miles away). According to EarthSky “Jupiter comes to opposition about every 13 months. In other words, that’s how long Earth takes to travel once around the sun relative to Jupiter.” 

If you plan on gazing up at jupiter on the night of the 8th, whip out your telescope (if you're hardcore) and watch for its ascension in the east at dusk. 

March 8-9: Total Solar Eclipse 

Depending on your location, the total solar eclipse will take place between Tuesday the 8th and Wednesday the 9th. Indonesia and other parts of the Pacific will enjoy a full solar eclipse on the 9th shortly after 6pm, while Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and Australia will see a partial solar eclipse. A partial eclipse will be visible as far East as Hawaii on the 8th, before the shadow finally slides off the edge of our horizon. For those of us not located anywhere near the eclipse path, Exploratorium will be live streaming it on March 8th, starting at 8 PM. 

In case your wondering "what the heck is a total solar eclipse?", it is the phenomenon that occurs when the moon comes directly between the sun and the Earth, temporarily blocking the sun in our sky as the moon's shadow (or umbra) is cast on Earth's surface. NASA's Sarah Jaeggli describes what it's like to witness a total solar eclipse: 

“You notice something off about the sunlight as you reach totality. Your surroundings take on a twilight cast, even though it’s daytime and the sky is still blue. The moon blocks the light of the sun’s surface very, very precisely. You can see all the way down to the roots of the corona, where the atmosphere meets the sun’s surface.” 

*If you are planning to watch the eclipse live and in person, make sure to wear protective eyewear and never stare directly at the sun!* 

March 23rd: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse 

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth's orbit brings us directly between the sun and the moon. This month, on Wednesday the 23rd, we will have a penumbral lunar eclipse, which is the subtlest type of lunar eclipse. 

Beginning at around 5:40 AM EST (2:40 AM PST), the penumbral eclipse will be visible in North America, most of South America, much of Asia, Australia, as well as in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. As this is the slightest category of lunar eclipse, it will not be a very dramatic viewing. The Earth’s shadow will obscure the moon’s disc, giving the moon a slightly darker appearance. 

Please feel free to share you eclipse experiences with us in the comment section below. We'd love to hear from you!

Author: Nate Morgan

Nasa Recorded The Sounds of Planets, and the Results Were Breathtaking 

Just because space is a vast vacuum does not mean there's no sound out there. In fact, Nasa developed instruments designed specifically to record the sounds that exist in space as electromagnetic vibrations.

This haunting, ambient orchestra is comprised of electromagnetic vibrations from different stars, planets, their moons, and their rings. And it makes sense that there would be "celestial music" out there- there's so much going on! Radio waves bounce between the surface and atmosphere of each planet, planetary rings release charged particle emissions, not to mention particle interactions of planets, moons and solar wind. All of this creates sound.

Thankfully we can hear some of these sounds for ourselves! Check out the video below:

Author: Nate Morgan

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