Ancient Star Factory Breaks Records

Written by The Night Sky Guy on April 21, 2013 – 8:22 am -

A newfound primordial galaxy nearly 13 billion light-years away is breaking distance records and may unlock the secrets of how and when some of the most massive star factories were born in the early universe, according to a new study.

Using the infrared mapping capabilities of the European Space Agency’s Herschel space telescope, a team of astronomers have spied the faraway light of a starburst galaxy—one that exhibits a high rate of star formation—from when the 14-billion-year-old universe was just 880 million years old.

Why is this cosmic discovery exciting the scientific community and how will it change our understanding of what the Universe was like when it was young? Read all the details at National Geographic News.

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Super-Heavyweight Black Hole Found

Written by The Night Sky Guy on December 2, 2012 – 6:20 pm -

A monstrous black hole—17 billion times the mass of the Sun and possibly the largest ever detected—appears to be too big for its galactic home, leaving astronomers scratching their heads about its very existence.

The cosmic behemoth, at the heart of a distant galaxy, is estimated to be 4,000 times larger than the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Read more about this giant predator and why it may change our understanding of galaxies at my National Geographic story.

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Biggest Map of Universe Helps Confirm Dark Energy

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 9, 2012 – 11:15 pm -

Similar to how medieval maps of Earth ranged from speculations of the unknown to concrete scientific observations, cosmologists today are slowly refining our understanding of the structure and evolution of the Universe as a whole. Now a team of astronomers has announced that they have created a 12 billion light year-deep survey map that reveals the most precise makeup of the Universe to date.  Known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III, the epic new map  targets nearly a million galaxies, which not only provides the most comprehensive view of the night sky ever made but sheds light on mysterious dark energy and history of the expansion of the universe.

Check out this amazing animation fly through of the galaxies plotted in the SDSS survey just released. Amazing to think that you can see nearly 400,000 galaxies in the animation.

Credit: Miguel A. Aragón (Johns Hopkins University), Mark SubbaRao (Adler Planetarium), Alex Szalay (Johns Hopkins University), Yushu Yao (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC), and the SDSS-III Collaboration

Read the rest of my story and find out what this new map is telling astronomers about Dark Energy and how it’s helping us understand the birth of the Universe at National Geographic News

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Hubble Spies Most Distant Galaxies Ever Seen

Written by The Night Sky Guy on February 1, 2011 – 6:59 pm -

In this NASA documentary take a look at some of the most distant galaxies Hubble has ever seen, and find out why, when we look at the most distant objects in the universe, we are also seeing the cosmos’ earliest objects.

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