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Messier 3.

There was quite a bit of high, hazy cloud present this evening - I was surprised at how well this turned out.

Wikipedia: Messier 3 (M3 or NGC 5272) is a globular cluster of stars in the northern constellation of Canes Venatici. It was discovered by Charles Messier on May 3, 1764, and resolved into stars by William Herschel around 1784.

Technical card
Imaging telescope: Skywatcher Explorer 200p
Imaging camera: Canon 1100D
Mount: HEQ5
Guiding telescope: SkyWatcher 50mm/162mm Finderscope
Guiding camera: QHYCCD qhy-5 II
Software: APT - Astro Photography Tool, DeepSkyStacker, Adobe PhotoshopCS5
Filters: Astronomik CLS Canon EOS Clip
Date: 2017-03-27
Frames: 6 x 180" ISO 1600
Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 5.00
Centre (RA, hms): 13h 42m 09.629s
Centre (Dec, dms): +28° 22' 38.301"
Size: 36.1 x 28.9 arcmin
Radius: 0.385 deg
Pixel scale: 1.06 arcsec/pixel

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Galactica stellaris: Astronomers Build a Family Tree for the Milky Way’s Stars

Methods borrowed from biology are revealing previously hidden details about our galaxy’s history of star formation

By Mara Johnson-Groh

Classification is never easy. Whether it’s monkey species, astronomical objects or elementary particles, there are seemingly endless ways to organize and group things. For centuries biologists have used “family tree” diagrams as their approach of choice for tracing living organisms’ lineages. And now astronomers are borrowing from biology to classify stars this way, too.

DNA can reveal how organisms are related, and the chemical makeup of a star can similarly be used to determine its ancestry. Stars are thermonuclear forges, fusing light elements such as hydrogen and helium into heavier ones including carbon and oxygen. When stars die they eject this material into space, where it can in turn form new suns. Each subsequent generation of stars will thus become more enriched with heavy elements—and thus their chemical composition offers information about their stellar genealogy. By surveying the chemistry of several stars in our galactic neighborhood, a team of astronomers has now grouped them into a distinct family tree, and uncovered clues about their origins. The results were published in February in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Juno made its closest approach at 08:52 GMT, skimming 4 400 kilometers above Jupiter's cloud tops while traveling about 208 000 km/h relative to the planet, NASA officials said.

All eight of the spacecraft's science instruments were up and running during the flyby, collecting data about Jupiter's atmosphere, gravity and electromagnetic fields. Meanwhile, the spacecraft's JunoCam took close-up color photos of the mysterious and massive planet. 

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The Carina Nebula imaged by the VLT Survey Telescope

View larger image:

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Black Hole accreting with jet 

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Stars Born in Winds from Supermassive Black Holes

ESO’s VLT spots brand-new type of star formation

A UK-led group of European astronomers used the MUSE and X-shooter instruments on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile to study an ongoing collision between two galaxies, known collectively as IRAS F23128-5919, that lie around 600 million light-years from Earth.
The group observed the colossal winds of material — or outflows — that originate near the supermassive black hole at the heart of the pair’s southern galaxy, and have found the first clear evidence that stars are being born within them.

Such galactic outflows are driven by the huge energy output from the active and turbulent centres of galaxies. Supermassive black holes lurk in the cores of most galaxies, and when they gobble up matter they also heat the surrounding gas and expel it from the host galaxy in powerful, dense winds.

“Astronomers have thought for a while that conditions within these outflows could be right for star formation, but no one has seen it actually happening as it’s a very difficult observation,” comments team leader Roberto Maiolino from the University of Cambridge. “Our results are exciting because they show unambiguously that stars are being created inside these outflows.”

The group set out to study stars in the outflow directly, as well as the gas that surrounds them. By using two of the world-leading VLT spectroscopic instruments, MUSE and X-shooter, they could carry out a very detailed study of the properties of the emitted light to determine its source.

Radiation from young stars is known to cause nearby gas clouds to glow in a particular way. The extreme sensitivity of X-shooter allowed the team to rule out other possible causes of this illumination, including gas shocks or the active nucleus of the galaxy.

The group then made an unmistakable direct detection of an infant stellar population in the outflow. These stars are thought to be less than a few tens of millions of years old, and preliminary analysis suggests that they are hotter and brighter than stars formed in less extreme environments such as the galactic disc.

As further evidence, the astronomers also determined the motion and velocity of these stars. The light from most of the region’s stars indicates that they are travelling at very large velocities away from the galaxy centre — as would make sense for objects caught in a stream of fast-moving material.

Co-author Helen Russell (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK) expands: “The stars that form in the wind close to the galaxy centre might slow down and even start heading back inwards, but the stars that form further out in the flow experience less deceleration and can even fly off out of the galaxy altogether.”

The discovery provides new and exciting information that could better our understanding of some astrophysics, including how certain galaxies obtain their shapes; how intergalactic space becomes enriched with heavy elements; and even from where unexplained cosmic infrared background radiation may arise.

Maiolino is excited for the future: “If star formation is really occurring in most galactic outflows, as some theories predict, then this would provide a completely new scenario for our understanding of galaxy evolution.”

► Learn more>>

► This research was presented in a paper entitled “Star formation inside a galactic outflow” by Maiolino et al., to appear in the journal Nature on 27 March 2017.>>

Go to the ESO's PDF version, here>>

Image explanation: Artist’s impression of a galaxy forming stars within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at its core. Results from ESO’s Very Large Telescope are the first confirmed observations of stars forming in this kind of extreme environment. The discovery has many consequences for understanding galaxy properties and evolution.
Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Further reading

► Active galactic nucleus>>

► Supermassive black hole>>

► Astronomical spectroscopy>>

► Metallicity>>

► Cosmic infrared background>>

#Astrophysics, #SuperMassiveBlackHoles, #StarsFormation, #GalacticOutflow, #Research, #ESO, #VLT


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Wow. By +Philip Plait. "On July 14, 2015, just after noon UTC, the small space probe New Horizons shot past Pluto at 50,000 kilometers per hour. It took images and data as it barnstormed the tiny world just 12,500 km above the surface, and then, as it passed what for many is the final outpost of the planets, the spacecraft spun around to look back on its target, lit from behind by the Sun.

And what it saw was awe.
What you are seeing is the night side of Pluto, backlit by the Sun. Pluto is over 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth is, so all the time it was traveling from Earth to Pluto, New Horizons was seeing Pluto’s lit side, the day side. Once it passed Pluto and spun around, it was seeing the night side, unlit, the Sun nearly five billion kilometers distant.
The detail in the image is stunning; look at the highest resolution version and scroll around. Around the top of the curve of Pluto you can see faint dark streaks pointing down. Those are shadows of surface features like hills and mountains! For them, the Sun is near the horizon, so the shadows are long. If you were standing there you’d see them stretching across the sky, converging toward the horizon opposite the Sun, a magnificent display.
While people may argue over whether Pluto is a planet or not, I shrug that off; a distraction from its true nature: That of a world, a place, a thing that we can see and visit and examine and try to understand. And in this image, this bittersweet farewell photo of Pluto taken after New Horizons had performed its mission, this is strikingly, and literally, brought home."

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Dark Spot and Jovian ‘Galaxy’ - This enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter seems to reveal a Jovian “galaxy” of swirling storms.
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