mrt 082013
A Rare Young-Looking Supernova in an Old Galaxy

  The star Eta Carinae is ready to blow. 170 years ago, this 100-solar-mass object belched out several suns’ worth of gas in an eruption that made it the second-brightest star after Sirius. That was just a precursor to the main event, since it will eventually go supernova. Eta Carinae, situated about 8000 light-years away [continue reading]

sep 222012
Peering Into Coronal Prominence Cavities

  The Sun’s atmosphere dances. Giant columns of solar material – made of gas so hot that many of the electrons have been scorched off the atoms, turning it into a form of magnetized matter we call plasma – leap off the Sun’s surface, jumping and twisting. Sometimes these prominences of solar material, shoot off, [continue reading]

jul 042012
Oh, Baby! A Rapidly Spinning Protostar Shows Off Her X-ray Spots

  X-ray observations have revealed something curious about the young star that illuminates McNeil’s Nebula, a glowing jewel of cosmic dust in the Orion constellation: The object is a protostar rotating once a day, or 30 times faster than the sun. The stellar baby also has distinct birthmarks—two X-ray-emitting spots, where gas flows from a [continue reading]

jul 032012
Clues to Solar Storms

  Doppler measurements that help track storms on Earth may also be useful for understanding storms on the sun. Left, image of hot (1.8-million degree Fahrenheit) active region loops. Right, flows of solar plasma (blue shifts). Credit: SDO/AIA (NASA and Hinode/EIS (JAXA, NASA, ESA and STFC) A Rice University astrophysicist is part of an international [continue reading]

jun 102012
The Complexity of Volcanic Heat on Io

  A new study finds that the pattern of heat coming from volcanoes on Io’s surface disposes of the generally-accepted model of internal heating. The heat pouring out of Io’s hundreds of erupting volcanoes indicates a complex, multi-layer source. These results come from data collected by NASA spacecraft and ground-based telescopes and appear in the [continue reading]