Distant black hole is spinning at half the speed of light

Multiple images of a distant quasar are visible in this combined view from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The Chandra data were used to directly measure the spin of the supermassive black hole powering this quasar. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/R.C.Reis et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Multiple images of a distant quasar are visible in this combined view from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The Chandra data were used to directly measure the spin of the supermassive black hole powering this quasar. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/R.C.Reis et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Main Point:

Astronomers at the University of Michigan have, for the first time, directly measured the spin of a distant supermassive black hole.

Continue reading

First ever real observation of supernova dust formation

Composite image of supernova 1987A. ALMA data (in red) shows newly formed dust in the center of the remnant. HST (in green) and Chandra (in blue) show the expanding shockwave. (Credit: Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA Hubble; NASA Chandra)

Composite image of supernova 1987A. ALMA data (in red) shows newly formed dust in the center of the remnant. HST (in green) and Chandra (in blue) show the expanding shockwave.
(Credit: Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA Hubble; NASA Chandra)

Main Point:

Scientists, for the first time, have captured the remains of supernova 1987A overflowing with freshly formed dust, with the help of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope. Continue reading

Cloudy planets found with Hubble telescope of NASA

Artist's rendition of a cloudy exoplanet. Image Credit: Courtesy Space Telescope Science Instutute)

Artist’s rendition of a cloudy exoplanet. (Image Credit: Courtesy Space Telescope Science Instutute)

Main Points:

Astronomers have found “cloudy Super-Worlds” with the help of NASA’s Hubble. They are of opinion that there could be more clouds around there.

Published in:

Nature

Study Further:

Astronomers studied these planets, namely GJ 436b and GJ 1214b, in our Milky Way with the help of NASA’s Hubble space telescope. They found layers of clouds on these planets inhibiting further research about the atmospheres of the planets.

GJ 436b is present about 36 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo. It is categorized as a “warm Neptune” due to its closeness to its star and its size comparable to that planet.

“Either this planet has a high cloud layer obscuring the view, or it has a cloud-free atmosphere that is deficient in hydrogen, which would make it very unlike Neptune,” said Heather Knutson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. “Instead of hydrogen, it could have relatively large amounts of heavier molecules such as water vapor, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, which would compress the atmosphere and make it hard for us to detect any chemical signatures.”

GJ 1214b is present about 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus and is categorized as “super-Earth” because of its size. Scientists have found that this planet’s atmosphere has been dominated by water vapor or hydrogen, with high-altitude clouds.

Astronomers think this discovery is important in characterizing Earth-like worlds that are habitable outside of our solar system.

“Both planets are telling us something about the diversity of planet types that occur outside of our own solar system; in this case we are discovering we may not know them as well as we thought,” said Knutson. “We’d really like to determine the size at which these planets transition from looking like mini-gas giants to something more like a water world or a rocky, scaled-up version of the Earth. Both of these observations are fundamentally trying to answer that question.”

Source:

NASA’s Hubble Sees Cloudy Super-Worlds With Chance for More Clouds – NASA (http://goo.gl/xy2AYS)

Heather A. Knutson et al. (2014). A featureless transmission spectrum for the Neptune-mass exoplanet GJ 436b Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature12887

Laura Kreidberg et al. (2014). Clouds in the atmosphere of the super-Earth exoplanet GJ 1214b Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature12888