Urania’s Mirror; or, a view of the Heavens is a set of 32 astronomical star chart cards, first published in November 1824. They had illustrations based on Alexander Jamieson’s A Celestial Atlas, but the addition of holes punched in them allowed them to be held up to a light to see a depiction of the constellation’s stars. They were engraved by Sidney Hall, and were said to be designed by “a lady”, but have since been identified as the work of the Reverend Richard Rouse Bloxam, an assistant master at Rugby School.
The cover of the box-set showed a depiction of Urania, the muse of astronomy, and came with a book entitled A Familiar Treatise on Astronomy… written as an accompaniment. Peter Hingley, the researcher who solved the mystery of who designed the cards a hundred and seventy years after their publication, considered them amongst the most attractive star chart cards of the many produced in the early 19th century.
Novel technique to find youngest planets in our galaxy.
TheAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has transformed our understanding of protoplanetary discs — the gas- and dust-filled planet factories that encircle young stars. The rings and gaps in these discs provide intriguing circumstantial evidence for the presence of protoplanets. Other phenomena, however, could also account for these tantalising features.
But now, using a novel planet-hunting technique that identifies unusual patterns in the flow of gas within a planet-forming disc around a young star, two teams of astronomers have each confirmed distinct, telltale hallmarks of newly formed planets orbiting an infant star.
Measuring the flow of gas within a protoplanetary disc gives us much more certainty that planets are present around a young star,” said Christophe Pinte of Monash University in Australia and Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (Université de Grenoble-Alpes/CNRS) in France, and lead author on one of the two papers. “This technique offers a promising new direction to understand how planetary systems form.”
“We looked at the localised, small-scale motion of gas in the star’s protoplanetary disc. This entirely new approach could uncover some of the youngest planets in our galaxy, all thanks to the high-resolution images from ALMA,” said Richard Teague, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and principal author on the other paper.
Rather than focusing on the dust within the disc, which was clearly imaged in earlier ALMA observations, the astronomers instead studied carbon monoxide (CO) gas spread throughout the disc. Molecules of CO emit a very distinctive millimetre-wavelength light that ALMA can observe in great detail. Subtle changes in the wavelength of this light due to the Doppler effect reveal the motions of the gas in the disc.
The team led by Teague identified two planets located approximately 12 billion and 21 billion kilometres from the star. The other team, led by Pinte, identified a planet at about 39 billion kilometres from the star.
The two teams used variations on the same technique, which looks for anomalies in the flow of gas — as evidenced by the shifting wavelengths of the CO emission — that indicate the gas is interacting with a massive object .
The technique used by Teague, which derived averaged variations in the flow of the gas as small as a few percent, revealed the impact of multiple planets on the gas motions nearer to the star. The technique used by Pinte, which more directly measured the flow of the gas, is better suited to studying the outer portion of the disc. It allowed the authors to more accurately locate the third planet, but is restricted to larger deviations of the flow, greater than about 10%.
In both cases, the researchers identified areas where the flow of the gas did not match its surroundings — a bit like eddies around a rock in a river. By carefully analysing this motion, they could clearly see the influence of planetary bodies similar in mass to Jupiter.
This new technique allows astronomers to more precisely estimate protoplanetary masses and is less likely to produce false positives. “We are now bringing ALMA front and centre into the realm of planet detection,” said coauthor Ted Bergin of the University of Michigan.
Both teams will continue refining this method and will apply it to other discs, where they hope to better understand how atmospheres are formed and which elements and molecules are delivered to a planet at its birth.
The highly distorted supernova remnant shown in this image may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue and green, radio data from the NSF’s Very Large Array in pink, and infrared data from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in yellow.
Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA
Wolf–Rayet stars, often abbreviated as WR stars, are a rare heterogeneous set of stars with unusual spectra showing prominent broad emission lines of highly ionised helium and nitrogen or carbon. The spectra indicate very high surface enhancement of heavy elements, depletion of hydrogen, and strong stellar winds. Their surface temperatures range from 30,000 K to around 200,000 K, hotter than almost all other stars.
Classic (or Population I) Wolf–Rayet stars are evolved, massive stars that have completely lost their outer hydrogen and are fusing helium or heavier elements in the core. A subset of the population I WR stars show hydrogen lines in their spectra and are known as WNh stars; they are young extremely massive stars still fusing hydrogen at the core, with helium and nitrogen exposed at the surface by strong mixing and radiation-driven mass loss. A separate group of stars with WR spectra are the central stars of planetary nebulae (CSPNe), post asymptotic giant branch stars that were similar to the Sun while on the main sequence, but have now ceased fusion and shed their atmospheres to reveal a bare carbon-oxygen core.
source | images: NASA/ Judy Schmidt, Michael Miller
A planetary nebula, abbreviated as PN or plural PNe, is a kind of emission nebula consisting of an expanding, glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from red giant stars late in their lives.The word “nebula” is Latin for mist or cloud, and the term “planetary nebula” is a misnomer that originated in the 1780s with astronomer William Herschel because, when viewed through his telescope, these objects resemble the rounded shapes of planets. Herschel’s name for these objects was popularly adopted and has not been changed. They are a relatively short-lived phenomenon, lasting a few tens of thousands of years, compared to a typical stellar lifetime of several billion years.
Most planetary nebulae form at the end of the star’s life, during the red giant phase, when the outer layers of the star are expelled by strong stellar winds. After most of the red giant’s atmosphere is dissipated, the ultraviolet radiation of the hot luminous core, called a planetary nebula nucleus (PNN), ionizes the ejected material. Absorbed ultraviolet light energises the shell of nebulous gas around the central star, causing it to appear as a brightly coloured planetary nebula.
Planetary nebulae likely play a crucial role in the chemical evolution of the Milky Way by expelling elements to the interstellar medium from stars where those elements were created. Planetary nebulae are observed in more distant galaxies, yielding useful information about their chemical abundances.
Stars greater than 8 solar masses (M⊙) will likely end their lives in dramatic supernovae explosions, while planetary nebulae seemingly only occur at the end of the lives of intermediate and low mass stars between 0.8 M⊙ to 8.0 M⊙.
The Crab Pulsar (PSR B0531+21) is a relatively young neutron star. The star is the central star in the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the supernova SN 1054, which was widely observed on Earth in the year 1054. Discovered in 1968, the pulsar was the first to be connected with a supernova remnant.
The Crab Pulsar is one of very few pulsars to be identified optically. The optical pulsar is roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and the pulsar “beams” rotate once every 33 milliseconds, or 30 times each second.
The outflowing relativistic wind from the neutron star generates synchrotron emission, which produces the bulk of the emission from the nebula, seen from radio wavesthrough to gamma rays. The most dynamic feature in the inner part of the nebula is the point where the pulsar’s equatorial wind slams into the surrounding nebula, forming a termination shock.
The shape and position of this feature shifts rapidly, with the equatorial wind appearing as a series of wisp-like features that steepen, brighten, then fade as they move away from the pulsar into the main body of the nebula. The period of the pulsar’s rotation is slowing by 38 nanoseconds per day due to the large amounts of energy carried away in the pulsar wind.
The Crab Nebula is often used as a calibration source in X-ray astronomy. It is very bright in X-rays and the flux density and spectrum are known to be constant, with the exception of the pulsar itself.