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Herschel Space Observatory

  1. Space

    Herschel Space Observatory Discovers Two Galaxies Colliding With Each Other

    "Merger" is usually such a dull word. Companies merge. Lanes of traffic merge. But it's not all bland and boring, because large galaxies can also merge with one another to form what is scientifically referred to as a "super-giant elliptical galaxy," according to NASA -- and apparently it's happening right now. Or it did 11 billion years ago, at least. Light-years are weird, guys.

    Read on...
  2. Space

    Too Beautiful for This Universe: Herschel Space Telescope Shuts Down for Good

    It's with great sadness today that we bring you news of the passing of the Herschel Space Observatory. After more than three years of dutiful service to astronomers and appreciators of the beauty of space, the telescope's supply of liquid helium coolant has run dry, and it is officially out of commission.

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  3. Space

    Nice Knowing You: Our Favorite Images From the Herschel Space Observatory

    The Herschel Space Observatory's mission to photograph the stars is winding down, so we wanted to take the chance to remember some of the finest images Herschel captured during its three-year tour of duty. Now, yes, some of these images are color corrected and touched up to highlight the more spectacular points contained within them -- like the star forming inside a galactic bubble eight times more massive than our sun. In our view, that doesn't make them any less valuable to astronomers studying them, which is the whole point. It also makes them way better eye-candy for the rest of us to gape at, so we're just going to be thankful for it, rather than nitpicky.

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  4. Space

    We Hardly Knew Ye: ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope Powering Down for Good

    Since it's launch in 2009, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope has treated us to some truly amazing images of space. All good things must come to an end, though, and the ESA's shiniest toy is just about out of time. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, the liquid helium tanks that provide coolant for the telescope's impressive instrumentation will run dry, marking the close of a good run for one of the most powerful instruments ever used to capture images of space.

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  5. Space

    Twinsies! Alpha Centauri A Has A Cool Outer Layer, Just Like Our Sun

    The Sun, it will surprise no one, is very, very hot. What is surprising -- and consistently baffling to researchers -- is that there are certain parts of the sun that are actually rather chilly. You know, in comparison to the rest of the Sun, which, as we've covered, is just exceedingly warm. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel observatory may have made a stride or two towards understanding the strange phenomenon, though, as it has recorded the first evidence of a similar cool outer layer in a star that isn't the Sun. The same cool layer has been observed for the first time in Alpha Centauri A, a relatively nearby star noted for its similarities to our own Sun.

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  6. Space

    Two Great New Looks at the Andromeda Galaxy From the Herschel Space Observatory

    We can't think of a single better way to start your day than with the Herschel Space Observatory's two latest incredible photographs of our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. The new images use Herschel's ultra-sensitive instruments to get a better look at the gas and dust that make up so much of Andromeda, resulting in photos that suffuse the galaxy with an otherworldly glow. Which is actually pretty appropriate, when you think about it. Keep reading for more images and details on how Herschel captured them.

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  7. Space

    Nice Knowing You: Dangerous Asteroid Apophis is Bigger, More Dangerous Than We Thought

    The asteroid Apophis, clearly named for the Stargate SG-1 villain, has been called a "doomsday asteroid," because in 2004 there was a study that said there was a 2.7% chance of Apophis hitting Earth when it flies past us in 2029. That study has since been disproved, but astronomers are keeping a close eye on Apophis anyhow, which is due for another pass in 2036. One telescope in Europe has captured new images of Apophis that reveal it's even larger than initially believed. That can't be good.

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  8. Space

    Researchers Find Elusive Oxygen Molecules In Space

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that the Herschel Space Observatory has found the first significant evidence of molecular oxygen in the Orion Nebula. The amount of oxygen found is ten times larger than was expected based on previous observations of other molecular clouds, however is still well below theoretical expectations. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the Universe (after hydrogen and helium) and is a critical part of the chemistry of molecular clouds. It is also fundamental to life on Earth, which makes finding it in space the subject of intense research. The Herschel results suggest that under the right circumstances, heat from newly created stars can free oxygen frozen on grains of dust. This would increase the amount of molecular oxygen that is able to form in warm, dense gas clouds like the Orion Nebula.

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  9. Space

    Herschel Telescope Measures Water Molecule Blast From Baby Star

    A low-mass protostar in the early stages of its development that shoots large gas jets of hydrogen and oxygen (the components of water) out of its poles in pulsating surges has been discovered. Located approximately 750 light years from earth, the baby star shoots these jets at speeds equivalent to 80x the muzzle velocity of an Ak-47 assault rifle.

    Each blast creates shockwaves around the star and may even sprinkle the hydrogen and oxygen compounds across its universe. The protostar that was recently discovered is located in the Perseus constellation in an object labelled L1448-MM. It can be seen from earth to the right of the Pleiades, also know as the Seven Sisters star cluster, which is located in the constellation Taurus.

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