Cosmos fileld with voracious vampire stars

We know there’s some weird and rare stellar denizens in the cosmic jungle, galaxies hollowe dinto rungs like giant Ferris Wheels, dark matter pockets, pocean planets and diamond worlds. But it turns out one species of misfit may be way more common than thought. Cannibal stars, sometimes referred to as vampires, that suck the life blood out of their neighbors for a flush of youthful glory and may shape the evolution of future stars and planets: [Read more…]

Nomad planets could be traveling at near warp speeds

Artist's conception of a Jupiter-size rogue planet with the edge on disk of a spiral galaxy in the background. Image via the Wiki

Call it planet Crank. A study slated to be published in the Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society finds that not only are nomad planets possible, under ideal conditions some of them could be ejected from the heart of large galaxies at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light: [Read more…]

Midnight treat: WISE releases a cosmic atlas in false color infrared

The NASA WISE telescope spent a year imaging sections of the sky in infrared and astronomers have been working for the last few months to knit it together in a 360 degree map, all doped up with false color. It is spectacular. The limitations of this website can’t do it justice: that bad boy above is scalable like you wouldn’t believe. (Speaking of which, don’t click on the last image or two if your PC bitches about large pics, one of them is width 54000, which auto scales to 5400 on some devices and still causes fits).  Let’s take a little piece of it on the far left and zoom in, so you can see what this means. [Read more…]

The beautiful and incredibly violent Eta Carina

Eta Carinae, 7th sun in its constellation, is not your ordinary star, or even a familiar crusty old red-giant. At the heart of the gorgeous double lobed cloud are at least two massive stars, and one of them is one the most unusual kinds of stellar objects in the universe: an unstable, misshapen blue-white colossus that could burst open and shower this section of the galaxy with deadly gamma rays any day. It almost happened once before, in 1843, when the object suddenly became the second brightest star in the sky for a few weeks. What';s neat is astronomers have now found a way to study that original light, once thought long gone at the speed of 300,000 KM/sec: [Read more…]

NASA Mars program facing steep budget cuts

CRIRES model-based computer-generated impression of the Plutonian surface, with atmospheric haze, and Charon and the Sun in the sky.

The official budget won’t be released until Monday, but word is NASA’s unmanned program will see big cuts and Mars missions will take the brunt of them. Sadly, when it comes to our budget priorities as of late, we are one screwed-up country: [Read more…]

All eyes on CERN

The mystery may get a little less mysterious in this afternoon:

(BBC) — Prof Stefan Soldner-Rembold, from the University of Manchester, called the quality of the LHC’s results “exceptional”, adding: “Within one year we will probably know whether the Higgs particle exists, but it is likely not going to be a Christmas present.”
He told me: “The Higgs particle would, of course, be a great discovery, but it would be an even greater discovery if it didn’t exist where theory predicts it to be.”
The Higgs boson is a “fundamental” particle; one of the basic building blocks of the Universe. It is also the last missing piece in the leading theory of particle physics – known as the Standard Model – which describes how particles and forces interact.