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An astronomer has discovered a river of hydrogen flowing through space. The faint gas filament is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.
“We knew that the fuel for star formation had to come from somewhere. So far, however, we’ve detected only about 10 percent of what would be necessary to explain what we observe in many galaxies,” said D.J. Pisano, a West Virginia University astronomer who used the 328-foot-diameter Green Bank radio telescope to make the discovery. “A leading theory is that rivers of hydrogen – known as cold flows – may be ferrying hydrogen through intergalactic space, clandestinely fueling star formation. But this tenuous hydrogen has been simply too diffuse to detect, until now.”
Read more about the image below.[[MORE]]
The composite image above contains three distinct features: the bright star-filled central region of galaxy NGC 6946 in optical light (blue), the dense hydrogen tracing out the galaxy’s sweeping spiral arms and galactic halo (orange), and the extremely diffuse and extended field of hydrogen engulfing NGC 6946 and its companions (red). New Green Bank data shows the faintly glowing hydrogen bridging the gulf between the larger galaxy and smaller ones nearby. This faint structure is what astronomers expect to appear as hydrogen flows from the intergalactic medium into galaxies or from a past encounter between galaxies.
Image courtesy D.J. Pisano (WVU); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); Palomar Observatory – Space Telescope Science Institute 2nd Digital Sky Survey (Caltech); Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope.

An astronomer has discovered a river of hydrogen flowing through space. The faint gas filament is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.

“We knew that the fuel for star formation had to come from somewhere. So far, however, we’ve detected only about 10 percent of what would be necessary to explain what we observe in many galaxies,” said D.J. Pisano, a West Virginia University astronomer who used the 328-foot-diameter Green Bank radio telescope to make the discovery. “A leading theory is that rivers of hydrogen – known as cold flows – may be ferrying hydrogen through intergalactic space, clandestinely fueling star formation. But this tenuous hydrogen has been simply too diffuse to detect, until now.”

Read more about the image below.

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A 3-D View of Our Cosmic Neighborhood

by Txchnologist Staff

If you’re into thinking about the scale of the universe and other cosmographic questions that overwhelm the senses, this video might just blow your mind. 

The international team of scientists who put it together created a 3-D map of the galaxies within 300 million light-years of the Milky Way. They show scale and movement within this astronomical sphere by panning, zooming and rotating around, making it easy to forget that Earth is a tiny speck buried in the vastness of this representation of the cosmos. 

"The large-scale structure of the universe is a complex web of clusters, filaments, and voids," said the University of Hawaii announcement released with the video. "Large voids—relatively empty spaces—are bounded by filaments that form superclusters of galaxies, the largest structures in the universe. Our Milky Way galaxy lies in a supercluster of 100,000 galaxies."

Top Image: Map showing all galaxies in the local universe color-coded by their distance to us: blue galaxies are the closest, and red are farther, up to 300 million light-years away. Courtesy University of Hawaii.

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2012’s Best Science Photos (IMHO)

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by Ysabel Yates

Our cups ran over with the many beautiful and amazing images scientists and satellites captured this year when they looked around and out from Earth. From things microscopic to those light years across, and from morning coffee to the deep recesses scattered around the universe, we bring you some of our favorite science pictures created in 2012.

These are in no particular order and by no means inclusive of all the best.

1. The first, above, comes from Hinode - a joint JAXA/NASA mission to study the connections of the sun’s surface magnetism. The project brings us this unique image of the transit of Venus between the Earth and sun, the once-in-a-lifetime event that occurred on June 5. Courtesy: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin.

Click through to see the rest.

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Go Spot Some Stars!

by Txchnologist Staff

University of Utah astronomers are asking for the public’s help to classify star clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy.

At the Andromeda Project, anyone can look through the thousands of Hubble Space Telescope images of the system, the nearest spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way. The object is to hunt for some 2,500 stellar clusters, collections of hundreds to millions of stars that were born at the same time from the same cloud of gas. By identifying these groups, scientists hope to better understand how they form and evolve.

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