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Core Sample Of Universe Illuminates Cosmic Web Almost 11 Billion Light Years Away

by Michael Keller

Astrophysicists have developed a new sensing technique to map a section of the universe 10.8 billion light years from Earth, the first time such detail has been seen over this immense distance. Peering through that much space has opened a portal to get a clearer view of what our adolescent universe looked like 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

Using extremely faint light from 24 densely packed galaxies almost 11 billion light years away from our planet, the team was able to discern lower and higher densities of hydrogen gas in between the distant celestial bodies and us. Their work has illuminated the physical structure of the cosmic web, the tangled network upon which all matter is arranged, in one large region of the sky. 

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A Better Understanding Of The Universe Will Soon Float Away

Astronomers are making the final preparations to launch a balloon carrying an advanced X-ray detector into the skies above New Mexico in October.

Once floating around an altitude of 120,000 feet at the edge of the atmosphere, the Washington University in St. Louis X-Calibur instrument is expected to measure the polarization of X-ray radiation coming from five distant targets: a galaxy called Markarian 421, a neutron star called the Crab Pulsar, a binary star system called Hercules X-1, and two black holes.

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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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