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Unstrange Phenomena

03 May 2009

Astronomy: Enjoy the Outer Space Circus

From Cosmic Log on MSNBC.com:

"The month of May is bringing in so many outer-space wonders, it's as if a three-ring circus were rolling into town with four or five rings. Today is Space Day, which morphs into Astronomy Day and the Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday, followed by the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower next week ... all leading up to one of the greatest shows off Earth, the final upgrade to the Hubble Space Telescope.

And if that still isn't enough rings for you, there's a sparkling new image of a ring galaxy from Hubble's younger sibling, the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Rivers of stars

The fresh infrared view of the spiral galaxy NGC 2841, which is 46 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, figures in recently published research that looks at why stars become so smoothly distributed in such galaxies. After all, stars are created in bursts of clusters, and thus start out their lives in lumps.

"Our analysis now answers the great puzzle," David Block, an astronomer at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, said in a news release issued Thursday by Spitzer's science team. "By finding a myriad of streams of young stars all over the disks of galaxies we studied, we see that the mechanism for pulling the clusters of young stars apart is shearing motions of the parent galaxy. These streams are the 'missing link' we needed to understand how the disks of galaxies evolve to look the way they do."

For much more and an interesting read, just click on the title link. (Didn't have time to re-write this into a smaller read as I have jury duty this week and working hard to load posts for all 9 blogs! Thanks for your patience.)

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