Heavens

Long ago and far across the universe, an enormous burst of gamma rays unleashed more energy in a half-second than the Sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime. In May of 2020, light from the flash finally reached Earth and was first detected by NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. Scientists quickly enlisted other telescopes -- including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Array radio observatory, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network -- to study the explosion's aftermath and the host galaxy.

Galaxies like the Milky Way formed by the merging of smaller progenitor galaxies. An international team of astrophysicists led by Dr Diederik Kruijssen from the Centre for Astronomy at Heidelberg University has succeeded in reconstructing the merger history of our home galaxy, creating a complete family tree. To achieve this, the researchers analysed the properties of globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way with artificial intelligence. Their investigations revealed a previously unknown galaxy collision that must have permanently altered the appearance of the Milky Way.

The spiral-shaped disc of stars and planets is being pulled, twisted and deformed with extreme violence by the gravitational force of a smaller galaxy - the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

Scientists believe the LMC crossed the Milky Way's boundary around 700 million years ago - recent by cosmological standards - and due to its large dark matter content it strongly upset our galaxy's fabric and motion as it fell in.

The effects are still being witnessed today and should force a revision of how our galaxy evolved, astronomers say.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Naval Research Laboratory researchers led a team of scientists who discovered some of the youngest known radio jets launched by growing supermassive black holes in the centers of distant galaxies.

Watching and recording the jets, which are believed to be only decades old, in their infancy allows researchers to observe their formation and growth and study how they influence their environments.

In 2004, scientists with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer spotted an object unlike any they'd seen in our Milky Way Galaxy: a large, faint blob of gas that seemed to have a star at its center. In the ultraviolet wavelengths used by the satellite, the blob appeared blue -- though it doesn't actually emit light visible to the human eye -- and careful observations identified two thick rings within it, so the team nicknamed it the Blue Ring Nebula.

Maunakea, Hawaii - In 2004, scientists with NASA's space-based Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spotted an object unlike any they'd seen before in our Milky Way galaxy: a large, faint blob of gas with a star at its center. Though it doesn't actually emit light visible to the human eye, GALEX captured the blob in ultraviolet (UV) light and thus appeared blue in the images; subsequent observations also revealed a thick ring structure within it. So the team nicknamed it the Blue Ring Nebula. Over the next 16 years, they studied it with multiple Earth- and space-based telescopes, including W.

The publication is the result of many months of observations of radiation coming from the plane of the Milky Way, namely from the spiral arms of our galaxy, where a lot of matter, dust and gas accumulate. It is under such conditions that massive stars are born.

Complex process

In their paper published in Frontiers of Physics, Franco Vazza (astrophysicist at the University of Bologna) and Alberto Feletti (neurosurgeon at the University of Verona) investigated the similarities between two of the most challenging and complex systems in nature: the cosmic network of galaxies and the network of neuronal cells in the human brain.

Theories on how the Milky Way formed are set to be rewritten following discoveries about the behaviour of some of its oldest stars.

An investigation into the orbits of the Galaxy's metal-poor stars - assumed to be among the most ancient in existence - has found that some of them travel in previously unpredicted patterns.

How hot is the Universe today? How hot was it before? A new study by an international team of researchers, including members of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), suggests that the mean temperature of gas in large structures of the Universe has increased about 3 times in the last 8 billion years, to reach about two million Kelvin today.

In 2018, a new aurora-like discovery struck the world. From 2015 to 2016, citizen scientists reported 30 instances of a purple ribbon in the sky, with a green picket fence structure underneath. Now named STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, this phenomenon is still new to scientists, who are working to understand all its details. What they do know is that STEVE is not a normal aurora - some think maybe it's not an aurora at all - and a new finding about the formation of streaks within the structure brings scientists one step closer to solving the mystery.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Long ago and far across the universe, an enormous burst of gamma rays unleashed more energy in a half-second than the sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.

After examining the incredibly bright burst with optical, X-ray, near-infrared and radio wavelengths, a Northwestern University-led astrophysics team believes it potentially spotted the birth of a magnetar.

Mars once had oceans but is now bone-dry, leaving many to wonder how the water was lost. University of Arizona researchers have discovered a surprisingly large amount of water in the upper atmosphere of Mars, where it is rapidly destroyed, explaining part of this Martian mystery.

Maunakea, Hawaii - Astronomers have discovered the brightest infrared light from a short gamma-ray burst ever seen, with a bizarre glow that is more luminous than previously thought was possible.

Its half-second flash of light, detected in May of this year, came from a violent explosion of gamma rays billons of light-years away that unleashed more energy in a blink of an eye than the Sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.

Who says you can't get hotter with age?

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and other institutions have found that, on average, the temperature of galaxy clusters today is 4 million degrees Fahrenheit. That is 10 times hotter than 10 billion years ago, and four times hotter than the Sun's outermost atmosphere called the corona. The findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal.