Time sequence of the disk evolution around the first star. The disk gives rise to spiral density waves, compressing the gas, and thus triggering further fragmentation into additional protostars. Already 110 years after the first protostar formed, three neighboring stars have emerged. The assembly process of the first stars will continue for another 100,000 years or so, at which point a massive double-star will likely have formed, possibly accompanied by a small group of somewhat lower-mass stars.
Birth of a primordial star, as seen through a supercomputer simulation. A spiral pattern forms inside the disk surrounding the star, leading to enhancements in density. One of these density perturbations is large enough to trigger the formation of a secondary protostar. Distances are measured in Astronomical Units (AU), which is the distance between Earth and our Sun. Credit: Clark, Glover, Smith, Greif, Klessen, Bromm (Univ.of Heidelberg, UT Austin); Texas Advanced Computing Center
Artist's concept of what a future telescope might see in looking at the black hole at the heart of the galaxy M87. Clumpy gas swirls around the black hole in an accretion disk, feeding the central beast. The black area at center is the black hole itself, defined by the event horizon, beyond which nothing can escape. The bright blue jet shooting from the region of the black hole is created by gas that never made it into the hole itself but was instead funneled into a very energetic jet. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA illustration by Lynette Cook
This artist's concept shows two newly discovered planets orbiting the binary star NN Serpentis. Credit: Stuart Littlefair/Univ. of Sheffield
This photo of Comet Hartley 2 (green, right center) was taken by Joe Wheelock near McDonald Observatory on October 8. On this date, the comet appeared to the right of two star clusters called the "Double Cluster" in the constellation Perseus. The red nebulae to the far left are collectively called the Heart and Soul Nebula. The photo was taken using a camera with a 105-mm telephoto lens piggybacked onto a 16-inch Newtonian telescope. Credit: Joe Wheelock/McDonald Observatory
The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) is seen at left in an image taken with the one-meter MONET North telescope at McDonald Observatory. At right: The MItchell Spectrograph (formerly known as VIRUS-P) measured the intensity of the hydrogen-alpha emission at 246 points across the central region of the galaxy. The H-alpha emission traces the light from very young stars, and thus is a good indicator of the rate of star formation at each of these locations. Red dots indicate higher levels of star formation; the blue and black dots indicate lower levels of star formation. Credit: G. Blanc/K. Fricke/T.
This image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) was taken with the MONET North telescope at McDonald Observatory as part of the observatory's educational outreach program. Credit: K. Fricke/MONET/McDonald Obs. (funded by Astronomie & Internet, a Program of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, Essen)
The Mitchell Spectrograph (formerly known as VIRUS-P) on McDonald Observatory's 2.7-meter Harlan J. Smith Telescope measured the intensity of hydrogen-alpha emission at 246 points across the central region of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). The H-alpha emission traces the light from very young stars, and thus is a good indicator of the rate of star formation at each of these locations. Red dots indicate higher levels of star formation; the blue and black dots indicate lower levels of star formation. Credit: G. Blanc/McDonald Obs.
The illustration shows the relationship between the mass of a galaxy's central black hole and the mass of its central bulge. The new higher mass Gebhardt and Thomas computer modeled for M87's black hole, 6.4 billion solar masses, could change this relationship. They used a more complete computer model than previous work. This may mean that the black holes in all nearby massive galaxies are more massive than we think, signaling a change in our understanding of the relationship between a black hole and its surrounding galaxy. Credit: Tim Jones/UT-Austin after K. Cordes & S.
This image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4472 is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Credit: WikiSky/SDSS