Astronomical

Christmas Burst

The merging of the helium and neutron star produces a broad torus, plus two jets aligned with the rotation axis of the system. The jets interact with the previously ejected torus causing the observed spectrum. (Credit: A. Simonnet, NASA, E/PO, Sonoma State University)

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Astronomical

Kepler-18

The top graphic shows the orbits of the three known planets orbiting Kepler-18 as compared to Mercury's orbit around the Sun. The bottom graphic shows the relative sizes of the Kepler-18 and its known planets to the Sun and Earth. Credit: Tim Jones/McDonald Obs./UT-Austin

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Astronomical

Binary White Dwarf

Two white dwarfs have been discovered on the brink of a merger. In just 900,000 years, material will start to stream from one star to the other, beginning the process that may end with a spectacular supernova explosion. Watching these stars fall in will allow astronomers to test Einstein's theory of general relativity as well as the origin of a special class of supernovae. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

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Astronomical

HBC 722

This composite image reveals the hidden power sources of this volatile star forming region. Blue represents starlight as seen by the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT), green is Herschel's view of the heated gas by ultraviolet radiation from protostars, and red is cooler gas seen by the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory. X marks the outburst, an area astronomers will keep an eye on. (Credit: J. Green, Univ. of Texas/ESA/UKIRT/CSO)

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Astronomical

Time sequence of the disk evolution around the first star

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.

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Astronomical

Birth of a primordial star

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

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Astronomical

M87 Black Hole Artist's Concept

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

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Astronomical

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