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The Spike in the Ball - Saturn's Rings Edge-On

Astro ImagingThe first time that I saw Saturn's rings go edge-on after I began my sojourn into astronomy in 1984, it was during the latest disappearance of the rings back in 1996. I actually missed the days when the rings seemed to disappear, but I did see it when it looked like a spike through a tennis ball. So odd seeing the rings like that.....what would Galileo have thought if he'd taken his first views of Saturn during one of these edge-on episodes and then watched as the rings re-developed over a three-to-five month period? Actually, Galileo DID see the edge-on event of 1612. Here are his own words from his notes. "I do not know what to say in a case so surprising, so unlooked for and so novel." So it says on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website image for August 1, 1995.
Don't miss your current opportunity to see Saturn's rings as they go "edge-on" this September 4. It is a view to behold! HST/NASA images
Two other comparison images from Hubble Space Telescope showing the 1996 edge-on event.
There is also a link on this page to learn more about the process of the rings going edge-on to our line-of-sight.

Well it's that time once again. Saturn now appears through virtually all telescopes as a tennis ball with a long spike through the center. Of course, the bigger the telescope and the more power you're able to apply to the view, the better you'll see it. Any 60mm telescope at about 40X to 50X will do. Just try to keep it as steady as you can if it has the conventional "cheapie" tripod and eyepieces. But in just a few more weeks, that magical time will occur when the rings seem to disappear for a week or so before once again tilting the other way from our line-of-sight, and slowly tilt farther and farther each week until it again resembles the iconic image of Saturn and its magnificent rings that we're all used to. If you've never seen Saturn like this, you owe yourself the opportunity to do so and then watch carefully every time you're out viewing to see how much more the rings have grown since your previous time seeing them. Its a sight you might not ever forget.

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The Five-Year Run of Coleman Observatory

Coleman ObservatoryThe day after Christmas, 2003, I had a wild urge to get outside and start trying to erect one of the buildings we wanted to use as a roll-off roof observatory at our new location for Coleman Observatory. I'd been meaning to get to this since July 4th when a sudden storm had come up in the late evening and rained hard for about an hour. My 12.5" telescope was outside through that rain and the wood on it suffered considerable damage from swelling.
Observing in the open. Wide open skies, but wide open to rainstorms, too. Summer, 2003. All images by Bob Moody unless otherwise noted.
We needed a building. That wasn't a particularly great day, kinda cloudy and cool, but I thought I had the strength and lack of back pain that I needed to get started.
The proverbial "Day One", December 26, 2003.
So, I dug two holes, poured concrete and set the first two posts for the railing that would carry the roof out of the way when I eventually reached the day for that roof sometime in 2004. The next week, I built one wall, at least the framework for one wall, and it was another week before I could physically build the second, about another week apart each for the other two walls, and the building of Coleman Observatory was underway. I'd work when I could, as much as I could stand, and slowly, painfully slowly, it came into shape and became my first roll-off roof building. That was five years ago last month. Now, I'm wondering how much its going to take to dismantle everything we'd done in the ensuing 4 years, and move Coleman Observatory to its third location in 24 years.


My actions caused Joe Roam to want to begin the other building and we started the framework for the large roll-off roof building before we even had the outer siding on the first building. I'd brought some building materials with me when I moved to the site in June '03, and that's what provided us with everything I'd used until this time. The only club funds use for the small bulding came from the purchase of the framing lumber for the roof and the sheeting for the roof and the neoprene roofing nails. Joe bought the lumber for the framework of the second building and we had that erected by March 1st. In the meantime, I'd decided to construct a fold-down south gable for the small building. A strip of piano hinge was just the thing to give me what I needed.
Nearly all the materials in the framework for the small building had been used somewhere else before, then carefully disassembled and finally reused here.
I spent a day framing the gable and installing the hinge, and began to consider just how to go about building the roll-off roof; something I had no experience at.

But how hard could it be to just build a roof and not secure it to the top plate of the walls? All I needed to do was rig some wheels under the framework to allow the roof to roll back on two 20-foot rails of 2" channel-iron. With the roof rolling northward, and the gable to the south folding down, I assumed I'd have enough sky to basically call it a wide-open view. The walls would only be 4' high on this smaller building, but that should be enough to give good protection from all but the windiest conditions......I hoped.

Just attach the 2X4 purlings over the rafters on the roof, cover with sheeting, and voila, a solid roof! (I hoped)
The rest of the roof went relatively slowly. I knew I needed to keep everything as square as possible in order to help the finished roof roll as straight as possible. It also needed to be as solid as I could make it, but I couldn't use braces rigged as joists such as a house might have. This would essentially have to be a vaulted ceiling, with bracing only at the top near the crown of the structure. That had to be as solid as I could possibly build it. By now it was nearly summer, and I'd done most of the work myself with assistance from Joe Roam and Dr Chuck Larson.

The only place I could locate the door into this building was the north wall. I also had to consider the fact that the roof had to roll that direction in order to expose the sky. That's why the structure had to be as solid as possible near the crown, to make it sturdy and yet give me the clearance for rolling over the frame of the doorway. Every point of attachment between two boards had to be cut as perfectly as I could make them, and extra screws added to keep them together even through strong storms and high winds. I used 2X4 purlings to bind the rafters together and provide the strongest attachment for the roofing tin.
Moving day. June 14, 2004.
I used regular galvanized corrugated roofing tin for the roof, and even though I didn't figure it mathematically to end up that way, each 12'-long sheet of corrugated tin was cut exactly in half, and that spanned the length from the crown to the bottom-outside edge of the roof exactly! As if I'd been a real carpenter, HA!

At about the same time, Joe took pity on me and we found a old-but-solid 12X50 mobile home. Joe bought the trailer and we moved it to the site and I finally moved out of the 23' 5th-wheel trailer of Joe's that I'd lived in for 51 weeks. I split my good days when I could move without excess pain between the skirting around the trailer and the finishing touches on the roof. I finally called the smaller building complete around the end of July, 2004. Now we could concentrate on the larger building. But first there was a little thing going on in the solar system that took all our attention, the undivided attention of every astronomer on the planet during the last week of August.....Mars was coming as close to Earth as it had been at any time in the previous 58,000 years!

Click "Read More" for the rest of this article.
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Severe Space Weather

NASA Space Placeby Dr. Tony Phillips

On this power-grid map of the United States, the black-circled areas are regions especially vulnerable to collapse during an extreme geomagnetic storm. Inside those boundaries are more than 130 million people. Credit: National Academy of Sciences report on severe space weather.
On this power-grid map of the United States, the black-circled areas are regions especially vulnerable to collapse during an extreme geomagnetic storm. Inside those boundaries are more than 130 million people. Credit: National Academy of Sciences report on severe space weather.
Did you know a solar flare can make your toilet stop working?

That's the surprising conclusion of a NASA-funded study by the National Academy of Sciences entitled Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts. In the 132-page report, experts detailed what might happen to our modern, high-tech society in the event of a “super solar flare” followed by an extreme geomagnetic storm. They found that almost nothing is immune from space weather—not even the water in your bathroom.

The problem begins with the electric power grid. Ground currents induced during an extreme geomagnetic storm can melt the copper windings of huge, multi-ton transformers at the heart of power distribution systems. Because modern power grids are interconnected, a cascade of failures could sweep across the country, rapidly cutting power to tens or even hundreds of millions of people. According to the report, this loss of electricity would have a ripple effect with “water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on."

“The concept of interdependency,” the report notes, “is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power—and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site.”

It takes a very strong geomagnetic storm to cause problems on this scale—the type of storm that comes along only every century or so. A point of reference is the “Carrington Event” of August-September 1859, named after British amateur astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare with his unaided eye while he was projecting an image of the Sun on a white screen. Geomagnetic storms triggered by the flare electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire; Northern Lights spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning!

“A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions,” the report warns. Widespread failures could include telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion (some 20 times greater than the costs of Hurricane Katrina).

The report concluded with a call for infrastructure designed to better withstand geomagnetic disturbances and improvements in space weather forecasting. Indeed, no one knows when the next super solar storm will erupt. It could be 100 years away or just 100 days. It’s something to think about … the next time you flush. One of the jobs of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) operated by NOAA is to keep an eye on space weather and provide early warning of solar events that could cause trouble for Earth.

You can keep an eye on space weather yourself at the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center, www.swpc.noaa.gov. And for young people, space weather is explained and illustrated simply and clearly at the SciJinks Weather Laboratory, scijinks.gov/weather/howwhy/spaceweather.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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New Directions for AOAS

General NewsAt the 23rd annual traditional dinner/meeting of AOAS held on December 5, 2009, elections were held to select a new club president. After 6 consecutive years as President and another year as VP immediately before that, I stepped down as AOAS president in order to concentrate on running Coleman Observatory and starting some serious observing programs. We have some new equipment to utilize in several different configurations on our Celestron CGE mount, swapping between the original 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain tube assembly and up to 5 or 6 other optical tube assemblies, and even a capability for using tandem, or side-by-side telescope tubes for doing visual observing two-at-a-time, or more commonly for using one as a dedicated guide scope and the other for imaging the universe. These capabilities will give us new and exciting ways to utilize Coleman Observatory.
"Six in a row is enough! Would somebody else like my job?"


And so, at the Christmas dinner/meeting, our webmaster, David Grosvold, volunteered to be your new President of AOAS. When there are no members actively seeking election to the position, a member can volunteer to be appointed to an elected position upon approval of a quorum of the Executive Committee. A quorum was present and the appointment was made. Our own Director of Education, Dr. Chuck Larson, was also appointed to the voluntary position of Vice-President of AOAS. Between the two of these exceptional choices for the top two jobs in the club, we have a lot of new ideas beginning to come about for our goals and direction in 2009.

Dave Grosvold literally hit the ground running. At the dinner/meeting, he accepted the responsibilities and challenges of being AOAS President with open arms. He outlined many new ideas for what he thought we should do and where we should grow for this next year.
On May 11, 1998, Dr Chuck Larson (right) presented Dave Grosvold with the Phi Delta Kappa International Certificate of Recognition to AOAS for Distinguished Service by a Group Outside Education for having been in contact with at least 60,000 area people up to that date. Now almost 11 years later, these are your President and Vice-President of AOAS for 2009.
Basically, we're turning inwards once again. "We want to do things as a club, as a bunch of friends again", Dave says. "We want to scale-back on the number of public outreach efforts we'll do for 2009, but not neglect our traditional role as an active outreach club." We have at least five nights scheduled for public observing at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center for 2009, which are set for February 13, June 12, August 14, September 11 and November 13. These will each be nights during the dark of the moon, but we will also hold our Astronomy Day 2009 on Saturday, October 24, one night before 1st Qtr moon when the low angle of light across the lunar surface reveals depth to the craters and heights of mountain peaks. This is the time when the moon looks best to me, and the public always marvels at that as well.

So, we enter a new year with a new captain at the helm.....I FINALLY conned someone else into taking over as President! I say conned, but David Grosvold has been here before. He served as head of AOAS for a year back in the early '90's so he knows a little about what's coming and what's expected. But this time, things are a little different. This time, he'll be helping guide us through another moving of Coleman Observatory. We must abandon the property up here 8 miles NW of Van Buren and look for a new home by the end of January, and we're actively looking for a new location. I'll try to give you all the details of this situation in another story about Coleman Observatory, our first move from the top of Midland Peak near Sugar Loaf Lake south of Ft Smith to our present location, and the reasons we're looking for a new home once again. WE NEED YOUR HELP! We will need the help of our members with the move itself since we'll be clearing off the property as we move, and we're in dire need of a new and appropriate place to go before we start the process of recovery and re-establishment of a new site. As soon as we can, we must locate the right place. That's the key...we MUST find the best place we can find, and rebuild everything with the idea that this is the LAST time we'll ever move Coleman Observatory again. We must find ourselves a permanent place to move where we'll be able to stay forever more. We've been together for 24 years as of January 15, 2009, and we're a well established organization in this area with somewhere over 100,000 people that we've come into direct contact with in those 24 years of public outreach. We want to be able to find a location where we will STILL BE in 24 more years from now. By then an entirely new club will exist, hopefully carrying on what we've invested so much time to establish, and furthering the numbers of people we've helped to experience even a small piece of the universe that we are a part of, carrying us past the mark of 1,000,000 people reached, and beyond! We really are headed in a new direction.
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Superstar Hide and Seek

NASA Space Placeby Dr. Tony Phillips

The Peony Nebula star is the second-brightest found in the Milky Way Galaxy, after Eta Carina. The Peony star blazes with the light of 3.2 million suns.
The Peony Nebula star is the second-brightest found in the Milky Way Galaxy, after Eta Carina. The Peony star blazes with the light of 3.2 million suns.
It sounds like an impossible task: Take a star a hundred times larger in diameter and millions of times more luminous than the Sun and hide it in our own galaxy where the most powerful optical telescopes on Earth cannot find it.

But it is not impossible. In fact, there could be dozens to hundreds of such stars hiding in the Milky Way right now. Furiously burning their inner stores of hydrogen, these hidden superstars are like ticking bombs poised to ‘go supernova' at any moment, possibly unleashing powerful gamma-ray bursts. No wonder astronomers are hunting for them.

Earlier this year, they found one.

“It's called the Peony nebula star,” says Lidia Oskinova of Potsdam University in Germany. “It shines like 3.2 million suns and weighs in at about 90 solar masses.”

The star lies behind a dense veil of dust near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Starlight traveling through the dust is attenuated so much that the Peony star, at first glance, looks rather dim and ordinary. Oskinova's team set the record straight using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Clouds of dust can hide a star from visible-light telescopes, but Spitzer is an infrared telescope able to penetrate the dusty gloom.

“Using data from Spitzer, along with infrared observations from the ESO's New Technology Telescope in Chile, we calculated the Peony star's true luminosity,” she explains. “In the Milky Way galaxy, it is second only to another known superstar, Eta Carina, which shines like 4.7 million suns.”

Oskinova believes this is just the tip of the iceberg. Theoretical models of star formation suggest that one Peony-type star is born in our galaxy every 10,000 years. Given that the lifetime of such a star is about one million years, there should be 100 of them in the Milky Way at any given moment.

Could that be a hundred deadly gamma-ray bursts waiting to happen? Oskinova is not worried.

“There's no threat to Earth,” she believes. “Gamma-ray bursts produce tightly focused jets of radiation and we would be extremely unlucky to be in the way of one. Furthermore, there don't appear to be any supermassive stars within a thousand light years of our planet.”

Nevertheless, the hunt continues. Mapping and studying supermassive stars will help researchers understand the inner workings of extreme star formation and, moreover, identify stars on the brink of supernova. One day, astronomers monitoring a Peony-type star could witness with their own eyes one of the biggest explosions since the Big Bang itself.

Now that might be hard to hide.

Find out the latest news on discoveries using the Spitzer at www.spitzer.caltech.edu. Kids (of all ages) can read about “Lucy's Planet Hunt” using the Spitzer Space Telescope at spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/spitzer/lucy.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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What Happened to Comet Holmes?

NASA Space Placeby Dr. Tony Phillips

Comet Holmes as imaged by the multiband imaging photometer (MIPS) on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The enhanced contrast image at the right shows the comet's outer shell and mysterious filaments of dust.
Comet Holmes as imaged by the multiband imaging photometer (MIPS) on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The enhanced contrast image at the right shows the comet's outer shell and mysterious filaments of dust.
One year after Comet 17P/Holmes shocked onlookers by exploding in the night sky, researchers are beginning to understand what happened.

“We believe that a cavern full of ice, located as much as 100 meters beneath the crust of the comet's nucleus, underwent a change of phase,” says Bill Reach of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology. “Amorphous ice turned into crystalline ice” and, in the transition, released enough heat to cause Holmes to blow its top.

Anyone watching the sky in October 2007 will remember how the comet brightened a million-fold to naked-eye visibility. It looked more like a planet than a comet—strangely spherical and utterly lacking a tail. By November 2007, the expanding dust cloud was larger than Jupiter itself, and people were noticing it from brightly-lit cities.

Knowing that infrared telescopes are particularly sensitive to the warm glow of comet dust, Reach and colleague Jeremie Vaubaillon, also of Caltech, applied for observing time on the Spitzer Space Telescope—and they got it. “We used Spitzer to observe Comet Holmes in November and again in February and March 2008,” says Reach.

The infrared glow of the expanding dust cloud told the investigators how much mass was involved and how fast the material was moving. “The energy of the blast was about 1014 joules and the total mass was of order 1010 kg.” In other words, Holmes exploded like 24 kilotons of TNT and ejected 10 million metric tons of dust and gas into space.

These astonishing numbers are best explained by a subterranean cavern of phase-changing ice, Reach believes. “The mass and energy are in the right ballpark,” he says, and it also explains why Comet Holmes is a “repeat exploder.”
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First Photos taken of Extrasolar Planets

General News
Digital Image courtesy NASA
The New York Times reports that two groups of astronomers have taken what appears to be possible images of planets orbiting nearby stars. One team found a planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut in the constellation of Picis Austrinus. Fomalhaut is only 25 light-years from the Sun. This team, from the University of California at Berkeley, is lead by Dr. Paul Kalas. “I nearly had a heart attack.” said Dr. Kalas in an e-mail interview when he confirmed his discovery last May.

Dr. Christian Marois, of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, British Columbia, led the other team. His team found three extrasolar planets orbiting HR 8799, a 130 light-year-distant star in Pegasus. Dr. Marois said, “It's the tip of the iceberg. Now that we know they are there, there is going to be an explosion.”

According to Dr. Kalas's calculations, Fomalhaut b is about three times as massive as Jupiter. The planet makes a complete orbit roughly every 872 years, traveling around the inner edge of a immense band of dust orbiting the star.

Read the entire original article on the NY Times web site.
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The Chemical Weather Report

NASA Space Place Example of visualization of data from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer. These frames are from an animation that steps through transects of the atmosphere profiling vertical ozone and carbon monoxide concentrations, combining all tracks of the Aura satellite during a given two week period.
Example of visualization of data from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer. These frames are from an animation that steps through transects of the atmosphere profiling vertical ozone and carbon monoxide concentrations, combining all tracks of the Aura satellite during a given two week period.
“Sunny tomorrow with highs in the mid-70s. There's going to be some carbon monoxide blowing in from forest fires, and all that sunshine is predicted to bring a surge in ground-level ozone by afternoon. Old and young people and anyone with lung conditions are advised to stay indoors between 3 and 5 p.m.”

Whoever heard of a weather report like that?

Get used to it. Weather reports of the future are going to tell you a lot more about the atmosphere than just how warm and rainy it is. In the same way that satellite observations of Earth revolutionized basic weather forecasting in the 1970s and 80s, satellite tracking of air pollution is about to revolutionize the forecasting of air quality. Such forecasts could help people plan around high levels of ground-level ozone — a dangerous lung irritant — just as they now plan around bad storms.

“The phrase that people have used is chemical weather forecasting,” says Kevin Bowman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bowman is a senior member of the technical staff for the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, one of four scientific sensors on NASA's Aura satellite.

Aura and other NASA satellites track pollution in the same way that astronomers know the chemical composition of stars and distant planetary atmospheres: using spectrometry. By breaking the light from a planet or star into its spectrum of colors, scientists can read off the atmosphere's gases by looking at the “fingerprint” of wavelengths absorbed or emitted by those chemicals. From Earth orbit, pollution-watching satellites use this trick to measure trace gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone.

However, as Bowman explains, “Polar sun-synchronous satellites such as Aura are limited at best to two overpasses per day.” A recent report by the National Research Council recommends putting a pollution-watching satellite into geosynchronous orbit—a special very high-altitude orbit above the equator in which satellites make only one orbit per day, thus seeming to hover over the same spot on the equator below. There, this new satellite, called GEOCAPE (Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events), would give scientists a continuous eye in the sky, allowing them to predict daily pollution levels just as meteorologists predict storms.

“NASA is beginning to investigate what it would take to build an instrument like this,” Bowman says. Such a chemical weather satellite could be in orbit as soon as 2013, according to the NRC report. Weather forecasts might never be the same.

Learn more about the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer at tes.jpl.nasa.gov. Kids can learn some elementary smog chemistry while making “Gummy Greenhouse Gases” out of gumdrops at spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/tes/gumdrops.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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"The Journey to Palomar" set to debut on AETN-TV

General News

The new documentary film The Journey To Palomar is set to air on Monday, November 10, at 9:00PM on AETN-TV.

This is the story of American astronomer George Ellery Hale's dramatic public and private struggle to build the four largest telescopes in the world, which set the stage for astronomy and space exploration throughout the 20th century, revealing the greatest discoveries since Galileo and Copernicus. More than five years in the making, this documentary traces Hale's lifelong struggle to build these great instruments, culminating with the million-pound telescope on Palomar Mountain --- the most famous telescope in the world.

 


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Extreme Starburst

NASA Space Placeby Dr. Tony Phillips

The
The "Baby Boom" galaxy loosely resembles the galaxy shown here, called Zw II 96, in this Hubble Space Telescope image. This galaxy is only 500 million light-years away, while the Baby Boom galaxy is 12.3 billion light-years away.
A star is born. A star is born. A star is born.

Repeat that phrase 4000 times and you start to get an idea what life is like in distant galaxy J100054+023436.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based observatories have found that the galaxy gives birth to as many as 4000 stars a year. For comparison, in the same period of time the Milky Way produces only about 10. This makes J100054+023436 an extreme starburst galaxy.

“We call it the “Baby Boom galaxy,” says Peter Capak of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. “It is undergoing a major baby boom, producing most of its stars all at once. If our human population was produced in a similar boom, then almost all people alive today would be the same age.”

Capak is lead author of a paper entitled “Spectroscopic Confirmation of an Extreme Starburst at Redshift 4.547“ detailing the discovery in the July 10th issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The galaxy appears to be a merger, a “train wreck” of two or more galaxies crashing together. The crash is what produces the baby boom. Clouds of interstellar gas within the two galaxies press against one another and collapse to form stars, dozens to hundreds at a time.

This isn't the first time astronomers have witnessed a galaxy producing so many stars. “There are some other extreme starburst galaxies in the local universe,” says Capek. But the Baby Boom galaxy is special because it is not local. It lies about 12.3 billion light years from Earth, which means we are seeing it as it was 12.3 billion years ago. The universe itself is no older than 14 billion years, so this galaxy is just a youngster (Capak likens it to a 6-year-old human) previously thought to be incapable of such rapid-fire star production.

The Baby Boom galaxy poses a challenge to the Hierarchical Model of galaxy evolution favored by many astronomers. According to the Hierarchical Model, galaxies grow by merging; Add two small galaxies together, and you get a bigger galaxy. In the early years of the universe, all galaxies were small, and they produced correspondingly small bursts of star formation when they merged. “Yet in J100054+023436, we see an extreme starburst. The merging galaxies must be pretty large.”

Capak and colleagues are busy looking for more Baby Boomers “to see if this is a one-off case or a common occurrence.” The theory of evolution of galaxies hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile… A star is born. A star is born. A star is born.

See more breathtaking Spitzer images at www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/mediaimages. Kids can play the new Spitzer “Sign Here!” game at spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/spitzer/signs.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

To get your membership application, click here.