Traveling Across the Tarantula Nebula on a Runaway Star

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This image of the 30 Doradus nebula, a rambunctious stellar nursery, and the enlarged inset photo show a heavyweight star that may have been kicked out of its home by a pair of heftier siblings. In the inset image at right, an arrow points to the stellar runaway and a dashed arrow to its presumed direction of motion. The image was taken by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The heavyweight star, called 30 Dor #016, is 90 times more massive than the Sun and is traveling at more than 250,000 miles an hour. In the wider view of 30 Doradus, the homeless star, located on the outskirts of the nebula, is centered within a white box. The box shows Hubble’s field of view. The image was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Wide Field Imager at the 2.2-meter telescope on La Silla, Chile. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

Traveling at 250,000 mph would be a windy, visually spectacular ride to hell 

Space news (Astrophysics: stellar nursery dynamics; runaway stars) – 170,000 light-years from Earth, near the edge of the Tarantula Nebula – 

Hubble/WFPC2 and ESO/2.2-m Composite Image of 30 Dor Runaway Star. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

If you want to travel through the galaxy, hitch a ride on a runaway star like the one astronomers have been tracking since it came screaming out of 30 Doradus (Tarantula Nebula) in 2006. Data collected by the newly installed Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope suggests a massive star, as much as 90 times the mass of Sol, was knocked out of the nebula by gravitational interactions with even more massive suns. Traveling at around 250,000 mph, voyaging through the cosmos on this runaway star would be an adventure to write home about.  

ESO 2.2-m WFI Image of the Tarantula Nebula. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

The trail leads back to a star-forming region deep within the Tarantula Nebula called R136, where over 2,400 massive stars near the center of this huge nebula produce an intense wind of radiation. Astronomers think interactions with some of the 100 plus solar mass stars detected in this stellar nursery resulted in this runaway star being flung over 375 light-years by its bigger siblings.  

Massive Star is Ejected from a Young Star Cluster. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

These results are of great interest because such dynamical processes in very dense, massive clusters have been predicted theoretically for some time, but this is the first direct observation of the process in such a region,” says Nolan Walborn of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and a member of the COS team that observed the misfit star. “Less massive runaway stars from the much smaller Orion Nebula Cluster were first found over half a century ago, but this is the first potential confirmation of more recent predictions applying to the most massive young clusters.”   

Nolan Walborn. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Site

Astrophysicists studying the runaway star and the region in the Tarantula region where the trail ended believe it’s likely a massive, blue-white sun at least ten times hotter than Sol and only a few million years old. It’s far from home and in a region of space where no clusters with similar stars are found. It’s also left an egg-shaped cavity in its wake with glowing edges pointing in the direction of the center of 30 Doradus and the region of R136. A flaming trail you would see behind the star as you traveled across the cosmos and onto eternity.  

Compass/Scale Image of 30 Dor Runaway Star. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

 “It is generally accepted, however, that R136 is sufficiently young, 1 million to 2 million years old, that the cluster’s most massive stars have not yet exploded as supernovae,” says COS team member Danny Lennon of the Space Telescope Science Institute. “This implies that the star must have been ejected through dynamical interaction.” 

This runway star continues to scream across the cosmos, nearing the outskirts of 30 Doradus a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, it will one day end its existence in a titanic explosion or supernova, and possibly leave behind one of the most mysterious and enigmatic objects discovered during the human journey to the beginning of space and time, a black hole.  

Hubble Observations of Massive Stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble

Imagine riding this runaway star until it contracted into a black hole and left our universe altogether. Where would we travel? To a random location in spacetime? To another reality or universe? The possibilities abound and far exceed our ability to imagine such a reality. Scientists tell us such a journey wouldn’t be possible, but they’re just stumbling around in the dark looking for ideas to grasp. For handholds on the dark cliff we climb as we search for answers to the mysteries before us.  

What’s next?

Astronomers continue to study the Tarantula Nebula and the star-forming region R136 looking for signs of impending supernovae among the zoo of supermassive stars within. They also continue to track this runaway star and two other blue hot, supermassive stars outside the boundary of 30 Doradus that appear to have also been ejected from their host systems. We’ll update you with any news on it, and other runaway stars as it continues to scream across the cosmos. 

You can follow the space journey of NASA here

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Learn more about the Tarantula Nebula here

Read about the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope

Explore NASA’s Space Telescope Institute here

Discover everything astronomers know about the star-forming region R136

Discover the mysteries of the Large Magellanic Cloud here

Read about the discoveries of the Chandra X-ray Observatory

Read and learn more about ancient navigators “The Incredible Polynesian Navigators Followed the Stars“.

Learn what astronomers are discovering about the first black holes to exist in the universe.

Read about astronomers observe the shock wave of a supernova in visible light for the first time.

Hubble Telescope Views Young Globular Cluster NGC 1783

One of the largest globular clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud

 This new Hubble image of NGC 1783, taken with the Advanced Camera for Survey (ACS), shows the typical shape of young globular clusters viewed during the human journey to the beginning of space and time. Image credit NASA.

This new Hubble image of NGC 1783, taken with the Advanced Camera for Survey (ACS), shows the typical shape of young globular clusters viewed during the human journey to the beginning of space and time. Image credit NASA.

Space news (September 20, 2015) – 160,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Dorado –

Held in the grip of its own gravity, globular cluster NGC 1783 orbits the Milky Way as part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a region of space filled with star-forming regions like the Tarantula Nebula and LHA 120-N 11.

Lying in the southern hemisphere constellation Dorado, the typical symmetrical form and dense collection of suns near the center of NGC 1783 was first recorded by John Herschel around 1835.

Astrophysicists studied the color and brightness of individual suns within globular cluster NGC 1783 to estimate its age and history of star formation. Measurements indicate that despite its typical distribution of stars and shape this larger star cluster is only about 1.5 billion years old and during its lifespan has undergone at least two-star forming periods separated by 50 to 100 million years. Typically globular clusters viewed are several billion years of age.

The highs and lows of star formation in a globular cluster gives astrophysicists an indication of the density of gas available for new stars to form during its life span. During periods when dense gas is available for star formation, the most massive stars explode as supernovae, blowing away the gas needed for new stars to form. The reservoir of gas for new star formation is then replenished by less massive stars which live longer and die less violently.  Once the reservoir of gas flows to denser, central regions of a star cluster, the second phase of star formation takes place, and a massive star with a short life spans once again blow off the gas. Astrophysicists think this cycle continues until the gas leftover can no longer sustain the formation of new stars.

Learn more about the formation of new stars here.

Discover NASA’s space mission here.

Journey to the beginning of space and time using the Hubble Space Telescope here.

Read more about galactic nurseries found during our journey.

Learn about New Horizons Visit to Pluto and its moon Charon.

Learn more about the star systems discovered during our trip through the cosmos.

Did Life Evolve in the Early Universe?

Were there even suitable planets upon which life could survive? 

Space news (February 03, 2015) 117 light-years away in the constellation Lyra –

Astronomers have often wondered if life could have evolved in the early universe? Space scientists using data provided by NASA’s Kepler mission recently discovered a planetary system containing as many as five earth-sized planetthat formed when the universe was two billion years old.

The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist's conception. Image Credit: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine
The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist’s conception.
Image Credit: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine


The five earth-sized planets discovered orbit close to their home star in the star system called Kepler-444, range in size between Mercury and Venus. They also take less than ten days to complete each orbit, which means the weather on these planets is hotter and more extreme than any planet in our solar system.

Earth-based life would never survive on these planets unless of course, these planets were once further from their home star. If these planets were once located within the habitable zone of their home planet? It’s possible life once evolved and flourished on one or more of these early planets.

“While this star formed a long time ago, in fact before most of the stars in the Milky Way, we have no indication that any of these planets have now or ever had life on them,” said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “At their current orbital distances, life as we know it could not exist on these ancient worlds.”

Space scientists studying the age of planets within a star system measure small changes in the brightness of the parent sun produced by pressure waves within the star. These pressure waves result in small variations in star temperature and luminosity leading to very small changes in brightness. Asteroseismologists – asteroseismology is the study of the interior of suns – use these measurements to determine the diameter, mass, and age of the parent sun. The age of the planets within a star system is the same as the parent sun since they formed at about the same time. 

The existence of earth-sized planets in the early universe indicates life could have evolved and survived. This news doesn’t tell us how common solar systems with planets of this size were, but it does mean the possibility existed. 

What’s next?

Space scientists will now begin looking further back in time and at more early star systems to see if they can find more earth-sized planets life could have evolved on. Any intelligent life evolving in these planets would have long ago moved to another planet. Is it possible we could be descendants of life that evolved in the early universe? If any civilization had the time to develop the technology required to travel the universe and seed planets it would be one that developed on one of these early earth-sized planets.

For more information on NASA’s Kepler space mission go here.

Read about methane clouds moving over the northern seas of Saturn’s moon Titan

Read about the first earth-sized planet discovered orbiting within its home star’s habitable zone

Read about the search for extraterrestrial life taking a turn at Jupiter

Space Scientists Take a Closer Look at Lenticular Galaxies

To study how galaxies evolve and change over time 

Space information (February 03, 2015) – lenticular galaxies –

Lenticular galaxies are a class of galaxy space scientists have always considered to be an intermediate form between spiral and elliptical class galaxies. This type of galaxy is characterized by a prominent central bulge and disk, with no obvious arms like the Milky Way. More recently, space scientists are starting to think lenticular galaxies could be the end result of a collision between galaxies, resulting in the different varieties recorded during the human journey to the beginning of space and time.

The Hubble Space Telescope image below shows Arp 230 (IC 51), an oddly-shaped galaxy recorded in Halton Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, classified as a lenticular galaxy. NASA space scientists studying Arp 230 believe the funny-looking shape of this galaxy is the end result of a collision between two galaxies smaller than our own Milky Way.

This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The ring of light seen surrounding the galaxy is gas, dust, and stars orbiting the poles of the galaxy they call a polar ring. Space scientists think this is mainly composed of remnants of the smaller of the two colliding galaxies, which was perpendicular to the disk of the larger galaxy during their merger. Space scientists believe this would have resulted in the formation of the polar ring as the smaller galaxy was torn to pieces by the chaos.

NASA scientists and astronomers studying and classifying lenticular galaxies are now going over each galaxy in this classification to see if they can find more data to support their ideas. At the same time, they’ll begin conducting computer simulations using available data to obtain a better understanding of lenticular galaxies.

You can learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope here.

You can learn more about galaxies and their evolution here.

You can learn more about lenticular galaxies here.

Read about NASA seeking private and business partners to help enable the human journey to the beginning of space and time

Read about ancient dust with metal ions falling onto Mar’s atmosphere from Oort Cloud comet

Learn how to calculate the orbits of asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt

CIBER Observes Blue Light Spectrum of Cosmic Background Infrared Light Detected by Spitzer Space Telescope

Space scientists believe this indicates the universe between galaxies is brighter than first thought

Space news (November 26, 2014) In the dark space between galaxies – 

Using two CIBER (Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment) suborbital sounding rockets launched between 2010 and 2012, NASA space scientists recently tried to settle a question concerning the discovery of a greater amount of cosmic background infrared light in the universe than predicted by theory. NASA astronomers previously detected this excess background infrared light using the Spitzer Space Telescope.

“It is wonderfully exciting for such a small NASA rocket to make such a huge discovery,” said Mike Garcia, program scientist from NASA Headquarters. “Sounding rockets are an important element in our balanced toolbox of missions from small to large.”

Currently, theories suggest two possible scenarios: this infrared light originates from either stream of stars that have been flung into the depths of space during encounters between galaxies or from the first galaxies that formed in the universe around 13.8 billion years ago. 

Using suborbital rockets NASA space scientists took wide-field images of the cosmic infrared background at two infrared wavelengths, shorter than those detected originally by the Spitzer Space Telescope. 

Using this data they made a map of the fluctuations in the cosmic infrared background light by eliminating the light from bright stars, galaxies and local sources closer to our own Milky Way. By measuring the brightness of these fluctuations scientists can determine the total volume of cosmic infrared background light in the universe.  

NASA space scientists discovered a greater volume of infrared light than the galaxies alone can generate. Excess infrared light with a blue spectrum, which indicates it increases in brightness at shorter wavelengths. Scientists think this infrared light emanates from orphan stars flung out into the darkness during encounters between galaxies.      

“We think stars are being scattered out into space during galaxy collisions,” said Michael Zemcov, lead author of a new paper describing the results from the rocket project and an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “While we have previously observed cases where stars are flung from galaxies in a tidal stream, our new measurement implies this process is widespread.”

“The light looks too bright and too blue to be coming from the first generation of galaxies,” said James Bock, principal investigator of the CIBER project from Caltech and JPL. “The simplest explanation, which best explains the measurements, is that many stars have been ripped from their galactic birthplace and that the stripped stars emit on average about as much light as the galaxies themselves.”

NASA space scientists will now design new experiments to determine whether orphan stars could be the source of the excess cosmic background infrared light detected. These stray stars should still be in the vicinity of their parent galaxy if they were flung out during galactic encounters. They’ll also begin measuring more of the infrared spectrum to try to determine how stars could be stripped from their parent galaxies. 

For more information on NASA’s CIBER experiment go here.

To discover more about all of NASA’s current and future missions visit here.

Read about metal ions detected in an Oort Cloud comet

Read about how NASA scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure water vapor on a “hot Jupiter” class exoplanet

Read about methane clouds traveling over the northern seas of Saturn’s moon Titan

Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy

The Possibility of Intelligent Lifeforms Existing in the Universe

Crunching the numbers leaves little doubt in the minds of many scientists and broad thinkers

Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy
Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy

Space news – We can estimate the number of galaxies and thus approximately how many stars there are in the universe. Can we extrapolate the number of possible intelligent lifeforms in the universe? Lifeforms with an advanced civilization and technology?

Astronomers also have a very rough estimate for the number of galaxies they see
Astronomers also have a very rough estimate for the number of galaxies they see

NASA astronomers are finding more and more planets orbiting distant stars using the Hubble Space Telescope. Space scientists on Earth find microbes still surviving after thousands of years frozen in ice and thriving in environments we once thought hostile to life.

NASA astronomers have confirmed the existence of exo-planets orbiting distant stars
NASA astronomers have confirmed the existence of exoplanets orbiting distant stars

Astronomers estimate the Milky Way contains around 400 billion suns, give or take a few. Sol is only one of these stars. They also estimate the universe holds a minimum of 125 billion galaxies.

If we crunch the numbers a bit, we find the universe contains roughly 400 X 125 billion billion, or 50,000 billion billion stars. We won’t at this time include the number of planets per sun in the universe, which would make our estimate even less precise. NASA space scientists and astronomers haven’t determined this number and the knowledge we have now isn’t sufficient enough to come to even a rough estimate.

How many of these suns have intelligent life living on a planet in orbit with a highly advanced civilization and technology? In future articles, we’ll try to narrow this number down a bit, by estimating the number of intelligent life forms in the Milky Way.

Let me know what you think? Take part in our poll below.

Warren Wong, 

Managing Editor

Learn how orbits of asteroids within the Main Asteroid belt are calculated.

Learn more about the search for life on Europa.

Read about the African Dogon tribe and their cosmology.

NASA astronomers believe a young black hole was created somewhere within W49B

The Birth of a Blackhole

NASA astronomers believe a young black hole was created somewhere within W49B
NASA astronomers believe a young black hole was created somewhere within W49B

Astronomers find unusual supernova

Astronomy News – Black holes are stellar objects of the most unusual nature and temperament. They’re also something we haven’t witnessed being born during the human journey to the beginning of space and time, until now. NASA astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory to take a look at W49B, a 1,000-year-old supernova remnant, found it to be unlike any they have observed before. In fact, this supernova remnant could have left behind a black hole.

NASA astronomers use the Chandra X-ray Observatory to look at W49B
NASA astronomers use the Chandra X-ray Observatory to look at W49B

There should be some mass left over in the form of a neutron star

When the most massive suns reach the end of their lives, their central regions collapse and trigger a chain of events that ends in a supernova explosion. Astronomers studying W49B found this supernova remnant was formed when mass from the poles of a 25-solar mass star shot out at a much higher speed than mass shooting from the equator. This is the first supernova remnant with this characteristic they have found in the Milky Way.

Looking for the rabbit hole

Astronomers also couldn’t find the characteristic neutron star they expected to detect within the remnant, which leaves scientists wondering if there’s a black hole lurking somewhere within the cloud. Star scientists are currently studying data concerning W49B, trying to find the telltale evidence they need to indicate the presence of a black hole. Should they find the evidence they’re looking for this will be the first opportunity to study a supernova responsible for creating a young black hole.

Watch this YouTube video on W49B

Watch this YouTube video of the Birth of a Black Hole

Read about the biggest black hole found so far by the Hubble Space Telescope

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