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distant-traveller:

ALMA finds double star with weird and wild planet-forming discs

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found wildly misaligned planet-forming gas discs around the two young stars in the binary system HK Tauri. These new ALMA observations provide the clearest picture ever of protoplanetary discs in a double star. The new result also helps to explain why so many exoplanets — unlike the planets in the Solar System — came to have strange, eccentric or inclined orbits.

Unlike our solitary Sun, most stars form in binary pairs — two stars that are in orbit around each other. Binary stars are very common, but they pose a number of questions, including how and where planets form in such complex environments.

ALMA has now given us the best view yet of a binary star system sporting protoplanetary discs — and we find that the discs are mutually misaligned!” said Eric Jensen, an astronomer at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, USA.

The two stars in the HK Tauri system, which is located about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull), are less than five million years old and separated by about 58 billion kilometres — this is 13 times the distance of Neptune from the Sun.

The fainter star, HK Tauri B, is surrounded by an edge-on protoplanetary disc that blocks the starlight. Because the glare of the star is suppressed, astronomers can easily get a good view of the disc by observing in visible light, or at near-infrared wavelengths.

The companion star, HK Tauri A, also has a disc, but in this case it does not block out the starlight. As a result the disc cannot be seen in visible light because its faint glow is swamped by the dazzling brightness of the star. But it does shine brightly in millimetre-wavelength light, which ALMA can readily detect.

Using ALMA, the team were not only able to see the disc around HK Tauri A, but they could also measure its rotation for the first time. This clearer picture enabled the astronomers to calculate that the two discs are out of alignment with each other by at least 60 degrees. So rather than being in the same plane as the orbits of the two stars at least one of the discs must be significantly misaligned.

Image credit: R. Hurt (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC)

japaneseaesthetics:

Main detail of “Under the Wave off Kanagawa”, from the Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji.  Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai , 1830-33, Japan.  BritishMuseum

 This is perhaps the single most famous of Hokusai’s woodblock prints - perhaps of all Japanese prints. It belongs to the series ‘Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji' (Fugaku sanjûrokkei). The graceful snow-clad mountain stands out unperturbed against the deep blue of the horizon. Yet it is reduced to a tiny hillock compared with the towering strength of the wave which threatens to engulf the struggling boats. Such clever, playful manipulation of the composition is a feature of many of Hokusai's works.

behindthegrooves:

On this day in music history: July 30, 1966 - “Wild Thing” by The Troggs hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Chip Taylor, it is the biggest hit for the British rock band from Andover, Hampshire, UK. Penned by songwriter Chip Taylor (real name James Wesley Voight, brother of Oscar winning actor Jon Voight, and uncle of Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie), the first version of the song is recorded by the New York City based band The Wild Ones in 1965. The Troggs will record the song at Olympic Studios in London in early 1966 in just two takes. The record will break in the bands’ native UK first following an appearance on the television program “Thank Your Lucky Stars”. When “Wild Thing” is released as a single in the US, it will be the subject of a dispute over its distribution rights. It will be released simultaneously on both Atco and Fontana Records, who will both claim ownership of The Troggs master recording. It will become the only number one single in Billboard chart history to simultaneously chart on two different labels. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on June 25, 1966, it will rocket to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Wild Thing” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

distant-traveller:

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda’s image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier’s list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the above image of M31 was taken with a standard camera through a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including how it acquired its unusual double-peaked center.

Image credit & copyright: Jacob Bers (Bersonic)

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