October 23, 2017

04.02.11: A Gravitational Lensing Exoplanet.

Artist’s rendition of the gravitational lens technique MOA uses to spot exoplanets…(All Images coutesy of the MOA Consortium: Used with Permision).

Amid the sexier transiting exoplanet discoveries released earlier this week by the NASA Kepler team came an exoplanet discovered by a lesser known technique; that of gravitational lensing. MOA, or Microlensing Observations for Astrophysics, is a joint Japan/New Zealand venture looking for dark matter objects passing in front of stars and bending their light via gravitational lensing. First predicted by Einstein and famously observed during the total solar eclipse of 1919, several gravitational lenses are now known and documented in nature, from stellar type objects to massive galaxy clusters. [Read more...]

Astro-Challenge:The Magellanic Clouds.

An irregular pair. (Credit: ESO/S. Brunier).

An irregular pair. (Credit: ESO/S. Brunier).

Ah…the southern hemisphere has all the good stuff. As we here at Astroguyz dip below the equator for the fifth time on a trip to Ecuador, we thought we’d include an old friend and a unique celestial pairing that most people have never seen. The Magellanic clouds are actually small satellite galaxies of our own Milky Way; the Large Magellanic cloud (LMC) is at a distance of 160,000 light years and contains about 10 billion stars, while the Small Magellanic cloud (SMC) is at a distance of 200,000 light years and weighs in at 7 billion solar masses. [Read more...]