Astronomy Montage


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Biography of GRB 060218

At 03:34:30 UT, the Swift Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) triggered and located GRB 060218A(trigger=191157). Swift slewed immediately to the burst. The BAT on-board calculated location is RA,Dec 50.404, +16.866 deg {RA 03h 21m 37s, DEC +16d 51' 58"} (J2000) with an uncertainty of 3 arcmin (radius, 90% containment, including systematic uncertainty). The TDRSS lightcurve shows nothing, which is consistent and common for an image trigger.

The XRT began taking data at 03:37:04 UT, 153 seconds after the BAT trigger. The XRT on-board centroid algorithm did not find a source in the image and no prompt position is available. We are waiting for down-linked data to detect and determine a position for the source.

The UVOT began taking data 152 seconds after the BAT trigger. There is an indication of an afterglow candidate at RA,Dec RA 03h 21m 39.8s,DEC +16d 52' 06" +/- 1 arcsec with an estimated B magnitude of 19.4.

The orbiting NASA telescope Swift picked up the gamma-ray burst (GRB) in a star-forming galaxy about 440 million light years away, towards the constellation of Aries. As it swivelled in the direction of the blast, Swift also relayed its discovery to major ground-based and space-based observatories. The combined data from their sensors has been pieced together to give a picture about what happened over the next 17 days.
GRBs have long been associated with the aftermath of supernovae. They are typically huge releases of energy. In a few seconds, they can spew out more energy than the sun will do in its entire expected lifetime of 10 billion years. This GRB was highly unusual. It lasted almost 40 minutes, whereas a typical GRB only lasts a few milliseconds or tens of seconds at the most, and it was remarkably weak, too - a mild type of GRB known as an X-ray flash.

The astronomers believe that this burst was a high-energy jet that pierced through the doomed star from its collapsing core. In essence, it was sending out a warning that a supernova was imminent. Suddenly, as the GRB faded away, the massive star blew itself into smithereens, sending out a "slightly aspherical" shock wave that rocketed across the galaxy. The star's glowing remains were confirmed optically two days later and classified as supernova SN 2006aj. Britain's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) operates an ultra-violet/optical telescope aboard Swift.
For further info to find out how the GCN GRB CooRdinate Network works

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dark Matter in Bullet Cluster

The "bullet cluster" is a galaxy cluster denoted 1E 0657-56 which was formed after the collision of two large clusters of galaxies(ie individual groups of galaxies)

This monumental energetic collision can only get surpassed by The Big Bang in terms of energy output, and has resulted in tearing apart dark matter from normal matter as an outcome of the collision.

The spectacular bullet cluster is composed of a hundred million degree bullet shaped cloud of gas, which is due to wind produced by the high speed collision of the two galactic clusters.

Because dark mater does not interact with the hot gas it was not slowed by the collisional drag force, wheras normal matter was slowed due to the collisonal drag force due to its interaction with the hot gas.

Xray imaging by the Chandra XRay Telescope showed this separation and thus provided the first direct evidence for dark matter.

It is formally known as 1E0657-56 and has coordinates: RA 06h 58m 37.9s | Dec -55º 57' 0". It is about 4 billion light years from Earth in the constellation of Carina. The subcluster passed through the cluster center 150 million years ago creating a "bow-shaped shock wave located near the right side of the cluster" formed as "70 million degree Celsius gas in the sub-cluster plowed through 100 million degree gas in the main cluster at a speed of about 6 million miles per hour". Strictly speaking, the name Bullet cluster refers to the smaller subcluster, moving away from the larger one.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Neutrino Dark Matter

Of the 4 Types of Neutrinos existing, the right handed sterile neutrinos are now strong candidates for the missing mass solution to dark matter.
The guitar nebula fast rotation rate is a classic example of pulsars kick started thousands of kilometers per second into spin by sterile neutrinos from supernova explosions.

Experiments at Fermilab will be able to confirm whether the decay of sterile neutrinos were responsible for the ionisation of Hydrogen in creating the first stars.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sub Trillionth Trillionth of a Second Cosmology

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe WMAP has refined the COBE data from the previous century, and given additional bounce to inflation theory.

So what provided the false vacuum energy during phase transition during the phase transition at inflation.

Was it the mysterious dark energy?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ekpyrotic Universe

I remember studying advanced stellar structure under Professor Ian Roxburgh from QMW, especially one of those guest lecture visits by his academic grandfather Fred Hoyle(ie Hoyle was The PhD Supervisor of a professor who himself was The Phd Supervisor of my professor). Fred Hoyle's lecture was his celebrated yet controversial Steady State Theory as an alternative to the Big Bang Theory.

I wonder what he would have made of the Ekpyrotic Model of the Universe?

Are we in a 4 dimensional spacetime bounded by an infinitely sized dimension existing as a brane wall within an 11 dimensional universe(yes forget 26 dimensional bosonic string theory!). This could be the ekpyrotic model which is an alternative to big bang theory. How about a parallel universe bounded by its own brane wall that bounced against our universe's brane wall 14 billion years ago?

So what is the current issue with inflationary cosmology? How does one explain away that the radius of the universe at that inflationary time increased faster than the speed of light?

Mathematics though D-Brane theory (for Dirichlet boundary condition)states that we exist in 11 dimensions. We are already aware of 4 of them, the rest are either curled up into strings(via Professor Michael Green's String Theory, also from QMW ) which are vibrational modes of energy at the sub-planck scale 10-^34m or infinite as our bounded brane wall.

Galactic DNA

A higher order of stellar structure 80 light years long has just been discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope within our own galaxy 300 light years from our central supermassive black hole, in the form of magnetically confined twisted doublex helix structures of stars formed over the last 10000 years in relation to its rotation about the center of the black hole.

Furthermore it is receeding at roughly 1000 km per sec, running perpendicular to the black hole within magnetic field lines 1000 times stronger than those on earth.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dark Energy and Dark Matter

So they reckon that they now have direct metrics on to the mathematics and physics of the missing mass of the universe via 10,000K temp and 9km/s speed of Dark Matter.

When I was back at University Of London in the late eighties we were looking at this missing mass problem INDIRECTLY using principle of moments when we were measuring the dynamics of globular clusters. Our standard textbook then was Galactic Dynamics by Binney and Tremaine.

At that stage there was debate whether the dark matter solution was either Hot Dark Matter consisting of (near)zero mass relativistic moving non baryonic particles or Cold Dark Matter consisting of large mass slow moving non baryonic particles.

Don't confuse this dark matter discovery of the 1970s with the discovery of dark energy in the 1990s which is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

HD 34750

HD 34750 SAO150333 SD-10 1153
Visual Magnitude: 7.43
Color Index: 0.98
Spectral Class: F0
Dbl: 10.70"/ 0.10m
Annual Proper Motion: -0.060 0.023

J2000 RA: 5h19m21.60s DE:-10°44'51.1"
Date RA: 5h19m38.75s DE:-10°44'29.7"

Birmingham 2006-1-26 17h38m ( TU + 0h00m )
Sideral Time : 1h54m
Hour Angle : 20h35m
Azimuth :+128°05'
Altitude :+13°08'

Rise : 16h00m Azimuth:+107°03'
Culmination : 21h07m
Set : 2h13m Azimuth:+252°57'
Distance to the last object : +00°00'00.0" PA:180

0h00m00.0s +00°00'00"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


HR 1799 HD 35536
Flamsteed Number:
Bayer Letter:
Visual Magnitude: 5.61
Color Index: 1.56
Spectral Class: K5III
Annual Proper Motion: -0.017 -0.022

J2000 RA: 5h25m01.60s DE:-10°19'45.0"
Date RA: 5h25m18.80s DE:-10°19'26.6"

Birmingham 2006-1-26 0h29m ( TU + 0h00m )
Sideral Time : 8h42m
Hour Angle : 3h17m
Azimuth :+230°18'
Altitude :+14°29'

Rise : 16h03m Azimuth:+106°21'
Culmination : 21h12m
Set : 2h21m Azimuth:+253°39'

Sunday, January 22, 2006

29 Orionis

This is a yellow giant Mag 4.14 star which is 174 Light Years Away. To the upper right is the bright star Tau Orionis Mag 3.60. To the bottom right one can just about see the brilliant glow of Rigel. To the top left one can just about see HR1840 and Thabit.
Using my 20x80 binoculars in the field of 29 Orionis and going from center south and then anticlockwise towards south west are
HD35261 Mag 7.58
HD35353 Mag 7.69
HR1778 Mag 5.90
HD35155 Mag 6.86
Travelling north west from there
HD34892 Mag 7.54

Although stable hydrogen gas is invisible optically, its presence is especially concentrated along the disk of our galaxy in its vast spiral arms. One such region is associated with the Orion Complex. So take some time to scan the sky due south of 3.4 magnitude Eta Orionis and note how few stars are visible between it and 4.2 magnitude 29 Orionis - some 5 and a half degrees away. Such regions are known to have high concentrations of 21 cm radiation caused by hydrogen gas that has yet to begin coalescing into new Suns such as our own.

Further details can be found at

Observation Details for 29 Orionis
HR 1784 HD 35369 SAO 132067, BD -7 1064
Flamsteed Number: 29
Bayer Letter:
Constellation: Orion
Visual Magnitude: 4.14
Color Index: 0.96
Spectral Class: G8IIIFe-0.5
Annual Proper Motion: -0.015 -0.043

J2000 RA: 5h23m56.80s DE:-07°48'29.0"
Date RA: 5h24m14.34s DE:-07°48'10.1"

Birmingham 2006-1-22 11h01m ( TU + 0h00m )
Sideral Time : 19h00m
Hour Angle : 13h36m
Azimuth :+32°22'
Altitude :-40°34'

Rise : 16h04m Azimuth:+102°08'
Culmination : 21h27m
Set : 2h50m Azimuth:+257°52'

Further details can be found at

We have another 85 years to go before we discover the Zen Rigeln in the 29 Orionis star system.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Destination Kuiper Belt

For the first time in the history of mankind, a mission to explore the outer reaches of the solar system beginning with the Kuiper Belt Objects Pluto and Charon is being launched now as I write.
The mission to explore the Astrophysical and Astrochemical properties of these icy bodies. Expected time of arrival 2015. Good Luck and Fingers Crossed for the fastest spacecraft ever launched in the history of Space Exploration.
New HorizonsTrajectory
LaunchJanuary/February 2006
NeptuneJupiterFlyby February–March 2007
Pluto SystemFlyby July 2015
Kuiper Belt Objects(Extended Mission)2016–2020

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Thabit 36 Upsilon Orionis

HR1855, HD36512, SAO132222, BD-7 1106, NSV16333
Can be found beneath Orion's Sword in between 49 Orionis and 29 Orionis

Upsilon Orionis (υ Ori / υ Orionis) is a star in the constellation Orion. It also has the traditional name Thabit (Arabic for "the imperturbable one").

What is quite distinctive about Thabit Mag 4.62 is how it is surrounded by its nearby stars to give the appearance of a sort of tetragonal pyramid in the night sky, as viewed through my binoculars at Mag8

The vertex of the pyramid would be HR1848 Mag 6.22 and the 4 base vertex points would be represented by HD36920 Mag 6.7, HD36814 Mag 6.45, HD36151 Mag 6.68, HD36285 Mag 6.33 Clockwise respectively from the lower left.

Thabit belongs to the spectral class B0V and has apparent magnitude +4.62 . Thabit is approximately 1545 light years from Earth.

Coordinates (equinox 2000)
Right ascension: 5h31m55.80s

Observational Details
HR 1855 HD 36512
Flamsteed Number: 36
Bayer Letter: Upsilon
Constellation: Orion
Visual Magnitude: 4.62
Color Index: -0.26
Spectral Class: B0V
Annual Proper Motion: -0.001 -0.005
Thabit; Tabit

J2000 RA: 5h31m55.80s DE:-07°18'05.0"
Date RA: 5h32m13.40s DE:-07°17'50.2"

Birmingham 2006-1-22 13h43m ( TU + 0h00m )
Sideral Time : 21h43m
Hour Angle : 16h10m
Azimuth :+72°05'
Altitude :-21°36'

Rise : 16h09m Azimuth:+101°17'
Culmination : 21h35m
Set : 3h00m Azimuth:+258°43'
Distance to the last object : +00°00'00.0" PA:180

0h00m00.0s +00°00'00"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

M82 X1 Black Hole Mass Confirmed

The mass of an Ultraluminous XRayObject namely Black Hole M82-X1 has been confirmed to be of type Middle Mass Black Holes.

Read more in the following articles

NASA Rossi XRay Timing Explorer

University Of Iowa

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

NGC 1981

I was doing some doing some observation around Orion's Sword when I challenged myself to how many stars I could pick out within the upper part of the Open Cluster OCL 525 namely NGC 1981 at 400pc(parsecs)

This can be found directly underneath Epsilon Orionis in Orion's Belt, and above Orionis 45 and Orionis 42 that fall within NGC 1975 and NGC 1973

If you look at the image

I could quite easily pick out from my 20x80 binoculars atleast half a dozen stars within this cluster including notably
HR1898 HD37040 at Magnitude 6.38 Spectral Type B2.51V
HR1891 HD37016 at Magnitude 6.24 Spectral Type B2.5V
HR1890 HD37017 at Magnitude 6.56 Spectral Type B1.5V

Still trying to find out the distance to these stars, which you can quite easily infer to be very hot Blue stars. Anyone got data on the stellar distances to NGC 1981?

Anyone Out There

From the depths of the West Midlands, out through the stratosphere into the solar orbital plane, beyond the heliopause into the interstellar medium way past the milky way, beyond the local group of galaxies out into the local virgo supercluster into the unknown void to infinitum. Is there anybody out there interested in astronomy and all things myterious and inspiring.

Happy new year or should I create an alien talk of 209 binary sequential digits that can be translated into a prime number grid 11by19
For example have a look at this great article

I hope to share some of my finds of the deep sky with all so welcome to my world!