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    At the Edge of NGC 891

    This sharp cosmic portrait features NGC 891. The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way. At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. The combined image data also reveal the galaxy's young blue star clusters and telltale pinkish star forming regions. And remarkably apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also be seen near this galaxy's disk. This is the first BYU image to be selected as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. This image and description were featured as the May 26, 2012 APOD.

    Credit: Composite Image Data - Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive, Michael Joner, David Laney (West Mountain Observatory, BYU); Processing - Robert Gendler

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    Explosive Acoustics

    Although exploding balloons might seem like just another distraction to keep students awake in science classes, they can also be used in serious scientific research. Recently, two BYU professors used exploding balloons to better understand how sounds like those created by other loud sources—rockets, military jets, bombs, and shotguns–travel around us.

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    Cluster expansion and high-throughput

    Using the considerable resources of BYU's Marylou Supercomputing Center, we combined two computational approaches to crystal structure prediction. The two methods complement one another and often make predictions of new phases in binary metallic phase diagrams.

    The picture above shows a new prediction in Hf-Sc at the stoichiometry of 5:1

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    First Light for the BYU 0.9-m Telescope

    This image was secured during the installation of the 0.9-m telescope at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. Data for this image is from August 27, 2009. This was the first night that a CCD had been mounted on the telescope so that imaging was possible. This 'First Light' image shows the globular cluster known as M15 in the constellation of Pegasus. The distance to this cluster is more than 33,000 light years and yet individual stars are easily resolved all through the cluster. Globular cluster stars have an extremely low abundance of heavy elements as compared to stars found in the solar neighborhood and represent the oldest population of stars known in the Galaxy. It is interesting to note the many cool red giant stars that are visible in the cluster as well as a large number of evolved horizontal branch stars that are blue in color. Many of the horizontal branch stars are known to be RR Lyrae variable stars that are useful as distance indicators since it is possible to determine their luminosity and compare that value to their apparent magnitude as measured from the observed images. The color image processing for this picture is the work of Dr. Rob Gendler. Dr. Gendler is well known for producing amazingly detailed astronomical images that are regularly featured on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

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    The new face of rhodium alloys

    The experimental and computational data on rhodium binary alloys is sparse despite its importance in numerous applications, especially as an alloying agent in catalytic materials. Half of the Rh-transition metal systems (14 out of 28) are reported to be phase separating or are lacking experimental data. We predicted stable ordered structures in 9 of those 14 binary systems. We also found a few unreported compounds in the known compound-forming systems. There needs to be an extensive revision of the current understanding of Rh alloys through a combination of theoretical predictions and experimental validations.

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Recently Published Research

Harold McNamara and Jonathan Barnes recently published an article titled "The RR Lyrae Stars: New Perspectives" in Astronomical Journal. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble : The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception....

This photograph and Description come from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day web site.

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