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    Relatively Nearby Active Galaxy

    Messier 106 is a spiral galaxy located in the northern hemisphere constellation of Canes Venatici. M106 is roughly 25 million light-years away and exhibits an active nucleus that is classified as a Type 2 Seyfert. This activity indicates the presence of a supermassive black hole with a mass of more than ten million times that of the Sun. M106 is also home to a water vapor megamaser as evidenced by 22 GHz water emission observations. The water maser observations have provided independent distance estimates for M106 that help calibrate the Cepheid distance scale and help provide confirmation for other extragalactic distance measurements. Imaging specialist Dr. Robert Gendler composed this image using data secured by Dr. Michael Joner at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. Many of the details seen in the nuclear region are enhanced by the use of data obtained through a narrow-band H-alpha filter.

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    Ready for Another Night

    University Photographer, Mark Philbrick, captured this sunset image of the BYU West Mountain Observatory in early June 2016. At the same time, Physics and Astronomy students were at work preparing the telescopes for yet another night of research observations. Data are secured on these nights for a wide variety of projects ranging from careful searches for exoplanets to monitoring active galaxies. The resulting data support research efforts of BYU students and faculty and in many cases contribute to publications by large international collaborations.

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    Orion at West Mountain

    This picture shows the familiar winter constellation of Orion setting in the west as it moves behind the main dome at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. The constellation of Orion is known as a location with giant molecular clouds and current star forming regions. Even in this short exposure, the Orion nebula is clearly visible in the sword of Orion. This picture was taken by Professor Michael Joner while working at the observatory on a clear spring night.

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    NASA Satellite Launched

    On April 18, 2018 the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched. TESS is on a two year survey mission that focuses on finding Earth-sized exoplanets. The TESS survey will examine about 85% of the total sky and include about 20 million stars. Among these targets will be a majority of the closest and brightest stars in the visible nighttime sky. TESS is expected to find thousands of planets that range from Earth size up to Gas Giants. To prepare for the launch of TESS, BYU astronomers have been developing robotic telescope facilities with a wide range of apertures to provide follow-up observations of the many new exoplanet candidates. Funding for these efforts was received from the Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium to develop five robotic telescope systems on the newly renovated observation deck of the Eyring Science Center. Photo by Michael Deep/Spaceflight Insider

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    Magnificent Desolation

    The phrase “Magnificent Desolation” was used by Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin to describe his view shortly after he became the second person to step out onto the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969. The photo shown here is centered on the relatively young crater Copernicus located just south of Mare Imbrium. This impact crater is 93 km in diameter and approximately 3.8 km deep. The rugged terrain seen here is a reminder of the magnificent desolation that is characteristic of our nearest neighbor in the solar system. This image was secured by Dr. Michael Joner using the 0.9-meter reflector operating at f/11 on site at the BYU West Mountain Observatory just after last quarter phase in early September 2018.


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Recently Published Research

Darin Ragozzine et al. recently published an article titled "Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler . VIII. A Fully Automated Catalog with Measured Completeness and Reliability Based on Data Release 25" in Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Horsehead and Orion Nebulas : The dark Horsehead Nebula and the glowing Orion Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, they appear in opposite corners of the above stunning two-panel mosaic....

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

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