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    M33: Triangulum Galaxy

    The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way. About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems. As for the view from planet Earth, this sharp composite image, a 25 panel mosaic, nicely shows off M33's blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions that trace the galaxy's loosely wound spiral arms. In fact, the cavernous NGC 604 is the brightest star forming region, seen here at about the 1 o'clock position from the galaxy center. Like M31, M33's population of well-measured variable stars have helped make this nearby spiral a cosmic yardstick for establishing the distance scale of the Universe. This image using data from the BYU West Mountain Observatory and the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea was featured as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 20, 2012. Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler, Subaru Telescope (NAOJ) Image data: Subaru Telescope, Robert Gendler, Michael Joner and David Laney; Brigham Young University West Mountain Observatory, and Johannes Schedler

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    High-throughput materials discovery

    Every technology is intimately related to a particular materials set. The steam engines that powered the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century were made of steel and, information and communication technologies are underpinned by silicon. Once a material is chosen for a given technology, it gets locked with it because of the investments associated with establishing large-scale production lines. This means that changing the materials set in an established technology is a rare event and must be considered as a revolution. Computational materials discovery can play an important role in fueling such revolutions

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    Gamma-Alumina Nanoparticles

    Nanoparticles of gamma-alumina obtained from a novel synthetic solvent-deficient method show promise as improved industrial catalyst-supports. X-ray PDF analysis reveals that they are born with a high concentration of defects that locally resemble boehmite. As the nanoparticles are annealed to successively higher temperatures, the boehmite-like defects heal gradually rather than disappearing in an abrupt phase transition, which explains several previously misunderstood of properties of the gamma phase.

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    French fries or onion rings

    The figure shows two different integration "grids," a standard rectangular grid versus an contour-by-contour grid. The Materials Simulation Group (msg.byu.edu) is exploring competing schemes for speeding up the integration of electron bands in materials. An important part of "first-principles" materials calculations involves integrating over the occupied electron states, the so-called "band energy integration." This is the primary source of error in first-principles calculations of solids. Improving this integration would have a dramatic impact on computational simulations of metallic systems.

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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 detector 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 compared to stars found in the solar neighborhood and represent the oldest population of stars known in the Galaxy. Stars in M15 are known to have a heavy element abundance more than 100 times lower than the Sun. 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 to their apparent magnitude measured from observed images. The color image processing for this picture is the work of renowned image processing expert, Dr. Rob Gendler.

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Recently Published Research

Pegah Aslani, Scott Sommerfeldt, and Jonathan Blotter recently published an article titled "Analysis of the external radiation from circular cylindrical shells" in Journal of Sound and Vibration. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

In the Heart of the Tarantula Nebula : In the heart of monstrous Tarantula Nebula lies huge bubbles of energetic gas, long filaments of dark dust, and unusually massive stars. In the center of this heart, is a knot of stars so dense that it was once thought to be a single star....

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

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