Science!
August 28, 2014

Yale astronomers have at last gotten a first look at the formation of "the universe's monster galaxies," Phys.org reports, and the results are fascinating.

The research, which used data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, was published Wednesday in the journal Nature. It marks the first time astronomers have seen the earliest stages of a massive galaxy's formation.

The Keck II telescope's Near Infrared Spectograph allowed the astronomers to watch the galaxy — officially called GOODS-N-774 but nicknamed "Sparky" — produce massive amounts of stars. Witnessing this formation gave them new insight into how ancient galaxies may have formed 11 billion years ago — only 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

The scientists found that Sparky's formation is unique to the early universe that it developed in: its rapid gas movement was often violent, and it produced as many as 300 stars per year — an astounding amount of stars, especially considering its relatively tiny size (it measured roughly 6,000 light-years across). The Milky Way, by contrast, only produces roughly 10 stars annually, but spans 100,000 light-years.

"I think our discovery settles the question of whether this mode of building galaxies actually happened or not," said Pieter van Dokkum, one of the Yale astronomers. "The question now is, 'How often did this occur?' We suspect there are other galaxies like this that are even fainter in near-infrared wavelengths. We had been searching for this galaxy for years, and it's very exciting that we finally found it." --Meghan DeMaria

Controversy
10:17 a.m. ET

In the midst of a very bumpy press tour for Avengers: Age of Ultron last month, stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner drew criticism for an interview in which they called Black Widow, the character played by Scarlett Johansson, a "slut" and a "complete whore." As the controversy bubbled over, Chris Evans issued a genuine-sounding apology, Jeremy Renner issued a not-so-genuine-sounding apology, and everyone pretty much moved on.

Except, apparently, Jeremy Renner. In a Monday interview on Conan, Renner doubled down on his original comment. "Yeah, it was a joke. Off-color. Whatever. I'm unapologetic about a lot of things," said Renner. "But, yeah, I got in a lot of trouble. Internet trouble. I guess that's a thing now you can get in."

"Now, mind you, I was talking about a fictional character, and fictional behavior. But, Conan: If you slept with four of the six Avengers — no matter how much fun you had — you'd be a slut. Just saying. I'd be a slut."

Of course, the original controversy stemmed from the double standard about how a man with multiple partners isn't generally labeled a "slut" or a "whore" — so yeah, still kind of missing the point, Renner. Scott Meslow

Secret Agent Man?
9:46 a.m. ET
Screenshot

A South Korean citizen and New York University student detained after sneaking into North Korea says he was on a vigilante peace mission — and getting caught was part of his plan.

"I wanted to be arrested," the student, 21-year-old Won-moon Joo, told CNN.

Joo, who is a permanent U.S. resident, told the network he hopped some barbed wire, walked from China into North Korea, and kept on walking until some soldiers stopped him. His compelling motive: The vague notion that his illegal entrance into the Hermit Kingdom would "have some good effect."

"I thought that some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations between the North and the South," Joo told CNN.

Asked to explain what that "great event" could be, Joo added, "I am not completely sure yet." Jon Terbush

Baltimore
9:43 a.m. ET
Mark Makela/Stringer/Getty Images

A new poll from the Pew Research Center found strong support for the criminal charges brought against the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.

The poll, conducted via phone from April 30 to May 3, asked 1,000 adults about their opinions on the recent events in Baltimore. Gray, 25, died in April while in police custody, inciting protests and riots in Baltimore.

Sixty-five percent of poll respondents said that it was the "right decision" for Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to file charges against the officers, and only 16 percent said it was the wrong decision. Among white respondents, 60 percent agreed with the decision, as did 78 percent of black respondents. Meghan DeMaria

In a galaxy far, far away
9:39 a.m. ET
Facebook.com/Star Wars

Though he had just four lines of dialogue and a ridiculous, embarrassing death in the original Star Wars trilogy, bounty hunter Boba Fett has long been a favorite among Star Wars fans. (Never underestimate the power of a cool-looking helmet.) George Lucas filled in Boba Fett's background in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but fans were less than thrilled about a story that focused on Boba Fett as a whiny little kid.

Despite these missteps, Boba Fett is set to fly again. The Wrap reports that Disney's second planned Star Wars spin-off will be a Boba Fett origin story set in "the rich world of bounty hunters," and scheduled to hit theaters in 2018. 

Unfortunately, the Boba Fett spin-off has already hit a snag; under murky circumstances, previously announced director Josh Trank has left the film, and the search for a new director is ongoing. Scott Meslow

2016 Watch
9:05 a.m. ET
Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has no credible challenger for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and a majority of Democrats are perfectly content with that. Fifty-six percent of registered Democratic voters say they don't care if Clinton faces a serious challenger next year, while only 43 percent say a Clinton cakewalk concerns them, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday.

The majority will likely get their wish. Clinton typically leads her closest potential rivals by around 50 percentage points in early election polls.

In addition to Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only major candidate to have formally entered the race on the Democratic side. Jon Terbush

whoops
8:16 a.m. ET
Michael Appleton/Pool/Getty Images

It seems that even the New York City mayor isn't immune to commuter frustration.

Bill de Blasio meant to email the head of his security detail about his subway commute, but he accidentally sent a copy to The New York Times, too.

In the now-public email addressed to Deputy Inspector Howard Redmond (subject line: "2 problems today"), de Blasio says candidly, "We need a better system."

De Blasio apparently tried to join average New Yorkers by riding the subway to a Manhattan event on Monday. But when no trains came, de Blasio left the subway, only to find his security vehicles were gone. In the email, de Blasio scolds his security detail for not "waiting to confirm" he made it onto a train.

But aside from reprimanding his staff, de Blasio also voices some pretty classic NYC complaints: "We waited 20 mins for an express only to hear there were major delays," de Blasio wrote in the email. "This was knowable info. Had we had it, we would have avoided a lot of hassles." Preach, mayor. And maybe overhaul the MTA! Meghan DeMaria

The rich
7:42 a.m. ET
Larry Busacca/Getty Images/New York Times

Last year wasn't great for investors in hedge funds: On average, hedge funds returned a paltry 3 percent, versus a gain of 13.68 percent on the S&P 500 (with reinvented dividends included), The New York Times reports. Only five of the top 10 hedge fund managers, as ranked by Institutional Investor's Alpha, performed better than the S&P 500. But even though the well-heeled and institutional investors in hedge funds got hosed, The Times notes, "for those who managed their money, the pay was spectacular": $11.62 billion for the top 25 managers.

Or as Alpha puts it, they made "a paltry $11.62 billion combined, barely half of the $21.15 billion the top 25 gained the previous year and roughly equal to what they took home during nightmarish 2008." Citadel's Kenneth Griffin (pictured) was the top earner, at $1.3 billion last year, but the average earning was "just $476 million," not the $846 billion in 2013, Alpha added. And you may not take out your tiny violins. Peter Weber

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