Breaking News: A newly discovered asteroid, designated 2010 WA, is projected to fly by at the altitude of roughly 39,000 km around 3:45 UT tomorrow, November 17. The object was discovered by Catalina Sky Survey telescope at Mount Lemmon last night (Nov. 16). MPEC-2010W03
So is Pluto a planet after all? – The news last week that Eris might actually be a tiny bit smaller than Pluto led to the inevitable question: doesn’t this mean that Pluto should be a planet, after all? The simple obvious answer to this question is no –Mike Brown
Sunset on Mars – I know, it may not look like much, but think about what you’re seeing: a sunset on another world. And those images were taken by a robotic probe that took years to design and build, months to travel the hundreds of millions of kilometers to get to Mars, a harrowing few minutes to descend on a breath of fire through the thin air to land on the surface, and then nearly seven years to travel the landscape long, long past its design specifications. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy
Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole – Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy. –NASA
Jon Kristoffersen took these images of Jupiter from Crete, Greece, about a week before the stripe began to return. Jupiter dances with two of its moons, Io (left) and Europa. Images: Jon Kristoffersen. Animation: Emil Kraaikamp
Saturn’s Rings Formed from Large Moon’s Destruction – The formation of Saturn‘s rings has been one of the classical if not eternal questions in astronomy. But one researcher has provided a provocative new theory to answer that question. Robin Canup from the Southwest Research Institute has uncovered evidence that the rings came from a large, Titan-sized moon that was destroyed as it spiraled into a young Saturn. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
Trojans May Yet Rain Down – In the past decade Neptunian Trojans have been discovered. By the end of this summer, six have been confirmed. Yet despite this small sample, these objects have some unexpected properties and may outnumber the number of asteroids in the main belt by an order of magnitude. – Jon Voisey / Universe Today
China’s Chang’E-2 in Lunar Orbit – Chang’E-2 was captured by the lunar gravity fields after five days of spaceflight. The Chinese space probe has become as lunar orbiter at 11:40, 6th Oct (Beijing local time), according to Yong-Chun Zheng of the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences. –Spaceports
The Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft and its booster were moved to its launch pad on a railcar Oct. 5 for final preparations prior to its launch Oct. 8 to the International Space Station. The Soyuz will carry Expedition 25 Soyuz Commander Alexander Kaleri, NASA Flight Engineer Scott Kelly and Russian Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka to the orbiting laboratory. The trio will spend six months on the complex, joining station Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker, who have been in orbit since June. - Credit: NASA TV
North American and Pelican
Gallery Pick of the Day
G327.1-1.1: Pushing the Envelope - G327 is the aftermath of a star that exploded as a supernova. X-rays are blue, radio data are red and yellow, and infrared data show the stars in the field - Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al. and ESA/XMM-Newton Radio: SIFA/MOST and CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA; Infrared: UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF/2MASS
Additional Shuttle Mission Almost Guaranteed – For some time now there have been rumors and speculation that there will be an additional flight added to the two currently remaining on the shuttle manifest. With the passage of the Senate 2010 NASA Authorization Act (S. 3729) the mission which would be STS-135 – is now all but a certainty. -Jason Rhian / Universe Today
House to vote on Senate NASA bill – The US House of Representatives is slated to vote on a NASA appropriations bill WEDNESDAY. The bill is essentially the same the Senate passed recently. The House had a compromise bill up for debate, but decided yesterday there wasn’t time before Congress goes on vacation. So they are going to vote on the Senate version instead. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy
Kepler Mission Manager Update – Science team members are preparing to announce the mission’s latest discovery in early November. Additionally, the science team is expected to validate the Kepler 9d planet in the near future. Kepler 9d, which is about one and a half times larger than Earth, was announced as a planetary candidate at a media telecon held Aug. 26, 2010. –Kepler / NASA
Scientists Catch First Glimpse of ‘Pseudo’ Hawking Radiation – There’s a bit of buzz this week in science news about the first observation of “Hawking radiation” in the laboratory by scientists at the University of Milan. It’s interesting, to be sure, and definitely worthy of note, but let’s be clear about one thing: we’re talking about an analogue of a black hole emitting Hawking radiation, not the real deal… –Discovery News
Shuttle's Final Fuel Tank Arrives at Kennedy - Credit: NASA TV
An Airplane in Front of the Moon
Widefield Orion's Sword in HaRGB
Light Show Over the VAB
Gallery Pick of the Day
Composite image of the Crab Nebula (M1) with data from three of NASA's Great Observatories. The Chandra X-ray image is shown in blue, the Hubble Space Telescope optical image is in red and yellow, and the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared image is in purple - Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Seward; Optical: NASA/ESA/ASU/J.Hester & A.Loll; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Minn./R.Gehrz
A star’s spectacular death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth as the supernova of 1054 A.D. Now, almost a thousand years later, a super dense object — called a neutron star — left behind by the explosion is seen spewing out a blizzard of high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula. X-ray data from Chandra provide significant clues to the workings of this mighty cosmic “generator,” which is producing energy at the rate of 100,000 suns.
Two spectacular tails of X-ray emission have been seen trailing behind a galaxy known as ESO 130-001 using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Previously, the Abell 3627 cluster was largely unstudied. Although it is both nearby and bright, its apparent position near the plane of the Milky Way makes it difficult to observe because it is obscured by interstellar dust at optical wavelengths.
A composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 3627 shows X-rays from Chandra in blue, optical emission in yellow and H-alpha emission in red. The optical and H-alpha data were obtained with the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope in Chile - Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UVa/M. Sun, et al; H-alpha/Optical: SOAR (UVa/NOAO/UNC/CNPq-Brazil)/M.Sun et al.
ESO 137-001 is plunging into the galaxy cluster causing its cooler gas to be stripped by the cluster’s much hotter gas. The brighter of the two tails has been seen before and extends for about 260,000 light years. The detection of the second, fainter tail, however, was a surprise to the scientists.
The X-ray tails were created when cool gas from ESO 137-001 (with a temperature of about ten degrees above absolute zero) was stripped by hot gas (about 100 million degrees) as it travels towards the center of the galaxy cluster. What astronomers observe with Chandra is essentially the evaporation of the cold gas, which glows at a temperature of about 10 million degrees. Evidence of gas with temperatures between 100 and 1,000 degrees Kelvin in the tail was also found with the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Phenomena like these in ESO 137-001 have a significant effect on how galaxies evolve. The stripping of gas is thought to have a significant effect on galaxy evolution, removing cold gas from the galaxy, shutting down the formation of new stars in the galaxy, and changing the appearance of inner spiral arms and bulges because of the effects of star formation.
The H-alpha data shows evidence for star formation in the tails — the first unambiguous evidence that star formation can occur when cold gas is stripped out of galaxies as they fall through clusters. The Chandra data also reveal an excess of luminous X-ray point sources around the X-ray tails. Some of them are considered to be young massive binary stars associated with nearby young star clusters, giving more evidence of star formation in the tails.
Below is a selection of the best of images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory collected by nasa1fan/MSFC on Flickr. The observatory, launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. It is a part of NASA’s fleet of “Great Observatories” along with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the now deorbited Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.
Chandra Greatest Hits - Image Credits: NASA/CXC
Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope.
This Chandra X-ray Observatory image shows Westerlund 2, a young star cluster with an estimated age of about one or two million years that contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars known - Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. de Liège/Y. Naze et al
In this image, low-energy X-rays are colored red, intermediate-energy X-rays in green, and high-energy X-rays in blue. The image shows a very high density of massive stars that are bright in X-rays, plus diffuse X-ray emission. An incredibly massive double star system called WR20a is visible as the bright yellow point just below and to the right of the cluster’s center.