Astronews Daily (2455492)

October 21, 2010 20:11 by scibuff

Top Stories

Call for media: reacting to threat of asteroid impacts – How would the world react to the threat of an asteroid impact? The media are invited to meet top-level experts at ESA’s space operations centre in Germany on 29 October to find out more. -ESA

Understanding the Unusual LCROSS Ejecta Plume – LCROSS was an unusual mission, in that it relied on an impact to be able to study a planetary body. Not only was the mission unusual, but so was the ejecta plume produced by slamming a hollow Centaur rocket booster into the Moon. “A normal impact throws debris out more than up, like an inverted lampshade that gets wider and wider as it goes out,” said Pete Schultz, from Brown University and a member of the LCROSS science team. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

NASA Missions Uncover The Moon’s Buried Treasures – Nearly a year after announcing the discovery of water molecules on the moon, scientists Thursday revealed new data uncovered by NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. -NASA/LCROSS

New Cometary Phenomenon Greets Approaching Spacecraft – Recent observations of comet Hartley 2 have scientists scratching their heads, while they anticipate a flyby of the small, icy world on Nov. 4. -NASA/JPL

[more stories]

Videos

Bo Zhou has found a very bright sun-grazing Kreutz-group comet hours before a toasty demise in the Sun's outer atmosphere - Courtesy of SOHO/LASCO C3 consortium. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

  

Photos

Active Region SN1112

Active Region SN1112

Bubble and M52

Bubble and M52

Isla de Margarita, Isla Cubagua, Coche, Sucre

Isla de Margarita, Isla Cubagua, Coche, Sucre

The Bechar Basin of northwest Algeria

The Bechar Basin of northwest Algeria

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Titan and Rhea

Titan is precisely twice as far from Cassini than Rhea here. As a result, in relative size Rhea appears exactly 2x larger than it actually is, compared to Titan's size. - Credit: NASA/Cassini

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily (2455483)

October 13, 2010 10:36 by scibuff

Top Stories

Gliese 581g, that new “goldilocks” exoplanet we got excited about a few weeks ago, might not exist – A group of Swiss astronomers announced yesterday at the International Astronomical Union’s annual meeting in Turin, Italy, that they couldn’t detect the “goldilocks” exoplanet found by U.S. researchers a few weeks ago. -Discovery Blogs

SOHO sheds new light on solar flares – After detailed analysis of data from the SOHO and GOES spacecraft, a team of European scientists has been able to shed new light on the role of solar flares in the total output of radiation from our nearest star. Their surprising conclusion is that X-rays account for only about 1 per cent of the total energy emitted by these explosive events. -ESA SOHO

Giant Star Goes Supernova, Smothered by its Own Dust – Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered that a giant star in a remote galaxy ended its life with a dust-shrouded whimper instead of the more typical bang. -JPL/NASA

iPhone Equipped Balloon Leaves Brooklyn for the Edge of Space - Video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rose into the upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space. Seven-year-old Max Geissbuhler and his dad Luke Geissbuhler dreamed of visiting space… -NASA Hack Space

[more stories]

Videos

The six-member crew of the next space shuttle mission, STS-133, arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 12 to participate in a full launch dress rehearsal, known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, and related training. The test provides an opportunity for the crew and ground teams to participate in various simulated countdown activities, including equipment familiarization and emergency exit training. Shuttle Discovery's crew members are Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Tim Kopra and Nicole Stott. Discovery is targeted to launch Nov. 1 on its final scheduled flight. - Credit: NASA TV

  

Photos

ISS View of the Southwestern USA

ISS View of the Southwestern USA

Crew of STS-133 arrives at KSC

Crew of STS-133 arrives at KSC

NGC 1316

NGC 1316

NGC7000 + IC 5070 in Ha/sG/OIII

NGC7000 + IC 5070 in Ha/sG/OIII

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Olympus Mons from space

Olympus Mons stands 27 kilometres high above the mean surface of Mars, being the tallest known volcano and mountain in the Solar System. It is about three times taller than Earth's Mt. Everest.

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily (2455481)

October 11, 2010 13:11 by scibuff

Top Stories

Breaking News: Small NEO Could Pass Within 60,000 km of Earth on Tuesday – A small asteroid will pass very close to Earth this week Tuesday. Astronomers are still tracking the object, now designated as 2010 TD54, and various estimates say it could possibly come within 46,000 km on October 12, with closest approach at approximately 11:25 UT. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Virgin Galactic achieve first solo glide flight – Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight, marking another step in the company’s eventual plans to fly paying passengers. -The Independent

Chang’E 2 update: in orbit and returning data – From Yong-Chun Zheng at National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences have come several updates on the status of China’s second lunar orbiter, Chang’E 2. Chang’E 2 launched successfully on October 1 at 10:59:57 UTC. -Emily Lakdawalla / The Planetary Society

[more stories]

Videos – This Week @ NASA

Expedition 25 crew members Oleg Skripochka, Scott Kelly and Sasha Kaleri lifted off in the Soyuz capsule for the International Space Station. They're joining Commander Doug Wheelock, Fyodo Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker, who have been in orbit since June. Also, the Congress approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, paving the way for the agency's future exploration plans. Plus, Mars Meteorite, Back in the Air, the Best Station Views, and more.

  

Photos

Comet 103P/Hartley

Comet 103P/Hartley

Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania

Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania

NGC 2683

NGC 2683

Globular Star Cluster NGC 6934

Globular Star Cluster NGC 6934

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

NGC 406

The beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 406 was discovered in 1834 by John Herschel and is here imaged in great detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Rosette Baby Boom

April 12, 2010 14:48 by scibuff

The latest image of the Rosette Nebula taken by the Herschel Space Observatory reveals previously unseen stars with up to ten times the mass of our Sun. The image is a combination of three different wavelength from the infrared part of spectrum: at 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red. The raw data was acquired by Herschel’s Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE).

The Rosette molecular cloud, seen by Herschel

Infrared image of the Rosette molecular cloud in a three-colour composite made with observations from Herschel’s Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) - Credit: ESA/PACS & SPIRE Consortium/HOBYS Key Programme Consortia

The Rosette Nebula is located about 5,200 light years from Earth and is associated with a larger cloud that contains enough dust and gas to make the equivalent of 10,000 Sun-like stars. The Herschel image shows half of the nebula and most of the Rosette cloud. The massive stars powering the nebula lie to the right of the image but are invisible at these wavelengths. Each color represents a different temperature of dust, from –263ºC (only 10ºC above absolute zero) in the red emission to –233ºC in the blue.

The small spots near the center and in the redder regions of the image are lower mass protostars, similar in mass to the Sun. The bright smudges are dusty cocoons hiding massive protostars. These will eventually become stars containing around ten times the mass of the Sun and will significantly influence the formation of the next generation of stars.  The understanding of the formation of high-mass stars in our Galaxy is important because they feed so much light and other forms of energy into their parent cloud they can often trigger the formation of the next generation of stars.

Source: ESA

Filaments of cold dust stretching through our Galaxy

March 17, 2010 13:06 by scibuff

Giant filaments of cold dust stretching through our Galaxy are revealed in a new image from ESA’s Planck satellite. Analysing these structures could help to determine the forces that shape our Galaxy and trigger star formation.

Planck sees tapestry of cold dust

The image spans about 50° of the sky. It is a three-colour combination constructed from Planck’s two highest frequency channels (557 and 857 GHz, corresponding to wavelengths of 540 and 350 micrometres), and an image at the shorter wavelength of 100 micrometres made by the IRAS satellite. This combination visualises dust temperature very effectively: red corresponds to temperatures as cold as 10° above absolute zero, and white to those of a few tens of degrees. Overall, the image shows local dust structures within 500 light-years of the Sun - Credit: ESA/HFI Consortium/IRAS

The image shows the filamentary structure of dust in the solar neighborhood – within about 500 light-years of the Sun. The local filaments are connected to the Milky Way, which is the pink horizontal feature near the bottom of the image.

What makes these structures have these particular shapes is not well understood,” says Jan Tauber, ESA Project Scientist for Planck. The denser parts are called molecular clouds while the more diffuse parts are ‘cirrus’. They consist of both dust and gas, although the gas does not show up directly in this image.

There are many forces at work in the Galaxy to help shape the molecular clouds and cirrus into these filamentary patterns. For example, on large scales the Galaxy rotates, creating spiral patterns of stars, dust, and gas. Gravity exerts an important influence, pulling on the dust and gas. Radiation and particle jets from stars push the dust and gas around, and magnetic fields also play a role, although to what extent is presently unclear.

Bright spots in the image are dense clumps of matter where star formation may take place. As the clumps shrink, they become denser and better at shielding their interiors from light and other radiation. This allows them to cool more easily and collapse faster.

ESA’s Herschel space telescope can be used to study such regions in detail, but only Planck can find them all over the sky. Launched together in May 2009, Planck and Herschel are both studying the coolest components of the Universe. Planck looks at large structures, while Herschel can make detailed observations of smaller structures, such as nearby star-forming regions.

Source: ESA

For latest updates from the Herschel/Planck mission follow ESAHerschel and HerschelPlanck on twitter.

Magnificent VLT image of the giant stellar nursery surrounding NGC 3603

February 3, 2010 11:37 by scibuff

The European South Observatory (ESO) has released this magnificent image of the giant stellar nursery surrounding NGC 3603 taken at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility in Chile. NGC 3603 is an open cluster of stars situated in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way around 20,000 light-years away from our solar system. It was discovered by John Frederick William Herschel in 1834.

NGC 3603 starburst region

NGC 3603 is a starburst region: a cosmic factory where stars form frantically from the nebula’s extended clouds of gas and dust - Credit: ESA

[High-res version]

The central cluster of stars inside NGC 3603 harbors thousands of stars of all sorts: the majority have masses similar to or less than that of our Sun, but most spectacular are several of the very massive stars that are close to the end of their lives. One star in NGC 3603, namely Sher 25, was found to have thrown off matter in a pattern similar to that found for the supernova 1987A.

NGC 3603 was selected at the best target to investigate collective, massive star formation, in particular the coalescence of high- and low-mass stars in the violent environments of starburst regions. NGC 3603 is the only massive, galactic HII-region in which a central cluster of strongly UV-radiating stars of types “O” and “B” that ionize the nebula can be studied at visual and near-infrared wavelengths. Because of NGC3603′s location relative to Earth, the line-of-sight to the cluster is relatively free of interstellar dust that dims the near-infrared radiation due to matter interaction. Because enough infrared (IR) light reaches the Earth, the Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera (ISAAC) at VLT can study the densest part of the cluster resolvable only in very sensitive IR instruments.

NGC 3603

These images of the NGC 3603 region were obtained in three near-IR filter bands (Js, H and Ks) with the ISAAC instrument at the ANTU telescope at the VLT at Paranal - Credit: ESO

[High-res version]

Previously, an international group of astronomers used the ESO Very Large Telescope to perform unique observations of an interstellar nebula in which stars are currently being born. Thanks to the excellent imaging properties of the first of the four 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescopes, ANTU, they were able to demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of large numbers of small and relatively light, new-born stars in NGC 3603.

Source – ESO: The Stars behind the Curtain & Lots of Small Stars Born in Starburst Region