Astronews Daily (2455548)

December 17, 2010 12:46 by scibuff

Top Stories

Become an Exoplanet Hunter With Newest Zooniverse Citizen Science Project – Planet Hunters is the latest in the Zooniverse project, and users will help scientists analyze data taken by NASA’s Kepler mission, the biggest, badest exoplanet hunting telescope in space. The project goes live on December 16 at http://www.planethunters.org. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Could This be the Start of a New Space Shuttle? – All is not lost for the space shuttle idea. Richard Branson is thinking big again and along with orbital sciences Corp, Sierra Nevada Corp and some others they may build a reusable taxi to space just like the space shuttle. NASA will find $200 million to help with the development. –Weirdwrap

A delicately violent celestial shell game – One of my favorite types of objects in space are the thin, ethereal shells of gas stars create when they die. So I was thrilled* to see this new image of one taken in exquisite detail by the Hubble Space Telescope: –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

X-rays From Lightning – What Superman would See – Using a custom-built camera the size of a refrigerator, Florida researchers have made the world’s first crude pictures of X-rays streaming from a stroke of lightning. –Daily Galaxy

Bright White Storm Raging on Saturn – About a week ago, a bright white storm emerged on Saturn’s northern hemisphere, and amateur astronomer/planet astrophotographer extraordinaire Anthony Wesley from Australia has captured a few images of it. “This is the brightest Saturn storm in decades,” Anthony said on his website, Ice In Space. “If you get a chance to see it visually then take it, as it may be one of the rare “Great White Spot” (GWS) outbreaks on Saturn.” –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

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Videos

Cassini Spots Potential Ice Volcano on Saturn Moon - New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal topography on Saturn's moon Titan that makes the best case yet for an ice volcano on Titan and reveals the most Earth-like candidate in the outer solar system.

  

Photos

Discovery on the pad

Discovery on the pad

ISS through clouds

ISS through clouds

Erupting Volcano

Erupting Volcano

Geminid in Death Valley

Geminid in Death Valley

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Launch of TMA-20

Soyuz lift-off with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli together with Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman for a challenging 6-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as members of Expeditions 26/27. They were launched in the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December at 19:09 GMT. Paolo’s MagISStra mission will be Europe’s third long-duration mission on the ISS. Between December 2010 and June 2011 he will be part of the ISS crew as a flight engineer. - Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2010

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 (2455523)

November 22, 2010 12:34 by scibuff

Top Stories

Delta IV Heavy Roars Off Launch Pad on Secret NRO Mission – United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, sending a classified surveillance satellite to space. Liftoff occurred on Nov. 21 at 5:58 p.m. EDT. The enormous rocket thundered to life, and as almost to underscore the secretive nature of the mission, the fiery exhaust was only visible for a short while before disappearing into thick clouds. However, long after the rocket was out of view, it made its journey known through its roar. The vibration was so visceral that vehicles and windows of buildings in the immediate area began to rattle with the raw power that was unleashed. -Jason Rhian / Universe Today

Students Develop Space Station Experiment – Everyone has to check out the five star incredible ***video*** from Valley Christrian High School in San Jose, California, as both students and adult mentors show the enthusiasm, passion and expertise that has gone into this first high school research project aboard the U.S. National Laboratory of the International Space Station. –Spaceports

NASA Study Brings Advanced Visualization to Hospitals – Guest contributor Matthew Hibbard investigates a down-to-Earth application for software intended to analyze space imagery. –Discovery News

The Strange Black Holes in Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies – Chandra X-Ray Observatory took the first x-ray picture of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) on October 13, 1999. The blue dot in the center of the image is a “cool” million-degree x-ray source where a supermassive black hole with the mass of 30-million suns is located. – Daily Galaxy

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Videos

This video is an animation showing light coming from a distant astronomical object and reaching the Earth. - Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)

Photos

Delta-4 launch

Delta-4 launch

Sunrise from the ISS

Sunrise from the ISS

Perth at night

Perth at night

Full Moon

Full Moon

Gallery Pick of the Day

MACSJ1423.8+2404

Smaller, dimmer galaxies appear to flit like moths around a radiant street light in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The brilliant central object is a supergiant elliptical galaxy, the dominant member of a galaxy cluster with the mouthful of a name MACSJ1423.8+2404. This great swarm of galaxies is located about five billion light-years away in the constellation Boötes (the Herdsman) - Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA

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 (2455497)

October 27, 2010 12:10 by scibuff

Top Stories

Hubble Predicts the Future of Omega Centauri – Using four years of data from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, astronomers have made the most accurate measurements of the movement of stars in the globular cluster Omega Centauri, and now can predict their movements for the next 10,000 years. This “beehive” of stars is tightly crammed together, so resolving the individual stars was a job that perhaps only Hubble could do. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

ISS Fires Its Rockets to Avoid Space Debris Collision – The International Space Station (ISS) fired its rockets for three minutes Tuesday to change its position in order to avoid a possible collision with a piece of orbiting junk, officials said.The Itar-Tass agency cited Russian space centre officials outside Moscow as saying that the chances of a collision were minimal – only one-thousandth of a per cent. –Daily Galaxy

Countdown to Comet Flyby Down to Nine Days – NASA’s EPOXI mission continues to close in on its target, comet Hartley 2, at a rate of 12.5 kilometers (7.8 miles) per second. On Nov. 4 at about 10:01 a.m. EDT (7:01 a.m. PDT) the spacecraft will make its closest approach to the comet at a distance of about 700 kilometers (434 miles). It will be the fifth time that a comet has been imaged close-up and the first time in history that two comets have been imaged with the same instruments and same spatial resolution. –NASA/JPL

3C186: Precocious Galaxy Cluster Identified by Chandra – NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an unusual galaxy cluster that contains a bright core of relatively cool gas surrounding a quasar called 3C 186. This is the most distant such object yet observed, and could provide insight into the triggering of quasars and the growth of galaxy clusters. –NASA/Chandra


Aboriginal Astronomers Saw Stellar Blowup in 1843
– Now a team of researchers from Macquarie University in Austrlia is reporting what they believe is the only indigenous record of one of the most spectacular southern astronomical events of the 19th century. –Airspace Mag

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Videos

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) today dedicated the nearly two-mile long Governor Bill RIchardson Spaceway at Spaceport America, representing significant progress toward launching commercial customers into space from the desert of New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson, Sir Richard Branson and approximately 30 of more than 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts attended the event along with guests from around the world and watched a flyover and landing by Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, in a captive carry with SpaceShipTwo.

  

Photos

Observaing the sky

Observaing the sky

3C186

3C186

The Sun today

The Sun today

Auroro Photos

Auroro Photos

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Bratislava, Slovakia as seen by Expedition 14 on March 13, 2007 from the altitude of 339km

Bratislava, Slovakia as seen by Expedition 14 on March 13, 2007 from the altitude of 339km

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 ext. Edition (2455491)

October 21, 2010 11:25 by scibuff

Videos

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A European team of astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has measured the distance to the most remote galaxy so far. By carefully analysing the very faint glow of the galaxy they have found that they are seeing it when the Universe was only about 600 million years old (a redshift of 8.6). These are the first confirmed observations of a galaxy whose light is clearing the opaque hydrogen fog that filled the cosmos at this early time. - Credit: ESO

  

Top Stories

Record-breaking galaxy found at the edge of the Universe – The record for the most distant object in the Universe ever seen has been smashed: a galaxy has been found at the staggering distance of 13.1 billion light years! –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

The Tug of Exoplanets on Exoplanets – Earlier this year, I wrote about how an apparent change in the orbital characteristics of a planet around TrES-2b may be indicative of a new planet, much in the same way perturbations of Uranus revealed the presence of Neptune. A follow up study was conducted by astronomers at the University of Arizona and another study on planet WASP-3b also enters the fray. -Jon Voisey / Universe Today

Astronomers Find Weird, Warm Spot on an Exoplanet – Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveal a distant planet with a warm spot in the wrong place. – NASA/JPL

Spring Has Sprung … On Titan – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent back dreamy raw images of Saturn’s moon Titan that show the appearance of clouds around the moon’s midsection. These bright clouds likely appeared because the moon is changing seasons and spring has arrived in Titan’s northern hemisphere. –NASA/JPL

New NASA Moon Plan: Pay Others to Go – Congress may have put the kibosh on NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon, but that doesn’t mean the agency is giving up its lunar ambitious. The new plan? Pay others to go. -Irene Klotz / Discovery News

Views from Mauna Kea – As this observing run on Mauna Kea draws to a close (tonight is my last night), i share another round of views from the volcano. I never really get tired of these sunsets. –Amanda Bauer

Halley’s Comet comes back to life tonight – Tomorrow morning is the peak of the annual Orionid meteor shower. It’s one of two times each year our planet intersects the orbit of Halley’s Comet and samples some of the debris the comet leaves in its wake as it rounds the sun once every 76 years. –Astro Bob

ISS Prepares for Busy Upcoming Year of Logistics Operations – The ISS Program is gearing up for what will be a very busy upcoming year of logistics operations, with a total of eleven Visiting Vehicles (VVs) scheduled to visit the orbital outpost in 2011. Manifested arrivals consist of five Russian Progresses, three SpaceX Dragons, one Orbital Cygnus, one Japanese HTV, and one European ATV. At least one, and possibly two Space Shuttles are also scheduled to visit the station next year. –NASASpaceFlight.com

Watching the Sun – After the deepest solar minimum in 100 years, the sun is finally kicking into high gear. According to Space Weather, the sun spent 260 days without any sunspots in 2009; in 2010, so far, that number has plummeted to 45. -Heather Goss / Aviation Week

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Photos

Sun with annotated sunspots

Sun with annotated sunspots

Moon closeup

Moon closeup

Sunset

Sunset

NGC 6946

NGC 6946

  
NGC 891

NGC 891

M27 - Dumbell Nebula

M27 - Dumbell Nebula

NGC 7380 - Wizard Nebula

NGC 7380 - Wizard Nebula

Jupiter with Aurora

Jupiter with Aurora

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

The most distant galaxy so far

This image shows the infrared Hubble Ultra Deep Field taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in 2009, in which several robust candidate distance-record-breaking objects were discovered - Credit: NASA/ESA

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 (2455476)

October 6, 2010 12:04 by scibuff

Top Stories

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

International Astronautical Congress – Prague 2010 Highlights – I attended the International Astronautical Congress last week in Prague, Czech Republic. I attended the Vancouver Congress years ago, but as an exhibit staffer, not a presenter. This was my first time to present papers. Quite an experience. – Beth Beck

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Videos

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

  

Photos

Monoceros R2

Monoceros R2

103P/Hartley 2

103P/Hartley 2

North American and Pelican

North American and Pelican

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

G327.1-1.1: Pushing the Envelope

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

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

Hubble Finds Smallest Kuiper Belt Object Ever Seen

December 16, 2009 19:30 by scibuff

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has discovered the smallest object ever seen (in visible light) in the Kuiper Belt, a region of the Solar System beyond the planets extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 55 AU from the Sun. The discovered object is estimated to be only 1 km across. The smallest Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) seen previously in reflected sunlight had the size of roughly 50 km. Observed at the distance of 6.76 billion km (45.2 AU), an object 1 km in diameter is about 100 times dimmer than those the HST can detect directly.

Artist's impression of a small Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) occulting a star - Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Artist's impression of a small Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) occulting a star - Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

This particular KBO was actually discovered indirectly, in the data from Hubble’s Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS), which provides high-precision navigational information to the observatory’s attitude control systems by looking at select guide stars for pointing. The extreme precision of FGS instruments can reveal the effects of a small object passing in front of a star. This would cause a brief occultation and diffraction signature in the FGS data as the light from the background guide star is bent around the intervening foreground KBO.

Hilke Schlichting of the California Institute of Technology and her collaborators reported the discovery of such a signature after an analysis of FGS data from 50,000 guide starts taken over the period of 4.5 years. They discovered a single 0.3 second long occultation event. The duration of the occultation was used to estimate the object’s distance and the amount of dimming provided means for determining its size.