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

[more stories]

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.

Sunspot 1034 and Active Sunspot Region 1035 [video]

December 21, 2009 10:32 by scibuff

Solar scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots. Sunspots are caused by magnetic activity that inhibits convection regions forming “colder” areas (roughly 3,000-4,500 K) on Sun’s photosphere. They appear dark only in contrast to the surrounding area (at about 5,780 K). As the Sun’s magnetic field changes over time (back and forth from a maximum to a minimum), the number of sunspots varies. The current solar cycle (24), “officially” began with the appearance of sunspot 981 on January 4, 2008. For almost two years the cycle 24 has been quite boring (the sun has been spotless for about 260 days this year). As the expected increase of solar magnetic activity is about a year overdue, the last week’s appearance of sunspot 1034 and the active sunspot region 1035 (which grew into size of several Earth radii) finally “brightened” things a little.

Sunspot 1034 and Active Sunspot Region 1035 6 times wider than Earth - Credit: SOHO (ESA & NASA)

In the video above, the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captures the appearance of the sunspot region 1035 on December 14, 2009.

Sunspot 1034 and Active Sunspot Region 1035 imaged on December 19, 2009 through 40mm Coronado PST with x2 Barlow and SPC900NC Webcam - Credit: David Evans

Sunspot 1034 and Active Sunspot Region 1035 - Credit: David Evans

For more David’s photos and other Sun images visit the Solarwatch Gallery and/or follow @SolarWatchPix.