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Topic: Astronomers

NASA Telescopes used to study unusual Flash of Light nicknamed “The Cow”

 

Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A brief and unusual flash spotted in the night sky on June 16th, 2018, puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists across the globe. The event – called AT2018cow and nicknamed “the Cow” after the coincidental final letters in its official name – is unlike any celestial outburst ever seen before, prompting multiple theories about its source.

Over three days, the Cow produced a sudden explosion of light at least 10 times brighter than a typical supernova, and then it faded over the next few months.

AT2018cow erupted in or near a galaxy known as CGCG 137-068, which is located about 200 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. This zoomed-in image shows the location of the "Cow" in the galaxy. (Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

AT2018cow erupted in or near a galaxy known as CGCG 137-068, which is located about 200 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. This zoomed-in image shows the location of the “Cow” in the galaxy. (Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers hot Neptune losing its Atmosphere

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Fishermen would be puzzled if they netted only big and little fish, but few medium-sized fish. Astronomers likewise have been perplexed in conducting a census of star-hugging extrasolar planets. They have found hot Jupiter-sized planets and hot super-Earths (planets no more than 1.5 times Earth’s diameter).

These planets are scorching hot because they orbit very close to their star. But so-called “hot Neptunes,” whose atmospheres are heated to more than 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, have been much harder to find. In fact, only about a handful of hot Neptunes have been found so far.

This artist's illustration shows a giant cloud of hydrogen streaming off a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 97 light-years from Earth. The exoplanet is tiny compared to its star, a red dwarf named GJ 3470. The star's intense radiation is heating the hydrogen in the planet's upper atmosphere to a point where it escapes into space. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

This artist’s illustration shows a giant cloud of hydrogen streaming off a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 97 light-years from Earth. The exoplanet is tiny compared to its star, a red dwarf named GJ 3470. The star’s intense radiation is heating the hydrogen in the planet’s upper atmosphere to a point where it escapes into space. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft to determine asteroid Bennu’s exact orbit

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On December 3rd, 2018 after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid.

It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.

Generations of planetary scientists will get to study pieces of the primitive materials that formed our cosmic neighborhood and to better understand the role asteroids may have played in delivering life-forming compounds to planets and moons.

This artist's concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu's surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it's trajectory. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu’s surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it’s trajectory. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope expands view of far off Galaxies

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The universe is a big place. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope’s views burrow deep into space and time, but cover an area a fraction the angular size of the full Moon. The challenge is that these “core samples” of the sky may not fully represent the universe at large.

This dilemma for cosmologists is called cosmic variance. By expanding the survey area, such uncertainties in the structure of the universe can be reduced.

This image shows a massive galaxy cluster embedded in the middle of a field of nearly 8,000 galaxies scattered across space and time. This "galaxies galore" snapshot is from a new Hubble Space Telescope survey to boldly expand its view by significantly enlarging the area covered around huge galaxy clusters previously photographed by Hubble. (NASA, ESA, A. Koekemoer (STScI), M. Jauzac (Durham University), C. Steinhardt (Niels Bohr Institute), and the BUFFALO team)

This image shows a massive galaxy cluster embedded in the middle of a field of nearly 8,000 galaxies scattered across space and time. This “galaxies galore” snapshot is from a new Hubble Space Telescope survey to boldly expand its view by significantly enlarging the area covered around huge galaxy clusters previously photographed by Hubble. (NASA, ESA, A. Koekemoer (STScI), M. Jauzac (Durham University), C. Steinhardt (Niels Bohr Institute), and the BUFFALO team)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures Ultraviolet Panoramic View of the Universe

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe.

The field features approximately 15,000 galaxies, about 12,000 of which are forming stars. Hubble’s ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos’ busiest star-forming period, which happened about 3 billion years after the big bang.

Astronomers have just assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe’s evolutionary history, based on a broad spectrum of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. (NASA, ESA, P. Oesch (University of Geneva), and M. Montes (University of New South Wales))

Astronomers have just assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe’s evolutionary history, based on a broad spectrum of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. (NASA, ESA, P. Oesch (University of Geneva), and M. Montes (University of New South Wales))

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory sees Planet destroyed by nearby Star

 

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Scientists may have observed, for the first time, the destruction of a young planet or planets around a nearby star. Observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicate that the parent star is now in the process of devouring the planetary debris. This discovery gives insight into the processes affecting the survival of infant planets.

Since 1937, astronomers have puzzled over the curious variability of a young star named RW Aur A, located about 450 light years from Earth. Every few decades, the star’s optical light has faded briefly before brightening again. In recent years, astronomers have observed the star dimming more frequently, and for longer periods.

This artist’s illustration depicts the destruction of a young planet or planets, which scientists may have witnessed for the first time using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss; X-ray spectrum: NASA/CXC/MIT/H. M.Günther)

This artist’s illustration depicts the destruction of a young planet or planets, which scientists may have witnessed for the first time using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss; X-ray spectrum: NASA/CXC/MIT/H. M.Günther)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory study shows Black Holes stop Star Formation in “Red Nugget” Galaxies

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – About a decade ago, astronomers discovered a population of small, but massive galaxies called “red nuggets.” A new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in these galaxies and may have used some of the untapped stellar fuel to grow to unusually massive proportions.

Red nuggets were first discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope at great distances from Earth, corresponding to times only about three or four billion years after the Big Bang. They are relics of the first massive galaxies that formed within only one billion years after the Big Bang.

Artist's illustration and X-ray image of "red nugget" galaxy Mrk 1216. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MTA-Eötvös University/N. Werner et al., Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

Artist’s illustration and X-ray image of “red nugget” galaxy Mrk 1216. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/MTA-Eötvös University/N. Werner et al., Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

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NASA reports Neutron Star spotted ouside of Milky Way Galaxy

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Astronomers have discovered a special kind of neutron star for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy, using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

Neutron stars are the ultra dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion. This newly identified neutron star is a rare variety that has both a low magnetic field and no stellar companion.

The neutron star is located within the remains of a supernova – known as 1E 0102.2-7219 (E0102 for short) – in the Small Magellanic Cloud, located 200,000 light years from Earth.

(Credits: X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI))

(Credits: X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope finds farthest Star on record

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – More than halfway across the universe, an enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the farthest individual star ever seen. Normally, it would be much too faint to view, even with the world’s largest telescopes.

But through a quirk of nature that tremendously amplifies the star’s feeble glow, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope were able to pinpoint this faraway star and set a new distance record. They also used Icarus to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a foreground galaxy cluster.

Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is only visible because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about 5 billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star's brightening in 2016. (NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota))

Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is only visible because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about 5 billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star’s brightening in 2016. (NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers ancient Relic Galaxy

 

Written by Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Astronomers have put NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on an Indiana Jones-type quest to uncover an ancient “relic galaxy” in our own cosmic backyard.

The very rare and odd assemblage of stars has remained essentially unchanged for the past 10 billion years. This wayward stellar island provides valuable new insights into the origin and evolution of galaxies billions of years ago.

The galaxy, NGC 1277, started its life with a bang long ago, ferociously churning out stars 1,000 times faster than seen in our own Milky Way today. But it abruptly went quiescent as the baby boomer stars aged and grew ever redder.

This is a Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy NGC 1277. The galaxy is unique in that it is considered a relic of what galaxies were like in the early universe. The galaxy is composed exclusively of aging stars that were born 10 billion years ago. But unlike other galaxies in the local universe, it has not undergone any further star formation. (NASA, ESA, and M. Beasley (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias))

This is a Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy NGC 1277. The galaxy is unique in that it is considered a relic of what galaxies were like in the early universe. The galaxy is composed exclusively of aging stars that were born 10 billion years ago. But unlike other galaxies in the local universe, it has not undergone any further star formation. (NASA, ESA, and M. Beasley (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias))

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