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Topic: Astronomers

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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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to search Solar System for Water

 

Written by Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD –  Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water? Cooking up some H2O takes more than mixing hydrogen and oxygen. It requires the special conditions found deep within frigid molecular clouds, where dust shields against destructive ultraviolet light and aids chemical reactions. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will peer into these cosmic reservoirs to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.

A molecular cloud is an interstellar cloud of dust, gas, and a variety of molecules ranging from molecular hydrogen (H2) to complex, carbon-containing organics. Molecular clouds hold most of the water in the universe, and serve as nurseries for newborn stars and their planets.

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope measurements show Universe expanding faster then expected

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.

That’s because the latest Hubble finding confirms a nagging discrepancy showing the universe to be expanding faster now than was expected from its trajectory seen shortly after the big bang. Researchers suggest that there may be new physics to explain the inconsistency.

This illustration shows three steps astronomers used to measure the universe's expansion rate (Hubble constant) to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.3 percent. The measurements streamline and strengthen the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near to and far from Earth. The latest Hubble study extends the number of Cepheid variable stars analyzed to distances of up to 10 times farther across our galaxy than previous Hubble results. (NASA, ESA, A. Feild (STScI), and A. Riess) (STScI/JHU)

This illustration shows three steps astronomers used to measure the universe’s expansion rate (Hubble constant) to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.3 percent. The measurements streamline and strengthen the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near to and far from Earth. The latest Hubble study extends the number of Cepheid variable stars analyzed to distances of up to 10 times farther across our galaxy than previous Hubble results. (NASA, ESA, A. Feild (STScI), and A. Riess) (STScI/JHU)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study Mars’ transition from Wet to Dry

 

Written by Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD –  The planet Mars has fascinated scientists for over a century. Today, it is a frigid desert world with a carbon dioxide atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth’s. But evidence suggests that in the early history of our solar system, Mars had an ocean’s worth of water.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study Mars to learn more about the planet’s transition from wet to dry, and what that means about its past and present habitability.

Hydrogen atoms escape from the Mars upper atmosphere, while water containing heavy hydrogen (deuterium) remains trapped on the planet. The escape of hydrogen helped to turn Mars from a wet planet 4.5 billion years ago into a dry world today. (NASA)

Hydrogen atoms escape from the Mars upper atmosphere, while water containing heavy hydrogen (deuterium) remains trapped on the planet. The escape of hydrogen helped to turn Mars from a wet planet 4.5 billion years ago into a dry world today. (NASA)

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NASA discovers Two Asteroid this week that will safely pass by Earth

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -Two small asteroids recently discovered by astronomers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) near Tucson, Arizona, are safely passing by Earth within one lunar distance this week.

The first of this week’s close-approaching asteroids — discovered by CSS on February 4th — is designated asteroid 2018 CC. Its close approach to Earth came Tuesday (February 6th) at 12:10pm PST (2:10pm CST) at a distance of about 114,000 miles (184,000 kilometers). The asteroid is estimated to be between 50 and 100 feet (15 and 30 meters) in size.

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Friday, February 9th, at a distance of about 39,000 miles. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Friday, February 9th, at a distance of about 39,000 miles. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s SOFIA Telescope used to examine Star Formation in Tarantula Nebula

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all stages – from when they’re a mass of unformed gas and dust, to their often dynamic end-of-life explosions.

NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is particularly well-suited for studying the pre-natal stage of stellar development in star-forming regions, such as the Tarantula Nebula, a giant mass of gas and dust located within the Large Magellanic Cloud, or LMC.  

The Tarantula Nebula as seen on SOFIA’s visible light guide camera during observations from Christchurch, New Zealand. (NASA/SOFIA/Nicholas A. Veronico)

The Tarantula Nebula as seen on SOFIA’s visible light guide camera during observations from Christchurch, New Zealand. (NASA/SOFIA/Nicholas A. Veronico)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data used to discover Multi-Planet System

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A system of at least five exoplanets has been discovered by citizen scientists through a project called Exoplanet Explorers, part of the online platform Zooniverse, using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

This is the first multi-planet system discovered entirely through crowdsourcing.

A study describing the system has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

This artist concept shows K2-138, the first multi-planet system discovered by citizen scientists. The central star is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun. The five known planets are all between the size of Earth and Neptune. Planet b may potentially be rocky, but planets c, d, e, and f likely contain large amounts of ice and gas. All five planets have orbital periods shorter than 13 days and are all incredibly hot, ranging from 800 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist concept shows K2-138, the first multi-planet system discovered by citizen scientists. The central star is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun. The five known planets are all between the size of Earth and Neptune. Planet b may potentially be rocky, but planets c, d, e, and f likely contain large amounts of ice and gas. All five planets have orbital periods shorter than 13 days and are all incredibly hot, ranging from 800 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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