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Topic: Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope sees galaxies merging into one

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show pairs of galaxies on the cusp of cosmic consolidations. Though the galaxies appear separate now, gravity is pulling them together, and soon they will combine to form new, merged galaxies.

Some merged galaxies will experience billions of years of growth. For others, however, the merger will kick off processes that eventually halt star formation, dooming the galaxies to wither prematurely.

This image shows the merger of two galaxies, known as NGC 7752 (larger) and NGC 7753 (smaller), also collectively called Arp86. In these images, different colors correspond to different wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and green are wavelengths both strongly emitted by stars. Red is a wavelength mostly emitted by dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows the merger of two galaxies, known as NGC 7752 (larger) and NGC 7753 (smaller), also collectively called Arp86. In these images, different colors correspond to different wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and green are wavelengths both strongly emitted by stars. Red is a wavelength mostly emitted by dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s discovers bright Neutron Star among two Supermassive Black Holes

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the nearby Whirlpool galaxy and its companion galaxy, M51b, two supermassive black holes heat up and devour surrounding material. These two monsters should be the most luminous X-ray sources in sight, but a new study using observations from NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission shows that a much smaller object is competing with the two behemoths.

The most stunning features of the Whirlpool galaxy – officially known as M51a – are the two long, star-filled “arms” curling around the galactic center like ribbons. The much smaller M51b clings like a barnacle to the edge of the Whirlpool. Collectively known as M51, the two galaxies are merging.

Bright green sources of high-energy X-ray light captured by NASA's NuSTAR mission are overlaid on an optical-light image of the Whirlpool galaxy (in the center of the image) and its companion galaxy, M51b (the bright greenish-white spot above the Whirlpool), taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech, IPAC)

Bright green sources of high-energy X-ray light captured by NASA’s NuSTAR mission are overlaid on an optical-light image of the Whirlpool galaxy (in the center of the image) and its companion galaxy, M51b (the bright greenish-white spot above the Whirlpool), taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech, IPAC)

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NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program releases 360 Visual tool to Explore Alien Worlds

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Explore the plethora of planets outside our solar system with new multimedia experiences from NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP).

In addition to a new Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster celebrating a molten world called 55 Cancri e, space fans can enjoy a 360-degree visualization of the surface of the same planet, a multimedia journey into the life and death of planetary systems, and a major update to the popular Eyes on Exoplanets app.

This Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster illustration shows futuristic explorers gliding in a protective bubble over the red-hot landscape of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. Exoplanets are planets outside our solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This Exoplanet Travel Bureau poster illustration shows futuristic explorers gliding in a protective bubble over the red-hot landscape of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. Exoplanets are planets outside our solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s SPHEREx mission to look into History of the Universe

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected a new space mission that will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems.

The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is a planned two-year mission funded at $242 million (not including launch costs) and targeted to launch in 2023.

NASA's Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems. (Caltech)

NASA’s Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems. (Caltech)

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NASA uses Cassini Spacecraft data to determine length of a Day on Saturn

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, researchers believe they have solved a longstanding mystery of solar system science: the length of a day on Saturn. It’s 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

The figure has eluded planetary scientists for decades, because the gas giant has no solid surface with landmarks to track as it rotates, and it has an unusual magnetic field that hides the planet’s rotation rate.

The answer, it turned out, was hidden in the rings.

A view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

A view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Data reveals Saturn’s Rings may have formed much later than the Planet

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The rings of Saturn may be iconic, but there was a time when the majestic gas giant existed without its distinctive halo. In fact, the rings may have formed much later than the planet itself, according to a new analysis of gravity science data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

The findings indicate that Saturn’s rings formed between 10 million and 100 million years ago. From our planet’s perspective, that means Saturn’s rings may have formed during the age of dinosaurs.

An artist's concept of the Cassini orbiter crossing Saturn's ring plane. New measurements of the rings' mass give scientists the best answer yet to the question of their age. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s concept of the Cassini orbiter crossing Saturn’s ring plane. New measurements of the rings’ mass give scientists the best answer yet to the question of their age. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 Jet Propulsion Laboratory Invention Challenge

 

Written by Taylor Hill and Arielle Samuelson
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Whether via bungee cord, half-inch chain, servo motors, torsion springs, electronics or just plain gravity, 20 middle- and high-school student teams used a range of equipment to compete in this year’s JPL Invention Challenge at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The teams – mainly from Southern California but including ones from as far away as Ethiopia and Guam – took part in the “Upright Pipe Contest” on Friday, December 14th. The objective was to get a 24-inch length of two-inch PVC pipe from a horizontal position to an upright position on a platform using whatever device they could come up with, instructions not included.

Students from the Los Angeles High School's Wild Cats team compete with the invention they built for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Annual Invention Challenge. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Students from the Los Angeles High School’s Wild Cats team compete with the invention they built for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Annual Invention Challenge. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Two NASA Space Telescopes observe rapid growth of Young Star

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An adolescent star in the midst of a dramatic growth phase has been observed with the help of two NASA space telescopes. The youngster belongs to a class of stars that gain mass when matter swirling around the star falls onto its surface.

The in-falling matter causes the star to appear about 100 times brighter. Astronomers have found only 25 stars in this class, and only about half of those have been observed during an outburst.

This illustration shows a young star undergoing a type of growth spurt. Left: Material from the dusty and gas-rich disk (orange) plus hot gas (blue) mildly flows onto the star, creating a hot spot. Middle: The outburst begins - the inner disk is heated, more material flows to the star, and the disk creeps inward. Right: The outburst is in full throttle, with the inner disk merging into the star and gas flowing outward (green). (Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))

This illustration shows a young star undergoing a type of growth spurt. Left: Material from the dusty and gas-rich disk (orange) plus hot gas (blue) mildly flows onto the star, creating a hot spot. Middle: The outburst begins – the inner disk is heated, more material flows to the star, and the disk creeps inward. Right: The outburst is in full throttle, with the inner disk merging into the star and gas flowing outward (green). (Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes pictures of InSight Lander from Space

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On November 26th, 2018 NASA’s InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight’s exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The InSight lander, its heat shield and parachute were spotted by HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), which is onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in one set of images last week on December 6th, and again on Tuesday, December 11th.

NASA's InSight lander on the surface of Mars imaged by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

NASA’s InSight lander on the surface of Mars imaged by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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