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Topic: Caltech

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) discovers Comet that looked like an Asteroid

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun.

The comet glows brightly in infrared wavelengths, with a dust tail streaking more than 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across the sky. Its spectacular activity is driven by the vaporization of ice that has been preserved from the time of planet formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft senses Tsunami Waves from our Sun in Interstellar Space

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new “tsunami wave” from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun’s bubble, entering a new frontier.

“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” said Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, the mission’s project scientist since 1972. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”

The Space Between: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Space Between: This artist’s concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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NASA observes Fireworks created by Black Hole in Nearby Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Celebrants this Fourth of July will enjoy the dazzling lights and booming shock waves from the explosions of fireworks. A similarly styled event is taking place in the galaxy Messier 106, as seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Herschel Space Observatory. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Energetic jets, which blast from Messier 106′s central black hole, are heating up material in the galaxy and thus making it glow, like the ingredients in a firework. The jets also power shock waves that are driving gases out of the galaxy’s interior.

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveals triggering events behind some Supernova Explosions

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Supernovas are often thought of as the tremendous explosions that mark the ends of massive stars’ lives. While this is true, not all supernovas occur in this fashion. A common supernova class, called Type Ia, involves the detonation of white dwarfs — small, dense stars that are already dead.

New results from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed a rare example of Type Ia explosion, in which a dead star “fed” off an aging star like a cosmic zombie, triggering a blast. The results help researchers piece together how these powerful and diverse events occur.

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows N103B -- all that remains from a supernova that exploded a millennium ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy 160,000 light-years away from our own Milky Way. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Goddard)

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows N103B — all that remains from a supernova that exploded a millennium ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy 160,000 light-years away from our own Milky Way. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Goddard)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures image of New Stars forming in Serpens Cloud Core

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Stars that are just beginning to coalesce out of cool swaths of dust and gas are showcased in this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS).

Infrared light has been assigned colors we see with our eyes, revealing young stars in orange and yellow, and a central parcel of gas in blue. This area is hidden in visible-light views, but infrared light can travel through the dust, offering a peek inside the stellar hatchery.

Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/2MASS)

Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/2MASS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spies Cosmic Clumps casting Pitch Black Shadows

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. Infrared observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of these blackest-of-black regions paradoxically light the way to understanding how the brightest stars form.

The clumps represent the darkest portions of a huge, cosmic cloud of gas and dust located about 16,000 light-years away. A new study takes advantage of the shadows cast by these clumps to measure the cloud’s structure and mass.

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich)

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich)

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NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations reveals Red Spot on Jupiter at smallest size ever measured

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Jupiter’s trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — has shrunk to its smallest size ever measured.

According to Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, recent NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations confirm the Great Red Spot now is approximately 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometers) across. Astronomers have followed this downsizing since the 1930s.

Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot -- a swirling storm feature larger than Earth -- has shrunken to its smallest size ever measured. Astronomers have followed this downsizing since the 1930s. This series of images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope documents the storm over time, beginning in 1995 with a view from the telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) when the long axis of the Great Red Spot was estimated to be 13,020 miles (20,950 kilometers) across.

Jupiter’s trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — has shrunken to its smallest size ever measured. Astronomers have followed this downsizing since the 1930s. This series of images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope documents the storm over time, beginning in 1995 with a view from the telescope’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) when the long axis of the Great Red Spot was estimated to be 13,020 miles (20,950 kilometers) across.

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NASA observatory, telescopes reveal new information on how Stars are Formed

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared telescopes, astronomers have made an important advance in the understanding of how clusters of stars come into being.

The data show early notions of how star clusters are formed cannot be correct. The simplest idea is stars form into clusters when a giant cloud of gas and dust condenses.

Stars are often born in clusters, in giant clouds of gas and dust.

Stars are often born in clusters, in giant clouds of gas and dust.

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover drills into slab of sandstone on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Portions of rock powder collected by the hammering drill on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover from a slab of Martian sandstone will be delivered to the rover’s internal instruments.

Rover team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, received confirmation early today (Tuesday) of Curiosity’s third successful acquisition of a drilled rock sample, following the drilling Monday evening (PDT).

This May 5, 2014, image from the Navigation Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows two holes at top center drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana." The farther hole was created by the rover's drill while it collected rock-powder sample material from the interior of the rock.

This May 5, 2014, image from the Navigation Camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows two holes at top center drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” The farther hole was created by the rover’s drill while it collected rock-powder sample material from the interior of the rock.

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