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Topic: Gravity

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 Voyager 2 Probe leaves Heliosphere, enters Interstellar Space

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA’s Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

Members of NASA’s Voyager team will discuss the findings at a news conference at 10:00am CST (8:00am PST) on Monday, December 10th at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington. The news conference will stream live on the agency’s website.

This illustration shows the position of NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 study discovers Galaxy that is devouring it’s smaller neighbors

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The most luminous galaxy ever discovered is cannibalizing not one, not two, but at least three of its smaller neighbors, according to a new study published today (November 15th) in the journal Science and coauthored by scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The material that the galaxy is stealing from its neighbors is likely contributing to its uber-brightness, the study shows.

Discovered by NASA’s space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) in 2015, the galaxy, called WISE J224607.55-052634.9, is by no means the largest or most massive galaxy we know of, but it radiates at 350 trillion times the luminosity of the Sun.

This artist's impression shows galaxy WISE J224607.55-052634.9, the most luminous galaxy ever discovered. A new study using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows that this galaxy is syphoning dust and other material from three of its smaller galactic neighbors. )(NRAO/AUI/NSF) S. Dagnello)

This artist’s impression shows galaxy WISE J224607.55-052634.9, the most luminous galaxy ever discovered. A new study using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows that this galaxy is syphoning dust and other material from three of its smaller galactic neighbors. )(NRAO/AUI/NSF) S. Dagnello)

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NASA explains why it’s important to study Space Rocks

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

Those clues come in the form of asteroids, comets and other small objects. Like detectives sifting through forensic evidence, scientists carefully examine these small bodies for insights about our origins.

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

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NASA’s GRACE-FO mission switches to backup system, resumes collecting data

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission has resumed collecting science-quality data and planned in-orbit checks after successfully completing a switchover to a backup system in the microwave instrument (MWI) on one of the mission’s twin spacecraft.

The in-orbit checks include calibrations and other system tests, and are expected to continue until January, when GRACE-FO will enter the science phase of its mission.

Illustration of the twin GRACE Follow-On Satellites. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Illustration of the twin GRACE Follow-On Satellites. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientists use “Pulsar in a Box” to gain better understanding of Neutron Stars

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An international team of scientists studying what amounts to a computer-simulated “pulsar in a box” are gaining a more detailed understanding of the complex, high-energy environment around spinning neutron stars, also called pulsars.

The model traces the paths of charged particles in magnetic and electric fields near the neutron star, revealing behaviors that may help explain how pulsars emit gamma-ray and radio pulses with ultraprecise timing.

Electrons (blue) and positrons (red) from a computer-simulated pulsar. These particles become accerlated to extreme energies in a pulsar's powerful magnetic and electric fields; lighter tracks show particles with higher energies. Each particle seen here actually represents trillions of electrons or positrons. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Electrons (blue) and positrons (red) from a computer-simulated pulsar. These particles become accerlated to extreme energies in a pulsar’s powerful magnetic and electric fields; lighter tracks show particles with higher energies. Each particle seen here actually represents trillions of electrons or positrons. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe uses Venus gravity assist to get closer to the Sun

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On October 3rd, 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe performed the first significant celestial maneuver of its seven-year mission. As the orbits of the spacecraft and Venus converged toward the same point, Parker Solar Probe slipped in front of the planet, allowing Venus’ gravity — relatively small by celestial standards — to twist its path and change its speed.

This maneuver, called a gravity assist, reduced Parker’s speed relative to the Sun by 10 percent — amounting to 7,000 miles per hour — drawing the closest point of its orbit, called perihelion, nearer to the star by 4 million miles.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe completed its first flyby of Venus on Oct. 3, 2018, during a Venus gravity assist, where the spacecraft used the planet's gravity to alter its trajectory and bring it closer to the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its first flyby of Venus on Oct. 3, 2018, during a Venus gravity assist, where the spacecraft used the planet’s gravity to alter its trajectory and bring it closer to the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

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NASA’s GRACE-FO Satellite to Switch to Backup Instrument Processing Unit

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission team plans to switch to a backup system in the Microwave Instrument (MWI) on one of the twin spacecraft this month. Following the switch-over, GRACE-FO is expected to quickly resume science data collection.

A month after launching this past May, GRACE-FO produced its first preliminary gravity field map. The mission has not acquired science data since mid-July due to an anomaly with a component of the Microwave Instrument on one of the GRACE-FO spacecraft. The mission team is completing its investigation into the cause of the anomaly.

Artist's illustration of the NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, which will track changes in the distribution of Earth's mass, providing insights into climate, Earth system processes and the impacts of some human activities. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s illustration of the NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, which will track changes in the distribution of Earth’s mass, providing insights into climate, Earth system processes and the impacts of some human activities. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gets new images of Occator Crater on Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reached its lowest-ever and final orbit around dwarf planet Ceres on June 6th and has been returning thousands of stunning images and other data.

The flight team maneuvered the spacecraft into an orbit that dives 22 miles (35 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres and viewed Occator Crater, site of the famous bright deposits, and other intriguing regions. In more than three years of orbiting Ceres, Dawn’s lowest altitude before this month was 240 miles (385 kilometers), so the data from this current orbit bring the dwarf planet into much sharper focus.

This mosaic of a prominent mound located on the western side of Cerealia Facula was obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 22, 2018 from an altitude of about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This mosaic of a prominent mound located on the western side of Cerealia Facula was obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on June 22, 2018 from an altitude of about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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