Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – Data collected by NASA’s Alice instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft reveal that electrons close to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — not photons from the sun, as had been believed — cause the rapid breakup of water and carbon dioxide molecules spewing from the comet’s surface.
“The discovery we’re reporting is quite unexpected,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the Alice instrument at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “It shows us the value of going to comets to observe them up close, since this discovery simply could not have been made from Earth or Earth orbit with any existing or planned observatory. And, it is fundamentally transforming our knowledge of comets.”
This composite is a mosaic comprising four individual NAVCAM images taken from 19 miles (31 kilometers) from the center of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 20, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)
Pasadena, CA – Tantalized by images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data, scientists thought the giant asteroid Vesta deserved a closer look. They got a chance to do that in 2011 and 2012, when NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited the giant asteroid, and they were able to check earlier conclusions.
A new study involving Dawn’s observations during that time period demonstrates how this relationship works with Hubble and ground-based telescopes to clarify our understanding of a solar system object.
As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft takes off for its next destination, this mosaic synthesizes some of the best views the spacecraft had of the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn studied Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012. (NASA/Georgia Southern University NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)
Greenbelt, MD – Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory’s launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24th, 1990.
Looking like an apparition rising from whitecaps of interstellar foam, the iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago. The nebula is a favorite target for amateur and professional astronomers.
NASA’s Hubble Space telescope takes pic of Horsehead Nebula. (Credit:NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))
Greenbelt, MD – This charming and bright galaxy, known as IRAS 23436+5257, was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It is located in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia, which is named after an arrogant, vain, and yet beautiful mythical queen.
The twisted, wormlike structure of this galaxy is most likely the result of a collision and subsequent merger of two galaxies.
Galaxy IRAS 23436+5257. (Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt)
Washington, D.C. – Europe’s Planck spacecraft has obtained the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe. The map results suggest the universe is expanding more slowly than scientists thought, and is 13.8 billion years old, 100 million years older than previous estimates.
The data also show there is less dark energy and more matter in the universe than previously known.
Greenbelt, MD – Globular clusters are roughly spherical collections of extremely old stars, and around 150 of them are scattered around our galaxy. Hubble is one of the best telescopes for studying these, as its extremely high resolution lets astronomers see individual stars, even in the crowded core.
The clusters all look very similar, and in Hubble’s images it can be quite hard to tell them apart – and they all look much like NGC 411, pictured below.
Open cluster NGC 411 located in the Small Magellanic Cloud. (Photo credit ESA/Hubble & NASA)
Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed “weather map” yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.
Brown dwarfs form out of condensing gas, as stars do, but lack the mass to fuse hydrogen atoms and produce energy. Instead, these objects, which some call failed stars, are more similar to gas planets with their complex, varied atmospheres.
This artist’s illustration shows the atmosphere of a brown dwarf called 2MASSJ22282889-431026, which was observed simultaneously by NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. The results were unexpected, revealing offset layers of material as indicated in the diagram. For example, the large, bright patch in the outer layer has shifted to the right in the inner layer. The observations indicate this brown dwarf — a ball of gas that “failed” to become a star — is marked by wind-driven, planet-size clouds. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Greenbelt, MD – The Universe loves to fool our eyes, giving the impression that celestial objects are located at the same distance from Earth. A good example can be seen in this spectacular image produced by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxies NGC 5011B and NGC 5011C are imaged against a starry background.
Located in the constellation of Centaurus, the nature of these galaxies has puzzled astronomers. NGC 5011B (on the right) is a spiral galaxy belonging to the Centaurus Cluster of galaxies lying 156 million light-years away from the Earth.
This image of galaxies NGC 5011B and NGC 5011C in the Constellation of Centaurus was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys using visual and infrared filters. (ESA/Hubble & NASA)