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Topic: Star

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft discovers it’s first Exoplanet during new mission

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft makes a comeback with the discovery of the first exoplanet found using its new mission — K2.

The discovery was made when astronomers and engineers devised an ingenious way to repurpose Kepler for the K2 mission and continue its search of the cosmos for other worlds.

“Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”

The artistic concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

The artistic concept shows NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

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NASA researchers discover dusty star system similar to our solar system

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers studying what appears to be a beefed-up version of our solar system have discovered that it is encased in a halo of fine dust. The findings are based on infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA is a partner.

The dusty star system, called HD 95086, is located 295 light-years from Earth in the constellation Carina. It is thought to include two belts of dust, which lie within the newfound outer dust halo.

This artist's concept depicts giant planets circling between belts of dust. Scientists think the star system HD 95068 may have a planetary architecture similar to this. While the star system's two dust belts are known, along with one massive planet, more giant planets may lurk unseen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts giant planets circling between belts of dust. Scientists think the star system HD 95068 may have a planetary architecture similar to this. While the star system’s two dust belts are known, along with one massive planet, more giant planets may lurk unseen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observes Asteroids circling a Young Star collide

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.

Scientists had been regularly tracking the star, called NGC 2547-ID8, when it surged with a huge amount of fresh dust between August 2012 and January 2013.

“We think two big asteroids crashed into each other, creating a huge cloud of grains the size of very fine sand, which are now smashing themselves into smithereens and slowly leaking away from the star,” said lead author and graduate student Huan Meng of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

This artist's concept shows the immediate aftermath of a large asteroid impact around NGC 2547-ID8, a 35-million-year-old sun-like star thought to be forming rocky planets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the immediate aftermath of a large asteroid impact around NGC 2547-ID8, a 35-million-year-old sun-like star thought to be forming rocky planets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope sees Pulsar Transformation

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed.

The pulsar’s radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

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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 Kepler Space Telescope discovers Rocky Planet that baffles Astronomers

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

An artist's conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

An artist’s conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

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NASA’s Planck Space Telescope captures picture of Milky Way Galaxy’s Magnetic Field

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new image from the Planck space telescope reveals the magnetic field lines of our Milky Way galaxy. The fingerprint-like map allows astronomers to study the structure of the magnetic field and better understand the process of star formation.

The image, compiled from the first all-sky observations of polarized light emitted by interstellar dust in the Milky Way, is available here.

The magnetic field of our Milky Way galaxy as seen by the Planck satellite, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA contributions. This image was compiled from the first all-sky observations of polarized light emitted by interstellar dust in the Milky Way.

The magnetic field of our Milky Way galaxy as seen by the Planck satellite, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA contributions. This image was compiled from the first all-sky observations of polarized light emitted by interstellar dust in the Milky Way.

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NASA says NESSI instrument will help Astronomers analyse Atmospheres, Compositions of Exoplanets

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first “taste” of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

NESSI got its first peek at the sky on April 3rd, 2014. It looked at Pollux, a star in the Gemini constellation, and Arcturus, in the Boötes constellation, confirming that all modes of the instrument are working.

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology's 2.4-meter (7.9-foot) Magdalena Ridge Observatory in Socorro County, NM. (New Mexico Tech)

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s 2.4-meter (7.9-foot) Magdalena Ridge Observatory in Socorro County, NM. (New Mexico Tech)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers first Earth size planet orbiting another Star in the “Habitable Zone”

 

Written by Tony Phillip
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting in the “habitable zone” of another star. The planet, named “Kepler-186f” orbits an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

The “habitable zone” is defined as the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

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NASA researchers finds signs of Exomoon

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Titan, Europa, Io and Phobos are just a few members of our solar system’s pantheon of moons. Are there other moons out there, orbiting planets beyond our sun?

NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.

Researchers have detected the first "exomoon" candidate -- a moon orbiting a planet that lies outside our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers have detected the first “exomoon” candidate — a moon orbiting a planet that lies outside our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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