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Topic: Stars

NASA reports Caltech Researchers discover evidence of a new Planet, Planet 9

 

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier
California Institute of Technology

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system.

The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet’s existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

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NASA reports Five Planets visible in the morning sky from now till February 20th

 

Written by Jane Platt
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars.”

Well, it’s not quite like the song about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but our solar system is experiencing an uncommon lineup that should be quite a treat for sky-watchers. The solar system itself hasn’t changed — it’s just that the timing of the planets orbiting the sun puts them into a lineup that makes for good viewing by Earthlings.

Early risers have an opportunity to see five naked-eye planets in pre-dawn skies during late January and continuing through late February. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Early risers have an opportunity to see five naked-eye planets in pre-dawn skies during late January and continuing through late February. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes discovers two massive stars in Eta Carinae system

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth, is best known for an enormous eruption seen in the mid-19th century that hurled at least 10 times the sun’s mass into space.

This expanding veil of gas and dust , which still shrouds Eta Carinae, makes it the only object of its kind known in our galaxy. Now a study using archival data from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes has found five objects with similar properties in other galaxies for the first time.

Hubble view of M83 -- the only galaxy known to host two potential "Eta twins." Its high rate of star formation increases the chances of finding massive stars that have recently undergone an Eta Carinae-like outburst. Bottom: Hubble data showing the locations of M83's Eta twins. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and R. Khan (GSFC and ORAU))

Hubble view of M83 — the only galaxy known to host two potential “Eta twins.” Its high rate of star formation increases the chances of finding massive stars that have recently undergone an Eta Carinae-like outburst. Bottom: Hubble data showing the locations of M83’s Eta twins. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and R. Khan (GSFC and ORAU))

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NASA Space Telescopes observe wakes left by fast moving Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers are finding dozens of the fastest stars in our galaxy with the help of images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

When some speedy, massive stars plow through space, they can cause material to stack up in front of them in the same way that water piles up ahead of a ship. Called bow shocks, these dramatic, arc-shaped features in space are leading researchers to uncover massive, so-called runaway stars.

Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in these images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wyoming)

Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in these images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wyoming)

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NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes Exoplanet Survey unravels Mystery of Missing Water

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery — why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

Of the nearly 2,000 planets confirmed to be orbiting other stars, a subset of them are gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. However, they orbit very close to their stars, making them blistering hot.

This image shows an artist's impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

This image shows an artist’s impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

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NASA Thruster system aboard LISA Pathfinder spacecraft

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is on its way to space, having successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana (December 3rd local time/December 2nd PST). On board is the state-of-the-art Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), a thruster technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

LISA Pathfinder, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to test technologies that could one day detect gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, are ripples in spacetime produced by any accelerating body.

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft continues hunting asteroids long past its planned lifetime

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The NEOWISE mission hunts for near-Earth objects (NEOs) using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. Funded by NASA’s NEO Observations Program, the NEOWISE mission uses images taken by the spacecraft to look for asteroids and comets, providing a rich source of measurements of solar system objects at infrared wavelengths.

These measurements include wavelengths that are difficult or impossible to detect directly from the ground.

NEOWISE is one of 54 ongoing projects supported by the NEO Observations Program in fiscal year 2015. NASA-funded survey projects have found 98 percent of the known catalogue of more than 13,000 NEOs. NASA-funded surveys are currently finding NEOs at a rate of about 1,500 per year.

This artist's concept shows the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Space Telescopes discover Giant Galaxy Cluster

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a giant gathering of galaxies in a very remote part of the universe, thanks to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The galaxy cluster, located 8.5 billion light-years away, is the most massive structure yet found at such great distances.

Galaxy clusters are gravitationally bound groups of thousands of galaxies, which themselves each contain hundreds of billions of stars. The clusters grow bigger and bigger over time as they acquire new members.

The galaxy cluster called MOO J1142+1527 can be seen here as it existed when light left it 8.5 billion years ago. The red galaxies at the center of the image make up the heart of the galaxy cluster. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Gemini/CARMA)

The galaxy cluster called MOO J1142+1527 can be seen here as it existed when light left it 8.5 billion years ago. The red galaxies at the center of the image make up the heart of the galaxy cluster. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Gemini/CARMA)

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NASA reports Comet Lovejoy releasing Alcohol into Space

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet.

The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

Picture of the comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on 12 February 2015 from 50km south of Paris. (Fabrice Noel)

Picture of the comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on 12 February 2015 from 50km south of Paris. (Fabrice Noel)

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NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes discover Galaxy filled with new Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a rare beast of a galaxy cluster whose heart is bursting with new stars. The unexpected find, made with the help of NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, suggests that behemoth galaxies at the cores of these massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from another galaxy.

“Usually, the stars at the centers of galaxy clusters are old and dead, essentially fossils,” said Tracy Webb of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, lead author of a new paper on the findings accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “But we think the giant galaxy at the center of this cluster is furiously making new stars after merging with a smaller galaxy.”

A massive cluster of galaxies, called SpARCS1049+56, can be seen in this multi-wavelength view from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/STScI/ESA/JPL-Caltech/McGill)

A massive cluster of galaxies, called SpARCS1049+56, can be seen in this multi-wavelength view from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/STScI/ESA/JPL-Caltech/McGill)

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