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Topic: Stars

NASA study discovers Brown Dwarfs have strong Auroras around them

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mysterious objects called brown dwarfs are sometimes called “failed stars.” They are too small to fuse hydrogen in their cores, the way most stars do, but also too large to be classified as planets.

But a new study in the journal Nature suggests they succeed in creating powerful auroral displays, similar to the kind seen around the magnetic poles on Earth.

“This is a whole new manifestation of magnetic activity for that kind of object,” said Leon Harding, a technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and co-author on the study.

This artist's concept shows an auroral display on a brown dwarf. If you could see an aurora on a brown dwarf, it would be a million times brighter than an aurora on Earth. (Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows an auroral display on a brown dwarf. If you could see an aurora on a brown dwarf, it would be a million times brighter than an aurora on Earth. (Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft to be assisted by other missions during Pluto flyby

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What’s icy, has “wobbly” potato-shaped moons, and is the world’s best-known dwarf planet? The answer is Pluto, and NASA’s New Horizons is speeding towards the edge of our solar system for a July 14th flyby.

It won’t be making observations alone; NASA’s fleet of observatories will be busy gathering data before and after to help piece together what we know about Pluto, and what features New Horizons data might help explain.

Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft has one year remaining on flight to Jupiter

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With just one year remaining in a five-year trek to Jupiter, the team of NASA’s Juno mission is hard at work preparing for the spacecraft’s expedition to the solar system’s largest planet.

The mission aims to reveal the story of Jupiter’s formation and details of its interior structure. Data from Juno will provide insights about our solar system’s beginnings, and what we learn from the mission will also enrich scientists’ understanding of giant planets around other stars.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA captures image of Cosmic Fireworks

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less than 2 million years old — a blink of an eye in astronomical terms for stars like these expected to burn for billions of years.

This new composite image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in pink) with infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (shown in red) as well as optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories’ Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak (red, green, blue).

This new composite image of stellar cluster NGC 1333 combines X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink); infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red); and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories' Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/DSS)

This new composite image of stellar cluster NGC 1333 combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink); infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red); and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories’ Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/DSS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discovers Planets with Clouds of Helium

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – They wouldn’t float like balloons or give you the chance to talk in high, squeaky voices, but planets with helium skies may constitute an exotic planetary class in our Milky Way galaxy.

Researchers using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope propose that warm Neptune-size planets with clouds of helium may be strewn about the galaxy by the thousands.

“We don’t have any planets like this in our own solar system,” said Renyu Hu, NASA Hubble Fellow at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and lead author of a new study on the findings accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “But we think planets with helium atmospheres could be common around other stars.”

Planets having atmospheres rich in helium may be common in our galaxy, according to a new theory based on data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Planets having atmospheres rich in helium may be common in our galaxy, according to a new theory based on data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) data used to help Map the Milky Way Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Imagine trying to create a map of your house while confined to only the living room. You might peek through the doors into other rooms or look for light spilling in through the windows. But, in the end, the walls and lack of visibility would largely prevent you from seeing the big picture.

The job of mapping our own Milky Way galaxy from planet Earth, situated about two-thirds of the way out from the galaxy’s center, is similarly difficult. Clouds of dust permeate the Milky Way, blocking our view of the galaxy’s stars.

This artist's concept depicts the most up-to-date information about the shape of our own Milky Way galaxy. We live around a star, our sun, located about two-thirds of the way out from the center. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech))

This artist’s concept depicts the most up-to-date information about the shape of our own Milky Way galaxy. We live around a star, our sun, located about two-thirds of the way out from the center. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech))

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After 6 years, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has found over 1,000 planets and counting

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler spacecraft began hunting for planets outside our solar system on May 12th, 2009. From the trove of data collected, we have learned that planets are common, that most sun-like stars have at least one planet and that nature makes planets with unimaginable diversity.

Kepler launched on March 6th, 2009. Its mission was to survey a portion of our galaxy to determine what fraction of stars might harbor potentially habitable, Earth-sized exoplanets, or planets that orbit other stars.

The artistic concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. Using publicly available data, astronomers may have confirmed K2's first discovery of star with more than one planet. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

The artistic concept shows NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. Using publicly available data, astronomers may have confirmed K2’s first discovery of star with more than one planet. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope sees Halo of Gas surrounding Andromeda Galaxy

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured.

The dark, nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our own Milky Way galaxy. This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure of majestic giant spirals, one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe.

The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. (NASA/STScI)

The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. (NASA/STScI)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) hears the possible sounds of Dead Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Peering into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has spotted a mysterious glow of high-energy X-rays that, according to scientists, could be the “howls” of dead stars as they feed on stellar companions.

“We can see a completely new component of the center of our galaxy with NuSTAR’s images,” said Kerstin Perez of Columbia University in New York, lead author of a new report on the findings in the journal Nature. “We can’t definitively explain the X-ray signal yet — it’s a mystery. More work needs to be done.”

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured a new high-energy X-ray view (magenta) of the bustling center of our Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured a new high-energy X-ray view (magenta) of the bustling center of our Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Space Telescopes may use Glitter Clouds to find new Worlds in the future

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What does glitter have to do with finding stars and planets outside our solar system? Space telescopes may one day make use of glitter-like materials to help take images of new worlds, according to researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Standard telescopes use solid mirrors to image far-away objects. But the large, complex mirrors needed for astronomy can be quite expensive and difficult to construct. Their size and weight also add to the challenges of launching a space telescope in the first place.

This image shows white light reflected off of a glitter mirror onto a camera sensor. Researchers tested this in a laboratory as part of the concept of "Orbiting Rainbows," a low-cost solution for space telescope mirrors. (G. Swartzlander/Rochester Institute of Technology)

This image shows white light reflected off of a glitter mirror onto a camera sensor. Researchers tested this in a laboratory as part of the concept of “Orbiting Rainbows,” a low-cost solution for space telescope mirrors. (G. Swartzlander/Rochester Institute of Technology)

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