Greenbelt, MD – A new study by astronomers at NASA, Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Technology confirms long-held suspicions about how stellar-mass black holes produce their highest-energy light.
“Our work traces the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole, one of the most extreme physical environments in the universe,” said lead researcher Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.
Pasadena, CA – Planets are pulled by the allure of their stars. Some planets, call Hot Jupiters, are gas giants that form farther from their stars before migrating inward and heating up.
Now, a new study using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope shows that hot Jupiters, despite their close-in orbits, are not regularly consumed by their stars. Instead, the planets remain in fairly stable orbits for billions of years, until the day comes when they may ultimately get eaten.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope gets unique chance to hunt Earth-sized planets during Rare Alignment with Proxima Centauri
Greenbelt, MD – During the next few years, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will have two opportunities to hunt for Earth-sized planets around the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.
The opportunities will occur in October 2014 and February 2016 when Proxima Centauri, the star nearest to our sun, passes in front of two other stars. Astronomers plotted Proxima Centauri’s precise path in the heavens and predicted the two close encounters using data from Hubble.
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission data from Voyage to Mars to aid future Deep Space Expeditions
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission radiation measurements taken as it delivered the Curiosity rover to Mars in 2012 are providing NASA the information it needs to design systems to protect human explorers from radiation exposure on deep-space expeditions in the future.
Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is the first instrument to measure the radiation environment during a Mars cruise mission from inside a spacecraft that is similar to potential human exploration spacecraft.
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovers additional Asteroids between Jupiter and Mars
Pasadena, CA - A new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter has been created using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
Astronomers used millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE all-sky survey, called NEOWISE, to identify 28 new asteroid families. The snapshots also helped place thousands of previously hidden and uncategorized asteroids into families for the first time. The findings are a critical step in understanding the origins of asteroid families, and the collisions thought to have created these rocky clans.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – On May 31st, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) — or larger — radar telescope at their disposal.
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – Given a legitimate need to protect Earth from the most intense forms of space weather — great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles that can sometimes stream from the sun — some people worry that a gigantic “killer solar flare” could hurl enough energy to destroy Earth, but this is not actually possible.
Solar activity is indeed currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, something that occurs approximately every 11 years. However, this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia so anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Anticipation is building as Comet ISON plunges into the inner solar system for a close encounter with the sun in November 2013. Blasted at point-blank range by solar radiation, the sungrazer will likely become one of the finest comets in many years.
When NASA’s Swift spacecraft observed the comet in January 2013, it was still near the orbit of Jupiter, but already very active. More than 112,000 pounds of dust were spewing from the comet’s nucleus every minute.
It turns out, some of that dust might end up on Earth.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope finds Planet near the size of Earth orbiting in the Habitable Zone of another Star
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the “habitable zone,” the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.
The Kepler-62 system has five planets: 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f. The Kepler-69 system has two planets: 69b and 69c. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-sized planets.
Written by Francis Reddy
Greenbelt, MD – An exploding star observed in 1604 by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler held a greater fraction of heavy elements than the sun, according to an analysis of X-ray observations from the Japan-led Suzaku satellite.
The findings will help astronomers better understand the diversity of type Ia supernovae, an important class of stellar explosion used in probing the distant universe.
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