Written by Kailash Sahu
Baltimore, MD – Astronomers have used the sharp vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to repeat a century-old test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The Hubble team measured the mass of a white dwarf, the burned-out remnant of a normal star, by seeing how much it deflects the light from a background star.
This observation represents the first time Hubble has witnessed this type of effect created by a star. The data provide a solid estimate of the white dwarf’s mass and yield insights into theories of the structure and composition of the burned-out star.
Washington, D.C. – Humanity’s great leap into the space between the stars has, in a sense, already begun. NASA’s Voyager 1 probe broke through the sun’s magnetic bubble to touch the interstellar wind. Voyager 2 isn’t far behind. New Horizons shot past Pluto on its way to encounters with more distant dwarf worlds, the rubble at the solar system’s edge.
Closer to home, we’re working on techniques to help us cross greater distances. Astronauts feast on romaine lettuce grown aboard the International Space Station, perhaps a preview of future banquets en route to Mars, or to deep space.
Clarksville, TN – On the afternoon of August 21st, 2017, the skies over Clarksville will go dark for approximately two minutes as a total solar eclipse blacks out the sun.
A once-in-a-lifetime event, the eclipse figures to draw hundreds of amateur and professional stargazers to town for the brief opportunity to witness history.
Written by Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Baltimore, MD – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than expected.
“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation,” said study leader and Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into space. The other gets a job as an astronaut, too, but on this occasion he decides to stay home. After a year in space, the traveling twin returns home and they reunite.
Are the identical twins still … identical?
NASA is about to find out.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – More than 400 years ago, Galileo turned a primitive spyglass toward the sky, and in just a few nights learned more about the unseen heavens than all of the scientists and philosophers before him, combined.
Since then astronomers have been guided by a simple imperative: Make Bigger Telescopes. As the 21st century unfolds, the power of optics has grown a million-fold.
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.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler space telescope has witnessed the effects of a dead star bending the light of its companion star. The findings are among the first detections of this phenomenon — a result of Einstein’s general theory of relativity — in binary, or double, star systems.
The dead star, called a white dwarf, is the burnt-out core of what used to be a star like our sun. It is locked in an orbiting dance with its partner, a small “red dwarf” star. While the tiny white dwarf is physically smaller than the red dwarf, it is more massive.
NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) helps scientists measure the spin rate of a Black Hole
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.
The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.
Written by Francis Reddy
Greenbelt, MD – According to Einstein, whenever massive objects interact, they produce gravitational waves — distortions in the very fabric of space and time — that ripple outward across the universe at the speed of light.
While astronomers have found indirect evidence of these disturbances, the waves have so far eluded direct detection. Ground-based observatories designed to find them are on the verge of achieving greater sensitivities, and many scientists think that this discovery is just a few years away.
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