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Topic: Helium

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers X-Rays from Uranus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have detected X-rays from Uranus for the first time, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This result may help scientists learn more about this enigmatic ice giant planet in our solar system.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and has two sets of rings around its equator. The planet, which has four times the diameter of Earth, rotates on its side, making it different from all other planets in the solar system.

X-ray: (NASA/CXO/University College London/W. Dunn et al; Optical: W.M. Keck Observatory)

X-ray: (NASA/CXO/University College London/W. Dunn et al; Optical: W.M. Keck Observatory)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers Planet that may have gained Second Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence that a planet orbiting a distant star may have lost its atmosphere but gained a second one through volcanic activity.

The planet, GJ 1132 b, is hypothesized to have begun as a gaseous world with a thick hydrogen blanket of atmosphere. Starting out at several times the diameter of Earth, this so-called “sub-Neptune” is believed to have quickly lost its primordial hydrogen and helium atmosphere due to the intense radiation of the hot, young star it orbits.

The hazy atmosphere of the Earth-size rocky exoplanet GJ 1132 b contains a toxic mix of hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen cyanide. These gasses may come from molten lava beneath the planet’s thin crust. The gravitational pull from another planet in the system likely fractures GJ 1132 b's surface to resemble a cracked eggshell. (NASA/ESA/R. Hurt (IPAC/Caltech))

The hazy atmosphere of the Earth-size rocky exoplanet GJ 1132 b contains a toxic mix of hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen cyanide. These gasses may come from molten lava beneath the planet’s thin crust. The gravitational pull from another planet in the system likely fractures GJ 1132 b’s surface to resemble a cracked eggshell. (NASA/ESA/R. Hurt (IPAC/Caltech))

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NASA to use ASTHROS Telescope aboard Stratospheric Balloon to study Cosmos

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says work has begun on an ambitious new mission that will carry a cutting-edge 8.4-foot (2.5-meter) telescope high into the stratosphere on a balloon. Tentatively planned to launch in December 2023 from Antarctica, ASTHROS (short for Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths) will spend about three weeks drifting on air currents above the icy southern continent and achieve several firsts along the way.

Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ASTHROS observes far-infrared light, or light with wavelengths much longer than what is visible to the human eye.

This illustration shows a high-altitude balloon ascending into the upper atmosphere. When fully inflated, these balloons are 400 feet (150 meters) wide, or about the size of a football stadium, and reach an altitude of 130,000 feet (24.6 miles or 40 kilometers). (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Michael Lentz)

This illustration shows a high-altitude balloon ascending into the upper atmosphere. When fully inflated, these balloons are 400 feet (150 meters) wide, or about the size of a football stadium, and reach an altitude of 130,000 feet (24.6 miles or 40 kilometers). (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Michael Lentz)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observations gives clues to makeup of Super Puffy Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – New data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have provided the first clues to the chemistry of two of these super-puffy planets, which are located in the Kepler 51 system. This exoplanet system, which actually boasts three super-puffs orbiting a young Sun-like star, was discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2012.

However, it wasn’t until 2014 when the low densities of these planets were determined, to the surprise of many.

The recent Hubble observations allowed a team of astronomers to refine the mass and size estimates for these worlds — independently confirming their “puffy” nature.

This illustration depicts the Sun-like star Kepler 51 and three giant planets that NASA's Kepler space telescope discovered in 2012–2014. These planets are all roughly the size of Jupiter but a tiny fraction of its mass. This means the planets have an extraordinarily low density, more like that of Styrofoam rather than rock or water, based on new Hubble Space Telescope observations. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak, J. Olmsted, D. Player and F. Summers (STScI))

This illustration depicts the Sun-like star Kepler 51 and three giant planets that NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovered in 2012–2014. These planets are all roughly the size of Jupiter but a tiny fraction of its mass. This means the planets have an extraordinarily low density, more like that of Styrofoam rather than rock or water, based on new Hubble Space Telescope observations. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak, J. Olmsted, D. Player and F. Summers (STScI))

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NASA says Stars Pollute, but Galaxies Recycle

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that galaxies were once thought of as lonely islands in the universe: clumps of matter floating through otherwise empty space. We now know they are surrounded by a much larger, yet nearly invisible cloud of dust and gas.

Astronomers call it the circumgalactic medium, or CGM. The CGM acts as a giant recycling plant, absorbing matter ejected by the galaxy and later pushing it right back in.

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

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NASA says Black Hole Seeds Missing in Cosmic Garden

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the vast garden of the universe, the heaviest black holes grew from seeds states NASA. Nourished by the gas and dust they consumed, or by merging with other dense objects, these seeds grew in size and heft to form the centers of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way.

But unlike in the realm of plants, the seeds of giant black holes must have been black holes, too. And no one has ever found these seeds – yet.

This artist's conception illustrates one of the most primitive supermassive black holes known (central black dot) at the core of a young, star-rich galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s conception illustrates one of the most primitive supermassive black holes known (central black dot) at the core of a young, star-rich galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers Water Vapor for first time on Habitable-Zone Exoplanet

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Its size and surface gravity are much larger than Earth’s, and its radiation environment may be hostile, but a distant planet called K2-18b has captured the interest of scientists all over the world.

For the first time, researchers have detected water vapor signatures in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system that resides in the “habitable zone,” the region around a star in which liquid water could potentially pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. (ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. (ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

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NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer Space Telescopes identify Planet’s Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, two NASA space telescopes have worked together to identify the detailed chemical “fingerprint” of a planet between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. No planets like this can be found in our own solar system, but they are common around other stars.

The planet, Gliese 3470 b (also known as GJ 3470 b), may be a cross between Earth and Neptune, with a large rocky core buried under a deep, crushing hydrogen-and-helium atmosphere. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses, the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune (which is more than 17 Earth masses).

This artist's illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI))

This artist’s illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI))

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NASA’s latest instrument to probe Uranus, Neptune’s Atmospheres

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Much has changed technologically since NASA’s Galileo mission dropped a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere to investigate, among other things, the heat engine driving the gas giant’s atmospheric circulation.

A NASA scientist and his team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are taking advantage of those advances to mature a smaller, more capable net flux radiometer. This type of instrument tells scientists where heating and cooling occurs in a planet’s atmosphere and defines the roles of solar and internal heat sources that contribute to atmospheric motions.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

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NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory discovers First Type of Molecule that ever formed in the Universe

 

Written by Kassandra Bell and Alison Hawkes
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says the first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe has been detected in space for the first time, after decades of searching. Scientists discovered its signature in our own galaxy using the world’s largest airborne observatory, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, as the aircraft flew high above the Earth’s surface and pointed its sensitive instruments out into the cosmos.

When the universe was still very young, only a few kinds of atoms existed. Scientists believe that around 100,000 years after the big bang, helium and hydrogen combined to make a molecule called helium hydride for the first time.

Illustration of planetary nebula NGC 7027 and helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit/D.Rutter)

Illustration of planetary nebula NGC 7027 and helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit/D.Rutter)

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