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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has discovered 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its fourth year of survey data. Since the mission was restarted in December 2013, after a period of hibernation, the asteroid- and comet-hunter has completely scanned the skies nearly eight times and has observed and characterized 29,375 objects in four years of operations. This total includes 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets since the mission restart.

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of the planets in our solar system into orbits that allow them to enter Earth’s neighborhood.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA discovers Dual Supermassive Black Holes

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Astronomers have identified a bumper crop of dual supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. This discovery could help astronomers better understand how giant black holes grow and how they may produce the strongest gravitational wave signals in the Universe.

The new evidence reveals five pairs of supermassive black holes, each containing millions of times the mass of the Sun. These black hole couples formed when two galaxies collided and merged with each other, forcing their supermassive black holes close together.

Illustration of supermassive black hole pair. (NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

Illustration of supermassive black hole pair. (NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovers stars at the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have found a cluster of stars forming at the very edge of our Milky Way galaxy.

“A stellar nursery in what seems to be the middle of nowhere is quite surprising,” said Peter Eisenhardt, the project scientist for the WISE mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But surprises turn up when you look everywhere, as the WISE survey did.”

The newfound young star clusters lie thousands of light-years below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, a flat spiral disk seen in this artist's conception. If alien lifeforms were to develop on planets orbiting these stars, they would have views of a portion, or all, of the galactic disk. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The newfound young star clusters lie thousands of light-years below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, a flat spiral disk seen in this artist’s conception. If alien lifeforms were to develop on planets orbiting these stars, they would have views of a portion, or all, of the galactic disk. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) data analyzed by Volunteer Disk Detectives finds possible Planetary Habitats

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A NASA-sponsored website designed to crowdsource analysis of data from the agency’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has reached an impressive milestone.

In less than a year, citizen scientists using DiskDetective.org have logged 1 million classifications of potential debris disks and disks surrounding young stellar objects (YSO). This data will help provide a crucial set of targets for future planet-hunting missions.

The marked asymmetry of the debris disk around the star HD 181327 suggests it may have formed as a result of the collision of two small bodies. The Disk Detective project aims to discover many other stellar disks using volunteer classifications of data from NASA's WISE mission. (NASA/ESA/Univ. of Arizona/HST/GO 12228 Team)

The marked asymmetry of the debris disk around the star HD 181327 suggests it may have formed as a result of the collision of two small bodies. The Disk Detective project aims to discover many other stellar disks using volunteer classifications of data from NASA’s WISE mission. (NASA/ESA/Univ. of Arizona/HST/GO 12228 Team)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer data reveals insights into how Black Holes Form

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How do you grow a supermassive black hole that is a million to a billion times the mass of our sun? Astronomers do not know the answer, but a new study using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has turned up what might be the cosmic seeds from which a black hole will sprout.

The results are helping scientists piece together the evolution of supermassive black holes — powerful objects that dominate the hearts of all galaxies.

The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) scans the sky for Planet X, but comes up empty

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After searching hundreds of millions of objects across our sky, NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up no evidence of the hypothesized celestial body in our solar system commonly dubbed “Planet X.”

Researchers previously had theorized about the existence of this large, but unseen celestial body, suspected to lie somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto. In addition to “Planet X,” the body had garnered other nicknames, including “Nemesis” and “Tyche.”

Data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as "Planet X." (Penn State University)

Data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as “Planet X.” (Penn State University)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) captures image of baby stars in the Trifid nebula

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A storm of stars is brewing in the Trifid nebula, as seen in this view from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The stellar nursery, where baby stars are bursting into being, is the yellow-and-orange object dominating the picture.

Yellow bars in the nebula appear to cut a cavity into three sections, hence the name Trifid nebula.

Colors in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared light detected by WISE. The main green cloud is made up of hydrogen gas.

Radiation and winds from massive stars have blown a cavity into the surrounding dust and gas, creating the Trifid nebula, as seen here in infrared light by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

Radiation and winds from massive stars have blown a cavity into the surrounding dust and gas, creating the Trifid nebula, as seen here in infrared light by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has three new discoveries since reactivation

 

Written by Whitney Clavin/DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In its first 25 days of operations, the newly reactivated NEOWISE mission has detected 857 minor bodies in our solar system, including 22 near-Earth objects (NEOs) and four comets. Three of the NEOs are new discoveries; all three are hundreds of meters in diameter and dark as coal.

The mission has just passed its post-restart survey readiness review, and the project has verified that the ability to measure asteroid positions and brightness is as good as it was before the spacecraft entered hibernation in early 2011.

More than 100 asteroids were captured in this view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, during its primary all-sky survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

More than 100 asteroids were captured in this view from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, during its primary all-sky survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA’s NEOWISE Spacecraft discovers it’s first new Asteroid since being reactivated

 

Written by DC Agle / Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft has spotted a never-before-seen asteroid — its first such discovery since coming out of hibernation last year.

NEOWISE originally was called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which had made the most comprehensive survey to date of asteroids and comets. The spacecraft was shut down in 2011 after its primary mission was completed.

The six red dots in this composite picture indicate the location of the first new near-Earth asteroid seen by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) since the spacecraft came out of hibernation in December 2013. The asteroid, called 2013 YP139, is the first of hundreds of space-rock discoveries expected during its renewed mission. The inset shows a zoomed-in view of one of the detections of 2013 YP139. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The six red dots in this composite picture indicate the location of the first new near-Earth asteroid seen by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) since the spacecraft came out of hibernation in December 2013. The asteroid, called 2013 YP139, is the first of hundreds of space-rock discoveries expected during its renewed mission. The inset shows a zoomed-in view of one of the detections of 2013 YP139. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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