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Topic: Milky Way

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft measurements reveals loads of Hydrogen in Interstellar Medium

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Only the two Voyager spacecraft have ever been there, and it took than more than 30 years of supersonic travel. It lies well past the orbit of Pluto, through the rocky Kuiper belt, and on for four times that distance. This realm, marked only by an invisible magnetic boundary, is where Sun-dominated space ends: the closest reaches of interstellar space.

In this stellar no-man’s land, particles and light shed by our galaxy’s 100 billion stars jostle with ancient remnants of the big bang. This mixture, the stuff between the stars, is known as the interstellar medium. Its contents record our solar system’s distant past and may foretell hints of its future. 

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s Disk Detective project lets public help find Planet Forming Disks

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says Planets form from gas and dust particles swirling around baby stars in enormous spinning disks. But because this process takes millions of years, scientists can only learn about these disks by finding and studying a lot of different examples.

Through a project called Disk Detective, you can help. Anyone, regardless of background or prior knowledge, can assist scientists in figuring out the mysteries of planet formation. Disk Detective is an example of citizen science, a collaboration between professional scientists and members of the public.

This illustration shows a young, Sun-like star encircled by its planet-forming disk of gas and dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows a young, Sun-like star encircled by its planet-forming disk of gas and dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Two Bizarre Brown Dwarfs Found With Citizen Scientists’ Help

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With the help of citizen scientists, astronomers have discovered two highly unusual brown dwarfs, balls of gas that are not massive enough to power themselves the way stars do.

Participants in the NASA-funded Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project helped lead scientists to these bizarre objects, using data from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) satellite along with all-sky observations collected between 2009 and 2011 under its previous moniker, WISE. Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is an example of “citizen science,” a collaboration between professional scientists and members of the public.

This artist's concept shows a brown dwarf, a ball of gas not massive enough to power itself the way stars do. Despite their name, brown dwarfs would appear magenta or orange-red to the human eye if seen close up. (William Pendrill (CC BY))

This artist’s concept shows a brown dwarf, a ball of gas not massive enough to power itself the way stars do. Despite their name, brown dwarfs would appear magenta or orange-red to the human eye if seen close up. (William Pendrill (CC BY))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 30 Years in Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA is celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of unlocking the beauty and mystery of space by unveiling a stunning new portrait of a firestorm of starbirth in a neighboring galaxy.

In this Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the “Cosmic Reef,” because it resembles an undersea world.

A colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope's 30 years of viewing the wonders of space. In the Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. (NASA, ESA and STScI)

A colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of viewing the wonders of space. In the Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. (NASA, ESA and STScI)

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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 reports Galactic Wind Provides Clues to Evolution of Galaxies

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The Cigar Galaxy (also known as M82) is famous for its extraordinary speed in making new stars, with stars being born 10 times faster than in the Milky Way. Now, data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, have been used to study this galaxy in greater detail, revealing how material that affects the evolution of galaxies may get into intergalactic space.

Researchers found, for the first time, that the galactic wind flowing from the center of the Cigar Galaxy (M82) is aligned along a magnetic field and transports a very large mass of gas and dust – the equivalent mass of 50 million to 60 million Suns.

The magnetic field lines of the the Cigar Galaxy (also called M82) appear in this composite image. The lines follow the bipolar outflows (red) generated by exceptionally high rates of star formation. (NASA/SOFIA/E. Lopez-Rodiguez; NASA/Spitzer/J. Moustakas et al)

The magnetic field lines of the the Cigar Galaxy (also called M82) appear in this composite image. The lines follow the bipolar outflows (red) generated by exceptionally high rates of star formation. (NASA/SOFIA/E. Lopez-Rodiguez; NASA/Spitzer/J. Moustakas et al)

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NASA’s SPHEREx mission to look into History of the Universe

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected a new space mission that will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems.

The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is a planned two-year mission funded at $242 million (not including launch costs) and targeted to launch in 2023.

NASA's Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems. (Caltech)

NASA’s Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems. (Caltech)

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NASA Model gives new information on Spiraling Supermassive Black Holes

 

Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A new model is bringing scientists a step closer to understanding the kinds of light signals produced when two supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, spiral toward a collision. For the first time, a new computer simulation that fully incorporates the physical effects of Einstein’s general theory of relativity shows that gas in such systems will glow predominantly in ultraviolet and X-ray light. 

Just about every galaxy the size of our own Milky Way or larger contains a monster black hole at its center. Observations show galaxy mergers occur frequently in the universe, but so far no one has seen a merger of these giant black holes.

This photo shows a frozen version of the simulation in the plane of the disk. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This photo shows a frozen version of the simulation in the plane of the disk. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Observatory Measure the Universe’s Expansion Rate

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Using the power and synergy of two space telescopes, NASA says astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the universe’s expansion rate.

The results further fuel the mismatch between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed.

This so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe. Possibilities include the interaction strength of dark matter, dark energy being even more exotic than previously thought, or an unknown new particle in the tapestry of space.

Using two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes — NASA’s Hubble and ESA’s Gaia — astronomers have made the most precise measurements to date of the universe’s expansion rate. This is calculated by gauging the distances between nearby galaxies using special types of stars called Cepheid variables as cosmic yardsticks. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

Using two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes — NASA’s Hubble and ESA’s Gaia — astronomers have made the most precise measurements to date of the universe’s expansion rate. This is calculated by gauging the distances between nearby galaxies using special types of stars called Cepheid variables as cosmic yardsticks. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

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NASA answers the question, “What is an ‘Exoplanet?”

 

Written by Calla Cofield
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Step outside on a clear night, and you can be sure of something our ancestors could only imagine: Every star you see likely plays host to at least one planet.

The worlds orbiting other stars are called “exoplanets,” and they come in a wide variety of sizes, from gas giants larger than Jupiter to small, rocky planets about as big around as Earth or Mars. They can be hot enough to boil metal or locked in deep freeze. They can orbit their stars so tightly that a “year” lasts only a few days; they can orbit two suns at once. Some exoplanets are sunless rogues, wandering through the galaxy in permanent darkness.

The Milky Way, our own galaxy, stretches across the sky above the La Silla telescope in Chile. Hidden inside our own galaxy are trillions of planets, most waiting to be found. (ESO/S. Brunier)

The Milky Way, our own galaxy, stretches across the sky above the La Silla telescope in Chile. Hidden inside our own galaxy are trillions of planets, most waiting to be found. (ESO/S. Brunier)

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