Topic: Oort Cloud
Washington, D.C. – NASA says that in early 2016, an icy visitor from the edge of our solar system hurtled past Earth. It briefly became visible to stargazers as Comet Catalina before it slingshot past the Sun to disappear forevermore out of the solar system.
Among the many observatories that captured a view of this comet, which appeared near the Big Dipper, was the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, NASA’s telescope on an airplane. Using one of its unique infrared instruments, SOFIA was able to pick out a familiar fingerprint within the dusty glow of the comet’s tail – carbon.
Pasadena, CA – According to NASA, the mystery of why Earth has so much water, allowing our “blue marble” to support an astounding array of life, is clearer with new research into comets.
Comets are like snowballs of rock, dust, ice, and other frozen chemicals that vaporize as they get closer to the Sun, producing the tails seen in images.
A new study reveals that the water in many comets may share a common origin with Earth’s oceans, reinforcing the idea that comets played a key role in bringing water to our planet billions of years ago.
Written by Lina Tran
Greenbelt, MD – Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it’s often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.
The dust consists of crushed-up remains from the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago — rubble from asteroid collisions or crumbs from blazing comets.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA’s Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.
Members of NASA’s Voyager team will discuss the findings at a news conference at 10:00am CST (8:00am PST) on Monday, December 10th at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington. The news conference will stream live on the agency’s website.
Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
Greenbelt, MD – When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai’i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial details about ices in Jupiter-family comets and reveal that quirky 45P doesn’t quite match any comet studied so far.
Like a doctor recording vital signs, the team measured the levels of nine gases released from the icy nucleus into the comet’s thin atmosphere, or coma. Several of these gases supply building blocks for amino acids, sugars and other biologically relevant molecules.
Written by Kathryn DuFresne
Greenbelt, MD – Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft — short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging, a mission that observed Mercury from 2011 to 2015 — has shed new light on how certain types of comets influence the lopsided bombardment of Mercury’s surface by tiny dust particles called micrometeoroids. This study also gave new insight into how these micrometeoroid showers can shape Mercury’s very thin atmosphere, called an exosphere.
NASA’s WISE spacecraft reveals nearly five times more comets have passed the Sun then previously predicted
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – Comets that take more than 200 years to make one revolution around the Sun are notoriously difficult to study. Because they spend most of their time far from our area of the solar system, many “long-period comets” will never approach the Sun in a person’s lifetime.
In fact, those that travel inward from the Oort Cloud — a group of icy bodies beginning roughly 186 billion miles (300 billion kilometers) away from the Sun — can have periods of thousands or even millions of years.
NASA’s WISE spacecraft, scanning the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, has delivered new insights about these distant wanderers.
Washington, D.C. – Did you get a telescope or pair of binoculars under the Christmas tree? If so, you can put them to the test by searching the Eastern sky for a view of a fuzzy comet on or shortly after New Year’s Day.
Comet Catalina, formally known as C/2013 US10, is currently perched in the pre-dawn skies as it returns to the depths of space following a recent visit to the inner part of our solar system. Named for the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the comet was discovered on October 31st, 2013.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Entangled by gravity and destined to merge, two candidate black holes in a distant galaxy appear to be locked in an intricate dance.
Researchers using data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have come up with the most compelling confirmation yet for the existence of these merging black holes and have found new details about their odd, cyclical light signal.
The candidate black hole duo, called PG 1302-102, was first identified earlier this year using ground-based telescopes.
NASA reports data from Rosetta Orbiter show origin of Earth’s water not from comets like Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – The question about the origin of oceans on Earth is one of the most important questions with respect to the formation of our planet and the origin of life. The most popular theory is that water was brought by impacts of comets and asteroids.
Data from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The findings were published today in the journal Science.
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