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Topic: Orbit

NASA reports Comet NEOWISE passes by the Sun, Providing a Treat for Observers

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says a comet visiting from the most distant parts of our solar system is putting on a spectacular nighttime display. Named Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, the comet made its once-in-our-lifetimes close approach to the Sun on July 3rd, 2020, and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

The comet cruised just inside Mercury’s orbit on July 3rd. This very close passage by the Sun is cooking the comet’s outermost layers, causing gas and dust to erupt off the icy surface and creating a large tail of debris. And yet the comet has managed to survive this intense roasting.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE appears as a string of fuzzy red dots in this composite of several heat-sensitive infrared images taken by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission on March 27, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE appears as a string of fuzzy red dots in this composite of several heat-sensitive infrared images taken by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission on March 27, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s TESS Satellite, Spitzer Space Telescope find Large World Orbiting Young Star

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation. Now scientists using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope report the discovery of a planet about as large as Neptune that circles the young star in just over a week.

The system, known as AU Mic for short, provides a one-of-kind laboratory for studying how planets and their atmospheres form, evolve and interact with their stars.

This image is an artist's concept of the planet AU Mic b and its young parent star. The faint band of light encircling the pair is a disk of gas and dust from which both the star and the planet formed. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

This image is an artist’s concept of the planet AU Mic b and its young parent star. The faint band of light encircling the pair is a disk of gas and dust from which both the star and the planet formed. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

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NASA says Young Giant Planets could help answer questions on how Planets Form

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says that for most of human history our understanding of how planets form and evolve was based on the eight (or nine) planets in our solar system. But over the last 25 years, the discovery of more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, changed all that.

Among the most intriguing of these distant worlds is a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiters. Similar in size to Jupiter, these gas-dominated planets orbit extremely close to their parent stars, circling them in as few as 18 hours.

This image shows a type of gas giant planet known as a hot Jupiter that orbits very close to its star. Finding more of these youthful planets could help astronomers understand how they formed and if they migrate from cooler climes during their lifetimes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows a type of gas giant planet known as a hot Jupiter that orbits very close to its star. Finding more of these youthful planets could help astronomers understand how they formed and if they migrate from cooler climes during their lifetimes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA proposes Mission to travel to Neptune’s Moon Triton

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

This global color mosaic of Neptune's moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

This global color mosaic of Neptune’s moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

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NASA’s Cold Atom Lab aboard International Space Station takes One Giant Leap for Quantum Science

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This month marks 25 years since scientists first produced a fifth state of matter, which has extraordinary properties totally unlike solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The achievement garnered a Nobel Prize and changed physics.

A new study in the journal Nature builds on that legacy. In July 2018, NASA’s Cold Atom Lab became the first facility to produce that fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in Earth orbit. A fundamental physics facility on the International Space Station, Cold Atom Lab cools atoms down to ultracold temperatures in order to study their basic physical properties in ways that would not be possible on Earth.

This image shows six finely tuned lasers used inside NASA's Cold Atom Lab to slow down atoms, lowering their temperature. This is step one in a three-step cooling process. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows six finely tuned lasers used inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab to slow down atoms, lowering their temperature. This is step one in a three-step cooling process. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Odyssey orbiter captures Three New Photos of Mar’s Moon Phobos

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three new views of the Martian moon Phobos have been captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter. Taken this past winter and this spring, they capture the moon as it drifts into and out of Mars’ shadow.

The orbiter’s infrared camera, the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), has been used to measure temperature variations across the surface of Phobos that provide insight into the composition and physical properties of the moon. Further study could help settle a debate over whether Phobos, which is about 16 miles (25 kilometers) across, is a captured asteroid or an ancient chunk of Mars that was blasted off the surface by an impact.

Six views of the Martian moon Phobos captured by NASA's Odyssey orbiter as of March 2020. The orbiter's THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the moon is made of. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU)

Six views of the Martian moon Phobos captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter as of March 2020. The orbiter’s THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the moon is made of. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data shows Saturn’s Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The new research by scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency has implications for the entire Saturn system as well as other planets and moons.

Just as our own Moon floats away from Earth a tiny bit more each year, other moons are doing the same with their host planets. As a moon orbits, its gravity pulls on the planet, causing a temporary bulge in the planet as it passes.

Over time, the energy created by the bulging and subsiding transfers from the planet to the moon, nudging it farther and farther out. Our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year.

Larger than the planet Mercury, huge moon Titan is seen here as it orbits Saturn. Below Titan are the shadows cast by Saturn's rings. This natural color view was created by combining six images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on May 6, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Larger than the planet Mercury, huge moon Titan is seen here as it orbits Saturn. Below Titan are the shadows cast by Saturn’s rings. This natural color view was created by combining six images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on May 6, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft works with Hubble Telescope, Gemini Observatory to examine Atmosphere of Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms in the solar system, taking place more than 500 million miles away on the giant planet Jupiter.

A team of researchers led by Michael Wong at the University of California, Berkeley, and including Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Imke de Pater also of UC Berkeley, are combining multiwavelength observations from Hubble and Gemini with close-up views from Juno’s orbit about the monster planet, gaining new insights into turbulent weather on this distant world.

This graphic shows observations and interpretations of cloud structures and atmospheric circulation on Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory. By combining the Juno, Hubble and Gemini data, researchers are able to see that lightning flashes are clustered in turbulent regions where there are deep water clouds and where moist air is rising to form tall convective towers similar to cumulonimbus clouds (thunderheads) on Earth. (NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley), A. James and M.W. Carruthers (STScI), and S. Brown (JPL))

This graphic shows observations and interpretations of cloud structures and atmospheric circulation on Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory. By combining the Juno, Hubble and Gemini data, researchers are able to see that lightning flashes are clustered in turbulent regions where there are deep water clouds and where moist air is rising to form tall convective towers similar to cumulonimbus clouds (thunderheads) on Earth. (NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley), A. James and M.W. Carruthers (STScI), and S. Brown (JPL))

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NASA’s Spitzer Telescope observes orbit of one Black Hole around Larger Black Hole

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says black holes aren’t stationary in space; in fact, they can be quite active in their movements. But because they are completely dark and can’t be observed directly, they’re not easy to study. Scientists have finally figured out the precise timing of a complicated dance between two enormous black holes, revealing hidden details about the physical characteristics of these mysterious cosmic objects.

The OJ 287 galaxy hosts one of the largest black holes ever found, with over 18 billion times the mass of our Sun. Orbiting this behemoth is another black hole with about 150 million times the Sun’s mass.

This image shows two massive black holes in the OJ 287 galaxy. The smaller black hole orbits the larger one, which is also surrounded by a disk of gas. When the smaller black hole crashes through the disk, it produces a flare brighter than 1 trillion stars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows two massive black holes in the OJ 287 galaxy. The smaller black hole orbits the larger one, which is also surrounded by a disk of gas. When the smaller black hole crashes through the disk, it produces a flare brighter than 1 trillion stars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures Planetary Collision

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says, “Now you see it, now you don’t.”

What astronomers thought was a planet beyond our solar system has now seemingly vanished from sight. Though this happens in science fiction, such as Superman’s home planet Krypton exploding, astronomers are looking for a plausible explanation.

One interpretation is that, rather than being a full-sized planetary object, which was first photographed in 2004, it could instead be a vast, expanding cloud of dust produced in a collision between two large bodies orbiting the bright nearby star Fomalhaut. Potential follow-up observations might confirm this extraordinary conclusion.

This artist's illustration depicts the collision of two 125-mile-wide icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. (ESA, NASA and M. Kornmesser)

This artist’s illustration depicts the collision of two 125-mile-wide icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. (ESA, NASA and M. Kornmesser)

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