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NASA discovers Galaxy that is surviving Black Hole’s Feast, continues forming Stars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says the hungriest of black holes are thought to gobble up so much surrounding material they put an end to the life of their host galaxy.

This feasting process is so intense that it creates a highly energetic object called a quasar – one of the brightest objects in the universe – as the spinning matter is sucked into the black hole’s belly. Now, researchers have found a galaxy that is surviving the black hole’s ravenous forces by continuing to birth new stars – about 100 Sun-sized stars a year.   

Illustration of the galaxy called CQ4479. The extremely active black hole at the galaxy’s center is consuming material so fast that the material is glowing as it spins into the black hole’s center, forming a luminous quasar. Quasars create intense energy that was thought to halt all star birth and drive a lethal blow to a galaxy’s growth. (NASA/ Daniel Rutter)

Illustration of the galaxy called CQ4479. The extremely active black hole at the galaxy’s center is consuming material so fast that the material is glowing as it spins into the black hole’s center, forming a luminous quasar. Quasars create intense energy that was thought to halt all star birth and drive a lethal blow to a galaxy’s growth. (NASA/ Daniel Rutter)

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NASA’s SOFIA finds Water on the Moon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).

This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water. (NASA/Daniel Rutter)

This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water. (NASA/Daniel Rutter)

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NASA says Massive Stars Are Factories for Ingredients to Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s telescope on an airplane, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, has provided a new glimpse of the chemistry in the inner region surrounding massive young stars where future planets could begin to form.

It found massive quantities of water and organic molecules in these swirling, disk-shaped clouds, offering new insights into how some of the key ingredients of life get incorporated into planets during the earliest stages of formation.

Illustration of a dusty disc rotating around a massive newborn star that’s about 40 times the size of the Sun. SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, found the inner regions of two of these kinds of discs are filled with organic molecules that are important for life as we know it. These include water, ammonia, methane, and acetylene — which is a chemical building block to larger and more complex organic molecules — illustrated in the call out. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Daniel Rutter)

Illustration of a dusty disc rotating around a massive newborn star that’s about 40 times the size of the Sun. SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, found the inner regions of two of these kinds of discs are filled with organic molecules that are important for life as we know it. These include water, ammonia, methane, and acetylene — which is a chemical building block to larger and more complex organic molecules — illustrated in the call out. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Daniel Rutter)

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NASA’s SOFIA telescope discovers Pulsing Stars ejecting Carbon Gas, Dust into Interstellar Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – As Carl Sagan famously said, “We’re made of star stuff” — but how do stars distribute their essential “stuff” for life into space?  NASA’s telescope on an airplane, SOFIA, is finding some answers by watching pulsating stars as they expand and contract, almost like beating hearts. 

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, examined several types of pulsating stars in our Milky Way galaxy, watching as some spewed carbon, a key ingredient of life as we know it, into interstellar space. 

Image of a carbon star known as CW Leonis or IRC+10216 taken by the Herschel Space Observatory. SOFIA found that some carbon stars with especially strong pulsations, called Mira variables, distribute large amounts of carbon to interstellar space where it can be used as a building block for life and other complex structures. (ESA/PACS/SPIRE/ Consortia)

Image of a carbon star known as CW Leonis or IRC+10216 taken by the Herschel Space Observatory. SOFIA found that some carbon stars with especially strong pulsations, called Mira variables, distribute large amounts of carbon to interstellar space where it can be used as a building block for life and other complex structures. (ESA/PACS/SPIRE/ Consortia)

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NASA observes California’s Wildfires from Space, Air

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As California experiences one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, NASA is leveraging its resources to help. Scientists supporting the agency’s Applied Sciences Disaster Program in the Earth Sciences Division are generating maps and other data products that track active fires and their smoke plumes while also identifying areas that may be susceptible to future risks.

“When disasters like this occur, we are able to swiftly respond to requests from our partners who need images and mapping data,” said David Green, manager of the Disasters Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Captured by the ASTER instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite, this false-color map shows the burn area of the River and Carmel fires in Monterey County, California. Vegetation (including crops) is shown in red; the burn area (dark blue/gray) is in the center of the image. (NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems)

Captured by the ASTER instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, this false-color map shows the burn area of the River and Carmel fires in Monterey County, California. Vegetation (including crops) is shown in red; the burn area (dark blue/gray) is in the center of the image. (NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems)

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NASA flies Mars Perseverance Rover to Florida to prepare for Launch

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Progress continues to speed along as NASA’s Perseverance rover readies for its launch this summer. On May 11th, the rover team at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida received the tubes tasked with holding the first samples collected at Mars for eventual return to Earth.

A week later, the Atlas V launch vehicle that will hurl Perseverance to the Red Planet arrived at the launch site. Working together, personnel from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and United Launch Alliance in Centennial, Colorado, were also able to extend the rover’s launch period by six days, from July 17th-August 5th to July 17th-August 11th.

Some of the nearly 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of Perseverance mission flight hardware, test gear and equipment delivered to Kennedy Space Center on May 11, 2020, is unloaded from a NASA Wallops C-130. (NASA)

Some of the nearly 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of Perseverance mission flight hardware, test gear and equipment delivered to Kennedy Space Center on May 11, 2020, is unloaded from a NASA Wallops C-130. (NASA)

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NASA’s SOFIA Telescope examines the Haze around Pluto

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When the New Horizons spacecraft passed by Pluto in 2015, one of the many fascinating features its images revealed was that this small, frigid world in the distant solar system has a hazy atmosphere. Now, new data helps explain how Pluto’s haze is formed from the faint light of the Sun 3.7 billion miles away as it moves through an unusual orbit.

Remote observations of Pluto by NASA’s telescope on an airplane, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, show that the thin haze enshrouding Pluto is made of very small particles that remain in the atmosphere for prolonged periods of time rather than immediately falling to the surface.

Still image from an animation illustrating Pluto passing in front of a star during an eclipse-like event known as an occultation. SOFIA observed the dwarf planet as it was momentarily backlit by a star on June 29, 2015 to analyze its atmosphere. (NASA)

Still image from an animation illustrating Pluto passing in front of a star during an eclipse-like event known as an occultation. SOFIA observed the dwarf planet as it was momentarily backlit by a star on June 29, 2015 to analyze its atmosphere. (NASA)

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NASA’s SOFIA Observatory sees Universe in Infrared Light

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, studies the universe with infrared light. That’s a range of wavelengths on the infrared spectrum, from those measuring about 700 nanometers, too small to see with the naked eye, to about 1 millimeter, which is about the size of the head of a pin.

Other observatories, such as the Spitzer Space Telescope and Herschel Space Observatory, also studied infrared light. But each telescope observes different wavelengths of infrared light, filling in puzzle pieces that are essential to learning what makes the universe tick.

Composite image of W51A, the largest star-forming region in our galaxy. Dozens of massive stars that are more than eight times the size of our Sun are forming there. (NASA/SOFIA/Wanggi Lim, James De Buizer; NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Composite image of W51A, the largest star-forming region in our galaxy. Dozens of massive stars that are more than eight times the size of our Sun are forming there. (NASA/SOFIA/Wanggi Lim, James De Buizer; NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientists to study workings of Snowstorms

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA ways when giant white swirls of clouds cover the weather map with a winter storm warning, one question looms in the minds of people in its path: How much snow will it bring? With snow threatening access to roads, work, and school, snowfall is one of the most consequential winter weather phenomenon on the U.S. East Coast. It’s also one of the most difficult to predict.

This month NASA is sending a team of scientists, a host of ground instruments, and two research aircraft to study the inner workings of snowstorms.

NASA’s P-3 and ER-2 research planes are studying East Coast snowstorms January 17th-March 1st, 2020. (NASA)

NASA’s P-3 and ER-2 research planes are studying East Coast snowstorms January 17th-March 1st, 2020. (NASA)

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NASA’s SOFIA telescope discovers how Swan Nebula was born

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions in our galaxy, the Omega or Swan Nebula, came to resemble the shape resembling a swan’s neck we see today only relatively recently.

New observations reveal that its regions formed separately over multiple eras of star birth. The new image from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is helping scientists chronicle the history and evolution of this well-studied nebula.

“The present-day nebula holds the secrets that reveal its past; we just need to be able to uncover them,” said Wanggi Lim, a Universities Space Research Association scientist at the SOFIA Science Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Composite image of the Swan Nebula. SOFIA detected the blue areas (20 microns) near the center, revealing gas as it’s heated by massive stars located at the center and the green areas (37 microns) that trace dust as it’s warmed both by massive stars and nearby newborn stars. (NASA/SOFIA/De Buizer/Radomski/Lim; NASA/JPL-Caltech; ESA/Herschel)

Composite image of the Swan Nebula. SOFIA detected the blue areas (20 microns) near the center, revealing gas as it’s heated by massive stars located at the center and the green areas (37 microns) that trace dust as it’s warmed both by massive stars and nearby newborn stars. (NASA/SOFIA/De Buizer/Radomski/Lim; NASA/JPL-Caltech; ESA/Herschel)

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