Pasadena, CA – NASA’s NuSTAR space observatory captures pops of bright blue and green in this image of the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946) show the locations of extremely bright sources of X-ray light. Generated by some of the most energetic processes in the universe, these X-ray sources are rare compared to the many visible light sources in the background image.
A new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, offers some possible explanations for the surprise appearance of the green source near the center of the galaxy, which came into view and disappeared in a matter of weeks.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope data has been used in a new study to provide a rare glimpse of conditions on the surface of a rocky planet orbiting a star beyond the Sun. The study, published today in the journal Nature, shows that the planet’s surface may resemble those of Earth’s Moon or Mercury:
The planet likely has little to no atmosphere and could be covered in the same cooled volcanic material found in the dark areas of the Moon’s surface, called mare.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA asks you to imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding 170 years ago and are still continuing. This type of firework is not launched into Earth’s atmosphere, but rather into space by a doomed super-massive star, called Eta Carinae, the largest member of a double-star system.
A new view from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which includes ultraviolet light, shows the star’s hot, expanding gases glowing in red, white and blue. Eta Carinae resides 7,500 light-years away.
Greenbelt, MD – A world between the sizes of Mars and Earth orbiting a bright, cool, nearby star has been discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The planet, called L 98-59b, marks the tiniest discovered by TESS to date.
Two other worlds orbit the same star. While all three planets’ sizes are known, further study with other telescopes will be needed to determine if they have atmospheres and, if so, which gases are present. The L 98-59 worlds nearly double the number of small exoplanets — that is, planets beyond our solar system — that have the best potential for this kind of follow-up.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth. In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava.
The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”
Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
Greenbelt, MD – Scientists have charted the environment surrounding a stellar-mass black hole that is 10 times the mass of the Sun using NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) payload aboard the International Space Station.
NICER detected X-ray light from the recently discovered black hole, called MAXI J1820+070 (J1820 for short), as it consumed material from a companion star. Waves of X-rays formed “light echoes” that reflected off the swirling gas near the black hole and revealed changes in the environment’s size and shape.
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
Washington, D.C. – This festive NASA Hubble Space Telescope image resembles a holiday wreath made of sparkling lights. The bright southern hemisphere star RS Puppis, at the center of the image, is swaddled in a gossamer cocoon of reflective dust illuminated by the glittering star. The super star is ten times more massive than the Sun and 200 times larger.
RS Puppis rhythmically brightens and dims over a six-week cycle. It is one of the most luminous in the class of so-called Cepheid variable stars. Its average intrinsic brightness is 15,000 times greater than the Sun’s luminosity.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – An adolescent star in the midst of a dramatic growth phase has been observed with the help of two NASA space telescopes. The youngster belongs to a class of stars that gain mass when matter swirling around the star falls onto its surface.
The in-falling matter causes the star to appear about 100 times brighter. Astronomers have found only 25 stars in this class, and only about half of those have been observed during an outburst.
Washington, D.C. – In a galaxy far away, an old star exploded and became a supernova. About 170 million years later on February 4th, 2018, the light emanating from the explosion was received by an arsenal of high-powered telescopes.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope detected the unfurling light of SN 2018oh, as it has been labeled. The first ground-based facility to identify the signal was with the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova and soon observatories around the globe were monitoring the supernova as part of a unique scientific experiment designed to help solve the mystery of how stars explode.
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – The NASA Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun’s surface on October 29th, 2018, at about 12:04pm CEDT, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team.
The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976. As the NASA Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface expected in 2024.
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