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Topic: Sun

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers X-Rays from Uranus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have detected X-rays from Uranus for the first time, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This result may help scientists learn more about this enigmatic ice giant planet in our solar system.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and has two sets of rings around its equator. The planet, which has four times the diameter of Earth, rotates on its side, making it different from all other planets in the solar system.

X-ray: (NASA/CXO/University College London/W. Dunn et al; Optical: W.M. Keck Observatory)

X-ray: (NASA/CXO/University College London/W. Dunn et al; Optical: W.M. Keck Observatory)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope takes image of Young Comet near Jupiter’s Asteroid

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that for the first time, a wayward comet-like object has been spotted near the family of ancient asteroids.

After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way. The object has settled near a family of captured ancient asteroids, called Trojans, that are orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter. This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan population.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image of the young comet P/2019 LD2 as it orbits near Jupiter’s captured ancient asteroids, which are called Trojans. The Hubble view reveals a 400,000-mile-long tail of dust and gas flowing from the wayward comet's bright solid nucleus. (NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted/STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image of the young comet P/2019 LD2 as it orbits near Jupiter’s captured ancient asteroids, which are called Trojans. The Hubble view reveals a 400,000-mile-long tail of dust and gas flowing from the wayward comet’s bright solid nucleus. (NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted/STScI)

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NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft moves into final Phase of Operations

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Psyche mission has passed a critical milestone that moves it a step closer to launch. After an intense review of the mission’s progress in building its science instruments and engineering systems, Psyche won clearance to progress into what NASA calls Phase D of its life cycle – the final phase of operations prior to its scheduled launch in August 2022.

Until now, the mission has focused on planning, designing, and building the body of the spacecraft, its solar-electric propulsion system, the three science instruments, electronics, the power subsystem, and the like.

Technicians power on the main body of NASA's Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

Technicians power on the main body of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

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NASA data used to explore Solar Wind with a New View of Small Sun Structures

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists have combined NASA data and cutting-edge image processing to gain new insight into the solar structures that create the Sun’s flow of high-speed solar wind, detailed in new research published in The Astrophysical Journal. This first look at relatively small features, dubbed “plumelets,” could help scientists understand how and why disturbances form in the solar wind.

The Sun’s magnetic influence stretches billions of miles, far past the orbit of Pluto and the planets, defined by a driving force: the solar wind.

Scientists used image processing on high-resolution images of the Sun to reveal distinct “plumelets” within structures on the Sun called solar plumes. The full-disk Sun and the left side of the inset image were captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light and processed to reduce noise. The right side of the inset has been further processed to enhance small features in the images, revealing the edges of the plumelets in clear detail. (NASA/SDO/Uritsky, et al)

Scientists used image processing on high-resolution images of the Sun to reveal distinct “plumelets” within structures on the Sun called solar plumes. The full-disk Sun and the left side of the inset image were captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light and processed to reduce noise. The right side of the inset has been further processed to enhance small features in the images, revealing the edges of the plumelets in clear detail. (NASA/SDO/Uritsky, et al)

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NASA says Citizen Scientists Help Create 3D Map of Cosmic Neighborhood

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Is our solar system located in a typical Milky Way neighborhood? Scientists have gotten closer to answering this question, thanks to the NASA-funded Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project, a citizen science collaboration between professional scientists and members of the public.

Scientists tapped into the worldwide network of 150,000 volunteers using Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 to find new examples of brown dwarfs. These objects are balls of gas that are not heavy enough to be stars since they can’t power themselves through nuclear fusion the way stars do.

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

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U.S. Postal Service to Issue NASA Sun Science Forever Stamps

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s images of the Sun’s dynamic and ­­­dazzling beauty have captivated the attention of millions. In 2021, the U.S. Postal Service is showcasing the Sun’s many faces with a series of Sun Science forever stamps that show images of solar activity captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO.

“I have been a stamp collector all my life and I can’t wait to see NASA science highlighted in this way,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. 

The United States Post office announced on Jan. 15, 2021, that they would be releasing a series of stamps highlighting images of the Sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (NASA/SDO/USPS)

The United States Post office announced on Jan. 15, 2021, that they would be releasing a series of stamps highlighting images of the Sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (NASA/SDO/USPS)

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NASA says Gravitational Wave Search Finds Tantalizing New Clue

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that an international team of scientists may be close to detecting faint ripples in space-time that fill the universe.

Pairs of black holes billions of times more massive than the Sun may be circling one another, generating ripples in space itself. The North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has spent more than a decade using ground-based radio telescopes to look for evidence of these space-time ripples created by behemoth black holes.

This illustration shows the NANOGrav project observing cosmic objects called pulsars in an effort detect gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space. The project is seeking a low-level gravitational wave background signal that is thought to be present throughout the universe. (NANOGrav/T. Klein)

This illustration shows the NANOGrav project observing cosmic objects called pulsars in an effort detect gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space. The project is seeking a low-level gravitational wave background signal that is thought to be present throughout the universe. (NANOGrav/T. Klein)

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NASA says Secrets Behind Sunquakes Could Lurk Beneath the Solar Surface

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A secret behind the workings of sunquakes – seismic activity on the Sun during solar flares – might be hidden beneath the solar surface according to NASA.

These earthquake-like events release acoustic energy in the form of waves that ripple along the Sun’s surface, like waves on a lake, in the minutes following a solar flare – an outburst of light, energy, and material seen in the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

Scientists have long suspected that sunquakes are driven by magnetic forces or heating of the outer atmosphere, where the flare occurs.

A sunquake – the earthquake-like waves that ripple through our star. Left frame shows the active region in visible light (amber) and extreme ultraviolet (red) on July 30, 2011. Right frame shows the ripples on Sun’s outlying surface up to 42 minutes after the onset of the flare, which is marked by the label “IP” for impulsive flare. (NASA/SDO)

A sunquake – the earthquake-like waves that ripple through our star. Left frame shows the active region in visible light (amber) and extreme ultraviolet (red) on July 30, 2011. Right frame shows the ripples on Sun’s outlying surface up to 42 minutes after the onset of the flare, which is marked by the label “IP” for impulsive flare. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA has Two Heliophysics Missions that will Explore Sun, Earth’s Aurora

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA has approved two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and the system that drives space weather near Earth. Together, NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE, will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system.

Understanding the physics that drive the solar wind and solar explosions – including solar flares and coronal mass ejections – could one day help scientists predict these events, which can impact human technology and explorers in space.

From the International Space Station’s orbit 269 miles above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, this nighttime photograph captures the aurora australis, or "southern lights." Russia's Soyuz MS-12 crew ship is in the foreground and Progress 72 resupply ship in the background. (NASA)

From the International Space Station’s orbit 269 miles above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, this nighttime photograph captures the aurora australis, or “southern lights.” Russia’s Soyuz MS-12 crew ship is in the foreground and Progress 72 resupply ship in the background. (NASA)

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees First Nanoflare on the Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA reports that researchers may have found the long-sought “nanoflares” thought to heat the solar corona to its incredible temperatures.

A new study published in Nature Astronomy marks the first time researchers have captured the full lifecycle of a putative nanoflare – from bright origins to blistering demise.

Nanoflares are tiny eruptions on the Sun, one-billionth the size of normal solar flares. Eugene Parker – of Parker Solar Probe fame – first predicted them in 1972 to solve a major puzzle: the coronal heating problem.

A close-up of one of the loop brightenings studied in the article. Each inset frame zooms in to the selected region in the frame to its left. The frame on the far right is the most zoomed in, showing the putative nanoflare. (NASA/SDO/IRIS/Shah Bahauddin)

A close-up of one of the loop brightenings studied in the article. Each inset frame zooms in to the selected region in the frame to its left. The frame on the far right is the most zoomed in, showing the putative nanoflare. (NASA/SDO/IRIS/Shah Bahauddin)

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