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Topic: Sun

NASA may have discovered a Planet orbiting a White Dwarf

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope has reported what may be the first intact planet found closely orbiting a white dwarf, the dense leftover of a Sun-like star, only 40% larger than Earth.

The Jupiter-size object, called WD 1856 b, is about seven times larger than the white dwarf, named WD 1856+534. It circles this stellar cinder every 34 hours, more than 60 times faster than Mercury orbits our Sun.

WD 1856 b, a potential planet the size of Jupiter, orbits its dim white dwarf star every 36 hours and is about seven times larger. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

WD 1856 b, a potential planet the size of Jupiter, orbits its dim white dwarf star every 36 hours and is about seven times larger. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA taps Commercial Lunar Payload Services partners to deliver Payloads to the Moon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has issued another request to its 14 Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) partners to bid on flying a suite of payloads to the Moon. The request asks partners to fly 10 NASA science investigations and technology demonstrations to a non-polar region of the Moon in 2023.

Through the CLPS initiative, NASA taps its commercial partners to quickly land scientific instruments and technology demonstrations on the Moon. The initiative is a key part of NASA’s Artemis program. The science and technology payloads will help lay the foundation for human missions to the lunar surface. A provider will be selected by the end of the year, making it the sixth surface task award.

NASA Enlists Commercial Partners to Fly Payloads to the Moon in 2023. (NASA)

NASA Enlists Commercial Partners to Fly Payloads to the Moon in 2023. (NASA)

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NASA investigates why Asteroid Bennu is shedding material into Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid (101955) Bennu, mission scientists knew that their spacecraft was orbiting something special. Not only was the boulder-strewn asteroid shaped like a rough diamond, its surface was crackling with activity, shedding small pieces of rock into space.

Now, after more than a year and a half up close with Bennu, they’re starting to better understand these dynamic particle-ejection events.

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's PolyCam instrument from a range of 15 miles (24 kilometers). (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s PolyCam instrument from a range of 15 miles (24 kilometers). (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA Hubble Space Telescope captures close up images of Comet NEOWISE

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of comet NEOWISE, taken on August 8th, 2020, zero in on the visitor’s coma, the gossamer shell of gas and dust that surrounds its nucleus as it is heated by the Sun. This is the first time Hubble has photographed a comet of this brightness at such resolution after this close of a pass by the Sun.

The comet photos were taken after NEOWISE skimmed closest to the Sun on July 3rd, 2020, at a distance of 27 million miles (43 million kilometers). Other comets often break apart due to thermal and gravitational stresses at such close encounters, but Hubble’s view shows that apparently NEOWISE’s solid nucleus stayed intact.

This ground-based image of comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was taken from the Northern Hemisphere on July 16, 2020. The inset image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on August 8th, 2020, reveals a close-up of the comet after its pass by the Sun. Hubble’s image zeroes in on the comet’s nucleus, which is too small to be seen. It’s estimated to measure no more than 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) across. (NASA, ESA, STScI, Q. Zhang (Caltech); ground-based image copyright © 2020 by Zoltan G. Levay, used with permission)

This ground-based image of comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was taken from the Northern Hemisphere on July 16, 2020. The inset image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on August 8th, 2020, reveals a close-up of the comet after its pass by the Sun. Hubble’s image zeroes in on the comet’s nucleus, which is too small to be seen. It’s estimated to measure no more than 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) across. (NASA, ESA, STScI, Q. Zhang (Caltech); ground-based image copyright © 2020 by Zoltan G. Levay, used with permission)

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NASA Data used by Citizen Scientists to find several Brown Dwarfs

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – We’ve never met some of the Sun’s closest neighbors until now. In a new study, astronomers report the discovery of 95 objects known as brown dwarfs, many within a few dozen light-years of the Sun.

They’re well outside the solar system, so don’t experience heat from the Sun, but still inhabit a region astronomers consider our cosmic neighborhood. This collection represents some of the coldest known examples of these objects, which are between the sizes of planets and stars.

In this illustration, the small white orb represents a white dwarf (a remnant of a long-dead Sun-like star), while the foreground object is its newly discovered brown dwarf companion, spotted by citizen scientists working with a NASA-funded project called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. (NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld/Acknowledgement: William Pendrill)

In this illustration, the small white orb represents a white dwarf (a remnant of a long-dead Sun-like star), while the foreground object is its newly discovered brown dwarf companion, spotted by citizen scientists working with a NASA-funded project called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. (NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld/Acknowledgement: William Pendrill)

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NASA discovers changing dent in Earth’s Magnetic Field

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says a small but evolving dent in Earth’s magnetic field can cause big headaches for satellites.

Earth’s magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun. But over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean, an unusually weak spot in the field – called the South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA – allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal.

This stereoscopic visualization shows a simple model of the Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field partially shields the Earth from harmful charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This stereoscopic visualization shows a simple model of the Earth’s magnetic field. The magnetic field partially shields the Earth from harmful charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers supergiant star Betelgeuse’s Dimming is Due to Outburst

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are showing that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse’s surface.

Hubble researchers suggest that the dust cloud formed when superhot plasma unleashed from an upwelling of a large convection cell on the star’s surface passed through the hot atmosphere to the colder outer layers, where it cooled and formed dust grains. The resulting dust cloud blocked light from about a quarter of the star’s surface, beginning in late 2019. By April 2020, the star returned to normal brightness.

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright, red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star's surface. In panel three, the outflowing, expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star's surface. (NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI))

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright, red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star’s surface. In panel three, the outflowing, expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star’s surface. (NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI))

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NASA reflects Laser Beams to Moon and Back

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Dozens of times over the last decade NASA scientists have launched laser beams at a reflector the size of a paperback novel about 240,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away from Earth. They announced today, in collaboration with their French colleagues, that they received signal back for the first time, an encouraging result that could enhance laser experiments used to study the physics of the universe.

The reflector NASA scientists aimed for is mounted on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a spacecraft that has been studying the Moon from its orbit since 2009.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope use Moon to observe Earth’s Ozone Layer

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected Earth’s own brand of sunscreen – ozone – in our atmosphere. This method simulates how astronomers and astrobiology researchers will search for evidence of life beyond Earth by observing potential “biosignatures” on exoplanets (planets around other stars).

Hubble did not look at Earth directly. Instead, the astronomers used the Moon as a mirror to reflect sunlight, which had passed through Earth’s atmosphere, and then reflected back towards Hubble.

This illustration shows the Hubble Space Telescope superimposed on an image of the Moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse in January 2019, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets transiting in front of other stars in search of life. (M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

This illustration shows the Hubble Space Telescope superimposed on an image of the Moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse in January 2019, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets transiting in front of other stars in search of life. (M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission Passes Critical Mission Milestone

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Lucy mission last week marked the completion of a major milestone on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations.

The Systems Integration Review ensured segments, components, and subsystems, scientific instrumentation, electrical and communication systems, and navigation systems are on schedule to be integrated into the system. It confirmed that facilities, support personnel, and plans and procedures are on schedule to support integration.

NASA's Lucy spacecraft poses in front of the orbit trajectory for her 12-year mission to study the Trojan Asteroids. Lucy will be featured in her own cartoon series coming soon. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft poses in front of the orbit trajectory for her 12-year mission to study the Trojan Asteroids. Lucy will be featured in her own cartoon series coming soon. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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