Pasadena, CA – Data from NASA instruments aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Rosetta mission have helped reveal that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has its own far-ultraviolet aurora.
It is the first time such electromagnetic emissions in the far-ultraviolet have been documented on a celestial object other than a planet or moon. A paper on the findings was released today in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Greenbelt, MD – In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the Sun, studying how the Sun creates solar activity and drives space weather — the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.
Since its launch on February 11th, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says our Milky Way is a frugal galaxy. Supernovas and violent stellar winds blow gas out of the galactic disk, but that gas falls back onto the galaxy to form new generations of stars. In an ambitious effort to conduct a full accounting of this recycling process, astronomers were surprised to find a surplus of incoming gas.
“We expected to find the Milky Way’s books balanced, with an equilibrium of gas inflow and outflow, but 10 years of Hubble ultraviolet data has shown there is more coming in than going out,” said astronomer Andrew Fox of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, lead author of the study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Washington, D.C. – The word “HAZMAT” describes substances that pose a risk to the environment, or even to life itself. Imagine the term being applied to entire planets, where violent flares from the host star may make worlds uninhabitable by affecting their atmospheres. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is observing such stars through a large program called HAZMAT — Habitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time.
“M dwarf” is the astronomical term for a red dwarf star — the smallest, most abundant and longest-lived type of star in our galaxy. The HAZMAT program is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs at three different ages: young, intermediate, and old.
Washington, D.C. – Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe.
The field features approximately 15,000 galaxies, about 12,000 of which are forming stars. Hubble’s ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos’ busiest star-forming period, which happened about 3 billion years after the big bang.
Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
Greenbelt, MD – A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized exoplanet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.
The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet’s atmosphere is attributed to “sunscreen”-like molecules, which absorb ultraviolet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – One of the most mysterious stellar objects may be revealing some of its secrets at last.
Called KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star, or Tabby’s Star, the object has experienced unusual dips in brightness — NASA’s Kepler space telescope even observed dimming of up to 20 percent over a matter of days. In addition, the star has had much subtler but longer-term enigmatic dimming trends, with one continuing today. None of this behavior is expected for normal stars slightly more massive than the Sun.
Written by Kathryn DuFresne
Greenbelt, MD – Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft — short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging, a mission that observed Mercury from 2011 to 2015 — has shed new light on how certain types of comets influence the lopsided bombardment of Mercury’s surface by tiny dust particles called micrometeoroids. This study also gave new insight into how these micrometeoroid showers can shape Mercury’s very thin atmosphere, called an exosphere.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Scientists on NASA’s Juno mission have observed massive amounts of energy swirling over Jupiter’s polar regions that contribute to the giant planet’s powerful auroras – only not in ways the researchers expected.
Examining data collected by the ultraviolet spectrograph and energetic-particle detector instruments aboard the Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft, a team led by Barry Mauk of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, observed signatures of powerful electric potentials, aligned with Jupiter’s magnetic field, that accelerate electrons toward the Jovian atmosphere at energies up to 400,000 electron volts.
Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
Greenbelt, MD – For most viewers, the Monday, August 21st, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.
Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and his team will use two of NASA’s WB-57F research jets to chase the darkness across America on August 21st. Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, Caspi will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.
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