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  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Hubble   

    From ESA: “Hubble witnesses an asteroid mysteriously disintegrating” 

    06 March 2014
    Jessica Agarwal
    Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
    Goettingen, Germany
    Tel: +49 551 384 979 346
    Email: Agarwalmps.mpg.de

    David Jewitt
    University of California at Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, USA
    Tel: +1-310-825-2521
    Email: jewittucla.edu

    Georgia Bladon
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6855
    Email: gbladonpartner.eso.org

    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid, which has fragmented into as many as ten smaller pieces. Although fragile comet nuclei have been seen to fall apart as they approach the Sun, nothing like the breakup of this asteroid, P/2013 R3, has ever been observed before in the asteroid belt.

    breakup
    Asteroid P/2013 R3 breaks apart. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
    Instrument: WFC3/UVIS
    Exposure Date(s): 2013 – 2014
    Release Date: March 6, 2014

    “This is a rock. Seeing it fall apart before our eyes is pretty amazing,” said David Jewitt of UCLA, USA, who led the astronomical forensics investigation.

    The crumbling asteroid, designated P/2013 R3, was first noticed as an unusual, fuzzy-looking object on 15 September 2013 by the Catalina and Pan-STARRS sky surveys. Follow-up observations on 1 October with the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, revealed three co-moving bodies embedded in a dusty envelope that is nearly the diameter of Earth.

    “Keck showed us that this thing was worth looking at with Hubble,” Jewitt said. With its superior resolution, the space-based Hubble observations soon showed that there were really ten distinct objects, each with comet-like dust tails. The four largest rocky fragments are up to 200 metres in radius, about twice the length of a football pitch.

    The Hubble data showed that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely 1.5 kilometres per hour – slower than the speed of a strolling human. The asteroid began coming apart early last year, but the latest images show that pieces continue to emerge.

    “This is a really bizarre thing to observe – we’ve never seen anything like it before,” says co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. “The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.”

    The ongoing discovery of more fragments makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating due to a collision with another asteroid, which would be instantaneous and violent in comparison to what has been observed. Some of the debris from such a high-velocity smash-up would also be expected to travel much faster than has been observed.

    It is also unlikely that the asteroid is breaking apart due to the pressure of interior ices warming and vaporising. The object is too cold for ices to significantly sublimate, and it has presumably maintained its nearly 480-million-kilometre distance from the Sun for much of the age of the Solar System.

    This leaves a scenario in which the asteroid is disintegrating due to a subtle effect of sunlight that causes the rotation rate to slowly increase over time. Eventually, its component pieces gently pull apart due to centrifugal force. The possibility of disruption by this phenomenon – known as the YORP effect [1] – has been discussed by scientists for several years but, so far, never reliably observed (eso1405).

    For break-up to occur, P/2013 R3 must have a weak, fractured interior, probably the result of numerous ancient and non-destructive collisions with other asteroids. Most small asteroids are thought to have been severely damaged in this way, giving them a “rubble pile” internal structure. P/2013 R3 itself is probably the product of collisional shattering of a bigger body some time in the last billion years.

    “This is the latest in a line of weird asteroid discoveries, including the active asteroid P/2013 P5, which we found to be spouting six tails,” says Agarwal. “This indicates that the Sun may play a large role in disintegrating these small Solar System bodies, by putting pressure on them via sunlight.”

    P/2013 R3’s remnant debris, weighing in at 200 000 tonnes, will provide a rich source of meteoroids in the future. Most will eventually plunge into the Sun, but a small fraction of the debris may one day blaze across our sky as meteors.

    See the full article, with note, here.


    ESA/Hubble

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.

    NASA


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  • richardmitnick 4:04 pm on December 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Hubblecast is Worth Your Time 

    Hubblecast is produced by ESA/Hubble at [the] European Southern Observatory (ESO).It is definitely worth your time.

    Here is Hubblecast 69.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    ESO 50


    ESA Icon II


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  • richardmitnick 7:32 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA/ESA Hubble: “Glowing, fiery shells of gas” 

    25 February 2013

    It may look like something from The Lord of the Rings, but this fiery swirl is actually a planetary nebula known as ESO 456-67. Set against a backdrop of bright stars, the rust-coloured object lies in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), in the southern sky.

    eso
    Planetary nebula ESO 456-67

    When a star like the Sun approaches the end of its life, it flings material out into space. Planetary nebulae are the intricate, glowing shells of dust and gas pushed outwards from such a star. At their centres lie the remnants of the original stars themselves – small, dense white dwarf stars.

    In this image of ESO 456-67 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, it is possible to see the various layers of material expelled by the central star. Each appears in a different hue – red, orange, yellow and green-tinted bands of gas, with clear patches of space at the heart of the nebula.

    See the original article here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    ESA Space Science Banner

    ESA Icon Large


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  • richardmitnick 11:54 pm on February 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Hubble: “A spiral galaxy with a secret [heic1302] 


    ESA/Hubble

    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope – with a little help from an amateur astronomer – has produced one of the best views yet of nearby spiral galaxy Messier 106. Located a little over 20 million light-years away, practically a neighbour by cosmic standards, Messier 106 is one of the brightest and nearest spiral galaxies to our own.

    m106
    Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler (for the Hubble Heritage Team). Acknowledgment: J. GaBany, A. van der Hoeven

    Despite its appearance, which looks much like countless other galaxies, Messier 106 hides a number of secrets. Thanks to this image, which combines data from Hubble with observations by amateur astronomers Robert Gendler and Jay GaBany, they are revealed as never before.

    At its heart, as in most spiral galaxies, is a supermassive black hole, but this one is particularly active. Unlike the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, which pulls in wisps of gas only occasionally, Messier 106’s black hole is actively gobbling up material. As the gas spirals towards the black hole, it heats up and emits powerful radiation. Part of the emission from the centre of Messier 106 is produced by a process that is somewhat similar to that in a laser – although here the process produces bright microwave radiation.

    As well as this microwave emission from Messier 106’s heart, the galaxy has another startling feature – instead of two spiral arms, it appears to have four. Although the second pair of arms can be seen in visible light images as ghostly wisps of gas, as in this image, they are even more prominent in observations made outside of the visible spectrum, such as those using X-ray or radio waves.”

    Here is a neat video, Hubblecast 62.

    See the full article here.

    Added from the NASA Hubble report:
    “The center of the galaxy is composed almost entirely of HST data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 detectors. The outer spiral arms are predominantly HST data colorized with ground-based data taken by Gendler’s and GaBany’s 12.5-inch and 20-inch telescopes, located at very dark remote sites in New Mexico. The image also reveals the optical component of the “anomalous arms” of M106, seen here as red, glowing hydrogen emission.”

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.


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  • richardmitnick 2:19 pm on January 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA: “Image of the Day Gallery – Large Magellanic Cloud” 

    Nearly 200,000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. Vast clouds of gas within it slowly collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a riot of colors, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

    lmc
    Image Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble

    The Large Magellanic Cloud is ablaze with star-forming regions. From the Tarantula Nebula, the brightest stellar nursery in our cosmic neighborhood, to LHA 120-N 11, part of which is featured in this Hubble image, the small and irregular galaxy is scattered with glowing nebulae, the most noticeable sign that new stars are being born.”

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.


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  • richardmitnick 12:34 pm on January 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Hubble: “Appearances can be deceptive” 


    ESA/Hubble

    Globular clusters are roughly spherical collections of extremely old stars, and around 150 of them are scattered around our galaxy. Hubble is one of the best telescopes for studying these, as its extremely high resolution lets astronomers see individual stars, even in the crowded core. The clusters all look very similar, and in Hubble’s images it can be quite hard to tell them apart – and they all look much like NGC 411, pictured here.

    ngc 411

    And yet appearances can be deceptive: NGC 411 is in fact not a globular cluster, and its stars are not old. It isn’t even in the Milky Way.

    NGC 411 is classified as an open cluster. Less tightly bound than a globular cluster, the stars in open clusters tend to drift apart over time as they age, whereas globulars have survived for well over 10 billion years of galactic history. NGC 411 is a relative youngster — not much more than a tenth of this age. Far from being a relic of the early years of the Universe, the stars in NGC 411 are in fact a fraction of the age of the Sun.

    The image is a composite produced from ultraviolet, visible and infrared observations made by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. This filter set lets the telescope “see” colours slightly further beyond red and the violet ends of the spectrum.

    wfc3
    Service Mission 4 Day One saw the installation of a new Wide Field (WF) Camera along with a new Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit (SICDH). Wide Field Camera 3 was constructed at Goddard Space Flight Center and Ball Aerospace in the USA, with some components built by contractors in the UK. WF 3 is a bridge to the advanced infrared observations that will be carried out by Hubble’s successor, the James Web Space Telescope.

    See the full article here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.


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  • richardmitnick 2:03 pm on January 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA/Hubble: “Uncovering the Veil Nebula” 


    ESA/Hubble

    This image shows a beautiful portion of the Veil Nebula – the shattered remains of a supernova that exploded some 5-10,000 years ago. The intertwined rope-like filaments of gas result from the enormous amounts of energy released as the fast-moving debris from the explosion ploughs into its surroundings and creates shock fronts.

    veil1
    Credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgment: J. Hester (Arizona State University)
    Release Date 31 July 2007, 15:00

    The image was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The colour is produced by composite of three different images. The different colours indicate emission from different kinds of atoms excited by the shock: blue shows oxygen, green shows sulphur, and red shows hydrogen.”

    three

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.


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  • richardmitnick 12:47 am on January 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Hubble: “Don’t trust your eyes” 


    ESA/Hubble

    The Universe loves to fool our eyes, giving the impression that celestial objects are located at the same distance from Earth. A good example can be seen in this spectacular image produced by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxies NGC 5011B and NGC 5011C are imaged against a starry background.

    ngc
    NGC 5011B & NGC 5011C This article

    5011b
    NGC 5011 (Wikipedia)

    Located in the constellation of Centaurus, the nature of these galaxies has puzzled astronomers. NGC 5011B (on the right) is a spiral galaxy belonging to the Centaurus Cluster of galaxies lying 156 million light-years away from the Earth. Long considered part of the faraway cluster of galaxies as well, NGC 5011C (the bluish galaxy at the centre of the image) is a peculiar object, with the faintness typical of a nearby dwarf galaxy, alongside the size of an early-type spiral.

    centauras
    Centauras

    Astronomers were curious about the appearance of NGC 5011C. If the two galaxies were at roughly the same distance from Earth, they would expect the pair to show signs of interactions between them. However, there was no visual sign of interaction between the two. How could this be possible?

    To solve this problem, astronomers studied the velocity at which these galaxies are receding from the Milky Way and found that NGC 5011C is moving away far more slowly than its apparent neighbour, and its motion is more consistent with that of the nearby Centaurus A group at a distance of 13 million light-years. Thus, NGC 5011C, with only about ten million times the mass of the Sun in its stars, must indeed be a nearby dwarf galaxy rather than member of the distant Centaurus Cluster as was believed for many years.

    Problem solved.

    This image was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys using visual and infrared filters.”

    The ESA/Hubble article is here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.


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  • richardmitnick 6:11 pm on December 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Hubble: “Hubble Eyes a Wanderer Dancing the Dance of Stars and Space” NGC 1097 

    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope provides us this week with a spectacular image of the bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. In this image, the larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible: its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame.

    1097
    This picture was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys using visual and infrared filters.

    another
    Another and very different image

    This face-on galaxy, lying 45 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), is particularly attractive for astronomers. NGC 1097 is a Seyfert galaxy. Lurking at the very center of the galaxy, a supermassive black hole 100 million times the mass of our sun is gradually sucking in the matter around it. The area immediately around the black hole shines powerfully with radiation coming from the material falling in.

    The distinctive ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation due to an inflow of material toward the central bar of the galaxy. These star-forming regions are glowing brightly thanks to emission from clouds of ionized hydrogen. The ring is around 5000 light-years across, although the spiral arms of the galaxy extend tens of thousands of light-years beyond it.

    NGC 1097 is also pretty exciting for supernova hunters. The galaxy experienced three supernovae (the violent deaths of high-mass stars) in the 11-year span between 1992 and 2003. This is definitely a galaxy worth checking on a regular basis.”

    See the full article here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.


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  • richardmitnick 2:57 pm on December 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Hubble: “Hubble census finds galaxies at redshifts 9 to 12″ 


    ESA/Hubble

    12 December 2012

    Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered seven primitive galaxies from a distant population that formed more than 13 billion years ago. In the process, their observations have put forward a candidate for the record for the most distant galaxy found to date (at redshift 11.9), and have shed new light on the earliest years of cosmic history. The galaxies are seen as they were when the Universe was less than 4 percent of its present age…”

    udf
    The Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2012

    hdf
    High-redshift galaxy candidates in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2012

    Image credit: NASA, ESA, R. Ellis (Caltech), and the HUDF 2012 Team

    “…The new data have allowed the team, co-led by Richard Ellis (Caltech, USA) and Ross McLure (University of Edinburgh, UK), to uncover six previously-unknown galaxies in this era, and to rule out a number of tentative identifications of distant galaxies made by other scientists in previous research. This is the first statistically robust census of galaxies at such an early time in cosmic history, and shows that the number of galaxies steadily increased with time, supporting the idea that the first galaxies didn’t form in a sudden burst but gradually assembled their stars…..”

    See the full article here, complete with “scholarly apparatus”.

    Contacts

    Richard Ellis
    Department of Astrophysics, California Institute of Technology
    Pasadena, USA
    Tel: +1-626-676-5530
    Email: rse@astro.caltech.edu

    Ross McLure
    Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
    Edinburgh, UK
    Tel: +44-131-668-8349
    Email: rjm@roe.ac.uk

    James Dunlop
    Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
    Edinburgh, UK
    Tel: +44-131-668-8349
    Cell: +44-790-233-5452
    Email: jsd@roe.ac.uk

    Brant Robertson
    Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona
    Tel: +1-520-626-5909
    Email: brant@email.arizona.edu

    Oli Usher
    ESA/Hubble Public Information Officer
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6855
    Email: ousher@eso.org

    Douglas Pierce-Price
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6759
    Email: dpiercep@eso.org

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

    The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the spacetelescope.org website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.


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