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  • richardmitnick 7:13 pm on September 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA/JPL at Caltech: “Catching Black Holes on the Fly” 

    September 05, 2013
    Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    Whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA’s black-hole-hunter spacecraft, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has “bagged” its first 10 supermassive black holes. The mission, which has a mast the length of a school bus, is the first telescope capable of focusing the highest-energy X-ray light into detailed pictures.

    NASA NuSTAR
    NuSTAR

    The new black-hole finds are the first of hundreds expected from the mission over the next two years. These gargantuan structures — black holes surrounded by thick disks of gas — lie at the hearts of distant galaxies between 0.3 and 11.4 billion light-years from Earth.

    “We found the black holes serendipitously,” explained David Alexander, a NuSTAR team member based in the Department of Physics at Durham University in England and lead author of a new study appearing Aug. 20 in the Astrophysical Journal. “We were looking at known targets and spotted the black holes in the background of the images.”

    Additional serendipitous finds such as these are expected for the mission. Along with the mission’s more targeted surveys of selected patches of sky, the NuSTAR team plans to comb through hundreds of images taken by the telescope with the goal of finding black holes caught in the background.

    Once the 10 black holes were identified, the researchers went through previous data taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite, two complementary space telescopes that see lower-energy X-ray light. The scientists found that the objects had been detected before. It wasn’t until the NuSTAR observations, however, that they stood out as exceptional, warranting closer inspection.

    bh

    See the full article here.

    NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley ; Columbia University, New York; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.; ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, Calif., and with support from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) Science Data Center.

    NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at UC Berkeley, with the ASI providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission’s outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif. NASA’s Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 7:51 pm on August 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA/JPL: “NuSTAR Delivers the X-Ray Goods” 

    August 29, 2013

    Alan Buis 818-354-0474
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA NuSTAR

    NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is giving the wider astronomical community a first look at its unique X-ray images of the cosmos. The first batch of data from the black-hole hunting telescope is publicly available today, Aug. 29, via NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center, or HEASARC.

    ‘We are pleased to present the world with NuSTAR’s first look at the sky in high-energy X-rays with a true focusing telescope,’ said Fiona Harrison, the mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

    The images, taken from July to August 2012, shortly after the spacecraft launched, comprise an assortment of extreme objects, including black holes near and far. The more distant black holes are some of the most luminous objects in the universe, radiating X-rays as they ferociously consume surrounding gas. One type of black hole in the new batch of data is a blazar, which is an active, supermassive black hole pointing a jet toward Earth. Pairs of black holes called X-ray binaries, in which one partner feeds off the other, are also in the mix, along with the remnants of stellar blasts called supernovas.

    The data set only contains complete observations. Data will be released at a later date for those targets still being observed.”

    See the full article here, with references to other space missions working in conjunction with NuSTAR.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 3:28 pm on May 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech: “Galaxy’s Ring of Fire” 

    “The galaxy, a spiral beauty called Messier 94, is located about 17 million light-years away. In this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, infrared light is represented in different colors, with blue having the shortest wavelengths and red, the longest.

    ring

    How many rings do you see in this new image of the galaxy Messier 94, also known as NGC 4736? While at first glance one might see a number of them, astronomers believe there is just one. This image was captured in infrared light by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

    Historically, Messier 94 was considered to have two strikingly different rings: a brilliant, compact band encircling the galaxy’s core, and a faint, broad, swath of stars falling outside its main disk.

    Astronomers have recently discovered that the outer ring, seen here in the deep blue glow of starlight, might actually be more of an optical illusion. A 2009 study combined infrared Spitzer observations with those from other telescopes, including ultraviolet data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, now operated by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; visible data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey; and shorter-wavelength infrared light from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). This more complete picture of Messier 94 indicates that we are really seeing two separate spiral arms, which, from our perspective, take on the appearance of a single, unbroken ring.

    The bright inner ring of Messier 94 is very real, however. This area is sometimes identified as a “starburst ring” because of the frenetic pace of star formation in the confined area. Starbursts like this can often be triggered by gravitational encounters with other galaxies, but in this case might be caused by the galaxy’s oval shape.”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 2:36 pm on May 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL At Caltech: “Sifting Through the Atmospheres of Far-off Worlds” 

    May 09, 2013

    Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    “Gone are the days of being able to count the number of known planets on your fingers. Today, there are more than 800 confirmed exoplanets — planets that orbit stars beyond our sun — and more than 2,700 other candidates. What are these exotic planets made of? Unfortunately, you cannot stack them in a jar like marbles and take a closer look. Instead, researchers are coming up with advanced techniques for probing the planets’ makeup.

    One breakthrough to come in recent years is direct imaging of exoplanets. Ground-based telescopes have begun taking infrared pictures of the planets posing near their stars in family portraits. But to astronomers, a picture is worth even more than a thousand words if its light can be broken apart into a rainbow of different wavelengths.

    Those wishes are coming true as researchers are beginning to install infrared cameras on ground-based telescopes equipped with spectrographs. Spectrographs are instruments that spread an object’s light apart, revealing signatures of molecules. Project 1640, partly funded by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., recently accomplished this goal using the Palomar Observatory near San Diego.

    ‘In just one hour, we were able to get precise composition information about four planets around one overwhelmingly bright star’, said Gautam Vasisht of JPL, co-author of the new study appearing in the Astrophysical Journal. ‘The star is a hundred thousand times as bright as the planets, so we’ve developed ways to remove that starlight and isolate the extremely faint light of the planets.’

    Along with ground-based infrared imaging, other strategies for combing through the atmospheres of giant planets are being actively pursued as well. For example, NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes monitor planets as they cross in front of their stars, and then disappear behind. NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will use a comparable strategy to study the atmospheres of planets only slightly larger than Earth.”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:38 am on April 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech: “How to Target an Asteroid” 

    April 16, 2013
    DC Agle 818-393-9011
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Like many of his colleagues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., Shyam Bhaskaran is working a lot with asteroids these days. And also like many of his colleagues, the deep space navigator devotes a great deal of time to crafting, and contemplating, computer-generated 3-D models of these intriguing nomads of the solar system.

    ast
    This spectacular image of comet Tempel 1 was taken 67 seconds after it obliterated Deep Impact’s impactor spacecraft. The image was taken by the high-resolution camera on the mission’s flyby craft. Scattered light from the collision saturated the camera’s detector, creating the bright splash seen here. Linear spokes of light radiate away from the impact site, while reflected sunlight illuminates most of the comet surface. The image reveals topographic features, including ridges, scalloped edges and possibly impact craters formed long ago. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

    But while many of his coworkers are calculating asteroids’ past, present and future locations in the cosmos, zapping them with the world’s most massive radar dishes, or considering how to rendezvous and perhaps even gently nudge an asteroid into lunar orbit, Bhaskaran thinks about how to collide with one.

    ‘If you want to see below the surface of an asteroid, there’s no better way than smacking it hard,’ said Bhaskaran. ‘But it’s not that easy. Hitting an asteroid with a spacecraft traveling at hypervelocity is like shooting an arrow at a target on a speeding race car.’

    The term hypervelocity usually refers to something traveling at very high speed — two miles per second (6,700 mph / 11,000 kilometers per hour) or above. Bhaskaran’s hypothetical impacts tend to be well above.

    ‘Most of the hypervelocity impact scenarios that I simulate have spacecraft/asteroid closure rates of around eight miles a second, 30,000 miles per hour [about 48,000 kilometers per hour],’ said Bhaskaran.

    In the majority of our solar system, where yield signs and ‘right of way’ statutes have yet to find widespread support, hypervelocity impacts between objects happen all the time. But all that primordial violence usually goes unnoticed here on Earth, and almost never receives scientific scrutiny.

    ‘High-speed impacts on asteroids can tell you so many things that we want to know about asteroids,’ said Steve Chesley, a near-Earth object scientist at JPL. ‘They can tell you about their composition and their structural integrity — which is how they hold themselves together. These are things that are not only vital for scientific research on the origins of the solar system, but also for mission designers working on ways to potentially move asteroids, either for exploitation purposes or because they may be hazardous to Earth.’”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 7:22 pm on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech: “NASA-Funded Asteroid Tracking Sensor Passes Key Test” 

    April 15, 2013
    Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673/ D.C. Agle 818-393-9011
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov/David.C.Agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
    Headquarters, Washington
    j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

    An infrared sensor that could improve NASA’s future detecting and tracking of asteroids and comets has passed a critical design test.

    sensor
    The NEOCam sensor (right) is the lynchpin for the proposed Near Earth Object Camera, or NEOCam, space mission (left). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Teledyne

    The test assessed performance of the Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) in an environment that mimicked the temperatures and pressures of deep space. NEOCam is the cornerstone instrument for a proposed new space-based asteroid-hunting telescope. Details of the sensor’s design and capabilities are published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Optical Engineering.

    The sensor could be a vital component to inform plans for the agency’s recently announced initiative to develop the first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid closer to Earth for future exploration by astronauts.

    ‘This sensor represents one of many investments made by NASA’s Discovery Program and its Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program in innovative technologies to significantly improve future missions designed to protect Earth from potentially hazardous asteroids,’ said Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office in Washington.”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 2:17 pm on April 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech via NASA: “NASA Team Investigates Complex Chemistry at Titan” 

    04.03.13
    Jia-Rui Cook 818-354-0850
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    jccook@jpl.nasa.gov

    James Schalkwyk 650-604-2791
    Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    james.schalkwyk@nasa.gov

    “A laboratory experiment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., simulating the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan suggests complex organic chemistry that could eventually lead to the building blocks of life extends lower in the atmosphere than previously thought. The results now point out another region on the moon that could brew up prebiotic materials. The paper was published in Nature Communications this week.

    titan
    Titan

    ‘Scientists previously thought that as we got closer to the surface of Titan, the moon’s atmospheric chemistry was basically inert and dull,’ said Murthy Gudipati, the paper’s lead author at JPL. ‘Our experiment shows that’s not true. The same kind of light that drives biological chemistry on Earth’s surface could also drive chemistry on Titan, even though Titan receives far less light from the sun and is much colder. Titan is not a sleeping giant in the lower atmosphere, but at least half awake in its chemical activity.’

    Scientists have known since NASA’s Voyager mission flew by the Saturn system in the early 1980s that Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has a thick, hazy atmosphere with hydrocarbons, including methane and ethane. These simple organic molecules can develop into smog-like, airborne molecules with carbon-nitrogen-hydrogen bonds, which astronomer Carl Sagan called tholins.

    tho
    The formation of tholins in the atmosphere of Titan

    voy
    Voyager

    ‘We’ve known that Titan’s upper atmosphere is hospitable to the formation of complex organic molecules,’ said co-author Mark Allen, principal investigator of the JPL Titan team that is a part of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, headquartered at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. ‘Now we know that sunlight in the Titan lower atmosphere can kick-start more complex organic chemistry in liquids and solids rather than just in gases.’”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 10:15 am on April 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech: “Mapping the Chemistry Needed for Life at Europa” 

    April 04, 2013
    Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    jccook@jpl.nasa.gov

    “A new paper led by a NASA researcher shows that hydrogen peroxide is abundant across much of the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The authors argue that if the peroxide on the surface of Europa mixes into the ocean below, it could be an important energy supply for simple forms of life, if life were to exist there. The paper was published online recently in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Europa
    This color composite view combines violet, green, and infrared images of Jupiter’s intriguing moon, Europa, for a view of the moon in natural color (left) and in enhanced color designed to bring out subtle color differences in the surface (right). The bright white and bluish part of Europa’s surface is composed mostly of water ice, with very few non-ice materials. In contrast, the brownish mottled regions on the right side of the image may be covered by hydrated salts and an unknown red component. The yellowish mottled terrain on the left side of the image is caused by some other unknown component. Long, dark lines are fractures in the crust, some of which are more than 3,000 kilometers (1,850 miles) long. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

    ‘Life as we know it needs liquid water, elements like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, and it needs some form of chemical or light energy to get the business of life done,’ said Kevin Hand, the paper’s lead author, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. ‘Europa has the liquid water and elements, and we think that compounds like peroxide might be an important part of the energy requirement. The availability of oxidants like peroxide on Earth was a critical part of the rise of complex, multicellular life.’

    The paper, co-authored by Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, analyzed data in the near-infrared range of light from Europa, using the Keck II Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, over four nights in September 2011. The highest concentration of peroxide found was on the side of Europa that always leads in its orbit around Jupiter, with a peroxide abundance of 0.12 percent relative to water. (For perspective, this is roughly 20 times more diluted than the hydrogen peroxide mixture available at drug stores.) The concentration of peroxide in Europa’s ice then drops off to nearly zero on the hemisphere of Europa that faces backward in its orbit.”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 4:47 pm on April 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL at Caltech: “Gravity-Bending Find Leads to Kepler Meeting Einstein” 

    April 04, 2013
    Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA’s Kepler space telescope has witnessed the effects of a dead star bending the light of its companion star. The findings are among the first detections of this phenomenon — a result of Einstein’s general theory of relativity — in binary, or double, star systems.

    NASA Kepler Telescope
    Kepler

    wd
    This artist’s concept depicts a dense, dead star called a white dwarf crossing in front of a small, red star. The white dwarf’s gravity is so great it bends and magnifies light from the red star. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    The dead star, called a white dwarf, is the burnt-out core of what used to be a star like our sun. It is locked in an orbiting dance with its partner, a small red dwarf star. While the tiny white dwarf is physically smaller than the red dwarf, it is more massive.

    ‘This white dwarf is about the size of Earth but has the mass of the sun,’ said Phil Muirhead of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, lead author of the findings to be published April 20 in the Astrophysical Journal. ‘It’s so hefty that the red dwarf, though larger in physical size, is circling around the white dwarf.’

    Kepler’s primary job is to scan stars in search of orbiting planets. As the planets pass by, they block the starlight by miniscule amounts, which Kepler’s sensitive detectors can see.

    ‘The technique is equivalent to spotting a flea on a light bulb 3,000 miles away, roughly the distance from Los Angeles to New York City,’ said Avi Shporer, co-author of the study, also of Caltech.

    Muirhead and his colleagues regularly use public Kepler data to search for and confirm planets around smaller stars, the red dwarfs, also known as M dwarfs. These stars are cooler and redder than our yellow sun. When the team first looked at the Kepler data for a target called KOI-256, they thought they were looking at a huge gas giant planet eclipsing the red dwarf.

    ‘We saw what appeared to be huge dips in the light from the star, and suspected it was from a giant planet, roughly the size of Jupiter, passing in front,’ said Muirhead.

    To learn more about the star system, Muirhead and his colleagues turned to the Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego. Using a technique called radial velocity, they discovered that the red dwarf was wobbling around like a spinning top. The wobble was far too big to be caused by the tug of a planet. That is when they knew they were looking at a massive white dwarf passing behind the red dwarf, rather than a gas giant passing in front.

    Hale
    Hale Telescope at Palomar

    The team also incorporated ultraviolet measurements of KOI-256 taken by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a NASA space telescope now operated by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The GALEX observations, led by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., are part of an ongoing program to measure ultraviolet activity in all the stars in Kepler field of view, an indicator of potential habitability for planets in the systems. These data revealed the red dwarf is very active, consistent with being “spun-up” by the orbit of the more massive white dwarf.

    NASA Galex telescope
    NASA Galex

    The astronomers then went back to the Kepler data and were surprised by what they saw. When the white dwarf passed in front of its star, its gravity caused the starlight to bend and brighten by measurable effects.

    ‘Only Kepler could detect this tiny, tiny effect,’ said Doug Hudgins, the Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington. ‘But with this detection, we are witnessing Einstein’s general theory of relativity at play in a far-flung star system.’”

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on January 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA JPL: “NASA’s NuSTAR Catches Black Holes in Galaxy Web” 

    NASA NuSTAR
    NuSTAR

    January 07, 2013

    NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, set its X-ray eyes on a spiral galaxy and caught the brilliant glow of two black holes lurking inside. The new image is being released Monday along with NuSTAR’s view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif.

    galaxy
    This new view of spiral galaxy IC 342, also known as Caldwell 5, includes data from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DSS

    ‘These new images showcase why NuSTAR is giving us an unprecedented look at the cosmos,’ said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington. “With NuSTAR’s greater sensitivity and imaging capability, we’re getting a wealth of new information on a wide array of cosmic phenomena in the high-energy X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

    Launched last June, NuSTAR is the first orbiting telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-ray light. It can view objects in considerably greater detail than previous missions operating at similar wavelengths. Since launch, the NuSTAR team has been fine-tuning the telescope, which includes a mast the length of a school bus connecting the mirrors and detectors.

    ‘High-energy X-rays hold a key to unlocking the mystery surrounding these objects,’ said Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. ‘Whether they are massive black holes, or there is new physics in how they feed, the answer is going to be fascinating.’

    ‘Before NuSTAR, high-energy X-ray pictures of this galaxy and the two black holes would be so fuzzy that everything would appear as one pixel,’ said Harrison.”

    See the full article here.

    Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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