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  • richardmitnick 8:35 am on January 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel, Serpens core   

    From ESA: “Herschel reveals filaments in the Serpens Core” 

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    European Space Agency

    Temp 1

    18/01/2016

    The interstellar medium fills the ‘empty’ space between the stars in our galaxy. It is a mix of molecular clouds, cold and warm gases, regions of electrically charged hydrogen, and more.

    Molecular clouds are the densest part of the interstellar medium, holding most of its mass in the form of hydrogen gas. ESA’s Herschel space observatory has revealed that many are built around filaments, with dense threads snaking throughout each cloud.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    These filaments potentially transport material, and, when massive enough, are known to form new stars.

    This Herschel image shows the Serpens Core, the heart of a giant molecular cloud. The Core is the bright clump towards the upper right, with a more diffuse secondary cluster, named Ser G3-G6, shown at the bottom right. Also visible as a faint yellow glow towards the upper left of the frame is a region known as LDN 583 that shines brightly in the far-infrared.

    Giant molecular clouds contain up to 10 million times the mass of the Sun, and can stretch for hundreds of light-years. Compared to the rest of space they are dense, holding up to a thousand atoms per cubic centimetre – and even more in star-forming regions. However, these properties are relative: even at their densest, these clouds are more than 10 times emptier than the best laboratory vacuums we can produce on Earth.

    These giant clouds are complex formations, most often made up of filaments mixed with clumpy and irregular folds, sheets and bubble-like structures. A typical spiral galaxy like the Milky Way can contain thousands of them, accompanied by many of their smaller relatives.

    Serpens is an ideal target for scientists wanting to know more about giant molecular clouds, because it lies just 1400 light-years from us. Scientists compared Herschel’s observations of this cloud to a state-of-the-art simulation to find out more about the cloud’s properties, and to test the accuracy of their model.

    They discovered a radial network of filaments stretching throughout the Serpens Core, filaments that are predicted to break and fragment to form the cores of new stars. These filaments resemble the spokes of a wheel, with the Core forming the hub.

    This three-colour image is made from observations with Herschel’s PACS camera (blue and green) and SPIRE camera (red). The size of the region shown is 1.7×1.9º on the sky, where 1º corresponds to about 25 light-years.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:08 am on December 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel, , Stephan’s Quintet   

    From ESA: “Sparkling Stephan’s Quintet” 

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    European Space Agency

    21/12/2015
    No Writer Credit

    1
    No image credit

    The Stephan’s Quintet of galaxies was discovered by astronomer Édouard Stephan in 1877. At the time, however, he reported the discovery of ‘new nebulae’, as the concept of other galaxies beyond our Milky Way was only formalised in the 1920s.

    This image combines observations performed at three different wavelengths, with ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories as well as with ground-based telescopes, to reveal the different components of the five galaxies.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    ESA XMM Newton
    XMM-Newton

    Stephan’s Quintet is one of the most spectacular galactic groups known, but only four galaxies from the originally discovered quintet are physically linked – the other was later discovered to be much closer to us. NGC 7320, the galaxy in the lower part the image, lies about 40 million light-years from us, rather than the 300 million light-years of the others.

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    NGC 7320 from Hubble

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    One of them is the bright source above NGC 7320 in this view, two are the intertwined galaxies immediately to the right of image centre, and the fourth is the round patch towards the lower-right corner.

    Later, it was discovered that an additional galaxy, hidden beyond the left edge of this image, sits at a similar distance to these four galaxies, reinstating the group as a quintet.

    By observing these galaxies in infrared light with Herschel – shown in red and yellow – astronomers can trace the glow of cosmic dust. Dust is a minor but crucial ingredient of the interstellar matter in galaxies, which consists mainly of gas and provides the raw material for the birth of new generations of stars.

    One galaxy stands out in the infrared light: the nearby NGC 7320, a spiral galaxy busy building new stars.

    Shown in white, the optical light observed from ground-based telescopes reveals the shapes of the four distant galaxies, which exhibit tails and loops of stars and gas. These intricate features are an effect of their mutual gravitational attraction.

    The intense dynamical activity of the distant group is also portrayed in the distribution of diffuse hot gas, which shines brightly in X-rays and was detected by XMM-Newton.

    Represented in blue, the hot gas appears to sit mostly between the four colliding galaxies. It is likely a mixture of primordial gas predating the formation of the galaxies and intergalactic gas that has been stripped off the galaxies or expelled during their interactions.

    A hint of a shockwave from the interaction of these four galaxies is visible as an almost vertical blue structure on the right of the image centre. This structure of hot gas also seems to trace a filament of infrared-bright dust that might have been heated by the shock.

    At the top end of the shock, the infrared view reveals stars forming both within and outside the galaxies.

    A faint tail of stars, gas and dust extends towards the left, leading to a dwarf galaxy glowing in infrared – the red and yellow object at the tip of the tail.

    Further to the left, a dense concentration of hot gas is also visible in blue at the end of the tail, although it is unclear whether it belongs to the galactic group or is a foreground source.

    See the full article here .

    Another view of Stephan’s Quintet from Hubble:
    2

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:59 pm on September 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel, ,   

    From JPL: “Herschel and Planck Honored with Space Systems Award” 

    JPL

    September 3, 2015
    Whitney Clavin
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-4673
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Left ESA/Herschel, right ESA/Planck

    The Herschel and Planck project teams are this year’s recipients of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space Systems Award. Both space missions were led by the European Space Agency (ESA), with important participation from NASA.

    This award is presented annually by the AIAA to recognize outstanding achievements in the architecture, analysis, design and implementation of space systems. This year’s award was presented Sept. 2 during the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, in Pasadena.

    The project teams of the Herschel and Planck missions, which were managed together by ESA, have been cited for “outstanding scientific achievements recognized by the worldwide scientific community and for outstanding technical performances of the two satellites.”

    The Herschel infrared space observatory, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. Its 3.5-meter primary mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the universe. The observatory made more than 40,000 scientific observations over about 25,000 hours. Herschel’s data are publicly available for use by astronomers across the globe.

    Planck was launched into space with Herschel in 2009, and also operated until October, 2013. It was designed to probe, with the highest accuracy ever achieved, the remnants of the radiation that filled the universe immediately after its explosive birth. Data from Planck, also publicly available, are helping to provide answers to some of the most important questions in modern science: how did the universe begin, how did it evolve to the state we observe today and how will it continue to evolve in the future?

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB per Planck

    JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for instruments on both Planck and Herschel. The U.S. data archives for both missions are based at NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    More information about Herschel is online at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/herschel

    http://www.herschel.caltech.edu

    http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel

    More information about Planck is online at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/planck

    http://www.esa.int/planck

    See the full article here.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    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, 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 3:15 pm on August 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel   

    From ESA: “Feathery filaments in Mon R2” 

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    European Space Agency

    24/08/2015
    No Writer Credit

    1

    Fierce flashes of light ripple through delicate tendrils of gas in this new image, from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, which shows the dramatic heart of a large and dense cosmic cloud known as Mon R2. This cloud lies some 2700 light-years away and is studded with hot, newly-formed stars.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    Packed into the bright centre of this region are several hot ‘bubbles’ of ionised hydrogen, associated with newborn stars situated nearby. Here, gas heated to a temperature of 10 000 °C quickly expands outwards, inflating and enlarging over time. Herschel has explored the bubbles in Mon R2, finding them to have grown over the course of 100 000 to 350 000 years.

    This process forms bubble-like cavities that lie within the larger Mon R2 cloud. These are known as HII regions and Mon R2 hosts four of them, clustered together in the central blue-white haze of bright light — one at the very centre, two stretching out like butterfly wings to the top left and bottom right, and another sitting just above the centre.

    Each is associated with a different hot and luminous B-type star. These stars can be many times the mass of the Sun and usually appear with a blue hue due to their high temperature.

    Astronomers have found that the hot bubbles in Mon R2 are enveloped by vast clouds of cold, dense gas, sitting within the filaments that stretch across the frame. In stark contrast to the gas in the hot bubbles, these clouds can be at temperatures as low as –260 °C, just above absolute zero.

    This particular cluster of HII regions has been studied as part of the Herschel imaging survey of OB young stellar objects, or HOBYS, programme. This image combines multiple Herschel observations obtained with the PACS and SPIRE cameras and has been processed to highlight the cloud’s clumpy complex of filaments, visible here in great and dramatic detail.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:23 am on May 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel   

    From ESA: “Threading the Milky Way” 

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    European Space Agency

    28 May 2015
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Herschel’s view of G49

    2
    Herschel’s view of G47

    3
    Herschel’s view of G64

    These three new images of huge filamentary structures of gas and dust from ESA’s Herschel space observatory reveal how matter is distributed across our Galaxy, the Milky Way.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    Long and flimsy threads emerge from a twisted mix of material, taking on complex shapes as the gas and dust in them become denser and cooler. Two of them even exhibit a ‘head’ – a brighter clump of matter at the tip of the wispy thread.

    With masses of thousands to several tens of thousands times that of our Sun, these are among the most prominent filaments ever observed in the Galaxy. Longer than 100 light-years, they are at most 10 light-years wide, reproducing even at these very large scales the filamentary distribution of matter that Herschel has observed in detail in nearby star-forming regions in the Milky Way.

    While dust is only a minor ingredient in this cosmic blend, it shines brightly at the far-infrared and submillimetre wavelengths probed by Herschel. This allowed astronomers to reveal for the first time the coolest and densest portions in this tangle, visible in red and yellow in these false-colour images.

    The filaments are dotted with brighter clumps: these are cosmic incubators, where the seeds of new generations of stars are taking shape. The blue and violet glow of the fuzzy splotches that embellish the filaments reveals pockets of warmer material, set ablaze by the fierce radiation released by newborn stars still embedded within them.

    Before Herschel, only two gigantic filaments like these were known, but astronomers have now used data from the observatory to uncover several new ones weaving their way through the spiral arms of the Milky Way. They believe that these are the first structures to form as interstellar matter starts coming together, eventually leading to the formation of stars.

    Related scientific papers:
    Large scale filaments associated with Milky Way spiral arms, by Ke Wang et al.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel, ,   

    From ESA: Herschel and Planck Find Missing Clue to Galaxy Cluster Formation 

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    European Space Agency

    31 March 2015

    Markus Bauer

    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer

    Tel: +31 71 565 6799; +34 91 8131 199

    Mob: +31 61 594 3954

    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    Hervé Dole
    Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS & Univ. Paris-Sud) and Institut Universitaire de France Orsay, France

    Tel: +33 1 69 85 85 72
    Email: Herve.Dole@ias.u-psud.fr

    Ludovic Montier
    Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNRS & Univ. Paul Sabatier Toulouse III), Toulouse, France
    Tel: +33 5 61 55 65 51
    Email: Ludovic.Montier@irap.omp.eu

    Jan Tauber

    ESA Planck Project Scientist

    Tel: +31 71 565 5342

    Email: Jan.Tauber@esa.int

    Göran Pilbratt

    ESA Herschel Project Scientist

    Tel: +31 71 565 3621

    Email: gpilbratt@cosmos.esa.int

    1
    Proto-cluster candidates

    By combining observations of the distant Universe made with ESA’s Herschel and Planck space observatories, cosmologists have discovered what could be the precursors of the vast clusters of galaxies that we see today.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    ESA Planck
    Planck

    Galaxies like our Milky Way with its 100 billion stars are usually not found in isolation. In the Universe today, 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang, many are in dense clusters of tens, hundreds or even thousands of galaxies.

    However, these clusters have not always existed, and a key question in modern cosmology is how such massive structures assembled in the early Universe.

    Pinpointing when and how they formed should provide insight into the process of galaxy cluster evolution, including the role played by dark matter in shaping these cosmic metropolises.

    Now, using the combined strengths of Herschel and Planck, astronomers have found objects in the distant Universe, seen at a time when it was only three billion years old, which could be precursors of the clusters seen around us today.

    2
    The history of the Universe

    Planck’s main goal was to provide the most precise map of the relic radiation of the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background [CMB].

    Cosmic Microwave Background  Planck
    CMB per Planck

    To do so, it surveyed the entire sky in nine different wavelengths from the far-infrared to radio, in order to eliminate foreground emission from our galaxy and others in the Universe.

    But those foreground sources can be important in other fields of astronomy, and it was in Planck’s short wavelength data that scientists were able to identify 234 bright sources with characteristics that suggested they were located in the distant, early Universe.

    Herschel then observed these objects across the far-infrared to submillimetre wavelength range, but with much higher sensitivity and angular resolution.

    Herschel revealed that the vast majority of the Planck-detected sources are consistent with dense concentrations of galaxies in the early Universe, vigorously forming new stars.

    Each of these young galaxies is seen to be converting gas and dust into stars at a rate of a few hundred to 1500 times the mass of our Sun per year. By comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy today is producing stars at an average rate of just one solar mass per year.

    While the astronomers have not yet conclusively established the ages and luminosities of many of these newly discovered distant galaxy concentrations, they are the best candidates yet found for ‘proto-clusters’ – precursors of the large, mature galaxy clusters we see in the Universe today.

    “Hints of these kinds of objects had been found earlier in data from Herschel and other telescopes, but the all-sky capability of Planck revealed many more candidates for us to study,” says Hervé Dole of the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, lead scientist of the analysis published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    “We still have a lot to learn about this new population, requiring further follow-up studies with other observatories. But we believe that they are a missing piece of cosmological structure formation.”

    “We are now preparing an extended catalogue of possible proto-clusters detected by Planck, which should help us identify even more of these objects,” adds Ludovic Montier, a CNRS researcher at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, Toulouse, who is the lead scientist of the Planck catalogue of high-redshift source candidates, which is about to be delivered to the community.

    “This exciting result was possible thanks to the synergy between Herschel and Planck: rare objects could be identified from the Planck data covering the entire sky, and then Herschel was able to scrutinise them in finer detail,” says ESA’s Herschel Project Scientist, Göran Pilbratt.

    “Both space observatories completed their science observations in 2013, but their rich datasets will be exploited for plentiful new insights about the cosmos for years to come.”

    Notes for Editors

    High-redshift infrared galaxy overdensity candidates and lensed sources discovered by Planck and confirmed by Herschel-SPIRE, is authored by the Planck Collaboration.

    Planck detected the sky at nine frequencies, from 30 GHz to 857 GHz. The Planck frequencies used to detect the candidate proto-clusters in this study were 857 GHz, 545 GHz and 353 GHz. The follow-up observations made by Herschel’s SPIRE instrument were at 250, 350 and 500 microns. The SPIRE 350 micron and 500 micron bands overlap with Planck’s High Frequency Instrument (HFI) at 857 GHz and 545 GHz.

    ESA Herschel SPIRE
    SPIRE on Herschel

    The Planck Scientific Collaboration consists of all the scientists who have contributed to the development of the mission, and who participate in the scientific exploitation of the data during the proprietary period. These scientists are members of one or more of four consortia: the LFI Consortium, the HFI Consortium, the DK-Planck Consortium and ESA’s Planck Science Office. The two European-led Planck Data Processing Centres are located in Paris, France and Trieste, Italy. The LFI consortium is led by N. Mandolesi, ASI, Italy (deputy PI: M. Bersanelli, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Italy), and was responsible for the development and operation of LFI. The HFI consortium is led by J.L. Puget, Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France (deputy PI: F. Bouchet, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France), and was responsible for the development and operation of HFI.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 6:41 am on February 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Herschel,   

    From ESA: “Exploring the colours of the Small Magellanic Cloud” 

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    European Space Agency

    Feb 23, 2015
    No Writer Credit

    1

    Astronomical images often look like works of art. This picture of one of our nearest neighbouring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud, is certainly no exception!

    The scene is actually a collaboration between two cosmic artists — ESA’s Herschel space observatory and NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    Spitzer

    The image is reminiscent of an artistic stipple or pointillist painting, with lots of small, distinct dots coming together to create a striking larger-scale view.

    The colours within this image provide information about the temperature of the dust mixed with the gas throughout the galaxy. The slight green tint stretching towards the left of the frame and the red hue of the main body of the galaxy are from the Herschel observations, which highlight cold material, down to a chilly –260 degrees Celsius .

    The brighter patches of blue were captured by Spitzer. These regions are made up of ‘warmer’ —about –150 degrees Celsius — gas and dust, and within some of these areas new stars are being born. These newborn stars in turn warm up their surroundings, resulting in intense clumps of heated gas and dust within the galaxy.

    These clumps show up brightly in this image, tracing the shape of the galaxy clearly — the SMC is made up of a central ‘bar’ of star formation, visible on the right hand side, and then a more extended ‘wing’, stretching out towards the left of the frame.

    Overall, the Small Magellanic Cloud is about 1/20th of the size of the Milky Way. It can be seen shining in the night sky of the southern hemisphere, and its brightest regions are easily visible to the naked eye. It is a satellite galaxy of our own — it orbits around the Milky Way along with its bigger companion, the Large Magellanic Cloud. These two galaxies have been extensively studied because of their proximity to us; astronomers can observe them relatively easily to explore how star formation and galactic evolution works in galaxies other than our own.

    The data in this image are from Herschel’s Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE), Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS), and Spitzer’s Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS).

    This image was previously published by NASA/JPL.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 5:08 pm on December 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Herschel,   

    From JPL: “Warm Gas Pours ‘Cold Water’ on Galaxy’s Star-Making” 

    JPL

    December 5, 2014

    Some like it hot, but for creating new stars, a cool cosmic environment is ideal. As a new study suggests, a surge of warm gas into a nearby galaxy — left over from the devouring of a separate galaxy — has extinguished star formation by agitating the available chilled gas.

    The unique findings illustrate a new dimension to galaxy evolution, and come courtesy of the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory, in which NASA played a key role, and NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes.

    ESA Herschel
    ESA/Herschel

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomers want to understand why galaxies in the local universe fall into two major categories: younger, star-forming spirals (like our own Milky Way), and older ellipticals, in which fresh star making has ceased. The new study’s galaxy, NGC 3226, occupies a transitional middle ground, so getting a bead on its star formation is critical.

    n
    NGC 3227 (left) and NGC 3226 (right) galaxies by Hubble space telescope

    “We have explored the fantastic potential of big data archives from NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and ESA’s Herschel observatory to pull together a picture of an elliptical galaxy that has undergone huge changes in its recent past due to violent collisions with its neighbors,” said Philip Appleton, project scientist for the NASA Herschel Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and lead author of a recent Astrophysical Journal paper detailing the results. “These collisions are modifying not only its structure and color, but also the condition of the gas that resides in it, making it hard — at the moment — for the galaxy to form many stars.”

    m
    A new feature in the evolution of galaxies has been captured in this image of galactic interactions. Credit: NASA/CFHT/NRAO/JPL-Caltech/Duc/Cuillandre

    NGC 3226 is relatively close, just 50 million light-years away. Several star-studded, gassy loops emanate from NGC 3226. Filaments also run out from it and between a companion galaxy, NGC 3227. These streamers of material suggest that a third galaxy probably existed there until recently — that is, until NGC 3226 cannibalized it, strewing pieces of the shredded galaxy all over the area.

    A prominent piece of these messy leftovers stretches 100,000 light-years and extends right into the core of NGC 3226. This long tail ends as a curved plume in a disk of warm hydrogen gas and a ring of dust. Contents of the tail, thought to be the debris from that departed galaxy, are falling into NGC 3226, drawn by its gravity.

    In many instances, adding material to galaxies in this manner rejuvenates them, triggering new rounds of star birth thanks to gas and dust gelling together. Yet data from the three telescopes agree that NGC 3226 has a very low rate of star formation. It appears that in this case, the material falling into NGC 3226 is heating up as it collides with other galactic gas and dust, quenching star formation instead of fueling it.

    The outcome could have been different, as NGC 3226 hosts a supermassive black hole at its center. The influx of gas and dust might have ended up just feeding the black hole, setting off energetic outpourings as the material crashed together while whirling toward its doom. Instead, the black hole in NGC 3226’s core is just snacking, not gorging, as the material has spread out in the galaxy’s central regions.

    “We are discovering that gas does not simply funnel down into the center of a galaxy and feed the supermassive black hole known to be lurking there,” Appleton said. “Rather, it gets hung up in a warm disk, shutting down star formation and probably frustrating the black hole’s growth by being too turbulent at this point in time.”

    NGC 3226 is considered something between a youthful “blue” galaxy and an old “red” galaxy. The colors refer to the predominantly galactic blue light radiated by giant, young stars — a telltale sign of recent star formation — and the reddish light cast by mature stars in the absence of new, blue ones.

    This intermediary galaxy illuminates how galaxies accruing fresh gas and dust can bloom with new stars or have their stellar factories close shop, at least temporarily. After all, as the warm gas flooding NGC 3226 cools to star-forming temperatures, the galaxy should get a second wind.

    Intriguingly, ultraviolet and optical light observations suggest that NGC 3226 may have produced more stars in the past, leading to its current intermediate color, somewhere between red and blue. The new study indicates that those traces of youth must indeed be lingering from higher levels of star formation, before the infalling gas scrambled the scene.

    “NGC 3226 will continue to evolve and may hatch abundant new stars in the future,” said Appleton. “We’re learning that the transition from young- to old-looking galaxies is not a one-way, but a two-way street.”

    Other authors of the report are: C. Mundell of Liverpool John Moores University, England; M. Lacy of National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, Virginia; V. Charmandaris of University of Creete, Greece; P-A. Duc of CEA-Saclay, France; U. Lisenfeld of University of Granda, Spain; and T. Bitsakis, K. Alatalo, L. Armus and P. Ogle of Caltech.

    Herschel is a European Space Agency mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. While the observatory stopped making science observations in April 2013, after running out of liquid coolant, as expected, scientists continue to analyze its data. NASA’s Herschel Project Office is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech, supports the U.S. astronomical community.

    See the full article here.

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    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 2:26 pm on October 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Herschel   

    From ESA: “Herschel’s view of Comet Siding Spring” 

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    European Space Agency

    17 October 2014

    These three images show emission from the dust in the coma surrounding the nucleus of Comet C/2013 A1 – also known as Comet Siding Spring – as observed at three different far-infrared wavelengths with ESA’s Herschel space observatory.

    three

    ESA Herschel
    ESA Herschel schematic
    ESA/Herschel

    Discovered on 3 January 2013, Comet Siding Spring is an Oort Cloud comet on its first journey into the inner Solar System. It will reach perihelion – its closest approach to the Sun – on 25 October 2014 at 1.4 AU (about 210,000,000 km). Having spent most of its life far from the Sun, this comet is much more pristine than periodic comets – those that orbit the Sun every two hundred years or less – and for that reason is particularly interesting to study.

    oort
    Artists rendering of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud.

    On 31 March 2013, not long after it was discovered, astronomers observed Comet Siding Spring with Herschel. This was just one month before the observatory exhausted its supply of liquid helium coolant and ceased to collect data. When Herschel observed it, the comet was about 6.5 AU from the Sun. The observations were performed following a proposal for Director’s Discretionary Time from Peter Mattisson from the Stockholm Amateur Astronomers (STAR) in Sweden.

    The three panels show the comet at wavelengths of 70 microns (shown in blue), 100 microns (shown in green) and 160 microns (shown in red). Telescopes observing at these long wavelengths see the direct thermal emission from dust in the comet’s coma.

    The coma is resolved at the two shorter wavelengths (in the left and central panels). Close inspection of these two images reveals that the coma’s shape is slightly elongated towards the left – in the direction opposite the Sun. From these images, astronomers estimated that the coma extends some 50,000 km from the comet’s nucleus. The structure of the coma can hardly be resolved at the longest wavelength probed by Herschel (in the right panel).

    These observations were also used to calculate the total mass of dust in the coma, which amounts to about 300,000,000 kg. At the time of the Herschel observations, the comet appeared to be quite active – astronomers estimated that the activity had begun even prior to the comet’s discovery, when it was about 8 AU from the Sun. Observations performed at a later stage with space and ground-based telescopes showed that the comet’s activity has increased quite slowly over the past months, which is quite unusual for an Oort Cloud comet. There are even some hints that the comet’s activity has declined recently.

    Astronomers have been closely monitoring the activity of Comet Siding Spring because, a few days before perihelion, the comet will have an historic close approach to Mars, passing some 140,000 km from the Red Planet on 19 October 2014. The comet’s current moderate activity is good news for the fleet of spacecraft that are operated at Mars by various space agencies (including ESA’s Mars Express) because it means a low risk of dust particles hitting the instruments on board.

    Since Oort Cloud comets are discovered with an extremely short notice before perihelion – a few years at most – it is virtually impossible to plan a space mission to fly by such a comet. This is what makes Comet Siding Spring and its closest approach to Mars truly unique, as the spacecraft at Mars will have the chance to observe an Oort Cloud comet from a distance that could not possibly be achieved otherwise.

    The analysis of the Herschel images was performed by Cs. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary), T.G. Müller (Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany), M. Kidger (ESAC, European Space Agency, Madrid, Spain), P. Mattisson (STAR, Stockholm Amateur Astronomers, Sweden), and G. Marton (Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary).

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:43 am on July 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Herschel   

    From ESA: “Nearby M33 galaxy blossoming with star birth” 

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    European Space Agency

    28/07/2014
    No Writer Credit

    The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and our own Milky Way.

    m33

    M33 is popular with astrophotographers and from exceptionally dark sites it can even be seen with the naked eye. Thanks to its orientation, we can enjoy a face-on view of the beautiful spiral structure of the galaxy’s disc.

    This image, from ESA’s Herschel space observatory, shows M33 in far-infrared light, revealing the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that permeates the galaxy. The patchy, disorganised structure of M33’s spiral arms resembles a tuft of wool, leading astronomers to classify it as a flocculent spiral galaxy.

    The brightest spots sprinkled along the spiral arms are dense pockets of gas and dust where massive stars are born. The most prominent of these is NGC604, visible in the upper left spiral arm. This is an enormous star-forming region where hundreds of thousands of stars are taking shape.

    The image is a composite of the wavelengths: 70 microns (blue), 100 microns (green) and 160 microns (red). At the shortest wavelengths, astronomers trace warmer dust, revealing individual regions of star formation and parent clouds. At longer wavelengths, they detect emission from colder dust, outlining some of the cool dust reservoir along the galaxy’s winding spiral arms. This is where stars may be born in the future.

    The image spans about one degree on each side; north is up and east is to the left. The data were collected with Herschel’s PACS instrument as part of the Herschel M33 extended survey (HerM33es) Key Programme to study the star formation in the Triangulum Galaxy.

    ESA Herschel PACS
    ESA/Herschek PACS Instrument

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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