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  • richardmitnick 5:24 pm on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Messier 82, NASA ESA Hubble, SN 2014J,   

    From Hubble: “Hubble Shows Light Echo Expanding from Exploded Star” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Nov. 9, 2017

    Donna Weaver
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4493
    dweaver@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Yi Yang
    Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
    972-8-934-6505
    yi.yang@weizmann.ac.il

    1

    Light from a supernova explosion in the nearby starburst galaxy Messier 82 is reverberating off a huge dust cloud in interstellar space.

    The supernova, called SN 2014J, occurred at the upper right of Messier 82, and is marked by an “X.” The supernova was discovered on Jan. 21, 2014.

    The inset images at top reveal an expanding shell of light from the stellar explosion sweeping through interstellar space, called a “light echo.” The images were taken 10 months to nearly two years after the violent event (Nov. 6, 2014 to Oct. 12, 2016). The light is bouncing off a giant dust cloud that extends 300 to 1,600 light-years from the supernova and is being reflected toward Earth.

    SN 2014J is classified as a Type Ia supernova and is the closest such blast in at least four decades. A Type Ia supernova occurs in a binary star system consisting of a burned-out white dwarf and a companion star. The white dwarf explodes after the companion dumps too much material onto it.


    Over a period of two and a half years, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observed the “light echo” of supernova SN 2014J in galaxy Messier 82, located 11.4 million light-years away.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    The image of Messier 82 reveals a bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions.

    Close encounters with its larger neighbor, the spiral galaxy Messier 81, is compressing gas in Messier 82 and stoking the birth of multiple star clusters. Some of these stars live for only a short time and die in cataclysmic supernova blasts, as shown by SN 2014J.

    Located 11.4 million light-years away, M82 appears high in the northern spring sky in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is also called the “Cigar Galaxy” because of the elliptical shape produced by the oblique tilt of its starry disk relative to our line of sight.

    The Messier 82 image was taken in 2006 by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The inset images of the light echo also were taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

    The science team members are Y. Yang of Texas A&M University, College Station, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel; P.J. Brown of Texas A&M University, College Station; L. Wang of Texas A&M University, College Station, and Purple Mountain Observatory, China; D. Baade, A. Cikota, F. Patat, and J. Spyromilio of the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, Garching, Germany; M. Cracraft and W.B. Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland; P.A. Hoflich of Florida State University, Tallahassee; J. Maund and H.F. Stevance of the University of Sheffield, U.K.; X. Wang of Tsinghua University, Beijing Shi; and J.C. Wheeler of the University of Texas at Austin.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

    For images and more information about the light echo and Hubble, visit:

    http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-42

    http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    Image credit: NASA, ESA, and Y. Yang (Texas A&M University and Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)

    See the full article here .

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    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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    • Greg Long 11:52 pm on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I find the idea of this astounding. I mean, sure light would bounce, but it’s the scale that astounds

      Like

    • richardmitnick 10:11 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Greg, thanks for your comment and your continued support.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 12:08 pm on October 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, The Hubble Space Telescope Is Falling And if we don’t prepare to catch it now it’ll be too late   

    From Ethan Siegel: “The Hubble Space Telescope Is Falling…” 

    From Ethan Siegel

    Oct 25, 2017

    …And if we don’t prepare to catch it now, it’ll be too late.

    1
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    Since 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has been redefining how we view our Universe. From hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth, it orbits the entire world every 97 minutes. Multiple servicing missions, including the final one in 2009, have corrected its optics, enhanced its cameras, replaced worn-out parts, and boosted it to higher orbits. With the decommissioning of the space shuttle, however, the telescope that changed the world is now looking ahead to its inevitable end-of-life. Even if the fine-guidance sensors never fail; even if the reaction wheels remain operational; even if the communications equipment never dies, Hubble is in trouble. It’s presently falling back towards Earth, and there are no plans in place to stop its orbital decay.

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    When a spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, it almost always inevitably breaks up into many pieces. If the deorbiting isn’t done in a controlled fashion, the debris could land over populated areas, causing catastrophic damage. Image credit: NASA/ESA/Bill Moede and Jesse Carpenter.

    Hubble is currently orbiting Earth at a mean altitude of 353 miles, or 568 kilometers. We typically define the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space as 60 miles (about 100 kilometers) up, but in reality the situation is far more complicated. The atmosphere never truly ends, but simply gets more and more diffuse the higher up you go, with atoms and molecules that are gravitationally bound to the Earth extending to altitudes up to 10,000 km (6,200 miles). Beyond that point, the Earth’s atmosphere is indistinguishable from the solar wind, with both consisting of tenuous, hot atoms and ionized particles.

    3
    The layers of Earth’s atmosphere, as shown here to scale, go up far higher than the typically-defined boundary of space. Every object in low-Earth orbit is subject to atmospheric drag at some level. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Kelvinsong.

    Although the overwhelming majority of our atmosphere (by mass) is contained in the lowest layers, with the troposphere containing 75% of Earth’s atmopshere, the stratosphere containing another 20%, and the mesosphere containing almost all of the remaining 5%. Beyond that, atmospheric drag drops off significantly, and long-term orbits are possible. From space, those lowest three layers are the only ones that are optically visible, with most satellites in low-Earth orbit being located above them all: in the thermosphere. Up at these incredible altitudes, a typical atmospheric molecule (of oxygen, for instance) might travel for a kilometer or more before colliding with another one.

    5
    The troposphere (orange), stratosphere (white), and mesosphere (blue) are where the overwhelming majority of the molecules in Earth’s atmosphere lie. But beyond that, air is still present, causing satellites to fall and eventually de-orbit if left alone. Image credit: NASA/Crew of Expedition 22.

    But the Hubble Space Telescope is much larger than an oxygen molecule, and is moving much more quickly than one, too. Moving at about 5 miles per second, it collides with these high-altitude air molecules on a continuous basis, with each collision stripping it of a tiny, imperceptible bit of speed. Over the course of an hour, a day, or even a month, the changes aren’t noticeable. Give it enough time, though, and those changes add up to something big. The loss of altitude and speed means that, very slowly, Hubble will start to spiral closer to Earth.

    Which is too bad, because the science we’ve not only gotten, but continue to get from Hubble, is unlike anything else in human history. As the observatory falls to lower altitudes, collisions with air molecules become more frequent, accelerating the process. Additionally, it’s an uneven effect, as Hubble spends half of every 97 minutes in sunlight and half in darkness, which will cause the highly asymmetrical Hubble Space Telescope to begin to tumble. If we do nothing, these drag forces will add up until Hubble becomes a fireball in the atmosphere, disintegrating into a multitude of parts and experiencing what’s known as an “uncontrolled entry.” The telescope is far too big to simply burn up, and the fiery debris could literally land anywhere.

    7
    An uncontrolled re-entry, as illustrated here, could cause large, massive chunks to land pretty much anywhere on Earth. Heavy, solid objects, like Hubble’s primary mirror, could easily cause significant amounts of damage or even kill, depending on where those chunks landed. Image credit: ESA.

    During the previous servicing missions, Hubble has been “boosted” to higher orbits, in order to maintain it for longer. Without a crewed, reusable servicing vehicle like the shuttle, however, this is no longer feasible. Unless we develop some new technology and heavily invest in the training necessary to complete a life-saving mission, Hubble’s stint as humanity’s greatest optical observatory will unceremoniously come to an end. An uncrewed mission could be sent to robotically program a controlled re-entry, where the surviving components would land in the ocean, but this will only shorten its lifespan.

    8
    This image shows Hubble servicing Mission 4 astronauts practice on a Hubble model underwater at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston under the watchful eyes of NASA engineers and safety divers.

    If we keep the status quo, it’s conceivable that the components on Hubble will last for decades to come. But its orbit won’t. As Michael Massimino, one of the astronauts who serviced Hubble aboard the Space Shuttle for the final time in 2009, related:

    Its orbit will decay. The telescope will be fine, but its orbit will be bringing it closer and closer to Earth. That’s when it’s game over.

    That final mission, therefore, included a docking mechanism that was installed onto the telescope: the Soft Capture and Rendezvous System. Any properly-outfitted rocket could safely take it home.

    9
    The soft capture mechanism installed on Hubble (illustration) uses a Low Impact Docking System (LIDS) interface and associated relative navigation targets for future rendezvous, capture, and docking operations. The system’s LIDS interface is designed to be compatible with the rendezvous and docking systems to be used on the next-generation space transportation vehicle. Image credit: NASA.

    But time is of the essence to develop the technology that can either save it and prolong its life, or to take it safely out of orbit. If it continues on its current path, it will likely come crashing down to Earth in an uncontrolled fashion by the mid-2030s at the latest, and possibly in just over a decade, depending on a number of unpredictable factors. The only planned apparatus capable of servicing or boosting Hubble, NASA’s Space Launch System, has already seen its first planned flight slip behind schedule. If things slip far enough, we may have no option but to de-orbit.

    10
    Unless NASA’s Space Launch System is ready in time, and the space administration decides to invest the resources in servicing and boosting Hubble once again, a de-orbit will be the only way to prevent an uncontrolled potential disaster. Image credit: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center.

    The truth is that, more than any other observatory in history, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed how we view the Universe. Although other ground-based and space-based observatories have been built and will be flying that surpass Hubble on a number of fronts, for some classes of observing, it’s still the best tool humanity has ever created. But by the very nature of its orbit, not only is its lifetime finite, but its demise will come in a horrific, potentially dangerous fashion if we do nothing. Saving it for further use is a long-term project that requires planning now. Hubble is falling, and if we don’t take the steps to catch it soon, it will be too late.

    See the full article here .

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    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 2:56 pm on October 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Hubble discovers 'wobbling galaxies', NASA ESA Hubble   

    From Hubble: “Hubble discovers ‘wobbling galaxies’ “ 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    26 October 2017
    David Harvey
    Laboratoire d’Astrophysique EPFL
    Versoix, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 22 37 92277
    Email: david.harvey@epfl.ch

    Frederic Courbin
    Laboratoire d’Astrophysique EPFL
    Versoix, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 22 37 92418
    Email: frederic.courbin@epfl.ch

    Jean-Paul Kneib
    Laboratoire d’Astrophysique – EPFL
    Versoix, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 79 733 21 11
    Email: jean-paul.kneib@epfl.ch

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Cell: +49 176 62397500
    Email: mjaeger@patner.eso.org

    1
    Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that the brightest galaxies within galaxy clusters “wobble” relative to the cluster’s centre of mass. This unexpected result is inconsistent with predictions made by the current standard model of dark matter. With further analysis it may provide insights into the nature of dark matter, perhaps even indicating that new physics is at work.
    Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Lotz (STScI), M. Postman (STScI), J. Richard (CRAL) and J.-P. Kneib (LAM), T. Lauer (NOAO), S. Perlmutter (UC Berkeley, LBNL), A. Koekemoer (STScI), A. Riess (STScI/JHU), J. Nordin (LBNL, UC Berkeley), D. Rubin (Florida State), C. McCully (Rutgers University) and the CLASH Team

    Dark matter constitutes just over 25 percent of all matter in the Universe but cannot be directly observed, making it one of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy. Invisible halos of elusive dark matter enclose galaxies and galaxy clusters alike. The latter are massive groupings of up to a thousand galaxies immersed in hot intergalactic gas. Such clusters have very dense cores, each containing a massive galaxy called the “brightest cluster galaxy” (BCG).

    The standard model of dark matter (cold dark matter model) predicts that once a galaxy cluster has returned to a “relaxed” state after experiencing the turbulence of a merging event, the BCG does not move from the cluster’s centre. It is held in place by the enormous gravitational influence of dark matter.

    But now, a team of Swiss, French, and British astronomers have analysed ten galaxy clusters observed with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and found that their BCGs are not fixed at the centre as expected [1].

    The Hubble data indicate that they are “wobbling” around the centre of mass of each cluster long after the galaxy cluster has returned to a relaxed state following a merger. In other words, the centre of the visible parts of each galaxy cluster and the centre of the total mass of the cluster — including its dark matter halo — are offset, by as much as 40 000 light-years.

    “We found that the BCGs wobble around centre of the halos,” explains David Harvey, astronomer at EPFL, Switzerland, and lead author of the paper. “This indicates that, rather than a dense region in the centre of the galaxy cluster, as predicted by the cold dark matter model, there is a much shallower central density. This is a striking signal of exotic forms of dark matter right at the heart of galaxy clusters.”

    The wobbling of the BCGs could only be analysed as the galaxy clusters studied also act as gravitational lenses. They are so massive that they warp spacetime enough to distort light from more distant objects behind them. This effect, called strong gravitational lensing, can be used to make a map of the dark matter associated with the cluster, enabling astronomers to work out the exact position of the centre of mass and then measure the offset of the BCG from this centre.

    If this “wobbling” is not an unknown astrophysical phenomenon and in fact the result of the behaviour of dark matter, then it is inconsistent with the standard model of dark matter and can only be explained if dark matter particles can interact with each other — a strong contradiction to the current understanding of dark matter. This may indicate that new fundamental physics is required to solve the mystery of dark matter.

    Co-author Frederic Courbin, also at EPFL, concludes: “We’re looking forward to larger surveys — such as the Euclid survey — that will extend our dataset. Then we can determine whether the wobbling of BGCs is the result of a novel astrophysical phenomenon or new fundamental physics. Both of which would be exciting!”

    Notes

    [1] The study was performed using archive data from Hubble. The observations were originally made for the CLASH and LoCuSS surveys.

    This research was presented in a paper entitled “A detection of wobbling Brightest Cluster Galaxies within massive galaxy clusters” by Harvey et al., which appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    The international team of astronomers in this study consists of David Harvey (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique EPFL, Switzerland), F. Courbin (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique EPFL, Switzerland), J.P. Kneib (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique EPFL, Switzerland; CNRS, France), and Ian G. McCarthy (Liverpool John Moores University, UK).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 2:10 pm on October 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, Penn State University   

    From Penn State via Hubble: “Hubble Observes Exoplanet that Snows Sunscreen” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Oct 26, 2017

    Donna Weaver
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4493
    dweaver@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Thomas Beatty
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park
    814-863-7346
    tbeatty@psu.edu

    1
    This illustration shows the seething hot planet Kepler-13Ab that circles very close to its host star, Kepler-13A. In the background is the star’s binary companion, Kepler-13B, and the third member of the multiple-star system is the orange dwarf star Kepler-13C. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI). From Penn State

    NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found a blistering hot planet outside our solar system where it “snows” sunscreen. The problem is the sunscreen (titanium oxide) precipitation only happens on the planet’s permanent nighttime side. Any possible visitors to the exoplanet, called Kepler-13Ab, would need to bottle up some of that sunscreen, because they won’t find it on the sizzling hot, daytime side, which always faces its host star.

    Hubble astronomers suggest that powerful winds carry the titanium oxide gas around to the colder nighttime side, where it condenses into crystalline flakes, forms clouds, and precipitates as snow. Kepler-13Ab’s strong surface gravity — six times greater than Jupiter’s — pulls the titanium oxide snow out of the upper atmosphere and traps it in the lower atmosphere.

    Astronomers using Hubble didn’t look for titanium oxide specifically. Instead, they observed that the giant planet’s atmosphere is cooler at higher altitudes, which is contrary to what was expected. This finding led the researchers to conclude that a light-absorbing gaseous form of titanium oxide, commonly found in this class of star-hugging, gas giant planet known as a “hot Jupiter,” has been removed from the dayside’s atmosphere.

    The Hubble observations represent the first time astronomers have detected this precipitation process, called a “cold trap,” on an exoplanet.

    Without the titanium oxide gas to absorb incoming starlight on the daytime side, the atmospheric temperature grows colder with increasing altitude. Normally, titanium oxide in the atmospheres of hot Jupiters absorbs light and reradiates it as heat, making the atmosphere grow warmer at higher altitudes.

    These kinds of observations provide insight into the complexity of weather and atmospheric composition on exoplanets, and may someday be applicable to analyzing Earth-size planets for habitability.

    “In many ways, the atmospheric studies we’re doing on hot Jupiters now are testbeds for how we’re going to do atmospheric studies on terrestrial, Earth-like planets,” said lead researcher Thomas Beatty of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “Hot Jupiters provide us with the best views of what climates on other worlds are like. Understanding the atmospheres on these planets and how they work, which is not understood in detail, will help us when we study these smaller planets that are harder to see and have more complicated features in their atmospheres.”

    Beatty’s team selected Kepler-13Ab because it is one of the hottest of the known exoplanets, with a dayside temperature of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Past observations of other hot Jupiters have revealed that the upper atmospheres increase in temperature. Even at their much colder temperatures, most of our solar system’s gas giants also exhibit this phenomenon.

    Kepler-13Ab is so close to its parent star that it is tidally locked. One side of the planet always faces the star; the other side is in permanent darkness. (Similarly, our moon is tidally locked to Earth; only one hemisphere is permanently visible from Earth.)

    The observations confirm a theory from several years ago that this kind of precipitation could occur on massive, hot planets with powerful gravity.

    “Presumably, this precipitation process is happening on most of the observed hot Jupiters, but those gas giants all have lower surface gravities than Kepler-13Ab,” Beatty explained. “The titanium oxide snow doesn’t fall far enough in those atmospheres, and then it gets swept back to the hotter dayside, revaporizes, and returns to a gaseous state.”

    The researchers used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 [WFC3] to conduct spectroscopic observations of the exoplanet’s atmosphere in near-infrared light.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    Hubble made the observations as the distant world traveled behind its star, an event called a secondary eclipse. This type of eclipse yields information on the temperature of the constituents in the atmosphere of the exoplanet’s dayside.

    “These observations of Kepler-13Ab are telling us how condensates and clouds form in the atmospheres of very hot Jupiters, and how gravity will affect the composition of an atmosphere,” Beatty explained. “When looking at these planets, you need to know not only how hot they are but what their gravity is like.”

    The Kepler-13 system resides 1,730 light-years from Earth.

    The team’s results appeared in The Astronomical Journal.

    See the full article here .

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    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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    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:19 pm on October 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From Hubble: “New Hubble Gallery Features Objects from Popular Not-a-Comet Messier Catalog” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Oct. 19, 2017
    Vanessa Thomas
    vanessa.j.thomas@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1

    In a nod to the global amateur astronomy community, as well as to any space enthusiast who enjoys the beauty of the cosmos, the Hubble Space Telescope mission is releasing its version of the popular Messier catalog, featuring some of Hubble’s best images of these celestial objects that were once noted for looking like comets but turned out not to be. This release coincides with the Orionid meteor shower — a spectacle that occurs each year when Earth flies through a debris field left behind by Halley’s Comet when it last visited the inner solar system in 1986. The shower will peak during the pre-dawn hours this Saturday, Oct. 21.

    Spotting comets was all the rage in the middle of the 18th century, and at the forefront of the comet hunt was a young French astronomer named Charles Messier. In 1774, in an effort to help fellow comet seekers steer clear of astronomical objects that were not comets (something that frustrated his own search for these elusive entities), Messier published the first version of his “Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters,” a collection of celestial objects that weren’t comets and should be avoided. Today, rather than avoiding these objects, many amateur astronomers actively seek them out as interesting targets to observe with backyard telescopes, binoculars or sometimes even with the naked eye.

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    NASA Hubble Messier 42

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    NASA Hubble Messier 43

    Hubble’s version of the Messier catalog includes eight newly processed images never before released by NASA. The images were extracted from more than 1.3 million observations that now reside in the Hubble data archive. Some of these images represent the first Hubble views of the objects, while others include newer, higher resolution images taken with Hubble’s latest cameras.

    While the Hubble Space Telescope has not captured images of all 110 objects in the Messier catalog, it has targeted 93 of them as of September 2017. Some Messier objects have not earned enough scientific interest to warrant Hubble’s time, which is in extremely high demand, or can be studied nearly as well with ground-based research telescopes. Others appear too large in the sky to be observed completely by Hubble, which provides high-resolution views that cover tiny portions of the sky. So while a number of Hubble’s photographs capture a given object in its entirety, many images focus on smaller, more specific areas of interest.

    In some cases, Hubble observed a Messier object but didn’t take a picture. Rather, it obtained spectra, which break up an object’s light into its component wavelengths to reveal characteristics such as the object’s chemical composition, velocity and temperature. Hubble’s spectral observations are not included in this photographic catalog.

    The gallery currently includes 63 Messier objects and will be updated as more of Hubble’s images are processed. For those objects already in the catalog, amateur astronomers can compare their own sightings with those of Hubble. For skywatchers looking for meteors left by the debris of Comet Halley, they might take some time to search for objects determined not to be comets yet still quite fascinating, as demonstrated by the breathtaking details of Hubble’s pictures.
    Hubble’s Messier catalog can be found online at https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-s-messier-catalog and on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahubble/sets/72157687169041265/.

    Hubble’s version of the Messier catalog.

    See the full articles here and here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 2:02 pm on October 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, , New NASA Study Improves Search for Habitable Worlds   

    From Goddard: “New NASA Study Improves Search for Habitable Worlds” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Oct. 19, 2017
    Bill Steigerwald
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    william.a.steigerwald@nasa.gov

    New NASA research is helping to refine our understanding of candidate planets beyond our solar system that might support life.

    “Using a model that more realistically simulates atmospheric conditions, we discovered a new process that controls the habitability of exoplanets and will guide us in identifying candidates for further study,” said Yuka Fujii of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, New York and the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, lead author of a paper on the research published in The Astrophysical Journal Oct. 17, 2017.

    5
    This illustration shows a star’s light illuminating the atmosphere of a planet.
    Credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    _________________________________________________________________________________
    Dec. 3, 2013
    Hubble Traces Subtle Signals of Water on Hazy Worlds

    1
    Using the powerful­ eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.


    Although exoplanets are too far away to be imaged, detailed studies of their size, composition and atmospheric makeup are possible. This video explains how researchers investigate those characteristics. Credits: NASA Goddard/ESA/Hubble

    The five planets — WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b — orbit nearby stars. The strengths of their water signatures varied. WASP-17b, a planet with an especially puffed-up atmosphere, and HD209458b had the strongest signals. The signatures for the other three planets, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b, also are consistent with water.

    2

    “We’re very confident that we see a water signature for multiple planets,” said Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of an Astrophysical Journal paper, published today, describing the findings for WASP-12b, WASP-17b and WASP-19b. “This work really opens the door for comparing how much water is present in atmospheres on different kinds of exoplanets, for example hotter versus cooler ones.”

    The studies were part of a census of exoplanet atmospheres led by L. Drake Deming of the University of Maryland in College Park. Both teams used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 [WFC3] to explore the details of absorption of light through the planets’ atmospheres.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    The observations were made in a range of infrared wavelengths where the water signature, if present, would appear. The teams compared the shapes and intensities of the absorption profiles, and the consistency of the signatures gave them confidence they saw water. The observations demonstrate Hubble’s continuing exemplary performance in exoplanet research.

    “To actually detect the atmosphere of an exoplanet is extraordinarily difficult. But we were able to pull out a very clear signal, and it is water,” said Deming, whose team reported results for HD209458b and XO-1b in a Sept. 10 paper in the same journal. Deming’s team employed a new technique with longer exposure times, which increased the sensitivity of their measurements.

    4
    To determine what’s in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, astronomers watch the planet pass in front of its host star and look at which wavelengths of light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    The water signals were all less pronounced than expected, and the scientists suspect this is because a layer of haze or dust blankets each of the five planets. This haze can reduce the intensity of all signals from the atmosphere in the same way fog can make colors in a photograph appear muted. At the same time, haze alters the profiles of water signals and other important molecules in a distinctive way.

    The five planets are hot Jupiters, massive worlds that orbit close to their host stars. The researchers were initially surprised that all five appeared to be hazy. But Deming and Mandell noted that other researchers are finding evidence of haze around exoplanets.

    “These studies, combined with other Hubble observations, are showing us that there are a surprisingly large number of systems for which the signal of water is either attenuated or completely absent,” said Heather Knutson of the California Institute of Technology, a co-author on Deming’s paper. “This suggests that cloudy or hazy atmospheres may in fact be rather common for hot Jupiters.”

    Hubble’s high-performance Wide Field Camera 3 is one of few capable of peering into the atmospheres of exoplanets many trillions of miles away. These exceptionally challenging studies can be done only if the planets are spotted while they are passing in front of their stars. Researchers can identify the gases in a planet’s atmosphere by determining which wavelengths of the star’s light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed.

    Text issued as NASA Headquarters press release No. 13-324.
    Last Updated: Aug. 4, 2017
    Editor: Rob Garner

    _______________________________________________________________________
    Previous models simulated atmospheric conditions along one dimension, the vertical. Like some other recent habitability studies, the new research used a model that calculates conditions in all three dimensions, allowing the team to simulate the circulation of the atmosphere and the special features of that circulation, which one-dimensional models cannot do. The new work will help astronomers allocate scarce observing time to the most promising candidates for habitability.

    Liquid water is necessary for life as we know it, so the surface of an alien world (e.g. an exoplanet) is considered potentially habitable if its temperature allows liquid water to be present for sufficient time (billions of years) to allow life to thrive. If the exoplanet is too far from its parent star, it will be too cold, and its oceans will freeze. If the exoplanet is too close, light from the star will be too intense, and its oceans will eventually evaporate and be lost to space. This happens when water vapor rises to a layer in the upper atmosphere called the stratosphere and gets broken into its elemental components (hydrogen and oxygen) by ultraviolet light from the star. The extremely light hydrogen atoms can then escape to space. Planets in the process of losing their oceans this way are said to have entered a “moist greenhouse” state because of their humid stratospheres.

    In order for water vapor to rise to the stratosphere, previous models predicted that long-term surface temperatures had to be greater than anything experienced on Earth – over 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius). These temperatures would power intense convective storms; however, it turns out that these storms aren’t the reason water reaches the stratosphere for slowly rotating planets entering a moist greenhouse state.

    “We found an important role for the type of radiation a star emits and the effect it has on the atmospheric circulation of an exoplanet in making the moist greenhouse state,” said Fujii. For exoplanets orbiting close to their parent stars, a star’s gravity will be strong enough to slow a planet’s rotation. This may cause it to become tidally locked, with one side always facing the star – giving it eternal day – and one side always facing away –giving it eternal night.

    When this happens, thick clouds form on the dayside of the planet and act like a sun umbrella to shield the surface from much of the starlight. While this could keep the planet cool and prevent water vapor from rising, the team found that the amount of near-Infrared radiation (NIR) from a star could provide the heat needed to cause a planet to enter the moist greenhouse state. NIR is a type of light invisible to the human eye. Water as vapor in air and water droplets or ice crystals in clouds strongly absorbs NIR light, warming the air. As the air warms, it rises, carrying the water up into the stratosphere where it creates the moist greenhouse.

    This process is especially relevant for planets around low-mass stars that are cooler and much dimmer than the Sun. To be habitable, planets must be much closer to these stars than our Earth is to the Sun. At such close range, these planets likely experience strong tides from their star, making them rotate slowly. Also, the cooler a star is, the more NIR it emits. The new model demonstrated that since these stars emit the bulk of their light at NIR wavelengths, a moist greenhouse state will result even in conditions comparable to or somewhat warmer than Earth’s tropics. For exoplanets closer to their stars, the team found that the NIR-driven process increased moisture in the stratosphere gradually. So, it’s possible, contrary to old model predictions, that an exoplanet closer to its parent star could remain habitable.

    This is an important observation for astronomers searching for habitable worlds, since low-mass stars are the most common in the galaxy. Their sheer numbers increase the odds that a habitable world may be found among them, and their small size increases the chance to detect planetary signals.

    The new work will help astronomers screen the most promising candidates in the search for planets that could support life. “As long as we know the temperature of the star, we can estimate whether planets close to their stars have the potential to be in the moist greenhouse state,” said Anthony Del Genio of GISS, a co-author of the paper. “Current technology will be pushed to the limit to detect small amounts of water vapor in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. If there is enough water to be detected, it probably means that planet is in the moist greenhouse state.”

    In this study, researchers assumed a planet with an atmosphere like Earth, but entirely covered by oceans. These assumptions allowed the team to clearly see how changing the orbital distance and type of stellar radiation affected the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere. In the future, the team plans to vary planetary characteristics such as gravity, size, atmospheric composition, and surface pressure to see how they affect water vapor circulation and habitability.
    Diagram of sea ice distribution on ocean exoplanet

    https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/thumbnails/image/giss-synch-rotating-planet-ice-plot-rev1.jpg?itok=XbZqmQew
    This is a plot of what the sea ice distribution could look like on a synchronously rotating ocean world. The star is off to the right, blue is where there is open ocean, and white is where there is sea ice.
    Credits: Anthony Del Genio/GISS/NASA

    The research was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Program through the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science; the NASA Postdoctoral Program, administered by Oak Ridge Affiliated Universities, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, Maryland; and a Grant-in-Aid from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan (No.15K17605).

    See the full articles here and here .

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    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 10:46 am on October 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, NGC 4993,   

    From Hubble: “NASA Missions Catch First Light From a Gravitational-Wave Event” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Oct 16, 2017

    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4366
    cpulliam@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Felicia Chou
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Dewayne Washington
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
    301-286-0040
    dewayne.a.washington@nasa.gov

    1
    Neutron Star Collision Cooks Up Exotic Elements, Gravitational Waves

    For the first time, NASA scientists have detected light tied to a gravitational-wave event, thanks to two merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, located about 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.

    Shortly after 8:41 a.m. EDT on Aug. 17, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up a pulse of high-energy light from a powerful explosion, which was immediately reported to astronomers around the globe as a short gamma-ray burst.

    NASA/Fermi Telescope

    NASA/Fermi LAT

    The scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves dubbed GW170817 from a pair of smashing stars tied to the gamma-ray burst, encouraging astronomers to look for the aftermath of the explosion. Shortly thereafter, the burst was detected as part of a follow-up analysis by ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite.

    ESA/Integral


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    NASA’s Swift, Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer missions, along with dozens of ground-based observatories, including the NASA-funded PanSTARRS survey, later captured the fading glow of the blast’s expanding debris.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    PanSTARRS telescope, U Hawaii, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    “This is extremely exciting science,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Now, for the first time, we’ve seen light and gravitational waves produced by the same event. The detection of a gravitational-wave source’s light has revealed details of the event that cannot be determined from gravitational waves alone. The multiplier effect of study with many observatories is incredible.”

    Neutron stars are the crushed, leftover cores of massive stars that previously exploded as supernovas long ago. The merging stars likely had masses between 10 and 60 percent greater than that of our Sun, but they were no wider than Washington, D.C. The pair whirled around each other hundreds of times a second, producing gravitational waves at the same frequency. As they drew closer and orbited faster, the stars eventually broke apart and merged, producing both a gamma-ray burst and a rarely seen flare-up called a “kilonova.”

    “This is the one we’ve all been waiting for,” said David Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “Neutron star mergers produce a wide variety of light because the objects form a maelstrom of hot debris when they collide. Merging black holes — the types of events LIGO and its European counterpart, Virgo, have previously seen — very likely consume any matter around them long before they crash, so we don’t expect the same kind of light show.”

    “The favored explanation for short gamma-ray bursts is that they’re caused by a jet of debris moving near the speed of light produced in the merger of neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole,” said Eric Burns, a member of Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “LIGO tells us there was a merger of compact objects, and Fermi tells us there was a short gamma-ray burst. Together, we know that what we observed was the merging of two neutron stars, dramatically confirming the relationship.”

    Within hours of the initial Fermi detection, LIGO and the Virgo detector at the European Gravitational Observatory near Pisa, Italy, greatly refined the event’s position in the sky with additional analysis of gravitational wave data. Ground-based observatories then quickly located a new optical and infrared source — the kilonova — in NGC 4993.

    To Fermi, this appeared to be a typical short gamma-ray burst, but it occurred less than one-tenth as far away as any other short burst with a known distance, making it among the faintest known. Astronomers are still trying to figure out why this burst is so odd, and how this event relates to the more luminous gamma-ray bursts seen at much greater distances.

    NASA’s Swift, Hubble and Spitzer missions followed the evolution of the kilonova to better understand the composition of this slower-moving material, while Chandra searched for X-rays associated with the remains of the ultra-fast jet.

    NASA/SWIFT Telescope

    When Swift turned to the galaxy shortly after Fermi’s gamma-ray burst detection, it found a bright and quickly fading ultraviolet (UV) source.

    “We did not expect a kilonova to produce bright UV emission,” said Goddard’s S. Bradley Cenko, principal investigator for Swift. “We think this was produced by the short-lived disk of debris that powered the gamma-ray burst.”

    Over time, material hurled out by the jet slows and widens as it sweeps up and heats interstellar material, producing so-called afterglow emission that includes X-rays. But the spacecraft saw no X-rays — a surprise for an event that produced higher-energy gamma rays.

    NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory clearly detected X-rays nine days after the source was discovered. Scientists think the delay was a result of our viewing angle, and it took time for the jet directed toward Earth to expand into our line of sight.

    “The detection of X-rays demonstrates that neutron star mergers can form powerful jets streaming out at near light speed,” said Goddard’s Eleonora Troja, who led one of the Chandra teams and found the X-ray emission. “We had to wait for nine days to detect it because we viewed it from the side, unlike anything we had seen before.”

    On Aug. 22, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope began imaging the kilonova and capturing its near-infrared spectrum, which revealed the motion and chemical composition of the expanding debris.

    “The spectrum looked exactly like how theoretical physicists had predicted the outcome of the merger of two neutron stars would appear,” said Andrew Levan at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, who led one of the proposals for Hubble spectral observations. “It tied this object to the gravitational wave source beyond all reasonable doubt.”

    Astronomers think a kilonova’s visible and infrared light primarily arises through heating from the decay of radioactive elements formed in the neutron-rich debris. Crashing neutron stars may be the universe’s dominant source for many of the heaviest elements, including platinum and gold.

    Because of its Earth-trailing orbit, Spitzer was uniquely situated to observe the kilonova long after the Sun moved too close to the galaxy on the sky for other telescopes to see it. Spitzer’s Sept. 30 observation captured the longest-wavelength infrared light from the kilonova, which unveils the quantity of heavy elements forged.

    “Spitzer was the last to join the party, but it will have the final word on how much gold was forged,” says Mansi Kasliwal, Caltech assistant professor and principal investigator of the Spitzer observing program.

    Numerous scientific papers describing and interpreting these observations have been published in Science, Nature, Physical Review Letters, and The Astrophysical Journal.

    Gravitational waves were directly detected for the first time in 2015 by LIGO, whose architects were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery.

    NASA’s Hubble Studies Source of Gravitational Waves

    On August 17, 2017, weak ripples in the fabric of space-time known as gravitational waves washed over Earth. Unlike previously detected gravitational waves, these were accompanied by light, allowing astronomers to pinpoint the source. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope turned its powerful gaze onto the new beacon, obtaining both images and spectra. The resulting data will help reveal details of the titanic collision that created the gravitational waves, and its aftermath.

    The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves at 8:41 a.m. EDT on August 17. Two seconds later, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope measured a short pulse of gamma rays known as a gamma-ray burst. Many observatories, including space telescopes, probed the suspected location of the source, and within about 12 hours several spotted their quarry.

    In a distant galaxy called NGC 4993, about 130 million light-years from Earth, a point of light shone where nothing had been before. It was about a thousand times brighter than a variety of stellar flare called a nova, putting it in a class of objects astronomers call “kilonovae.” It also faded noticeably over 6 days of Hubble observations.

    “This appears to be the trifecta for which the astronomical community has been waiting: Gravitational waves, a gamma-ray burst, and a kilonova all happening together,” said Ori Fox of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland.

    The source of all three was the collision of two neutron stars, the aged remains of a binary star system. A neutron star forms when the core of a dying massive star collapses, a process so violent that it crushes protons and electrons together to form subatomic particles called neutrons. The result is like a giant atomic nucleus, cramming several Suns’ worth of material into a ball just a few miles across.

    In NGC 4993, two neutron stars once spiraled around each other at blinding speed. As they drew closer together, they whirled even faster, spinning as fast as a blender near the end. Powerful tidal forces ripped off huge chunks while the remainder collided and merged, forming a larger neutron star or perhaps a black hole. Leftovers spewed out into space. Freed from the crushing pressure, neutrons turned back into protons and electrons, forming a variety of chemical elements heavier than iron.

    “We think neutron star collisions are a source of all kinds of heavy elements, from the gold in our jewelry to the plutonium that powers spacecraft, power plants, and bombs,” said Andy Fruchter of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

    Several teams of scientists are using Hubble’s suite of cameras and spectrographs to study the gravitational wave source. Fruchter, Fox, and their colleagues used Hubble to obtain a spectrum of the object in infrared light. By splitting the light of the source into a rainbow spectrum, astronomers can probe the chemical elements that are present. The spectrum showed several broad bumps and wiggles that signal the formation of some of the heaviest elements in nature.

    “The spectrum looked exactly like how theoretical physicists had predicted the outcome of the merger of two neutron stars would appear. It tied this object to the gravitational wave source beyond all reasonable doubt,” said Andrew Levan at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, who led one of the proposals for Hubble spectral observations. Additional spectral observations were led by Nial Tanvir of the University of Leicester, England.

    Spectral lines can be used as fingerprints to identify individual elements. However, this spectrum is proving a challenge to interpret.

    “Beyond the fact that two neutron stars flung a lot of matter out into space, we’re not yet sure what else the spectrum is telling us,” explained Fruchter. “Because the material is moving so fast, the spectral lines are smeared out. Also, there are all kinds of unusual isotopes, many of which are short-lived and undergo radioactive decay. The good news is that it’s an exquisite spectrum, so we have a lot of data to work with and analyze.”

    Hubble also picked up visible light from the event that gradually faded over the course of several days. Astronomers believe that this light came from a powerful “wind” of material speeding outward. These observations hint that astronomers viewed the collision from above the orbital plane of the neutron stars. If seen from the side (along the orbital plane), matter ejected during the merger would have obscured the visible light and only infrared light would be visible.

    “What we see from a kilonova might depend on our viewing angle. The same type of event would appear different depending on whether we’re looking at it face-on or edge-on, which came as a total surprise to us,” said Eleonora Troja of the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Troja is also a principal investigator of a team using Hubble observations to study the object.

    The gravitational wave source now is too close to the Sun on the sky for Hubble and other observatories to study. It will come back into view in November. Until then, astronomers will be working diligently to learn all they can about this unique event.

    The launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope also will offer an opportunity to examine the infrared light from the source, should that glow remain detectable in the months and years to come.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Related Links
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    The science paper by N.R. Tanvir et al. (Astrophysical Journal Letters)
    The science paper by A.J. Levan et al. (Astrophysical Journal Letters)
    NASA’s Hubble Portal
    NASA’s Fermi Portal
    NASA’s Swift Portal
    NASA’s Chandra Portal
    NASA’s Spitzer Portal
    LIGO Scientific Collaboration
    European Gravitational Observatory
    Hubble Europe’s Press Release
    The science paper by E. Troja et al (Nature)

    See the full article here .

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    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 8:33 am on October 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, NGC 2623,   

    From Sci-News via Manu: “Hubble Spots Twisted Cosmic Knot: NGC 2623” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    SciNews

    Oct 16, 2017
    No writer credit

    1
    NGC 2623 is in the late stages of the merging process, with the centers of the original galaxy pair now merged into one nucleus, but stretching out from the center are two tidal tails of young stars, a strong indicator that a merger has taken place. During such a collision, the dramatic exchange of mass and gases initiates star formation, seen here in both the tails. The prominent lower tail is richly populated with bright star clusters. These star clusters may have formed as part of a loop of stretched material associated with the northern tail, or they may have formed from debris falling back onto the nucleus. In addition to this active star-forming region, both galactic arms harbor very young stars in the early stages of their evolutionary journey. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble.

    A jaw-dropping new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures what appears to be a strange galaxy with two ‘tails,’ but is actually the result of a pair of Milky Way-like spiral galaxies smashing together at high speeds.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NGC 2623, also known as Arp 243, LEDA 24288 and UGC 4509, lies approximately 264 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer.

    This object gained its unusual and distinctive shape as the result of a major collision and subsequent merger between two separate galaxies.

    This violent encounter caused clouds of gas within the two galaxies to become compressed and stirred up, in turn triggering a sharp spike of star formation.

    This active star formation is marked by speckled patches of bright blue; these can be seen clustered both in the center and along the trails of dust and gas forming NGC 2623’s sweeping curves (known as tidal tails).

    These tails extend for roughly 50,000 light-years from end to end.

    Many young, hot, newborn stars form in bright stellar clusters — at least 170 such clusters are known to exist within NGC 2623.

    According to astronomers, NGC 2623 is in a late stage of merging.

    It is thought that our Milky Way Galaxy will eventually resemble NGC 2623 when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy in about 4 billion years.

    The newly released image of NGC 2623 was made from separate exposures taken in the visible and infrared regions of the spectrum with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instruments.

    NASA/ESA Hubble ACS

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    It is based on data obtained through six filters. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:32 am on October 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A pair of distorted galaxies, , , , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From Hubble via Manu: “A pair of distorted galaxies.” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    20 March 2017.

    Defying cosmic convention
    1
    A galactic duo called NGC 3447. Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble

    Some galaxies are harder to classify than others. Here, wide field camera 3 (WFC3) Hubble has captured a stunning view of two interacting galaxies located about 60 million light – years away in the constellation Leo. The diffuse glow blue patch covering the right side of the frame is known as NGC 3447 , sometimes NGC 3447B to differentiate, you can be applied NGC 3447 for the duo. The smallest group in the upper left is known as NGC 3447A .

    2
    The Wide Field Camera 3, Hubble

    The problem with space is that it is really great. Astronomers have discovered and named for hundreds of years galaxies, stars, cosmic clouds and more. Unify and regulate the conventions and classifications for all that has been observed is very difficult, especially when such an ambiguous object is obtained as NGC 3447 that stubbornly defies current categories.

    In general, we know that NGC 3447 comprises a pair of interacting galaxies, but we are not sure what was seen each before they began to separate. They both sit so close that are heavily influenced and distorted by gravitational forces between them, making galaxies writhe in the unusual and unique shapes seen here. NGC 3447A shows the remains of a central bar structure and some interrupted spiral arms, both characteristic properties of certain spirals. Some identify the NGC 3447B as an old spiral galaxy, while others classify it as an irregular galaxy. It is already known, all in the eye, in this case telescope, with which you look.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 7:55 am on October 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bubbles in space, , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From ESA: “Bubbles in space” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1
    Bubbles in space
    Released 06/10/2017
    Copyright NASA/ESA Hubble. Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt CC BY 4.0

    At a distance of just 160 000 light-years, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is one of the Milky Way’s closest companions. It is also home to one of the largest and most intense regions of active star formation known to exist anywhere in our galactic neighbourhood — the Tarantula Nebula. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows both the spindly, spidery filaments of gas that inspired the region’s name, and the intriguing structure of stacked “bubbles” that forms the so-called Honeycomb Nebula (to the lower left).

    The Honeycomb Nebula was found serendipitously by astronomers using ESO’s New Technology Telescope to image the nearby SN1987A, the closest observed supernova to Earth for over 400 years. The nebula’s strange bubble-like shape has baffled astronomers since its discovery in the early 1990s. Various theories have been proposed to explain its unique structure, some more exotic than others.

    In 2010, a group of astronomers studied the nebula and, using advanced data analysis and computer modelling, came to the conclusion that its unique appearance is likely due to the combined effect of two supernovae — a more recent explosion has pierced the expanding shell of material created by an older explosion. The nebula’s especially striking appearance is suspected to be due to a fortuitous viewing angle; the honeycomb effect of the circular shells may not be visible from another viewpoint.

    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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