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  • richardmitnick 12:26 pm on September 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Captures Crisp New Portrait of Jupiter's Storms", , , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Captures Crisp New Portrait of Jupiter’s Storms” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    1
    Jupiter 2020 Compass Image. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (NASA/GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team.

    September 17, 2020

    Summary

    Turbulent Storms Rage Across The Giant Planet

    More massive than all the other planets combined, Jupiter truly is the king of our solar system. The swirling clouds, arranged in colorful, banded structures, change from year to year. The rich colors are produced by trace compounds in Jupiter’s predominantly hydrogen/helium atmosphere. Hurricane-force winds propel these clouds, and upwelling currents are ablaze with lightning bolts far more powerful than those seen on Earth.

    The Hubble Space Telescope serves as a “weather satellite” for monitoring Jupiter’s stormy weather. The iconic Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to swallow Earth, shows that it’s shrinking a little in the Hubble images, but it still dominates the entire southern atmosphere, plowing through the clouds like a cargo ship.

    Hubble astronomers patiently wait to get close-up snapshots as Earth make its nearest annual approach to Jupiter – an astronomical alignment called an opposition, when Jupiter is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. “Closest approach” between the worlds is still on the order of nearly a half billion miles!

    _________________________________________________

    Hannah Braun
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4244
    hbraun@stsci.edu

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

    Amy Simon
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
    amy.simon@nasa.gov

    Michael H. Wong
    University of California, Berkeley, California
    mikewong@astro.berkeley.edu

    This latest image of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on August 25, 2020, was captured when the planet was 406 million miles from Earth. Hubble’s sharp view is giving researchers an updated weather report on the monster planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including a remarkable new storm brewing, and a cousin of the famous Great Red Spot region gearing up to change color – again.

    A unique and exciting detail of Hubble’s snapshot appears at mid-northern latitudes as a bright white stretched-out storm traveling around the planet at 350 miles per hour (560 kilometers per hour). This single plume erupted on August 18, 2020—and ground-based observers have discovered two more that appeared later at the same latitude.

    While it’s common for storms to pop up in this region every six years or so, often with multiple storms at once, the timing of the Hubble observations is perfect for showing the structure in the wake of the disturbance, during the early stages of its evolution. Trailing behind the plume are small, rounded features with complex “red, white, and blue” colors in Hubble’s ultraviolet/visible/near-infrared-light image. Such discrete features typically dissipate on Jupiter, leaving behind only changes in cloud colors and wind speeds, but a similar storm on Saturn led to a long-lasting vortex. The differences in the aftermaths of Jupiter and Saturn storms may be related to the contrasting water abundances in their atmospheres, since water vapor may govern the massive amount of stored-up energy that can be released by these storm eruptions.

    Hubble shows that the Great Red Spot, rolling counterclockwise in the planet’s southern hemisphere, is plowing into the clouds ahead of it, forming a cascade of white and beige ribbons. The Great Red Spot is currently an exceptionally rich red color, with its core and outermost band appearing deeper red.

    Researchers say the Great Red Spot now measures about 9,800 miles across, big enough to swallow Earth. The super-storm is still shrinking as noted in telescopic observations dating back to 1930, but the reason for its dwindling size is a complete mystery.

    Another feature researchers are noticing has changed is Oval BA, nicknamed by astronomers as Red Spot Jr., which appears just below the Great Red Spot in this image. For the past few years, Red Spot Jr. has been fading in color to its original shade of white after appearing red in 2006. However, now the core of this storm appears to be darkening slightly. This could hint that Red Spot Jr. is on its way to turning to a color more similar to its cousin once again.

    Hubble’s image shows that Jupiter is clearing out its higher altitude white clouds, especially along the planet’s equator, where an orangish hydrocarbon smog wraps around it.

    The icy moon Europa, thought to hold potential ingredients for life, is visible to the left of the gas giant.

    This Hubble image is part of yearly maps of the entire planet taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides annual Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds, and clouds.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 2:54 pm on September 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Observations Suggest a Missing Ingredient in Dark Matter Theories", A discrepancy between the theoretical models of how dark matter should be distributed in galaxy clusters and observations of dark matter's grip on clusters., , , , , Dark matter does not emit absorb or reflect light. Its presence is only known through its gravitational pull on visible matter in space., , NASA ESA Hubble, One way astronomers can detect dark matter is by measuring how its gravity distorts space- an effect called gravitational lensing., Researchers found that small-scale concentrations of dark matter in clusters produce gravitational lensing effects that are 10 times stronger than expected., Small dense concentrations of dark matter that bend and magnify light much more strongly than expected.   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Observations Suggest a Missing Ingredient in Dark Matter Theories” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope.


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Sept. 10, 2020
    Claire Andreoli
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
    301-286-1940
    claire.andreoli@nasa.gov

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

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

    Priyamvada Natarajan
    Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
    203-436-4833
    priyamvada.natarajan@yale.edu

    Massimo Meneghetti
    INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Science, Bologna, Italy
    massimo.meneghetti@inaf.it

    Astronomers have discovered that there may be a missing ingredient in our cosmic recipe of how dark matter behaves.

    They have uncovered a discrepancy between the theoretical models of how dark matter should be distributed in galaxy clusters, and observations of dark matter’s grip on clusters.


    Astronomers seem to have revealed a puzzling detail in the way dark matter behaves. They found small, dense concentrations of dark matter that bend and magnify light much more strongly than expected.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Dark matter does not emit, absorb, or reflect light. Its presence is only known through its gravitational pull on visible matter in space. Therefore, dark matter remains as elusive as Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat – where you only see its grin (in the form of gravity) but not the animal itself.

    One way astronomers can detect dark matter is by measuring how its gravity distorts space, an effect called gravitational lensing.

    Researchers found that small-scale concentrations of dark matter in clusters produce gravitational lensing effects that are 10 times stronger than expected. This evidence is based on unprecedentedly detailed observations of several massive galaxy clusters by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo.

    1
    This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACS J1206. Embedded within the cluster are the distorted images of distant background galaxies, seen as arcs and smeared features. These distortions are caused by the amount of dark matter in the cluster, whose gravity bends and magnifies the light from faraway galaxies. This effect, called gravitational lensing, allows astronomers to study remote galaxies that would otherwise be too faint to see.

    Gravitational Lensing

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA.

    Several of the cluster galaxies are sufficiently massive and dense to also distort and magnify faraway sources. The galaxies in the three pullouts represent examples of such effects. In the snapshots at upper right and bottom, two distant, blue galaxies are lensed by the foreground, redder cluster galaxies, forming rings and multiple images of the remote objects. The red blobs around the galaxy at upper left denote emission from clouds of hydrogen in a single distant source. The source, seen four times because of lensing, may be a faint galaxy. These blobs were detected by the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4).

    The blobs do not appear in the Hubble images. MACS J1206 is part of the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) and is one of three galaxy clusters the researchers studied with Hubble and the VLT. The Hubble image is a combination of visible- and infrared-light observations taken in 2011 by the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3.

    NASA Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    Credits: NASA, ESA, P. Natarajan (Yale University), G. Caminha (University of Groningen), M. Meneghetti (INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science of Bologna), the CLASH-VLT/Zooming teams; acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), the CLASH team.

    Galaxy clusters, the most massive structures in the universe composed of individual member galaxies, are the largest repositories of dark matter. Not only are they held together largely by dark matter’s gravity, the individual cluster galaxies are themselves replete with dark matter. Dark matter in clusters is therefore distributed on both large and small scales.

    “Galaxy clusters are ideal laboratories to understand if computer simulations of the universe reliably reproduce what we can infer about dark matter and its interplay with luminous matter,” said Massimo Meneghetti of the INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics)-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science of Bologna in Italy, the study’s lead author.

    “We have done a lot of careful testing in comparing the simulations and data in this study, and our finding of the mismatch persists,” Meneghetti continued. “One possible origin for this discrepancy is that we may be missing some key physics in the simulations.”

    Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, one of the senior theorists on the team, added, “There’s a feature of the real universe that we are simply not capturing in our current theoretical models. This could signal a gap in our current understanding of the nature of dark matter and its properties, as these exquisite data have permitted us to probe the detailed distribution of dark matter on the smallest scales.”

    The team’s paper will appear in the Sept. 11 issue of the journal Science.

    The distribution of dark matter in clusters is mapped via the bending of light, or the gravitational lensing effect, they produce. The gravity of dark matter magnifies and warps light from distant background objects, much like a funhouse mirror, producing distortions and sometimes multiple images of the same distant galaxy. The higher the concentration of dark matter in a cluster, the more dramatic its light bending.

    Hubble’s crisp images, coupled with spectra from the VLT, helped the team produce an accurate, high-fidelity dark-matter map. They identified dozens of multiply imaged, lensed, background galaxies. By measuring the lensing distortions, astronomers could trace out the amount and distribution of dark matter.

    The three key galaxy clusters used in the analysis, MACS J1206.2-0847, MACS J0416.1-2403, and Abell S1063, were part of two Hubble surveys: The Frontier Fields and the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) programs.

    To the team’s surprise, the Hubble images also revealed smaller-scale arcs and distorted images nested within the larger-scale lens distortions in each cluster’s core, where the most massive galaxies reside.

    The researchers believe that the embedded lenses are produced by the gravity of dense concentrations of dark matter associated with individual cluster galaxies. Dark matter’s distribution in the inner regions of individual galaxies is known to enhance the cluster’s overall lensing effect.

    The researchers believe that the embedded lenses are produced by the gravity of dense concentrations of dark matter associated with individual cluster galaxies. Dark matter’s distribution in the inner regions of individual galaxies is known to enhance the cluster’s overall lensing effect.

    Follow-up spectroscopic observations added to the study by measuring the velocity of the stars orbiting inside several of the cluster galaxies. “Based on our spectroscopic study, we were able to associate the galaxies with each cluster and estimate their distances,” said team member Piero Rosati of the University of Ferrara in Italy.

    “The stars’ speed gave us an estimate of each individual galaxy’s mass, including the amount of dark matter,” added team member Pietro Bergamini of the INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science in Bologna, Italy.

    The team compared the dark-matter maps with samples of simulated galaxy clusters with similar masses, located at roughly the same distances as the observed clusters. The clusters in the computer simulations did not show the same level of dark-matter concentration on the smallest scales – the scales associated with individual cluster galaxies as seen in the universe.

    The team looks forward to continuing their stress-testing of the standard dark-matter model to pin down its intriguing nature.

    NASA’s planned Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will detect even more remote galaxies through gravitational lensing by massive galaxy clusters.

    NASA/Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.

    The observations will enlarge the sample of clusters that astronomers can analyze to further test the dark-matter models.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 1:54 pm on September 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble's New Photo of The Cygnus Loop Looks Too Perfect to Be Real", , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, , , Veil Nebula   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope via Science Alert and Universe Today: “Hubble’s New Photo of The Cygnus Loop Looks Too Perfect to Be Real” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    and

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    6 SEPTEMBER 2020
    NANCY ATKINSON, UNIVERSE TODAY

    1
    (W. Blair/Leo Shatz/NASA/ESA Hubble.)

    If you’re a Star Trek fan, you may think the above image portrays the “Nexus” from the movie Star Trek: Generations. In the film, the Nexus was a ribbon-like extra-dimensional realm that exists outside of normal space-time.

    But this is actually a real image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, of the Cygnus Loop.

    This stunning picture from space shows just a small portion of a blast wave left over from a supernova that took place, from our vantage point, in the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan.

    The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 2,600 light-years away.

    This star was approximately 20 times more massive than our Sun, and the blast likely occurred between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its center.

    The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at incredible speeds, around 350 kilometers per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.

    In Star Trek lore, if you were inside the Nexus, you existed in a perfect, idealized world. Staring at an incredible image like this makes you consider that something like that might just be possible.

    Here’s another, previous Hubble image of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant from 1991, and below that is an image of the famous Veil Nebula, which is inside the larger Cygnus supernova remnant.

    3
    This 1991 Hubble image shows a small section of the Cygnus Loop. (NASA/ESA Hubble.)

    5
    Veil Nebula. (ESA/Hubble Space Telescope.)

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 6:05 pm on August 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars", Chemicals in the atmospheres of other planets leave their telltale signature by filtering out certain colors of starlight., Hubble detected the strong spectral fingerprint of ozone which absorbs some of the sunlight. Ozone is important to life because it is the source of the protective shield in Earth's atmosphere., Hubble did not look at Earth directly. Instead the astronomers used the Moon as a mirror to reflect sunlight which had passed through Earth's atmosphere and then reflected back towards Hubble., Hubble took advantage of a total lunar eclipse., NASA ESA Hubble, On Earth photosynthesis over billions of years is responsible for our planet's high oxygen levels and thick ozone layer.   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    August 06, 2020

    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

    Allison Youngblood
    Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, Colorado
    allison.youngblood@colorado.edu

    1
    Hubble Uses Our Moon to Probe Earth’s Atmosphere During a Lunar Eclipse. Credit: M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA

    Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected Earth’s own brand of sunscreen – ozone – in our atmosphere. This method simulates how astronomers and astrobiology researchers will search for evidence of life beyond Earth by observing potential “biosignatures” on exoplanets.

    Hubble did not look at Earth directly. Instead, the astronomers used the Moon as a mirror to reflect sunlight, which had passed through Earth’s atmosphere, and then reflected back towards Hubble. Using a space telescope for eclipse observations reproduces the conditions under which future telescopes would measure atmospheres of transiting exoplanets. These atmospheres may contain chemicals of interest to astrobiology, the study of and search for life.

    Though numerous ground-based observations of this kind have been done previously, this is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. Hubble detected the strong spectral fingerprint of ozone, which absorbs some of the sunlight. Ozone is important to life because it is the source of the protective shield in Earth’s atmosphere.

    On Earth, photosynthesis over billions of years is responsible for our planet’s high oxygen levels and thick ozone layer. That’s one reason why scientists think ozone or oxygen could be a sign of life on another planet, and refer to them as biosignatures.

    “Finding ozone is significant because it is a photochemical byproduct of molecular oxygen, which is itself a byproduct of life,” explained Allison Youngblood of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado, lead researcher of Hubble’s observations.

    Although ozone in Earth’s atmosphere had been detected in previous ground-based observations during lunar eclipses, Hubble’s study represents the strongest detection of the molecule to date because ozone – as measured from space with no interference from other chemicals in the Earth’s atmosphere – absorbs ultraviolet light so strongly.

    Hubble recorded ozone absorbing some of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation that passed through the edge of Earth’s atmosphere during a lunar eclipse that occurred on January 20 to 21, 2019. Several other ground-based telescopes also made spectroscopic observations at other wavelengths during the eclipse, searching for more of Earth’s atmospheric ingredients, such as oxygen and methane.

    “One of NASA’s major goals is to identify planets that could support life,” Youngblood said. “But how would we know a habitable or an uninhabited planet if we saw one? What would they look like with the techniques that astronomers have at their disposal for characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets? That’s why it’s important to develop models of Earth’s spectrum as a template for categorizing atmospheres on extrasolar planets.”

    Her paper is in The Astronomical Journal.

    Sniffing Out Planetary Atmospheres

    The atmospheres of some extrasolar planets can be probed if the alien world passes across the face of its parent star, an event called a transit.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames.

    During a transit, starlight filters through the backlit exoplanet’s atmosphere. (If viewed close up, the planet’s silhouette would look like it had a thin, glowing “halo” around it caused by the illuminated atmosphere, just as Earth does when seen from space.)

    Chemicals in the atmosphere leave their telltale signature by filtering out certain colors of starlight. Astronomers using Hubble pioneered this technique for probing exoplanets. This is particularly remarkable because extrasolar planets had not yet been discovered when Hubble was launched in 1990 and the space observatory was not initially designed for such experiments.

    So far, astronomers have used Hubble to observe the atmospheres of gas giant planets and super-Earths (planets several times Earth’s mass) that transit their stars. But terrestrial planets about the size of Earth are much smaller objects and their atmospheres are thinner, like the skin on an apple. Therefore, teasing out these signatures from Earth-sized exoplanets will be much harder.

    That’s why researchers will need space telescopes much larger than Hubble to collect the feeble starlight passing through these small planets’ atmospheres during a transit. These telescopes will need to observe planets for a longer period, many dozens of hours, to build up a strong signal.

    To prepare for these bigger telescopes, astronomers decided to conduct experiments on a much closer and only known inhabited terrestrial planet: Earth. Our planet’s perfect alignment with the Sun and Moon during a total lunar eclipse mimics the geometry of a terrestrial planet transiting its star.

    But the observations were also challenging because the Moon is very bright, and its surface is not a perfect reflector because it is mottled with bright and dark areas. The Moon is also so close to Earth that Hubble had to try and keep a steady eye on one select region, despite the Moon’s motion relative to the space observatory. So, Youngblood’s team had to account for the Moon’s drift in their analysis.

    Where There’s Ozone, There’s Life?

    Finding ozone in the skies of a terrestrial extrasolar planet does not guarantee that life exists on the surface. “You would need other spectral signatures in addition to ozone to conclude that there was life on the planet, and these signatures cannot necessarily be seen in ultraviolet light,” Youngblood said.

    On Earth, ozone is formed naturally when oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light. Ozone forms a blanket around Earth, protecting it from harsh ultraviolet rays.

    “Photosynthesis might be the most productive metabolism that can evolve on any planet, because it is fueled by energy from starlight and uses cosmically abundant elements like water and carbon dioxide,” said Giada Arney of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a co-author of the science paper. “These necessary ingredients should be common on habitable planets.”

    Seasonal variability in the ozone signature also could indicate seasonal biological production of oxygen, just as it does with the growth seasons of plants on Earth.

    But ozone can also be produced without the presence of life when nitrogen and oxygen are exposed to sunlight. To increase confidence that a given biosignature is truly produced by life, astronomers must search for combinations of biosignatures. A multiwavelength campaign is needed because each of the many biosignatures are more easily detected at wavelengths specific to those signatures.

    “Astronomers will also have to take the developmental stage of the planet into account when looking at younger stars with young planets. If you wanted to detect oxygen or ozone from a planet similar to the early Earth, when there was less oxygen in our atmosphere, the spectral features in optical and infrared light aren’t strong enough,” Arney explained. “We think Earth had low concentrations of ozone before the mid-Proterozoic geological period (between roughly 2.0 billion to 0.7 billion years ago) when photosynthesis contributed to the build up of oxygen and ozone in the atmosphere to the levels we see today. But because the ultraviolet-light signature of ozone features is very strong, you would have a hope of detecting small amounts of ozone. The ultraviolet may therefore be the best wavelength for detecting photosynthetic life on low-oxygen exoplanets.”

    NASA has a forthcoming observatory called the James Webb Space Telescope that could make similar kinds of measurements in infrared light, with the potential to detect methane and oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres. Webb is currently scheduled to launch in 2021.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 10:04 am on June 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Sees a Cosmic Flapping 'Bat Shadow'", , , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Sees a Cosmic Flapping ‘Bat Shadow'” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    June 25, 2020

    Ann Jenkins
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4488
    jenkins@stsci.edu

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

    Klaus Pontoppidan
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    pontoppi@stsci.edu

    Colette Salyk
    Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York
    cosalyk@vassar.edu


    This video shows the “flapping” of the Bat Shadow’s wings. This motion is most likely caused by the shadow of a saddle-shaped disk, with two peaks and two dips. The disk must also be flared, like bell-bottom pants or a trumpet. The shadow is so large—about 200 times the length of our solar system—that light doesn’t travel instantaneously across it. In fact, the time it takes for the light to travel from the star out to the perceivable edge of the shadow is about 40 to 45 days.
    Credits: NASA, ESA, and K. Pontoppidan and J. DePasquale (STScI)

    1
    About This Image
    Astronomers using Hubble previously captured a remarkable image of a young star’s unseen, planet-forming disk casting a huge shadow across a more distant cloud in a star-forming region. The star is called HBC 672, and the shadow feature was nicknamed the “Bat Shadow” because it resembles a pair of wings. The nickname turned out to be unexpectedly appropriate, because now those “wings” appear to be flapping! Credits:
    NASA, ESA, and STScI

    Summary

    The shadow from an unseen, planet-forming disk flaps like a bat’s wings

    The “Bat Shadow” is the nickname Hubble astronomers gave to a huge shadow cast by a young star’s planet-forming disk in 2018. Resembling a pair of wings, the striking image is actually a shadow on a more distant cloud—like a fly wandering into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall. Now, the nickname turns out to be even more appropriate, because the team reports that those “wings” are flapping! The phenomenon may be caused by a planet pulling on the disk and warping it.

    _____________________________________________

    Sometimes nicknames turn out to be closer to reality than you might imagine.

    NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a striking image of a fledgling star’s unseen, planet-forming disk casting a huge shadow across a more distant cloud in a star-forming region—like a fly wandering into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall.

    The young star is called HBC 672, and the shadow feature was nicknamed the “Bat Shadow” because it resembles a pair of wings. The nickname turned out to be surprisingly appropriate: Now, the team reports that they see the Bat Shadow flapping!

    “The shadow moves. It’s flapping like the wings of a bird!” described lead author Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. The phenomenon may be caused by a planet pulling on the disk and warping it. The team witnessed the flapping over 404 days.

    But what created the Bat Shadow in the first place?

    “You have a star that is surrounded by a disk, and the disk is not like Saturn’s rings—it’s not flat. It’s puffed up. And so that means that if the light from the star goes straight up, it can continue straight up—it’s not blocked by anything. But if it tries to go along the plane of the disk, it doesn’t get out, and it casts a shadow,” explained Pontoppidan.

    He suggests imagining a lamp with a shade that casts a shadow on the wall. In this case, the lightbulb is the star, the lampshade is the disk, and the cloud is the wall. Based on the shadow’s shape, the disk must be flared, with an angle that increases with distance—like bell-bottom pants, or a trumpet.

    The disk—a circling structure of gas, dust, and rock—might be roughly saddle-shaped, with two peaks and two dips, which would explain the “flapping” of the shadow. The team speculates that a planet is embedded in the disk, with an orbit inclined to the disk’s plane. This planet would be the cause of the doubly warped shape of the orbiting disk and the resulting movement in its shadow.

    “If there were just a simple bump in the disk, we’d expect both sides of the shadow to tilt in opposite directions, like airplane wings during a turn,” said team member Colette Salyk, of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

    The shadow, extending from the star across the surrounding cloud, is so large—about 200 times the length of our solar system—that light doesn’t travel instantaneously across it. In fact, the time it takes for the light to travel from the star out to the perceivable edge of the shadow is about 40 to 45 days. Pontoppidan and his team calculate a planet warping the disk would orbit its star in no fewer than 180 days. They estimate that this planet would be about the same distance from its star as Earth is from the Sun.

    If not a planet, an alternative explanation for the shadow motion is a lower-mass stellar companion orbiting HBC 672 outside the plane of the disk, causing HBC 672 to “wobble” relative to its shadowing disk. But Pontoppidan and his team doubt this is the case, based on the thickness of the disk. There is also no current evidence for a binary companion.

    The disk is too small and too distant to be seen, even by Hubble. The star HBC 672 resides in a stellar nursery called the Serpens Nebula, about 1,400 light-years away. It is only one or two million years old, which is young in cosmic terms.

    This finding was serendipitous. The first image of the Bat Shadow was taken by another team. Later, the image was slated for use in NASA’s Universe of Learning, a program that creates materials and experiences to enable learners to explore the universe for themselves. The goal was to illustrate how shadows can convey information about phenomena invisible to us. However, the original team only observed the Bat Shadow in one light filter, which did not provide enough data for the color image desired by NASA’s Universe of Learning.

    To get the color image, Pontoppidan and his team had to observe the shadow in additional filters. When they combined the old and new images, the shadow appeared to have moved. At first, they thought the problem was in the image processing, but they quickly realized the images were properly aligned and the phenomenon was real.

    The team’s paper will appear in an upcoming edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

    NASA’s Universe of Learning materials are based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A. For more information, visit NASA’s Universe of Learning.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 10:13 am on June 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , JWST, NASA ESA Hubble   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “ESA/Hubble/JWST Science Newsletter” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    22 June 2020
    Antonella Nota
    ESA/HST & ESA/JWST Project Scientist, STScI
    Baltimore, USA
    Email: hubblenewseurope@stsci.edu

    1
    Hubble zooms in for an up-close look at star assembly in one of the galaxies orbiting the Milky Way.NASA, ESA and STScI
    The Past and the Future

    The Hubble Space Telescope just turned 30, and it’s working better than ever.

    After the last of the activities prepared for the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope was finally completed, we all collectively paused for a moment. We took a deep breath and marveled at what a day 24 April had been! It started early in the morning with the official release worldwide of the stunning anniversary image: a family portrait of two very photogenic nebulae, NGC 2014 and NGC 2020.

    The grand plan for a synchronised unveiling of the spectacular image all over Europe had unfortunately been scuttled by COVID-19, but when we gave all the institutions involved the option to postpone or cancel the gatherings they had so carefully planned, we were surprised by the heartwarming response. The celebration had to happen — not in person, but somehow. Everybody wanted to see something happening, and they wanted to be part of it. So we shifted our plans to social media. Read here to see what was done, and the amazing involvement of people from across Europe.

    On the day, we huddled together with our fan group of Hubble “huggers”, watching Hubble videos and beautiful testimonies from institutions and planetariums in an ESA/Hubble facebook watch party. ESA TV organised live chats with Hubble astronomers in five different languages. It was all virtual, but it was still a grand party for an observatory that has brought the Universe into people’s homes.

    And as we celebrated the past accomplishments we had an eye to the future as a few weeks later the Hubble Time Allocation Committee was going to meet, virtually, to evaluate the 1000+ proposals received for Cycle 28, and design the scientific programme for the next year. Once again, we savoured the days of scientific debate, with the realisation that there is not enough time to do all the great science that was proposed. Against very stiff competition, astronomers from ESA Member States did very well, winning a significant fraction of the allocated proposals. Read here to find additional details of their success in Cycle 28. Their success will translate into unique and rich data sets, scientific discoveries and publications in professional journals. This article also details how engaged this community is in the scientific exploitation of the Hubble mission.

    And looking further into the future, we look forward to the moment when Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope will operate together, in scientific synergy.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Read here about our initiatives to prepare the community for writing successful Webb proposals. We do expect the same high success rate for Webb that we are seeing for Hubble, and we are pulling out all the stops to ensure that European astronomers have the appropriate tools to translate their creative ideas into Webb data. That moment is not very far away.

    Finally, from our entire team, our best wishes to you all — we hope you stay healthy. We are fortunate that science continues to provide a peaceful respite from the sad reality of COVID-19 and the civil unrest happening around the world. We are very fortunate that even in the darkest moments we do feel uplifted by looking at the spectacular night sky, which is there for ALL of humanity to marvel at.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 9:34 am on June 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In Planet Formation It's Location Location Location", , , , Celestial Fireworks in Westerlund 2, , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “In Planet Formation, It’s Location, Location, Location” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    May 28, 2020

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

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

    Elena Sabbi
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    sabbi@stsci.edu

    1
    Celestial Fireworks in Westerlund 2

    The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in this Hubble Space Telescope archival image.

    The sparkling centerpiece of this fireworks show is a giant cluster of thousands of stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.

    Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 pierced through the dusty veil shrouding the stellar nursery in near-infrared light, giving astronomers a clear view of the nebula and the dense concentration of stars in the central cluster.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    The cluster measures between 6 light-years and 13 light-years across.

    The giant stellar grouping is only about 2 million years old and contains some of our Milky Way galaxy’s hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. Some of its heftiest stars unleash torrents of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. New Hubble observations are showing that lower-mass stars near the cluster’s core do not have the large, dense clouds of dust that eventually could become planets in a few million years. Hubble detected those planet-forming clouds embedded in disks encircling lower-mass stars farther away from the center.

    The nebula reveals a landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys. The pillars, composed of dense gas and thought to be incubators for new stars, are a few light-years tall and point to the central star cluster. Other dense regions surround the pillars, including reddish-brown filaments of gas and dust. The red dots scattered throughout the landscape are a rich population of newly forming stars still wrapped in their gas-and-dust cocoons. The brilliant blue stars seen throughout the image are mostly foreground stars.

    The image’s central region, which contains the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys with near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3.

    NASA Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys

    The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The red colors in the nebulosity represent hydrogen; the bluish-green hues are predominantly oxygen.
    Credits: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team, A. Nota, and the Westerlund 2 Science Team.

    Summary

    The Westerlund 2 star cluster’s raucous core is no place to form planets.

    One of the top priorities for new home buyers is location. Finding a home in the right neighborhood is a key ingredient for a happy, prosperous family.

    Like families hunting for a house, fledgling planets also need the proper location to grow and thrive. Astronomers using Hubble to probe the giant, young star cluster Westerlund 2 are finding that stars residing in the system’s crowded central city face a rough-and-tumble neighborhood that suppresses planet formation. The Hubble observations show that lower-mass stars near the cluster’s core do not have the large, dense clouds of dust that eventually could become planets in just a few million years.

    But life is a lot easier for stars and would-be planets in the cluster suburbs, farther away from the dense center. Hubble detected those planet-forming clouds embedded in disks encircling stars in these neighborhoods.

    The absence of planet-forming clouds around stars near the center is mainly due to their bully neighbors: bright, giant stars, some of which weigh up to 80 times the Sun’s mass. Their blistering ultraviolet light and hurricane-like stellar winds of charged particles blowtorch disks around neighboring lower-mass stars, dispersing the giant dust clouds.

    Understanding the importance of location and environment in nurturing planet formation is crucial for building models of planet formation and stellar evolution. Located 20,000 light-years away, Westerlund 2 is a unique laboratory to study stellar evolutionary processes because it’s relatively nearby, quite young, and contains a large stellar population.
    __________________________________________________

    Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are finding that planets have a tough time forming in the rough-and-tumble central region of the massive, crowded star cluster Westerlund 2. Located 20,000 light-years away, Westerlund 2 is a unique laboratory to study stellar evolutionary processes because it’s relatively nearby, quite young, and contains a large stellar population.

    A three-year Hubble study of stars in Westerlund 2 revealed that the precursors to planet-forming disks encircling stars near the cluster’s center are mysteriously devoid of large, dense clouds of dust that in a few million years could become planets.

    However, the observations show that stars on the cluster’s periphery do have the immense planet-forming dust clouds embedded in their disks. Researchers think our solar system followed this recipe when it formed 4.6 billion years ago.

    So why do some stars in Westerlund 2 have a difficult time forming planets while others do not? It seems that planet formation depends on location, location, location. The most massive and brightest stars in the cluster congregate in the core, which is verified by observations of other star-forming regions. The cluster’s center contains at least 30 extremely massive stars, some weighing up to 80 times the mass of the Sun. Their blistering ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds of charged particles blowtorch disks around neighboring lower-mass stars, dispersing the giant dust clouds.

    “Basically, if you have monster stars, their energy is going to alter the properties of the disks around nearby, less massive stars,” explained Elena Sabbi, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, lead researcher of the Hubble study. “You may still have a disk, but the stars change the composition of the dust in the disks, so it’s harder to create stable structures that will eventually lead to planets. We think the dust either evaporates away in 1 million years, or it changes in composition and size so dramatically that planets don’t have the building blocks to form.”

    The Hubble observations represent the first time that astronomers analyzed an extremely dense star cluster to study which environments are favorable to planet formation. Scientists, however, are still debating whether bulky stars are born in the center or whether they migrate there. Westerlund 2 already has massive stars in its core, even though it is a comparatively young 2-million-year-old system.

    Using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, the researchers found that of the nearly 5,000 stars in Westerlund 2 with masses between 0.1 to 5 times the Sun’s mass, 1,500 of them show fluctuations in their light as the stars accrete material from their disks. Orbiting material clumped within the disk would temporarily block some of the starlight, causing brightness fluctuations.

    However, Hubble detected the signature of such orbiting material only around stars outside the cluster’s packed central region. The telescope witnessed large drops in brightness for as much as 10 to 20 days around 5% of the stars before they returned to normal brightness. They did not detect these dips in brightness in stars residing within four light-years of the center. These fluctuations could be caused by large clumps of dust passing in front of the star. The clumps would be in a disk tilted nearly edge-on to the view from Earth. “We think they are planetesimals or structures in formation,” Sabbi explained. “These could be the seeds that eventually lead to planets in more evolved systems. These are the systems we don’t see close to very massive stars. We see them only in systems outside the center.”

    Thanks to Hubble, astronomers can now see how stars are accreting in environments that are like the early universe, where clusters were dominated by monster stars. So far, the best known nearby stellar environment that contains massive stars is the starbirth region in the Orion Nebula.

    Orion Nebula ESO/VLT

    However, Westerlund 2 is a richer target because of its larger stellar population.

    “Hubble’s observations of Westerlund 2 give us a much better sense of how stars of different masses change over time, and how powerful winds and radiation from very massive stars affect nearby lower-mass stars and their disks,” Sabbi said. “We see, for example, that lower-mass stars, like our Sun, that are near extremely massive stars in the cluster still have disks and still can accrete material as they grow. But the structure of their disks (and thus their planet-forming capability) seems to be very different from that of disks around stars forming in a calmer environment farther away from the cluster core. This information is important for building models of planet formation and stellar evolution.”

    This cluster will be an excellent laboratory for follow-up observations with NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, an infrared observatory.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Hubble has helped astronomers identify the stars that have possible planetary structures. With Webb, researchers can study which disks around stars are not accreting material and which disks still have material that could build up into planets. This information on 1,500 stars will allow astronomers to map a path on how star systems grow and evolve. Webb also can study the chemistry of the disks in different evolutionary phases and watch how they change, and help astronomers determine what influence environment plays in their evolution.

    NASA’s planned infrared observatory, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, will be able to perform Sabbi’s study on a much larger area.

    NASA/Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

    Westerlund 2 is just a small slice of an immense star-formation region. These vast regions contain clusters of stars with different ages and different densities. Astronomers could use Roman Space Telescope observations to start to build up statistics on how a star’s characteristics, like its mass or outflows, affect its own evolution or the nature of stars that form nearby. The observations could also provide more information on how planets form in tough environments.

    Sabbi’s results appeared in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 12:25 pm on June 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Provides Holistic View of Stars Gone Haywire", , , , , NASA ESA Hubble, NGC 6302 The Butterfly Nebula, NGC 7027 The "Jewel Bug" Nebula   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Provides Holistic View of Stars Gone Haywire” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    June 18, 2020

    Claire Blome /
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    667-218-6426 /
    cblome@stsci.edu /

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

    Joel Kastner
    Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
    jhk@cis.rit.edu

    1
    Two Planetary Nebulas: NGC 6302 and NGC 7027

    2
    Compass Image for NGC 6302, The Butterfly Nebula

    3
    Compass Image for NGC 7027, The “Jewel Bug” Nebula

    Summary
    Stars Puffing Off Layers of Gas and Dust Yield New Revelations.

    For stars nearing the end of their lives, the forecast is clear: It’s time for the fireworks!

    Planetary nebulas, whose stars shed their layers over thousands of years, can turn into crazy whirligigs while puffing off shells and jets of hot gas. New images from the Hubble Space Telescope have helped researchers identify rapid changes in material blasting off stars at the centers of two nebulas — causing them to reconsider what is happening at their cores.

    In the case of NGC 6302, dubbed the Butterfly Nebula, two S-shaped streams indicate its most recent ejections and may be the result of two stars interacting at the nebula’s core. In NGC 7027, a new cloverleaf pattern — with bullets of material shooting out in specific directions — may also point to the interactions of two central stars. Both nebulas are splitting themselves apart on extremely short timescales, allowing researchers to measure changes in their structures over only a few decades.

    This is the first time both nebulas have been studied from near-ultraviolet to near-infrared light, a complex, multi-wavelength view only possible with Hubble.

    ______________________________________

    As nuclear fusion engines, most stars live placid lives for hundreds of millions to billions of years. But near the end of their lives they can turn into crazy whirligigs, puffing off shells and jets of hot gas. Astronomers have employed Hubble’s full range of imaging capabilities to dissect such crazy fireworks happening in two nearby young planetary nebulas. NGC 6303 is dubbed the Butterfly Nebula because of its wing-like appearance. In addition, NGC 7027 resembles a jewel bug, an insect with a brilliantly colorful metallic shell.

    The researchers have found unprecedented levels of complexity and rapid changes in jets and gas bubbles blasting off of the stars at the centers of both nebulas. Hubble is allowing the researchers to converge on an understanding of the mechanisms underlying the chaos.

    “When I looked in the Hubble archive and realized no one had observed these nebulas with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 across its full wavelength range, I was floored,” said Joel Kastner of Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, leader of the new study. “These new multi-wavelength Hubble observations provide the most comprehensive view to date of both of these spectacular nebulas. As I was downloading the resulting images, I felt like a kid in a candy store.”

    By examining this pair of nebulas with Hubble’s full, panchromatic capabilities — making observations in near-ultraviolet to near-infrared light — the team has had several “aha” moments. In particular, the new Hubble images reveal in vivid detail how both nebulas are splitting themselves apart on extremely short timescales — allowing astronomers to see changes over the past couple decades. Some of this rapid change may be indirect evidence of one star merging with its companion star.

    “The nebula NGC 7027 shows emission at an incredibly large number of different wavelengths, each of which highlights not only a specific chemical element in the nebula, but also the significant, ongoing changes in its structure,” said Kastner. The research team also observed the Butterfly Nebula, which is a counterpart to the “jewel bug” nebula: Both are among the dustiest planetary nebulas known and both also contain unusually large masses of gas because they are so newly formed. This makes them a very interesting pair to study in parallel, say researchers.

    Hubble’s broad multi-wavelength views of each nebula are helping the researchers to trace their histories of shock waves. Such shocks typically are generated when fresh, fast stellar winds slam into and sweep up more slowly expanding gas and dust ejected by the star in its recent past, generating bubble-like cavities with well-defined walls.

    Researchers suspect that at the hearts of both nebulas are — or were — two stars circling around each other, like a pair of figure skaters. Evidence for such a central “dynamic duo” comes from the bizarre shapes of these nebulas. Each has a pinched, dusty waist and polar lobes or outflows, as well as other, more complex symmetrical patterns.

    A leading theory for the generation of such structures in planetary nebulas is that the mass-losing star is one of two stars in a binary system. The two stars orbit one another closely enough that they eventually interact, producing a gas disk around one or both stars. The disk is the source of outflowing material directed in opposite directions from the central star.

    Similarly, a smaller star of the pair may merge with its bloated, more rapidly evolving stellar companion. This also can create outflowing jets of material that may wobble over time. This creates a symmetric pattern, perhaps like the one that gives NGC 6302 its “butterfly” nickname. Such outflows are commonly seen in planetary nebulas.

    “The suspected companion stars in NGC 6302 and NGC 7027 haven’t been directly detected because they are next to, or perhaps have already been swallowed by, larger red giant stars, a type of star that is hundreds to thousands of times brighter than the Sun,” said team member Bruce Balick of the University of Washington in Seattle. “The hypothesis of merging stars seems the best and simplest explanation for the features seen in the most active and symmetric planetary nebulas. It’s a powerful unifying concept, so far without rival.”

    The Butterfly Nebula

    Imagine a lawn sprinkler spinning wildly, tossing out two S-shaped streams. At first it appears chaotic, but if you stare for a while, you can trace its patterns. The same S-shape is present in the Butterfly Nebula, except in this case it is not water in the air, but gas blown out at high speed by a star. And the “S” only appears when captured by the Hubble camera filter that records near-infrared emission from singly ionized iron atoms.

    “The S-shape in the iron emission from the Butterfly Nebula is a real eye-opener,” Kastner said. The S-shape directly traces the most recent ejections from the central region, since the collisions within the nebula are particularly violent in these specific regions of NGC 6302. “This iron emission is a sensitive tracer of energetic collisions between slower winds and fast winds from the stars,” Balick explained. “It’s commonly observed in supernova remnants and active galactic nuclei, and outflowing jets from newborn stars, but is very rarely seen in planetary nebulas.”

    “The fact that the iron emission is only showing up along these opposing, off-center directions implies that the source of the fast flows is wobbling over time, like a spinning top that’s about to fall,” added Kastner. “That’s another tell-tale sign of the presence of a disk, which directs the flow, and also a binary companion.”

    The “Jewel Bug” Nebula

    The planetary nebula NGC 7027 had been slowly puffing away its mass in quiet, spherically symmetric or perhaps spiral patterns for centuries — until relatively recently. “In some respects, the changes within this nebula are even more dramatic than those within the Butterfly,” Kastner said. “Something recently went haywire at the very center, producing a new cloverleaf pattern, with bullets of material shooting out in specific directions.”

    The research team’s new images of NGC 7027 show emission from singly ionized iron that closely resembles observations made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
    in 2000 and 2014 as part of earlier research by Kastner, team member Rodolfo Montez Jr. of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and collaborators. The iron emission traces the southeast to northwest-oriented outflows that also produce the X-ray-emitting shocks imaged by Chandra. “We have a sneaking suspicion that this nebula is a great example of what happens when a red giant star abruptly swallows a companion,” Montez Jr. said.

    The research team also includes Ph.D. students Jesse Bublitz and Paula Moraga of Rochester Institute of Technology, and Adam Frank and Eric Blackman of the University of Rochester.

    The team’s paper, “First Results from a Panchromatic HST/WFC3 Imaging Study of the Young, Rapidly Evolving Planetary Nebulae NGC 7027 and NGC 6302” was published on June 15, 2020 in the journal Galaxies.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 8:31 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe", A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, , , , , Deep Space Quest Doesn't Find the First Stars Pushing Back the Timeline of the Universe's Evolution., Hubble Frontier Fields program, NASA ESA Hubble, , The galaxy cluster MACS J0416   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Hubble Makes Surprising Find in the Early Universe” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    June 03, 2020

    Bethany Downer
    ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
    bethany.downer@partner.eso.org

    Rachana Bhatawdekar
    European Space Agency / ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
    rachana.bhatawdekar@esa.int

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

    1
    This artist’s impression presents the early universe.
    About This Image
    New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, when the universe was less than one billion years old. Credits: ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser, and NASA

    2
    About This Image
    This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster MACS J0416. This is one of six galaxy clusters being studied by the Hubble Frontier Fields program, which together have produced the deepest images of gravitational lensing ever made. Scientists used intracluster light (visible in blue) to study the distribution of dark matter within the cluster. Credits: NASA, ESA, and M. Montes (University of New South Wales)


    Right after the Universe started with the Big Bang, the cosmos was dark. Only the first stars created millions of years later brought light. These first stars and their radiation drastically changed the Universe during what is known as the epoch of reionisation. This Hubblecasts talks about this important time, what Hubble has shown us so far, the open questions and what we can expect from future missions.

    Credit:

    Directed by: Bethany Downer
    Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser
    Written by: Laura Hiscott
    Narration: Sara Mendes da Costa
    Images: NASA, ESA
    Videos: NASA, ESA, NASA/GSFC, ESO/L. Calçada, M. Kornmesser
    Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com)
    Web and technical support: Bethany Downer and Raquel Yumi Shida
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen

    Summary
    Deep Space Quest Doesn’t Find the First Stars, Pushing Back the Timeline of the Universe’s Evolution.

    In Greek mythology the first deities born from the universe’s origin in “the Chaos,” created a race of Titans. The powerful Titans were eventually superseded by the gods of Olympus. In modern cosmology, the stellar equivalent of the legendary Titans are so-called Population III stars, that would have been the very first stars born after the big bang. These hypothetical stars are as elusive as the Titans. Unlike the stars of today—like our Sun (that contains heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron)—the Population III stars would have been solely made out of the few primordial elements first forged in the seething crucible of the big bang. Much more massive and brighter than our Sun, they would have defiantly blazed as lords over the inky void of the newborn universe.

    A team of European researchers, led by Rachana Bhatawdekar of the European Space Agency, set out to find the elusive first-generation stars by probing from about 500 million to 1 billion years after the big bang. In their quest they used observations from Hubble, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope. No longer in service.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    They used the gravitational lensing power of a massive foreground galaxy cluster (that acts as a giant magnifying lens in space) to find brightened images of far more distant background galaxies 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed.

    Gravitational Lensing

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Unfortunately, the team found no evidence of these first-generation Population III stars in this cosmic time interval they explored. These results are nevertheless important because they show that galaxies must have formed even earlier after the big bang than previously thought.

    New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, as far back as when the universe was just 500 million years old.

    The exploration of the very first galaxies remains a significant challenge in modern astronomy. We do not know when or how the first stars and galaxies in the universe formed. These questions can be addressed with the Hubble Space Telescope through deep imaging observations. Hubble allows astronomers to view the universe back to within 500 million years of the big bang.

    A team of European researchers, led by Rachana Bhatawdekar of the European Space Agency, set out to study the first generation of stars in the early universe. Known as Population III stars, these stars were forged from the primordial material that emerged from the big bang. Population III stars must have been made solely out of hydrogen, helium and lithium, the only elements that existed before processes in the cores of these stars could create heavier elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and iron.

    Bhatawdekar and her team probed the early universe from about 500 million to 1 billion years after the big bang by studying the cluster MACS J0416 and its parallel field with the Hubble Space Telescope (with supporting data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory). “We found no evidence of these first-generation Population III stars in this cosmic time interval,” said Bhatawdekar of the new results.

    The result was achieved using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, as part of the Hubble Frontier Fields program.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    NASA Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys

    This program (which observed six distant galaxy clusters from 2012 to 2017) produced the deepest observations ever made of galaxy clusters and the galaxies located behind them which were magnified by the gravitational lensing effect, thereby revealing galaxies 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed. The masses of foreground galaxy clusters are large enough to bend and magnify the light from the more distant objects behind them. This allows Hubble to use these cosmic magnifying glasses to study objects that are beyond its nominal operational capabilities.

    Bhatawdekar and her team developed a new technique that removes the light from the bright foreground galaxies that constitute these gravitational lenses. This allowed them to discover galaxies with lower masses than ever previously observed with Hubble, at a distance corresponding to when the universe was less than a billion years old. At this point in cosmic time, the lack of evidence for exotic stellar populations and the identification of many low-mass galaxies supports the suggestion that these galaxies are the most likely candidates for the reionization of the universe. This period of reionization in the early universe is when the neutral intergalactic medium was ionized by the first stars and galaxies.

    “These results have profound astrophysical consequences as they show that galaxies must have formed much earlier than we thought,” said Bhatawdekar. “This also strongly supports the idea that low-mass/faint galaxies in the early universe are responsible for reionization.”

    These results also suggest that the earliest formation of stars and galaxies occurred much earlier than can be probed with the Hubble Space Telescope. This leaves an exciting area of further research for the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope — to study the universe’s earliest galaxies.

    These results are based on a previous 2019 paper [MNRAS] by Bhatawdekar et al., and a paper that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). These results are also being presented at a press conference during the 236th meeting of American Astronomical Society.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 11:10 am on June 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Intense Flash from Milky Way's Black Hole Illuminated Gas Far Outside of Our Galaxy", , , , , NASA ESA Hubble   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Intense Flash from Milky Way’s Black Hole Illuminated Gas Far Outside of Our Galaxy” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    June 02, 2020

    Ann Jenkins
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4488
    jenkins@stsci.edu

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

    Elaine Frazer
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    efrazer@stsci.edu

    Andrew Fox
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    afox@stsci.edu

    1
    Seyfert Flare Illustration
    About This Image
    An enormous outburst from the vicinity of the Milky Way’s central black hole sent cones of blistering ultraviolet radiation above and below the plane of the galaxy and deep into space. The radiation cone that blasted out of the Milky Way’s south pole lit up a massive ribbon-like gas structure called the Magellanic Stream. This vast train of gas trails the Milky Way’s two prominent satellite galaxies: the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and its companion, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC).The astronomers studied sightlines to quasars far behind the Magellanic Stream and behind another feature called the Leading Arm, a tattered and shredded gaseous “arm” that precedes the LMC and SMC in their orbit around the Milky Way. Unlike the Magellanic Stream, the Leading Arm did not show evidence of being lit up by the flare.
    The same event that caused the radiation flare also “burped” hot plasma that is now towering in ballooning lobes about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy. These bubbles, visible only in gamma rays and weighing the equivalent of millions of Suns, are called the Fermi Bubbles. The Fermi Bubbles and the Magellanic Stream were thought to be separate and unrelated to each other, but now it appears that the same powerful flash from our galaxy’s central black hole has played a major role in both.
    NASA/ESA and L. Hustak

    Summary
    Cataclysmic blast felt 200,000 light-years away

    About 3.5 million years ago, our distant hominid ancestors might have noticed a mysterious glowing spot along the arc of the star-studded Milky Way. Today we know that this would have been evidence for a tremendous explosion around a black hole that rocked the center of our galaxy. Scientists using Hubble now see the aftermath of that enormous flash of light that beamed out of our galaxy’s center way back then. It illuminated a huge, ribbon-like tail of gas orbiting the Milky Way. Called the Magellanic Stream, this long trail lies far outside of our galaxy, at an average distance of 200,000 light-years.

    Magellanic Stream

    Like an aircraft contrail, It extends from neighboring dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

    Magellanic Clouds ESO S. Brunier

    Researchers made careful ultraviolet measurements of distant quasars behind the Magellanic Stream. As the ultraviolet light from the quasars passed through the stream, Hubble recorded the telltale fingerprints of how the flash altered the gas.

    About 3.5 million years ago, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy unleashed an enormous burst of energy. Our primitive ancestors, already afoot on the African plains, likely would have witnessed this flare as a ghostly glow high overhead in the constellation Sagittarius. It might have persisted for 1 million years.

    Now, eons later, astronomers are using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope’s unique capabilities to uncover even more clues about this cataclysmic explosion. Looking to the far outskirts of our galaxy, they found that the black hole’s floodlight reached so far into space it illuminated a vast train of gas trailing the Milky Way’s two prominent satellite galaxies: the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and its companion, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC).

    The black hole outburst was probably caused by a large hydrogen cloud up to 100,000 times the Sun’s mass falling onto the disk of material swirling near the central black hole. The resulting outburst sent cones of blistering ultraviolet radiation above and below the plane of the galaxy and deep into space.

    The radiation cone that blasted out of the Milky Way’s south pole lit up a massive ribbon-like gas structure called the Magellanic Stream. The flash lit up a portion of the stream, ionizing its hydrogen (enough to make 100 million Suns) by stripping atoms of their electrons.

    “The flash was so powerful that it lit up the stream like a Christmas tree—it was a cataclysmic event!” said principal investigator Andrew Fox of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. “This shows us that different regions of the galaxy are linked—what happens in the galactic center makes a difference to what happens out in the Magellanic Stream. We’re learning about how the black hole impacts the galaxy and its environment.”

    Fox’s team used Hubble’s ultraviolet capabilities to probe the stream by using background quasars—the bright cores of distant, active galaxies—as light sources. Hubble’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph can see the fingerprints of ionized atoms in the ultraviolet light from the quasars. The astronomers studied sightlines to 21 quasars far behind the Magellanic Stream and 10 behind another feature called the Leading Arm, a tattered and shredded gaseous “arm” that precedes the LMC and SMC in their orbit around the Milky Way.

    “When the light from the quasar passes through the gas we’re interested in, some of the light at specific wavelengths gets absorbed by the atoms in the cloud,” said STScI’s Elaine Frazer, who analyzed the sightlines and discovered new trends in the data. “When we look at the quasar light spectrum at specific wavelengths, we see evidence of light absorption that we wouldn’t see if the light hadn’t passed through the cloud. From this, we can draw conclusions about the gas itself.”

    The team found evidence that the ions had been created in the Magellanic Stream by an energetic flash. The burst was so powerful that it lit up the stream, even though this structure is about 200,000 light-years from the galactic center.

    Unlike the Magellanic Stream, the Leading Arm did not show evidence of being lit up by the flare. That makes sense, because the Leading Arm is not sitting right below the south galactic pole, so it was not showered with the burst’s radiation.

    The same event that caused the radiation flare also “burped” hot plasma that is now towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy. These invisible bubbles, weighing the equivalent of millions of Suns, are called the Fermi Bubbles. Their energetic gamma-ray glow was discovered in 2010 by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. In 2015, Fox used Hubble’s ultraviolet spectroscopy to measure the expansion velocity and composition of the ballooning lobes.

    Now his team managed to stretch Hubble’s reach beyond the bubbles. “We always thought that the Fermi Bubbles and the Magellanic Stream were separate and unrelated to each other and doing their own things in different parts of the galaxy’s halo,” said Fox. “Now we see that the same powerful flash from our galaxy’s central black hole has played a major role in both.”

    This research was possible only because of Hubble’s unique ultraviolet capability. Because of the filtering effects of Earth’s atmosphere, ultraviolet light cannot be studied from the ground. “It’s a very rich region of the electromagnetic spectrum—there’s a lot of features that can be measured in the ultraviolet,” explained Fox. “If you work in the optical and infrared, you can’t see them. That’s why we have to go to space to do this. For this type of work, Hubble is the only game in town.”

    The findings, Kinematics of the Magellanic Stream and Implications for its Ionization to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, will be presented during a press conference on June 2 at the 236th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which will be conducted virtually this year.

    The science paper by A. Fox et al

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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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