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  • richardmitnick 2:49 pm on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sixteen Images for Spitzer's Sweet 16", , , , , , NASA Spitzer   

    From Spitzer at NASA-JPL/Caltech: “Sixteen Images for Spitzer’s Sweet 16” 

    NASA Spitzer


    From Spitzer at NASA-JPL/Caltech

    Calla Cofield
    
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    626-808-2469

    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    NASA launched its Spitzer Space Telescope into orbit around the Sun on Aug. 25, 2003. Since then, the observatory has been lifting the veil on the wonders of the cosmos, from our own solar system to faraway galaxies, using infrared light.

    Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Spitzer enabled scientists to confirm the presence of seven rocky, Earth-size planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.

    A size comparison of the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, lined up in order of increasing distance from their host star. The planetary surfaces are portrayed with an artist’s impression of their potential surface features, including water, ice, and atmospheres. NASA

    ESO Belgian robotic Trappist National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile

    ESO Belgian robotic Trappist-South National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    The telescope has also provided weather maps of hot, gaseous exoplanets and revealed a hidden ring around Saturn.

    3
    Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered the biggest but never-before-seen ring around the planet Saturn. https://www.express.co.uk/

    It has illuminated hidden collections of dust in a wide variety of locations, including cosmic nebulas (clouds of gas and dust in space), where young stars form, and swirling galaxies. Spitzer has additionally investigated some of the universe’s oldest galaxies and stared at the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

    Spitzer’s primary mission lasted five-and-a-half years and ended when it ran out of the liquid helium coolant necessary to operate two of its three instruments. But its passive-cooling design has allowed part of its third instrument to continue operating for more than 10 additional years. The mission is scheduled to end on Jan. 30, 2020.

    In honor of Spitzer’s Sweet 16 in space, here are 16 amazing images from the mission.

    3
    Giant Star Makes Waves
    This Spitzer image shows the giant star Zeta Ophiuchi and the bow shock, or shock wave, in front of it. Visible only in infrared light, the bow shock is created by winds that flow from the star, making ripples in the surrounding dust. Located roughly 370 light-years from Earth, Zeta Ophiuchi dwarfs our Sun: It is about six times hotter, eight times wider, 20 times more massive and about 80,000 times as bright. Even at its great distance, it would be one of the brightest stars in the sky were it not largely obscured by dust clouds.

    4
    The Seven Sisters Pose for Spitzer
    The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, is a frequent target for night sky observers. This image from Spitzer zooms in on a few members of the sisterhood. Viewed in the infrared, the stars seem to float on a bed of feathers. The filaments surrounding the stars are dust, and the three colors represent different wavelengths of infrared light. The densest portion of the dust cloud appears in yellow and red, and the more diffuse outskirts appear in green hues.

    5
    Young Stars in Their Baby Blanket of Dust
    Newborn stars peek out from beneath their blanket of dust in this image of the Rho Ophiuchi nebula. Called “Rho Oph” by astronomers and located about 400 light-years from Earth, it’s one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system.

    6
    The Infrared Helix
    Located about 700 light-years from Earth, the eye-like Helix nebula is a planetary nebula, or the remains of a Sun-like star. When these stars run out of their internal fuel supply, their outer layers puff up to create the nebula. The nebula is heated by the hot core of the dead star, called a white dwarf, which is not visible in this image but is located in the middle of the “eye.” Our Sun will blossom into a planetary nebula when it dies in about 5 billion years.

    7
    The Tortured Clouds of Eta Carinae
    The bright star at the center of this image is Eta Carinae, one of the most massive stars in the Milky Way galaxy. With around 100 times the mass of the Sun and at least 1 million times the brightness, Eta Carinae releases a tremendous outflow of energy that has eroded the surrounding nebula. Spitzer’s infrared vision lets us see the dust, shown in red, as well as clouds of hot, glowing gas, which appear green.

    8
    Spitzer Spies Spectacular Sombrero
    Located 28 light-years from Earth, Messier 104 — also called the Sombrero galaxy or M104 — is notable for its nearly edge-on orientation as seen from our planet. Spitzer observations were the first to reveal the smooth, bright ring of dust (seen in red) circling the galaxy. Spitzer’s full view also shows the disk is warped, often the result of a gravitational encounter with another galaxy, and clumpy areas spotted in the far edges of the ring indicate young star-forming regions. Hubble Space Telescope data showing starlight appears blue.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    9
    Spiral Galaxy Messier 81
    This infrared image of the galaxy Messier 81, or M81, reveals lanes of dust illuminated by active star formation throughout the galaxy’s spiral arms. Located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major (which includes the Big Dipper), M81 is also about 12 million light-years from Earth.

    10
    Spitzer Reveals Stellar Smoke
    Messier 82 — also known as the Cigar galaxy or M82 — is a hotbed of young, massive stars. In visible light, it appears as a diffuse bar of blue light, but in this infrared image, scientists can see huge red clouds of dust blown out into space by winds and radiation from those stars. Messier 82 is located about 12 million light-years away in the Ursa Major constellation.

    11
    A Pinwheel Galaxy Rainbow
    This image of Messier 101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy or M101, combines data in the infrared, visible, ultraviolet and X-rays from Spitzer and three other NASA space telescopes: Hubble [above], the Galaxy Evolution Explorer’s Far Ultraviolet detector (GALEX) and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The galaxy is about 70% larger than our own Milky Way, with a diameter of about 170,000 light-years, and sits at a distance of 21 million light-years from Earth.

    NASA/GALEX telescope

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    12
    Cartwheel Galaxy Makes Waves
    Approximately 100 million years ago, a smaller galaxy plunged through the heart of the Cartwheel galaxy, creating ripples of brief star formation. As with the Pinwheel galaxy above, this composite image includes data from NASA’s Spitzer, Hubble, GALEX and Chandra observatories.

    13
    Spitzer and Hubble Create Colorful Masterpiece
    Located 1,500 light-years from Earth, the Orion nebula is the brightest spot in the sword of the constellation Orion. Both NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes contributed to this vibrant image. Four massive stars, collectively called the Trapezium, appear as a yellow smudge near the image center. Visible and ultraviolet data from Hubble appear as swirls of green that indicate the presence of gas heated by intense ultraviolet radiation from the Trapezium’s stars. Less-embedded stars appear as specks of green, and foreground stars as blue spots. Meanwhile, Spitzer’s infrared view exposes carbon-rich molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, shown here as wisps of red and orange. Orange-yellow dots are infant stars deeply embedded in cocoons of dust and gas.

    14
    A Space Spider Watches Over Young Stars
    Located about 10,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Auriga, the Spider nebula resides in the outer part of the Milky Way. Combining data from Spitzer and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), the image shows green clouds of dust illuminated by star formation in the region.


    Caltech 2MASS Telescopes, a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech, at the Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins south of Tucson, AZ, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft) and at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory at an altitude of 2200 meters near La Serena, Chile.

    Right of center, against the black background of space, lies a bright group of stars called Stock 8. The radiation from this cluster carves out a bowl in the nearby dust clouds. Running in a tributary to the left of Stock 8 are more young stars that appear as red point sources.

    15
    North America Nebula in Different Lights
    This view of the North America nebula combines visible light collected by the Digitized Sky Survey with infrared light from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Blue hues represent visible light, while infrared is displayed as red and green.
    Clusters of young stars (about 1 million years old) can be found throughout the image. Slightly older but still very young stars (about 3 to 5 million years) are also liberally scattered across the complex.

    16
    Spitzer Captures Our Galaxy’s Bustling Center
    This infrared mosaic offers a stunning view of the Milky Way galaxy’s busy center. The pictured region, located in the Sagittarius constellation, is 900 light-years agross and shows hundreds of thousands of mostly old stars amid clouds of glowing dust lit up by younger, more massive stars. Our Sun is located 26,000 light-years away in a more peaceful, spacious neighborhood, out in the galactic suburbs. The bright core in the middle of the image is a dense cluster of stars at the center of the Milky Way, within which lurks a black hole about 4 million times more massive than our Sun.

    17
    The Eternal Life of Stardust
    The Large Magellic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy located about 160,000 light-years from Earth, looks like a choppy sea of dust in this infrared portrait.

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    The blue color, seen most prominently in the central bar, represents starlight from older stars. The chaotic, bright regions outside this bar are filled with hot, massive stars buried in thick blankets of dust. The red color around these bright regions is from dust heated by stars, while the red dots scattered throughout the picture are either dusty, old stars; young stars newly forming; or more distant galaxies. The greenish clouds contain cooler interstellar gas and molecule-size dust grains illuminated by ambient starlight.

    18
    A Stellar Family Portrait
    In this large celestial mosaic from Spitzer, there’s a lot to see, including multiple clusters of stars born from the same dense clumps of gas and dust. Some of these clusters are older than others and more evolved, making this a generational stellar portrait.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

    NASA image

    NASA JPL Icon

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Spitzer, , The exoplanet LHS 3844b   

    From NASA JP-Caltech: “NASA Gets a Rare Look at a Rocky Exoplanet’s Surface” 

    From NASA JP-Caltech

    August 19, 2019

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    This artist’s illustration depicts the exoplanet LHS 3844b, which is 1.3 times the mass of Earth and orbits an M dwarf star. The planet’s surface may be covered mostly in dark lava rock, with no apparent atmosphere, according to observations by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

    2
    Hot Earth LHS 3844 b in the orbit of a bright red dwarf discovered/
    3

    A new study using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provides a rare glimpse of conditions on the surface of a rocky planet orbiting a star beyond the Sun.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    The study, published today in the journal Nature, shows that the planet’s surface may resemble those of Earth’s Moon or Mercury: The planet likely has little to no atmosphere and could be covered in the same cooled volcanic material found in the dark areas of the Moon’s surface, called mare.

    Discovered in 2018 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey (TESS) mission, planet LHS 3844b is located 48.6 light-years from Earth and has a radius 1.3 times that of Earth.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    It orbits a small, cool type of star called an M dwarf – especially noteworthy because, as the most common and long-lived type of star in the Milky Way galaxy, M dwarfs may host a high percentage of the total number of planets in the galaxy.

    TESS found the planet via the transit method, which involves detecting when the observed light of a parent star dims because of a planet orbiting between the star and Earth.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    Detecting light coming directly from a planet’s surface – another method – is difficult because the star is so much brighter and drowns out the planet’s light.

    But during follow-up observations, Spitzer was able to detect light from the surface of LHS 3844b.

    The planet makes one full revolution around its parent star in just 11 hours. With such a tight orbit, LHS 3844b is most likely “tidally locked,” which is when one side of a planet permanently faces the star. The star-facing side, or dayside, is about 1,410 degrees Fahrenheit (770 degrees Celsius). Being extremely hot, the planet radiates a lot of infrared light, and Spitzer is an infrared telescope. The planet’s parent star is relatively cool (though still much hotter than the planet), making direct observation of LHS 3844b’s dayside possible.

    This observation marks the first time Spitzer data have been able to provide information about the atmosphere of a terrestrial world around an M dwarf.

    The Search for Life

    By measuring the temperature difference between the planet’s hot and cold sides, the team found that there is a negligible amount of heat being transferred between the two. If an atmosphere were present, hot air on the dayside would naturally expand, generating winds that would transfer heat around the planet. On a rocky world with little to no atmosphere, like the Moon, there is no air present to transfer heat.

    “The temperature contrast on this planet is about as big as it can possibly be,” said Laura Kreidberg, a researcher at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the new study. “That matches beautifully with our model of a bare rock with no atmosphere.”

    Understanding the factors that could preserve or destroy planetary atmospheres is part of how scientists plan to search for habitable environments beyond our solar system. Earth’s atmosphere is the reason liquid water can exist on the surface, enabling life to thrive. On the other hand, the atmospheric pressure of Mars is now less than 1% of Earth’s, and the oceans and rivers that once dotted the Red Planet’s surface have disappeared.

    “We’ve got lots of theories about how planetary atmospheres fare around M dwarfs, but we haven’t been able to study them empirically,” Kreidberg said. “Now, with LHS 3844b, we have a terrestrial planet outside our solar system where for the first time we can determine observationally that an atmosphere is not present.”

    Compared to Sun-like stars, M dwarfs emit high levels of ultraviolet light (though less light overall), which is harmful to life and can erode a planet’s atmosphere. They’re particularly violent in their youth, belching up a large number of flares, or bursts of radiation and particles that could strip away budding planetary atmospheres.

    The Spitzer observations rule out an atmosphere with more than 10 times the pressure of Earth’s. (Measured in units called bars, Earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level is about 1 bar.) An atmosphere between 1 and 10 bars on LHS 3844b has been almost entirely ruled out as well, although the authors note there’s a slim chance it could exist if the stellar and planetary properties were to meet some very specific and unlikely criteria. They also argue that with the planet so close to a star, a thin atmosphere would be stripped away by the star’s intense radiation and outflow of material (often called stellar winds).

    “I’m still hopeful that other planets around M dwarfs could keep their atmospheres,” Kreidberg said. “The terrestrial planets in our solar system are enormously diverse, and I expect the same will be true for exoplanet systems.”

    A Bare Rock

    Spitzer and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have previously gathered information about the atmospheres of multiple gas planets, but LHS 3844b appears to be the smallest planet for which scientists have used the light coming from its surface to learn about its atmosphere (or lack thereof). Spitzer previously used the transit method to study the seven rocky worlds around the TRAPPIST-1 star (also an M dwarf) and learn about their possible overall composition; for instance, some of them likely contain water ice.

    A size comparison of the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, lined up in order of increasing distance from their host star. The planetary surfaces are portrayed with an artist’s impression of their potential surface features, including water, ice, and atmospheres. NASA

    The authors of the new study went one step further, using LHS 3844b’s surface albedo (or its reflectiveness) to try to infer its composition.

    The Nature study shows that LHS 3844b is “quite dark,” according to co-author Renyu Hu, an exoplanet scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. which manages the Spitzer Space Telescope. He and his co-authors believe the planet is covered with basalt, a kind of volcanic rock. “We know that the mare of the Moon are formed by ancient volcanism,” Hu said, “and we postulate that this might be what has happened on this planet.”

    JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

    http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA JPL Campus

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

     
  • richardmitnick 12:51 pm on August 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA's Spitzer Spies a Perfectly Sideways Galaxy", , , , , Galaxy NGC 5866, NASA Spitzer   

    From NASA Spitzer: “NASA’s Spitzer Spies a Perfectly Sideways Galaxy” 

    NASA Spitzer


    From NASA Spitzer

    August 7, 2019

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Galaxy NGC 5866 lies 44 million light-years from Earth and has a diameter of roughly 60,000 light-years – a little more than half the diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy. From our viewpoint, NGC 5866 is oriented almost exactly edge-on, yielding most of its structural features invisible. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope might look like a lightsaber floating in space, but it’s actually an entire galaxy viewed on its side.

    The long red beam in the center of the image is a galaxy called NGC 5866. It lies 44 million light-years from Earth and has a diameter of roughly 60,000 light-years – a little more than half the diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy. When we think of galaxies, we often imagine massive spiral arms or thick disks of dust. But not all galaxies are oriented face-on as viewed from Earth. From our viewpoint, we see only the edge of NGC 5866, so most of its structural features are invisible.

    Spitzer detects infrared light, and the red color here corresponds to an infrared wavelength typically emitted by dust. With a consistency similar to soot or thick smoke, the dust absorbs light from stars, then reemits light at longer wavelengths, including in infrared. (Materials used to make blacklight posters work via this same mechanism, by absorbing ultraviolet light and reemitting visible light.) The clean edges of the dust emission from NGC 5866 indicate that there is a very flat ring or disk of dust circling the outer region of the galaxy. Dust rings and disks sometimes form in the wake of galaxies merging, but this galaxy lacks any sign of twists or distortions in the ring that often appear as the result of a merger.

    Trying to learn about the history and shape of NGC 5866 is challenging due to its orientation. Our view of this galaxy is somewhat like our view of the Milky Way galaxy: Because Earth lies inside the Milky Way, we can see it only edge-on rather than face-on. But our proximity to the rest of the Milky Way has allowed astronomers to reconstruct what our galaxy would look like viewed face-on. Even the Sombrero galaxy, which is nearly edge-on as viewed from Earth, is tilted just enough to reveal a symmetric ring of dust around the galaxy’s center. If seen perfectly edge-on, the Sombrero might look a lot like NGC 5866.

    2
    Sombrero galaxy. NASA/ESA Hubble.

    Spitzer took this image during its “cold” mission, which ended in 2009. The colors represent three infrared wavelengths captured by the Infrared Array Camera instrument. Blue light corresponds to Spitzer’s observations at a wavelength of 3.6 microns, produced mainly by stars; green corresponds to 4.5 microns; and red corresponds to 8 microns. In this image, the blue haze is produced by stars that make up most of the mass of the galaxy.

    More information about Spitzer is available at the following site:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/spitzer/main/index.html

    A visible light image of NGC 5866 from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope at the following site:

    https://hubblesite.org/image/1933/gallery

    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 Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

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  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on July 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Atmosphere of Mid-Size Planet Revealed by Hubble and Spitzer", , , , , Mysterious World Is Unlike Anything Found in Our Solar System., , NASA Spitzer, One possible explanation is that the planet formed as a 10-Earth-mass rocky core that then accumulated hydrogen very close to its star rather than migrated in which is the conventional wisdom., Plamet GJ 3470 b, Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses GJ 3470 b is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “Atmosphere of Mid-Size Planet Revealed by Hubble and Spitzer” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    1

    Mysterious World Is Unlike Anything Found in Our Solar System.

    Our solar system contains two major classes of planets. Earth is a rocky terrestrial planet, as are Mercury, Venus, and Mars. At about the distance of the asteroid belt, there is a “frost line” where space is so cold more volatile material, like water, can remain frozen. Out here live the gas giants–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune–which have bulked up on hydrogen and helium and other volatiles.

    Astronomers are curious about a new class of planet not found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth, but less massive than Neptune (hence, intermediate between the rocky and gaseous planets in the Solar System). What’s more, the planet, GJ 3470 b, is so close to its red dwarf star that it completes one orbit in just three days! As odd as it seems, planets in this mass range are likely the most abundant throughout the galaxy, based on surveys by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. But they are not found in our own solar system.

    Astronomers enlisted the combined multi-wavelength capabilities of NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to assemble for the first time a “fingerprint” of the chemical composition of GJ 3470 b’s atmosphere, which turns out to be mostly hydrogen and helium, and surprisingly, largely lacking heavier elements. One possible explanation is that the planet formed as a 10-Earth-mass rocky core that then accumulated hydrogen very close to its star, rather than migrated in which is the conventional wisdom for star-hugging planets.

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

    Björn Benneke
    University of Montreal, Canada
    bbenneke@astro.umontreal.ca

    2
    About This Image

    Structure of Exoplanet GJ 3470 b

    This artist’s illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune. Unlike Neptune, which is 3 billion miles from the Sun, GJ 3470 b may have formed very close to its red dwarf star as a dry, rocky object. It then gravitationally pulled in hydrogen and helium gas from a circumstellar disk to build up a thick atmosphere. The disk dissipated many billions of years ago, and the planet stopped growing. The bottom illustration shows the disk as the system may have looked long ago. Observations by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have chemically analyzed the composition of GJ 3470 b’s very clear and deep atmosphere, yielding clues to the planet’s origin. Many planets of this mass exist in our galaxy.

    Two NASA space telescopes have teamed up to identify, for the first time, the detailed chemical “fingerprint” of a planet between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. No planets like this can be found in our own solar system, but they are common around other stars.

    The planet, Gliese 3470 b (also known as GJ 3470 b), may be a cross between Earth and Neptune, with a large rocky core buried under a deep crushing hydrogen and helium atmosphere. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses, the planet is more massive than Earth, but less massive than Neptune (which is more than 17 Earth masses).

    Many similar worlds have been discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, whose mission ended in 2018. In fact, 80% of the planets in our galaxy may fall into this mass range. However, astronomers have never been able to understand the chemical nature of such a planet until now, researchers say.

    By inventorying the contents of GJ 3470 b’s atmosphere, astronomers are able to uncover clues about the planet’s nature and origin.

    “This is a big discovery from the planet formation perspective. The planet orbits very close to the star and is far less massive than Jupiter—318 times Earth’s mass—but has managed to accrete the primordial hydrogen/helium atmosphere that is largely “unpolluted” by heavier elements,” said Björn Benneke of the University of Montreal, Canada. “We don’t have anything like this in the solar system, and that’s what makes it striking.”

    Astronomers enlisted the combined multi-wavelength capabilities NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to do a first-of-a-kind study of GJ 3470 b’s atmosphere.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    This was accomplished by measuring the absorption of starlight as the planet passed in front of its star (transit) and the loss of reflected light from the planet as it passed behind the star (eclipse).

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    All totaled, the space telescopes observed 12 transits and 20 eclipses. The science of analyzing chemical fingerprints based on light is called “spectroscopy.”

    “For the first time we have a spectroscopic signature of such a world,” said Benneke. But he is at a loss for classification: Should it be called a “super-Earth” or “sub-Neptune?” Or perhaps something else?

    Fortuitously, the atmosphere of GJ 3470 b turned out to be mostly clear, with only thin hazes, enabling the scientists to probe deep into the atmosphere.

    “We expected an atmosphere strongly enriched in heavier elements like oxygen and carbon which are forming abundant water vapor and methane gas, similar to what we see on Neptune”, said Benneke. “Instead, we found an atmosphere that is so poor in heavy elements that its composition resembles the hydrogen/helium rich composition of the Sun.”

    Other exoplanets called “hot Jupiters” are thought to form far from their stars, and over time migrate much closer. But this planet seems to have formed just where it is today, says Benneke.

    The most plausible explanation, according to Benneke, is that GJ 3470 b was born precariously close to its red dwarf star, which is about half the mass of our Sun. He hypothesizes that essentially it started out as a dry rock, and rapidly accreted hydrogen from a primordial disk of gas when its star was very young. The disk is called a “protoplanetary disk.”

    “We’re seeing an object that was able to accrete hydrogen from the protoplanetary disk, but didn’t runaway to become a hot Jupiter,” said Benneke. “This is an intriguing regime.”

    One explanation is that the disk dissipated before the planet could bulk up further. “The planet got stuck being a sub-Neptune,” said Benneke.

    See the full article here .


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    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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    AURA Icon

     
  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on June 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Whirlpool 'Warhol' from NASA's Spitzer Telescope", , , , , , NASA Spitzer   

    From JPL-Caltech: “A Whirlpool ‘Warhol’ from NASA’s Spitzer Telescope” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 26, 2019

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    This multipanel image show how different wavelengths of light can reveal different features of a cosmic object. On the left is a visible light image of the Whirlpool galaxy. The next image combines visible and infrared light, while the two on the right show different wavelengths of infrared light. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Unlike Andy Warhol’s famous silkscreen grids of repeating images rendered in different colors, the varying hues of this galaxy represent how its appearance changes in different wavelengths of light – from visible light to the infrared light seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

    The Whirlpool galaxy, also known as Messier 51 and NGC 5194/5195, is actually a pair of galaxies that are tugging and distorting each other through their mutual gravitational attraction. Located approximately 23 million light-years away, it resides in the constellation Canes Venatici.

    The leftmost panel (a) shows the Whirlpool in visible light, much as our eye might see it through a powerful telescope. In fact, this image comes from the Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1-meter (6.8-foot) telescope. The spiraling arms are laced with dark threads of dust that radiate little visible light and obscure stars positioned within or behind them.

    Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1-meter telescope interior

    Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1 Meter Telescope Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    The second panel from the left (b) includes two visible-light wavelengths (in blue and green) from Kitt Peak but adds Spitzer’s infrared data in red. This emphasizes how the dark dust veins that block our view in visible light begin to light up at these longer, infrared wavelengths.

    Spitzer’s full infrared view can be seen in the right two panels, which cover slightly different ranges of infrared light.

    In the middle-right panel (c), we see three wavelengths of infrared light: 3.6 microns (shown in blue), 4.5 microns (green) and 8 microns (red). The blended light from the billions of stars in the Whirlpool is brightest at the shorter infrared wavelengths and is seen here as a blue haze. The individual blue dots across the image are mostly nearby stars and a few distant galaxies. Red features show us dust composed mostly of carbon that is lit up by the stars in the galaxy.

    This glowing dust helps astronomers see where the densest areas of gas pile up in the spaces between the stars. Dense gas clouds are difficult to see in visible or infrared light, but they will always be present where there is dust.

    The far-right panel (d) expands our infrared view to include light at a wavelength of 24 microns (in red), which is particularly good for highlighting areas where the dust is especially hot. The bright reddish-white spots trace regions where new stars are forming and, in the process, heating their surroundings.

    The infrared views of the Whirlpool galaxy also show how dramatically different its two component parts are: The smaller companion galaxy at the top of the image has been stripped nearly clean of dust features that stand out so brilliantly in the lower spiral galaxy. The faint bluish haze seen around the upper galaxy is likely the blended light from stars thrown out of the galaxies as these two objects pull at each other during their close approach.

    The Kitt Peak visible-light image (a) shows light at 0.4 and 0.7 microns (blue and red). The rightmost two images (c and d) are from Spitzer with red, green and blue corresponding to wavelengths of 3.6, 4.5 and 8.0 microns (middle right) and 3.6, 8.0 and 24 microns (far right). The middle-left (b) image blends visible wavelengths (blue/green) and infrared (yellow/red). All of the data shown here were released as part of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS) project, captured during Spitzer’s cryogenic and warm missions.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 5:15 pm on June 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How NASA's Spitzer Has Stayed Alive for So Long", , , , , NASA Spitzer   

    From NASA Spitzer: “How NASA’s Spitzer Has Stayed Alive for So Long” 

    NASA Spitzer


    From NASA Spitzer

    June 13, 2019
    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    After nearly 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope will be switched off permanently on Jan. 30, 2020. By then, the spacecraft will have operated for more than 11 years beyond its prime mission, thanks to the Spitzer engineering team’s ability to address unique challenges as the telescope slips farther and farther from Earth.

    Managed and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Spitzer is a small but transformational observatory. It captures infrared light, which is often emitted by “warm” objects that aren’t quite hot enough to radiate visible light. Spitzer has lifted the veil on hidden objects in nearly every corner of the universe, from a new ring around Saturn to observations of some of the most distant galaxies known. It has spied stars in every stage of life, mapped our home galaxy, captured gorgeous images of nebulas and probed newly discovered planets orbiting distant stars.

    But as Spitzer’s deputy mission manager, Joseph Hunt, said, “You can have a world-class spacecraft, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get the data back home.”

    Spitzer orbits the Sun on a path similar to Earth’s but moves slightly slower. Today it trails about 158 million miles (254 million kilometers) behind our planet – more than 600 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. That distance, along with the curve of Spitzer’s orbit, means that when the spacecraft points its fixed antenna at Earth to download data or receive commands, its solar panels tilt away from the Sun. During those periods, the spacecraft must rely on a combination of solar power and battery power to operate.

    The angle at which the panels point away from the Sun has increased every year that the mission has been operating. These days, to communicate with Earth, Spitzer has to position its panels at a 53-degree angle away from the Sun (90 degrees would be fully facing away), even though the mission planners never intended for it to tilt more than 30 degrees from the Sun. Spitzer can communicate with Earth for about 2.5 hours before it has to turn its solar panels back toward the Sun to recharge its batteries. That communications window would grow shorter year after year if Spitzer continued operating, which means there is a limit to how long it would be possible to operate the spacecraft efficiently.

    An Enduring Effort

    Teaching the spacecraft to accept new conditions – such as the increasing angle of the solar panels during communications with Earth – isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. There are multiple ways these changes could trigger safety mechanisms in the spacecraft’s flight software. For instance, if the panels tilted more than 30 degrees from the Sun during the mission’s early years, the software would have hit “pause,” putting the spacecraft into “safe mode” until the mission team could figure out what was wrong. The changing angle of Spitzer to the Sun could also trigger safety mechanisms intended to prevent spacecraft parts from overheating.

    Entering safe mode can be particularly hazardous for the spacecraft, both because of its growing distance from Earth (which makes communicating more difficult) and because the aging onboard systems might not restart once they shut off.

    To deal with these challenges, the project engineers and scientists at JPL and Caltech have worked with the observatory engineering team at Lockheed Martin Space’s Littleton, Colorado, facility to find a path forward. (Lockheed Martin built the Spitzer spacecraft for NASA.) Bolinda Kahr, Spitzer’s mission manager, leads this multi-center team. Over the years she and her colleagues have successfully figured out how to override safety mechanisms designed for the prime mission while also making sure that such alterations don’t introduce other unwanted side effects.

    But as Spitzer ages and gets farther from Earth, the challenge of keeping the spacecraft operating and the risk that it will suffer a major anomaly are only increasing.

    “I can genuinely say that no one involved in the mission planning thought we’d be running in 2019,” said Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, Spitzer’s project manager. “But we have an incredibly robust spacecraft and an incredible team. And we’ve been lucky. You have to have some luck, because you can’t anticipate everything.”

    Keeping Cool

    Most infrared detectors have to be cooled to very low temperatures, because excess infrared light from “warm” objects – including the Sun, Earth, the spacecraft and even the instruments themselves – can overwhelm the infrared sensors. This cooling is typically done with a chemical coolant.

    The Spitzer planners instead came up with a passive-cooling system that included flying the spacecraft far from Earth (a major infrared heat source). They also chose materials for the spacecraft exterior that would both reflect sunlight away before it could heat the telescope and radiate absorbed heat back into space. In this configuration, coolant is required only to lower the instrument temperatures a few degrees further. Reducing the onboard coolant supply also drastically allowed the engineers to cut the total size of the spacecraft by more than 80% and helped curtail the anticipated mission budget by more than 75%.

    Although Spitzer’s coolant supply ran out in 2009, rendering two of its three instruments unusable, the team was able to keep half of the remaining instrument operating. (The instrument was designed to detect four wavelengths of infrared light; in the “warm” mode, it can still detect two of them.)

    Lasting more than twice as long as the primary mission, Spitzer’s extended mission has yielded some of the observatory’s most transformational results. In 2017, the telescope revealed the presence of seven rocky planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star. In many cases, Spitzer’s exoplanet observations were combined with observations by other missions, including NASA’s Kepler and Hubble space telescopes.

    Spitzer’s final year and a half of science operations include a number of exoplanet-related investigations. One program will investigate 15 dwarf stars (similar to the TRAPPIST-1 star) likely to host exoplanets. An additional 650 hours are dedicated to follow-up observations of planets discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched just over a year ago.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    Final Voyage

    Every mission must end at some point. As the challenges associated with operating Spitzer continue to grow and as the risk of a mission-ending anomaly on the spacecraft rises, NASA has made the decision to close out the mission in a controlled manner.

    “There have been times when the Spitzer mission could have ended in a way we didn’t plan for,” said Kahr. “I’m glad that in January we’ll be able to retire the spacecraft deliberately, the way we want to do it.”

    While Spitzer’s mission is ending, it has helped set the stage for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, which will study the universe in many of the same wavelengths observed by Spitzer.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Webb’s primary mirror is about 7.5 times larger than Spitzer’s mirror, meaning Webb will be able to study many of the same targets in much higher resolution and objects much farther away from Earth than what Spitzer can observe.

    3

    Thirteen science programs have already been selected for Webb’s first five months of operations, four of which build directly on Spitzer observations. Webb will greatly expand on the legacy begun by Spitzer and answer questions that Spitzer has only begun to investigate.

    JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

    http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    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 Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

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    NASA JPL Icon

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  • richardmitnick 12:28 pm on May 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA's Spitzer Captures Stellar Family Portrait", , , , , NASA Spitzer   

    From NASA Spitzer: “NASA’s Spitzer Captures Stellar Family Portrait” 

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope


    From NASA Spitzer

    May 30, 2019
    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    A mosaic by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of the Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. This image combines data from Spitzer’s IRAC and MIPS instruments. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    An annotated mosaic by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of the Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. This image combines data from Spitzer’s IRAC and MIPS instruments. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Full image and caption

    In this large celestial mosaic taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, there’s a lot to see, including multiple clusters of stars born from the same dense clumps of gas and dust. Some of these clusters are older than others and more evolved, making this a generational stellar portrait.

    The grand green-and-orange delta filling most of the image is a faraway nebula, or a cloud of gas and dust in space. Though the cloud may appear to flow from the bright white spot at its tip, it is actually what remains of a much larger cloud that has been carved away by radiation from stars. The bright region is illuminated by massive stars, belonging to a cluster that extends above the white spot. The white color is the combination of four colors (blue, green, orange and red), each representing a different wavelength of infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes. Dust that has been heated by the stars’ radiation creates the surrounding red glow.

    On the left side of this image, a dark filament runs horizontally through the green cloud. A smattering of baby stars (the red and yellow dots) appear inside it. Known as Cepheus C, the area is a particularly dense concentration of gas and dust where infant stars form. The dark vein of material will eventually be dispersed by strong winds produced as the stars get older, as well as when they eventually explode and die. This will create an illuminated puffed-up region that will look similar to the bright red-and-white region on the large nebula’s upper-right side. The region is called Cepheus C because it lies in the constellation Cepheus, which can be found near the constellation Cassiopeia. Cepheus C is about 6 light-years long and lies about 40 light-years from the bright spot at the tip of the nebula.

    A second large nebula can be seen on the right side of the image, with a star cluster located just above it. Known as Cepheus B, the cluster sits within a few thousand light-years of our Sun. A study of this region using Spitzer data [ The Astrophyical Journal ] found that the dramatic collection is about 4 million to 5 million years old – slightly older than those in Cepheus C.

    In that way, the mosaic is a veritable family portrait, featuring infants, parents and grandparents of star-forming regions: Stars form in dense clouds of material, like the dark vein that makes up Cepheus C. As the stars grow, they produce winds that blow the gas and dust outward, to form beautiful, illuminated nebulas like the bright white spot at the top of the larger nebula. Finally, the dust and gas disperse, and the star clusters stand alone in space, as with Cepheus B.

    Other Sights to See

    The amazing features in this image don’t end there.

    4
    Annotated image of the Cepheus B and Cepheus C regions by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, using data from the IRAC instrument. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Look closely for the small, red hourglass shape just below Cepheus C. This is V374 Ceph. Astronomers studying this massive star have speculated that it might be surrounded by a nearly edge-on disk of dark, dusty material. The dark cones extending to the right and left of the star are a shadow of that disk.

    The smaller nebula on the right side of the image includes two particularly interesting objects. In the upper-left portion of the nebula, try to find a blue star crowned by a small, red arc of light. This “runaway star” is plowing through the gas and dust at a rapid clip, creating a shock wave, or “bow shock,” in front of itself.

    Also hidden within this second nebula, a small cluster of newborn stars illuminates the dense cloud of gas and dust where they formed. This region is more obvious in the image below, which uses data from just one of Spitzer’s instruments. (The top image includes data from two instruments.) In the image below, this feature appears as a bright teal splash.

    The two-instrument image was compiled using data from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) during Spitzer’s “cold” mission, before the spacecraft’s liquid helium coolant ran out in 2009. The colors correspond with IRAC wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (cyan), 8 microns (green) and MIPS at 24 microns (red).

    The one-instrument image shows data from IRAC only, with colors corresponding to wavelengths of 3.6, 4.5, 5.8 and 8.0 ?m (shown as blue, green, orange and red).

    In 2017 and 2016, high school students and teachers contributed to our understanding of the Cepheus C star-forming region. As part of NITARP (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program), the students and teachers combed through Spitzer data to identify the presence of young stellar objects. Over two years and with the guidance of astronomer Luisa Rebull of IPAC at Caltech, the students and teachers identified more than 100 such objects that hadn’t been identified in previous studies. Educators interested in participating in NITARP should visit the program website.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    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 Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

    NASA image

    NASA JPL Icon

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Clues About How Ancient Galaxies Lit up the Universe", , , , , , , NASA Spitzer, Observations came from the GREATS survey short for GOODS Re-ionization Era wide-Area Treasury from Spitzer.   

    From JPL-Caltech: “New Clues About How Ancient Galaxies Lit up the Universe” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    May 8, 2019
    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    This deep-field view of the sky, taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is dominated by galaxies – including some very faint, very distant ones – circled in red. The bottom right inset shows one of those distant galaxies, made visible thanks to a long-duration observation by Spitzer. The wide-field view also includes data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The Spitzer observations came from the GREATS survey, short for GOODS Re-ionization Era wide-Area Treasury from Spitzer. GOODS is itself an acronym: Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey.

    NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that some of the universe’s earliest galaxies were brighter than expected. The excess light is a byproduct of the galaxies releasing incredibly high amounts of ionizing radiation. The finding offers clues to the cause of the Epoch of Reionization, a major cosmic event that transformed the universe from being mostly opaque to the brilliant starscape seen today.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    In a new study [MNRAS], researchers report on observations of some of the first galaxies to form in the universe, less than 1 billion years after the big bang (or a little more than 13 billion years ago). The data show that in a few specific wavelengths of infrared light, the galaxies are considerably brighter than scientists anticipated. The study is the first to confirm this phenomenon for a large sampling of galaxies from this period, showing that these were not special cases of excessive brightness, but that even average galaxies present at that time were much brighter in these wavelengths than galaxies we see today.

    No one knows for sure when the first stars in our universe burst to life. But evidence suggests that between about 100 million and 200 million years after the big bang, the universe was filled mostly with neutral hydrogen gas that had perhaps just begun to coalesce into stars, which then began to form the first galaxies. By about 1 billion years after the big bang, the universe had become a sparkling firmament. Something else had changed, too: Electrons of the omnipresent neutral hydrogen gas had been stripped away in a process known as ionization. The Epoch of Reionization – the changeover from a universe full of neutral hydrogen to one filled with ionized hydrogen – is well documented.

    Before this universe-wide transformation, long-wavelength forms of light, such as radio waves and visible light, traversed the universe more or less unencumbered. But shorter wavelengths of light – including ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays – were stopped short by neutral hydrogen atoms. These collisions would strip the neutral hydrogen atoms of their electrons, ionizing them.

    But what could have possibly produced enough ionizing radiation to affect all the hydrogen in the universe? Was it individual stars? Giant galaxies? If either were the culprit, those early cosmic colonizers would have been different than most modern stars and galaxies, which typically don’t release high amounts of ionizing radiation. Then again, perhaps something else entirely caused the event, such as quasars – galaxies with incredibly bright centers powered by huge amounts of material orbiting supermassive black holes.

    “It’s one of the biggest open questions in observational cosmology,” said Stephane De Barros, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. “We know it happened, but what caused it? These new findings could be a big clue.”

    Looking for Light

    To peer back in time to the era just before the Epoch of Reionization ended, Spitzer stared at two regions of the sky for more than 200 hours each, allowing the space telescope to collect light that had traveled for more than 13 billion years to reach us.

    Reionization era and first stars, Caltech

    As some of the longest science observations ever carried out by Spitzer, they were part of an observing campaign called GREATS, short for GOODS Re-ionization Era wide-Area Treasury from Spitzer. GOODS (itself an acronym: Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) is another campaign that performed the first observations of some GREATS targets. The study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, also used archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

    Using these ultra-deep observations by Spitzer, the team of astronomers observed 135 distant galaxies and found that they were all particularly bright in two specific wavelengths of infrared light produced by ionizing radiation interacting with hydrogen and oxygen gases within the galaxies. This implies that these galaxies were dominated by young, massive stars composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. They contain very small amounts of “heavy” elements (like nitrogen, carbon and oxygen) compared to stars found in average modern galaxies.

    These stars were not the first stars to form in the universe (those would have been composed of hydrogen and helium only) but were still members of a very early generation of stars. The Epoch of Reionization wasn’t an instantaneous event, so while the new results are not enough to close the book on this cosmic event, they do provide new details about how the universe evolved at this time and how the transition played out.

    “We did not expect that Spitzer, with a mirror no larger than a Hula-Hoop, would be capable of seeing galaxies so close to the dawn of time,” said Michael Werner, Spitzer’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But nature is full of surprises, and the unexpected brightness of these early galaxies, together with Spitzer’s superb performance, puts them within range of our small but powerful observatory.”

    NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, will study the universe in many of the same wavelengths observed by Spitzer. But where Spitzer’s primary mirror is only 85 centimeters (33.4 inches) in diameter, Webb’s is 6.5 meters (21 feet) – about 7.5 times larger – enabling Webb to study these galaxies in far greater detail. In fact, Webb will try to detect light from the first stars and galaxies in the universe. The new study shows that due to their brightness in those infrared wavelengths, the galaxies observed by Spitzer will be easier for Webb to study than previously thought.

    “These results by Spitzer are certainly another step in solving the mystery of cosmic reionization,” said Pascal Oesch, an assistant professor at the University of Geneva and a co-author on the study. “We now know that the physical conditions in these early galaxies were very different than in typical galaxies today. It will be the job of the James Webb Space Telescope to work out the detailed reasons why.”

    JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:38 am on May 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA Spitzer   

    From JPL-Caltech: “The Giant Galaxy Around the Giant Black Hole” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    1

    The galaxy Messier 87, imaged here by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is home to a supermassive black hole that spews two jets of material out into space at nearly the speed of light. The inset shows a close-up view of the shockwaves created by the two jets.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    On April 10, 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole’s event horizon, the area beyond which light cannot escape the immense gravity of the black hole.

    The first image of a black hole, Messier 87 Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via NSF and ERC 4.10.19

    That giant black hole, with a mass of 6.5 billion Suns, is located in the elliptical galaxy Messier 87. EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

    This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the entire M87 galaxy in infrared light. The EHT image, by contrast, relied on light in radio wavelengths and showed the black hole’s shadow against the backdrop of high-energy material around it.

    EHT map

    Located about 55 million light-years from Earth, Messier 87 has been a subject of astronomical study for more than 100 years and has been imaged by many NASA observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    NASA/DTU/ASI NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    In 1918, astronomer Heber Curtis first noticed “a curious straight ray” extending from the galaxy’s center. This bright jet of high-energy material, produced by a disk of material spinning rapidly around the black hole, is visible in multiple wavelengths of light, from radio waves through X-rays. When the particles in the jet impact the interstellar medium (the sparse material filling the space between stars in M87), they create a shockwave that radiates in infrared and radio wavelengths of light but not visible light. In the Spitzer image, the shockwave is more prominent than the jet itself.

    The brighter jet, located to the right of the galaxy’s center, is traveling almost directly toward Earth. Its brightness is amplified due to its high speed in our direction, but even more so because of what scientists call “relativistic effects,” which arise because the material in the jet is traveling near the speed of light. The jet’s trajectory is just slightly offset from our line of sight with respect to the galaxy, so we can still see some of the length of the jet. The shockwave begins around the point where the jet appears to curve down, highlighting the regions where the fast-moving particles are colliding with gas in the galaxy and slowing down.

    The second jet, by contrast, is moving so rapidly away from us that the relativistic effects render it invisible at all wavelengths. But the shockwave it creates in the interstellar medium can still be seen here.

    Located on the left side of the galaxy’s center, the shockwave looks like an inverted letter “C.” While not visible in optical images, the lobe can also be seen in radio waves, as in this image from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array.

    Close-up from VLA of a jet near black hole in Messier 87

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    By combining observations in the infrared, radio waves, visible light, X-rays and extremely energetic gamma rays, scientists can study the physics of these powerful jets. Scientists are still striving for a solid theoretical understanding of how gas being pulled into black holes creates outflowing jets.

    Infrared light at wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns are rendered in blue and green, showing the distribution of stars, while dust features that glow brightly at 8.0 microns are shown in red. The image was taken during Spitzer’s initial “cold” mission.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech.

    More information on Spitzer can be found at its website: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:46 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Spitzer,   

    From NASA Spitzer: “The Giant Galaxy Around the Giant Black Hole” 

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope


    From NASA Spitzer

    04.25.19

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    A composite image showing the galaxy Messier 87 and, in inset, the particle jets emerging from the black hole at its heart. NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC/Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images.

    On April 10, 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole’s event horizon, the area beyond which light cannot escape the immense gravity of the black hole. That giant black hole, with a mass of 6.5 billion Suns, is located in the elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

    This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the entire Messier 87 galaxy in infrared light. The EHT image, by contrast, relied on light in radio wavelengths and showed the black hole’s shadow against the backdrop of high-energy material around it.

    EHT map

    Located about 55 million light-years from Earth, M87 has been a subject of astronomical study for more than 100 years and has been imaged by many NASA observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    NASA/DTU/ASI NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    In 1918, astronomer Heber Curtis first noticed “a curious straight ray” extending from the galaxy’s center. This bright jet of high-energy material, produced by a disk of material spinning rapidly around the black hole, is visible in multiple wavelengths of light, from radio waves through X-rays. When the particles in the jet impact the interstellar medium (the sparse material filling the space between stars in M87), they create a shockwave that radiates in infrared and radio wavelengths of light but not visible light. In the Spitzer image, the shockwave is more prominent than the jet itself.

    The brighter jet, located to the right of the galaxy’s center, is traveling almost directly toward Earth. Its brightness is amplified due to its high speed in our direction, but even more so because of what scientists call “relativistic effects,” which arise because the material in the jet is traveling near the speed of light. The jet’s trajectory is just slightly offset from our line of sight with respect to the galaxy, so we can still see some of the length of the jet. The shockwave begins around the point where the jet appears to curve down, highlighting the regions where the fast-moving particles are colliding with gas in the galaxy and slowing down.

    The second jet, by contrast, is moving so rapidly away from us that the relativistic effects render it invisible at all wavelengths. But the shockwave it creates in the interstellar medium can still be seen here.

    Located on the left side of the galaxy’s center, the shockwave looks like an inverted letter “C.” While not visible in optical images, the lobe can also be seen in radio waves, as in this image from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    By combining observations in the infrared, radio waves, visible light, X-rays and extremely energetic gamma rays, scientists can study the physics of these powerful jets. Scientists are still striving for a solid theoretical understanding of how gas being pulled into black holes creates outflowing jets.

    Infrared light at wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns are rendered in blue and green, showing the distribution of stars, while dust features that glow brightly at 8.0 microns are shown in red. The image was taken during Spitzer’s initial “cold” mission.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

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