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  • richardmitnick 9:06 am on May 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Galaxy 318-13, , NASA/ESA Hubble   

    From Manu: “A galaxy resplendent, a view of the galaxy 318-13” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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

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    Glitter galaxy — An edge-on view of the ESO 318-13 galaxy, NASA/ESA Hubble

    The Waterfall of bright stars through the middle of this picture is the galaxy that 318-13 as noted by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope at. Despite being located to millions of light years from earth, the stars captured in this image are so bright and clear that one could almost try to count them.

    Although that 318-13 is the main event in this picture, there is sandwich between a large collection of bright celestial objects. Several stars near and far dazzle in comparison with the polished pulverized contained within the galaxy. One that stands out in particular is located near the center of the image, and resembles a extremely bright star located within the galaxy. This is, however, a trick of perspective. The Star is located in the Milky Way, our own galaxy, and shines so brightly because it’s much closer to us than the galaxy that 318-13.

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt

    There are also a number of brilliant record small scattered the framework which are most distant galaxies. In the upper right corner, an elliptical galaxy can be seen clearly, a galaxy that is much bigger but more distant than that 318-13. What’s more interesting, see through that 318-13, near the right edge of The image, is a spiral galaxy distant.

    Galaxies are composed largely of empty space, the stars inside them only occupy a small volume, and provide a galaxy is not too dusty, can be largely transparent to the light coming from the bottom. This makes the overlapping galaxies as they are fairly common. A particularly dramatic example of this phenomenon is the pair of galaxies NGC 3314.

    Credit:
    Esa / Hubble & NASA

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on May 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA Hubble, tar V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon)   

    From Manu Garcia: ” the light is still resonating three years after a starburst, v838 mon” 

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    The last image from the hubble space telescope at NASA / Esa Estrela V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) reveals dramatic changes in the lighting cloud structures surrounding dusty. The effect, called light echo has been revealing, dust pattern never seen before since the star lit up suddenly for several weeks in early 2002.

    The Illumination of the interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star in the center of the image, which issued a pulse of light three years ago, something similar to the launch of a lightbulb in a dark room. The dust surrounding v838 mon may have been expelled from the star during a previous explosion, similar to the event of 2002.

    The Echo of light through space is similar to the sound echoing through the air. As the light of the stellar explosion continues to spread outwards, they light up different parts of the dust, the same way that an echo sound bounces of objects around the fountain, and later objects farther away from the source. Eventually, when the light from the back of the nebula starts to arrive, the echo of the light will give the illusion of contract, and finally disappear.

    V838 Mon is located about 20.000 light-years from earth in the direction of the constellation monoceros, placing the star on the outer edge of our galaxy of the milky way. The Hubble Telescope has visualized v838 mon and his light echo several times since the outbreak of the star. Every time the hubble gazes at the event, they look different thin sections of dust when the pulse of enlightenment is continuing to spread away from the star at the speed of light, producing a constantly changing appearance. During the outbreak whose light came to earth in 2002, the star normally weak suddenly brightened up, becoming 600.000 times brighter than our sun.

    Progress of the star and dusty structure around it.

    The last image from the hubble space telescope of the Star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) reveals dramatic changes in the lighting cloud structures surrounding dusty. The effect, called light echo has been revealing, dust pattern never seen before since the star lit up suddenly for several weeks in early 2002.

    The new image of v838 mon, taken in October 2004 with Hubble’s advanced camera for surveys, prepared from images obtained through filters that insulate light blue, green and infrared. These images have been combined to produce a full color image that approximates the true colors of the echo of the light and the red star very near downtown.

    Photo Credit:
    NASA, esa, and the team of Hubble’s inheritance (Stsci / Aura)

    Visit My blog:
    http://eluniversodemanu.blogspot.com.es

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  • richardmitnick 1:46 pm on May 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NASA/ESA Hubble, NYPR, Paola Prestini, The Hubble Contata   

    From NYPR: “The Shimmering Nebulae of Paola Prestini’s ‘Hubble Cantata'” 

    Q2 is the 24/7 New Music Stream from New York Public Radio

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    May 15, 2017
    Daniel Stephen Johnson

    4
    Paola Prestini

    Paola Prestini is more than a composer. Co-founder of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA) and its recording offshoot VIA Records, her latest institutional triumph is National Sawdust, the audiophile listening venue in Williamsburg that instantly became Brooklyn’s not-just-classical hotspot.

    And her new VIA Records release, The Hubble Cantata, is a more than a piece of music. It is a new kind of collaboration: a nexus of art and science.

    3
    Mario Livio answering questions from the crowd after speaking about his new book Brilliant Blunders on the National Mall in Washington DC at the 2013 National Book Festival. Livio spoke from 12:00pm-12:45 pm in the Contemporary Life pavilion.
    Date 22 September 2013, 12:39:46
    Source Own work
    Author Jason Quinn

    On the scientific side, the piece features spoken narration by astrophysicist Mario Livio, exploring the place of Earth and its passengers among the stars and generally asking the Big Questions provoked by our view of the heavens. A stereo recording, unfortunately, cannot fully convey the 3D virtual reality sound – designed by Arup, the same firm that created the acoustics of National Sawdust and, among other high-profile projects, New York’s new Second Avenue Subway – that accompany live performances of the work, but vestiges of the experience remain in the atmospheric electronic elements of the score.

    And the project’s other collaborators are no less – and there is no other word for them – stellar. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek, the wordsmith behind the 21st-century’s most acclaimed American operas (Breaking the Waves, Dog Days), and soprano Jessica Rivera’s passionate solos transmute the scientific stuff of the text into pure theater. Baritone Nathan Gunn’s voice reminds you why he is one of opera’s biggest names, and Julian Wachner steers not only his own Washington Chorus and Novus NY but also the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Norwegian string ensemble 1B1 through Prestini’s shimmering nebulae of sound.

    For a piece that explicitly takes as its subject the seeming insignificance of mankind against the sublime and infinite expanses of outer space, The Hubble Cantata’s focus is very much on the human. This studio recording is not awash in reverb but as raw and clear as a live recording, allowing us to hear the minutest details of these terrestrial voices as they lead us on a voyage through the stars.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:40 pm on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , “Warm Neptune” HAT-P-26b, , , , NASA/ESA Hubble   

    From Goddard: “NASA Study Finds Unexpectedly Primitive Atmosphere Around ‘Warm Neptune’ “ 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    May 11, 2017
    Elizabeth Zubritsky
    elizabeth.a.zubritsky@nasa.gov
    Nancy Neal-Jones
    nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Elizabeth Landau
    elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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    The atmosphere of the distant “warm Neptune” HAT-P-26b, illustrated here, is unexpectedly primitive, composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. By combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, researchers determined that, unlike Neptune and Uranus, the exoplanet has relatively low metallicity, an indication of the how rich the planet is in all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.
    Credits: NASA/GSFC

    A study [Science]combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes reveals that the distant planet HAT-P-26b has a primitive atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope

    Located about 437 light years away, HAT-P-26b orbits a star roughly twice as old as the sun.

    2
    http://www.vladtime.ru/nauka/464041

    The analysis is one of the most detailed studies to date of a “warm Neptune,” or a planet that is Neptune-sized and close to its star. The researchers determined that HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere is relatively clear of clouds and has a strong water signature, although the planet is not a water world. This is the best measurement of water to date on an exoplanet of this size.

    The discovery of an atmosphere with this composition on this exoplanet has implications for how scientists think about the birth and development of planetary systems. Compared to Neptune and Uranus, the planets in our solar system with about the same mass, HAT-P-26b likely formed either closer to its host star or later in the development of its planetary system, or both.

    “Astronomers have just begun to investigate the atmospheres of these distant Neptune-mass planets, and almost right away, we found an example that goes against the trend in our solar system,” said Hannah Wakeford, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published in the May 12, 2017, issue of Science. “This kind of unexpected result is why I really love exploring the atmospheres of alien planets.”

    To study HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere, the researchers used data from transits— occasions when the planet passed in front of its host star. During a transit, a fraction of the starlight gets filtered through the planet’s atmosphere, which absorbs some wavelengths of light but not others. By looking at how the signatures of the starlight change as a result of this filtering, researchers can work backward to figure out the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

    In this case, the team pooled data from four transits measured by Hubble and two seen by Spitzer. Together, those observations covered a wide range of wavelengths from yellow light through the near-infrared region.

    “To have so much information about a warm Neptune is still rare, so analyzing these data sets simultaneously is an achievement in and of itself,” said co-author Tiffany Kataria of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    Because the study provided a precise measurement of water, the researchers were able to use the water signature to estimate HAT-P-26b’s metallicity. Astronomers calculate the metallicity, an indication of how rich the planet is in all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, because it gives them clues about how a planet formed.

    To compare planets by their metallicities, scientists use the sun as a point of reference, almost like describing how much caffeine beverages have by comparing them to a cup of coffee. Jupiter has a metallicity about 2 to 5 times that of the sun. For Saturn, it’s about 10 times as much as the sun. These relatively low values mean that the two gas giants are made almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.

    The ice giants Neptune and Uranus are smaller than the gas giants but richer in the heavier elements, with metallicities of about 100 times that of the sun. So, for the four outer planets in our solar system, the trend is that the metallicities are lower for the bigger planets.

    Scientists think this happened because, as the solar system was taking shape, Neptune and Uranus formed in a region toward the outskirts of the enormous disk of dust, gas and debris that swirled around the immature sun. Summing up the complicated process of planetary formation in a nutshell: Neptune and Uranus would have been bombarded with a lot of icy debris that was rich in heavier elements. Jupiter and Saturn, which formed in a warmer part of the disk, would have encountered less of the icy debris.

    Two planets beyond our solar system also fit this trend. One is the Neptune-mass planet HAT-P-11b. The other is WASP-43b, a gas giant twice as massive as Jupiter.

    But Wakeford and her colleagues found that HAT-P-26b bucks the trend. They determined its metallicity is only about 4.8 times that of the sun, much closer to the value for Jupiter than for Neptune.

    “This analysis shows that there is a lot more diversity in the atmospheres of these exoplanets than we were expecting, which is providing insight into how planets can form and evolve differently than in our solar system,” said David K. Sing of the University of Exeter and the second author of the paper. “I would say that has been a theme in the studies of exoplanets: Researchers keep finding surprising diversity.”

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

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

    For more information about Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

    For images and more information about Hubble, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    See the full article here.

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

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


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 5:59 pm on May 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA/ESA Hubble, Observatories Combine to Crack Open the Crab Nebula   

    From Hubble: “Observatories Combine to Crack Open the Crab Nebula” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    May 10, 2017
    Ray Villard
    villard@stsci.edu
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

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

    Dave Finley
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro, New Mexico
    575-835-7302
    dfinley@nrao.edu

    Megan Watzke
    Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    617-496-7998
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

    Gloria Dubner
    IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    011-54-11-5285-7802
    gdubner@iafe.uba.ar

    Elizabeth Landau
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
    818-354-6425
    Elizabeth.R.Landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    Astronomers have produced a highly detailed image of the Crab Nebula, by combining data from telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves seen by the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to the powerful X-ray glow as seen by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory.

    NRAO/VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    And, in between that range of wavelengths, the Hubble Space Telescope’s crisp visible-light view, and the infrared perspective of the

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope

    .


    This video starts with a composite image of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant that was assembled by combining data from five telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum: the Very Large Array, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The video dissolves to the red-colored radio-light view that shows how a neutron star’s fierce “wind” of charged particles from the central neutron star energized the nebula, causing it to emit the radio waves. The yellow-colored infrared image includes the glow of dust particles absorbing ultraviolet and visible light. The green-colored Hubble visible-light image offers a very sharp view of hot filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. The blue-colored ultraviolet image and the purple-colored X-ray image shows the effect of an energetic cloud of electrons driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star at the center of the nebula. Credits: NASA, ESA, J. DePasquale (STScI)

    The Crab Nebula, the result of a bright supernova explosion seen by Chinese and other astronomers in the year 1054, is 6,500 light-years from Earth. At its center is a super-dense neutron star, rotating once every 33 milliseconds, shooting out rotating lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and light — a pulsar (the bright dot at image center). The nebula’s intricate shape is caused by a complex interplay of the pulsar, a fast-moving wind of particles coming from the pulsar, and material originally ejected by the supernova explosion and by the star itself before the explosion.

    This image combines data from five different telescopes: The VLA (radio) in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) in purple.

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    This composite image of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant, was assembled by combining data from five telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum: the Very Large Array, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
    Credits: NASA, ESA, NRAO/AUI/NSF and G. Dubner (University of Buenos Aires)

    The new VLA, Hubble and Chandra observations all were made at nearly the same time in November of 2012. A team of scientists led by Gloria Dubner of the Institute of Astronomy and Physics (IAFE), the National Council of Scientific Research (CONICET) and the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina then made a thorough analysis of the newly revealed details in a quest to gain new insights into the complex physics of the object. They are reporting their findings in the Astrophysical Journal.

    “Comparing these new images, made at different wavelengths, is providing us with a wealth of new detail about the Crab Nebula. Though the Crab has been studied extensively for years, we still have much to learn about it,” Dubner said.

    See the full article here .

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:10 am on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Hubble Views The Final Frontier For Dark Matter, NASA/ESA Hubble   

    From Ethan Siegel: “Hubble Views The Final Frontier For Dark Matter” 

    Ethan Siegel
    May 8, 2017

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    The streaks and arcs present in Abell 370, a distant galaxy cluster some 5-6 billion light years away, are some of the strongest evidence for gravitational lensing and dark matter that we have. NASA, ESA/Hubble, HST Frontier Fields

    When you look out into the distant Universe, in most locations, you’ll find a field of faint, distant galaxies: beautiful, but nothing special.

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    The ‘parallel field’ of Abell 370 showcases a deep view of a region of space with no particularly massive or significant structure inside. This is what most of the Universe looks like, when imaged deeply enough. NASA, ESA/Hubble, HST Frontier Fields

    Six billion light years away, Abell 370 is one of the most massive, dense ones discovered so far, but one galaxy, noticed early on, provided a hint of something more.

    4
    The distorted galaxy shown here is actually two images of a single galaxy located twice as far away as the rest of the galaxy; it is the effects of gravitational lensing that cause the odd appearance and multiple images. NASA, ESA/Hubble, HST Frontier Fields

    The “stretched-out” galaxy you see here isn’t a distorted cluster member, but is instead two images of a single galaxy, twice as far away as the cluster itself.

    5
    An illustration of gravitational lensing showcases how background galaxies — or any light path — is distorted by the presence of an intervening mass, such as a foreground galaxy cluster. NASA/ESA

    This phenomenon of gravitational lensing stretches galaxies into streaks and arcs, magnifying them, and creating multiple images.

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    The streaks of galaxies shown here are not representative of the actual shapes of the galaxies themselves, but rather the galaxies subject to the effects of the gravitational lens they pass through. Undistorted galaxies, like the one at the top left, are most likely in the foreground of the lens. NASA, ESA/Hubble, HST Frontier Fields

    It also enables us to reconstruct the mass distribution of the cluster, revealing that it’s mostly due to dark matter.

    7
    The mass distribution of cluster Abell 370. reconstructed through gravitational lensing, shows two large, diffuse halos of mass, consistent with dark matter with two merging clusters to create what we see here. NASA, ESA, D. Harvey (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland), R. Massey (Durham University, UK), the Hubble SM4 ERO Team and ST-ECF

    There are two separate clumps present, showing that this is likely two clusters merging together.

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    Despite the presence of large, elliptical galaxies, the location where the mass density is greatest, indicated by the dotted circle, corresponds to no known massive galaxy or other structure based in normal matter. The only explanation for this is the presence of an invisible source of mass: dark matter. NASA, ESA/Hubble, HST Frontier Fields / E. Siegel (annotation)

    Most importantly, dark matter must be present — and present outside of the individual galaxies themselves — to explain these gravitational effects.

    9
    A 2009 image, based on only a fraction of the Hubble data available today, revealed some of the incredible structure in Abell 370. The current data, benefitting from 8 extra years, showcases even more information about the distant, massive Universe. NASA/ESA Hubble

    Additional observations from 2009-2017 reveal unprecedented details about the massive, distant Universe.

    See the full article here .

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

     
  • richardmitnick 2:58 pm on May 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Lot of Galaxies Need Guarding in this NASA Hubble View, , , , , NASA/ESA Hubble   

    From Hubble: “A Lot of Galaxies Need Guarding in this NASA Hubble View” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    May 4, 2017
    Ann Jenkins
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
    410-338-4488
    jenkins@stsci.edu

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

    Much like the eclectic group of space rebels in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has some amazing superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing innumerable galaxies flung across time and space.

    A stunning example is a galaxy cluster called Abell 370 that contains an astounding assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. That’s a lot of galaxies to be guarding, and just in this one cluster!

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    Galaxy cluster Abell 370 contains several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the brightest and largest galaxies are the yellow-white, massive, elliptical galaxies containing many hundreds of billions of stars each. Spiral galaxies have younger populations of stars and are bluish. Mysterious-looking arcs of blue light are distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. The cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team (STScI)

    Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the immense cluster is a rich mix of a variety of galaxy shapes. The brightest and largest galaxies in the cluster are the yellow-white, massive, elliptical galaxies containing many hundreds of billions of stars each. Spiral galaxies — like our Milky Way — have younger populations of stars and are bluish.

    Entangled among the galaxies are mysterious-looking arcs of blue light. These are actually distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. These far-flung galaxies are too faint for Hubble to see directly. Instead, the cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. The massive gravitational field of the foreground cluster produces this phenomenon. The collective gravity of all the stars and other matter trapped inside the cluster warps space and affects light traveling through the cluster, toward Earth.


    The Hubble Space Telescope is keeping watch over many, many galaxies using the combined superpowers of its incredible optics and a quirk of nature called gravitational lensing. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson

    Nearly a hundred distant galaxies have multiple images caused by the lensing effect. The most stunning example is “the Dragon,” an extended feature that is probably several duplicated images of a single background spiral galaxy stretched along an arc.

    3
    This is a gallery of the Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields. The top six panels are massive galaxy clusters that act as huge lenses in space, magnifying and stretching images of remote galaxies behind each cluster that are too faint for Hubble to see directly. While one of the telescope’s cameras looked at each cluster of galaxies, another camera simultaneously viewed an adjacent patch of sky. This second region is called a “parallel field” — a seemingly sparse portion of sky that provides a deep look into the early universe. Astronomers observed each of the six clusters and six parallel fields in both near-infrared and visible light. This allowed scientists to create more detailed, overlapping, and complete images. Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, and the HFF team

    Astronomers chose Abell 370 as a target for Hubble because its gravitational lensing effects can be used for probing remote galaxies that inhabited the early universe.

    Abell 370 is located approximately 4 billion light-years away in the constellation Cetus, the Sea Monster. It is the last of six galaxy clusters imaged in the recently concluded Frontier Fields project. This ambitious, community-developed collaboration among NASA’s Great Observatories and other telescopes harnessed the power of massive galaxy clusters and probed the earliest stages of galaxy development. The program reveals galaxies that are 10 to 100 times fainter than any previously observed.

    For more information about Hubble, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble or http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-20

    See the full article here .

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

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  • richardmitnick 2:25 pm on April 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jupiter's icy moon Europa, NASA/ESA Hubble, Probable plume of material erupting   

    From Hubble: “Hubble Spots Possible Venting Activity on Europa” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Apr 13, 2017

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

    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

    William Sparks
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4843
    sparks@stsci.edu

    1
    2
    2014 vs 2016

    Recent observations of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered a probable plume of material erupting from the moon’s surface at precisely the same location as a similar apparent plume seen two years earlier by Hubble. These images bolster evidence that the plumes are a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the satellite.

    In the most recent observation — Feb. 22, 2016 — Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) uncovered a dark patch, silhouetted against Jupiter and protruding slightly off the surface at Europa’s equatorial region. The dark feature is not only in the same location but is also similar in appearance to the one seen in a previous STIS study of Europa, taken March 17, 2014.

    For both the 2016 and 2014 observations, Sparks and his team used the same transit technique to uncover the plumes in ultraviolet light. As Europa passes in front of Jupiter, any atmospheric features around the edge of the moon block some of Jupiter’s light, allowing STIS to see those features in silhouette.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    The plumes correspond to the location of an unusually warm spot on the moon’s icy crust, seen in the late 1990s by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft.

    NASA/Galileo 1989-2003

    Researchers speculate that this might be circumstantial evidence for water erupting from the moon’s subsurface. Such a “location of interest” may be a site where material dredged up from beneath Europa’s surface could be analyzed for habitability by a future visiting spacecraft.

    “If there is a causal link between the plumes and the thermal anomaly, there could be geologic activity on Europa’s surface that is producing the plumes, or the plume activity may be influencing the surface thermal properties,” said lead researcher William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Added team member Britney Schmidt of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta: “This latest observation adds to the growing evidence that Europa’s complex geology belies an active, maybe habitable, ice shell and ocean. Understanding Europa’s plumbing through studies like this gives us a chance to better understand that picture.”

    The newly imaged plume rises about 62 miles above Europa’s surface. The plume observed by Hubble in 2014 in the same location was estimated to be about 30 miles high.

    Sparks’ team matched the plumes’ position with their corresponding location on the thermal map taken of the moon’s night side by Galileo. The absence of sunlight at night allows Europa’s surface to cool down. But the researchers spotted a region that was warmer than the surrounding area. This region, roughly 200 miles across, is in the same location as the observed plumes. The area was previously identified as a “thermal anomaly,” because it was a few degrees warmer than the surrounding terrain. Such an apparently minor temperature variation is significant, considering that Europa’s icy surface is so cold.

    One possibility for the temperature variation is that an infusion of energy warmed up the frigid surface. Another idea is that the surface retains an abnormal amount of heat. Both possibilities suggest that unusual activity is taking place.

    “After Hubble imaged the second plume-like feature, we looked at its corresponding location on the thermal map, because studies of the plumes on Saturn’s moon Enceladus have shown that they are associated with hotter regions,” Sparks explained. “We discovered that Europa’s plume candidate is sitting right on the thermal anomaly.”

    The plumes and the warm spot could be generated by a variety of geological activity. The team has proposed two possible scenarios for a link between the two features.

    The warmer area could be caused by the heat from liquid water, located more than one mile beneath Europa’s thick, icy crust. The water is pushed upward and cracks the surface, venting as a plume.

    Another idea is that water ejected by the plume falls onto the surface as a fine mist. This process could change the structure of the surface grains, allowing them to retain heat longer than the surrounding landscape.

    Sparks and his team are continuing to use Hubble to search for additional examples of plume candidates on Europa, hoping to determine the frequency with which they appear.

    The results will appear on April 13, 2017, in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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

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  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on March 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Hubble detects supermassive black hole kicked out of galactic core, NASA/ESA Hubble,   

    From ESA/Hubble: “Hubble detects supermassive black hole kicked out of galactic core”and from NASA/HubbleSite “Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out Of Galactic Core “ 

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    From ESA/Hubble

    “Hubble detects supermassive black hole kicked out of galactic core”

    23 March 2017
    Marco Chiaberge
    Space Telescope Science Institute
    Baltimore, USA
    Tel: +1 410 338 4980
    Email: chiab@stsci.edu

    Stefano Bianchi
    Roma Tre University
    Rome, Italy
    Tel: +39 657337241
    Email: bianchi@fis.uniroma3.it

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Cell: +49 17662397500
    Email: mjaeger@partner.eso.org

    1
    The galaxy 3C186, located about 8 billion years from Earth, is most likely the result of a merger of two galaxies. This is supported by arc-shaped tidal tails, usually produced by a gravitational tug between two colliding galaxies, identified by the scientists. The merger of the galaxies also led to a merger of the two supermassive black holes in their centres, and the resultant black hole was then kicked out of its parent galaxy by the gravitational waves created by the merger. The bright, star-like looking quasar can be seen in the centre of the image. Its former host galaxy is the faint, extended object behind it. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Chiaberge (STScI/ESA)

    2
    An international team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the centre of the distant galaxy 3C186. The black hole was most likely ejected by the power of gravitational waves. This is the first time that astronomers found a supermassive black hole at such a large distance from its host galaxy centre.

    Though several other suspected runaway black holes have been seen elsewhere, none has so far been confirmed. Now astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected a supermassive black hole, with a mass of one billion times the Sun’s, being kicked out of its parent galaxy. “We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole,” describes Stefano Bianchi, co-author of the study, from the Roma Tre University, Italy.

    The images taken by Hubble provided the first clue that the galaxy, named 3C186, was unusual. The images of the galaxy, located 8 billion light-years away, revealed a bright quasar, the energetic signature of an active black hole, located far from the galactic core. “Black holes reside in the centres of galaxies, so it’s unusual to see a quasar not in the centre,” recalls team leader Marco Chiaberge, ESA-AURA researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute, USA.

    The team calculated that the black hole has already travelled about 35 000 light-years from the centre, which is more than the distance between the Sun and the centre of the Milky Way. And it continues its flight at a speed of 7.5 million kilometres per hour [1]. At this speed the black hole could travel from Earth to the Moon in three minutes.

    Although other scenarios to explain the observations cannot be excluded, the most plausible source of the propulsive energy is that this supermassive black hole was given a kick by gravitational waves [2] unleashed by the merger of two massive black holes at the centre of its host galaxy. This theory is supported by arc-shaped tidal tails identified by the scientists, produced by a gravitational tug between two colliding galaxies.

    According to the theory presented by the scientists, 1-2 billion years ago two galaxies — each with central, massive black holes — merged. The black holes whirled around each other at the centre of the newly-formed elliptical galaxy, creating gravitational waves that were flung out like water from a lawn sprinkler [3]. As the two black holes did not have the same mass and rotation rate, they emitted gravitational waves more strongly along one direction. When the two black holes finally merged, the anisotropic emission of gravitational waves generated a kick that shot the resulting black hole out of the galactic centre.

    “If our theory is correct, the observations provide strong evidence that supermassive black holes can actually merge,” explains Stefano Bianchi on the importance of the discovery. “There is already evidence of black hole collisions for stellar-mass black holes, but the process regulating supermassive black holes is more complex and not yet completely understood.”

    The researchers are lucky to have caught this unique event because not every black hole merger produces imbalanced gravitational waves that propel a black hole out of the galaxy. The team now wants to secure further observation time with Hubble, in combination with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and other facilities, to more accurately measure the speed of the black hole and its surrounding gas disc, which may yield further insights into the nature of this rare object.
    Notes

    [1] As the black hole cannot be observed directly, the mass and the speed of the supermassive black holes were determined via spectroscopic analysis of its surrounding gas.

    [2] First predicted by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves are ripples in space that are created by accelerating massive objects. The ripples are similar to the concentric circles produced when a rock is thrown into a pond. In 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) helped astronomers prove that gravitational waves exist by detecting them emanating from the union of two stellar-mass black holes, which are several times more massive than the Sun.

    [3] The black holes get closer over time as they radiate away gravitational energy.

    The international team of astronomers in this study consists of Marco Chiaberge (STScI, USA; Johns Hopkins University, USA), Justin C. Ely (STScI, USA), Eileen Meyer (University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA), Markos Georganopoulos (University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA), Andrea Marinucci (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy), Stefano Bianchi (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy), Grant R. Tremblay (Yale University, USA), Brian Hilbert (STScI, USA), John Paul Kotyla (STScI, USA), Alessandro Capetti (INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino, Italy), Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba, Canada), F. Duccio Macchetto (STScI, USA), George Miley (University of Leiden, Netherlands), Christopher O’Dea (University of Manitoba, Canada), Eric S. Perlman (Florida Institute of Technology, USA), William B. Sparks (STScI, USA) and Colin Norman (STScI, USA; Johns Hopkins University, USA)

    Image credit: NASA, ESA, M. Chiaberge (STScI/ESA)

    Science paper:
    The puzzling case of the radio-loud QSO 3C 186: a gravitational wave recoiling black hole in a young radio source?

    From NASA HubbleSite

    “Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out Of Galactic Core “

    Mar 23, 2017

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

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

    Marco Chiaberge
    Space Telescope Science Institute and
    The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4980
    marcoc@stsci.edu

    3
    Runaway black hole is the most massive ever detected far from its central home
    Normally, hefty black holes anchor the centers of galaxies. So researchers were surprised to discover a supermassive black hole speeding through the galactic suburbs. Black holes cannot be observed directly, but they are the energy source at the heart of quasars — intense, compact gushers of radiation that can outshine an entire galaxy. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope made the discovery by finding a bright quasar located far from the center of the host galaxy.

    Researchers estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole. What could pry this giant monster from its central home? The most plausible explanation for this propulsive energy is that the monster object was given a kick by gravitational waves unleashed by the merger of two black holes as a result of a collision between two galaxies. First predicted by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space that are created when two massive objects collide.

    The Full [HubbleSite] Story

    Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.

    Though there have been several other suspected, similarly booted black holes elsewhere, none has been confirmed so far. Astronomers think this object, detected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, is a very strong case. Weighing more than 1 billion suns, the rogue black hole is the most massive black hole ever detected to have been kicked out of its central home.

    Researchers estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole. The most plausible explanation for this propulsive energy is that the monster object was given a kick by gravitational waves unleashed by the merger of two hefty black holes at the center of the host galaxy.

    First predicted by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves are ripples in space that are created when two massive objects collide. The ripples are similar to the concentric circles produced when a hefty rock is thrown into a pond. Last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) helped astronomers prove that gravitational waves exist by detecting them emanating from the union of two stellar-mass black holes, which are several times more massive than the sun.

    Hubble’s observations of the wayward black hole surprised the research team. “When I first saw this, I thought we were seeing something very peculiar,” said team leader Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. “When we combined observations from Hubble, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, it all pointed towards the same scenario. The amount of data we collected, from X-rays to ultraviolet to near-infrared light, is definitely larger than for any of the other candidate rogue black holes.”

    Chiaberge’s paper will appear in the March 30 issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Hubble images taken in visible and near-infrared light provided the first clue that the galaxy was unusual. The images revealed a bright quasar, the energetic signature of a black hole, residing far from the galactic core. Black holes cannot be observed directly, but they are the energy source at the heart of quasars – intense, compact gushers of radiation that can outshine an entire galaxy. The quasar, named 3C 186, and its host galaxy reside 8 billion light-years away in a galaxy cluster. The team discovered the galaxy’s peculiar features while conducting a Hubble survey of distant galaxies unleashing powerful blasts of radiation in the throes of galaxy mergers.

    “I was anticipating seeing a lot of merging galaxies, and I was expecting to see messy host galaxies around the quasars, but I wasn’t really expecting to see a quasar that was clearly offset from the core of a regularly shaped galaxy,” Chiaberge recalled. “Black holes reside in the center of galaxies, so it’s unusual to see a quasar not in the center.”

    The team calculated the black hole’s distance from the core by comparing the distribution of starlight in the host galaxy with that of a normal elliptical galaxy from a computer model. The black hole had traveled more than 35,000 light-years from the center, which is more than the distance between the sun and the center of the Milky Way.

    Based on spectroscopic observations taken by Hubble and the Sloan survey, the researchers estimated the black hole’s mass and measured the speed of gas trapped near the behemoth object. Spectroscopy divides light into its component colors, which can be used to measure velocities in space. “To our surprise, we discovered that the gas around the black hole was flying away from the galaxy’s center at 4.7 million miles an hour,” said team member Justin Ely of STScI. This measurement is also a gauge of the black hole’s velocity, because the gas is gravitationally locked to the monster object.

    The astronomers calculated that the black hole is moving so fast it would travel from Earth to the moon in three minutes. That’s fast enough for the black hole to escape the galaxy in 20 million years and roam through the universe forever.

    The Hubble image revealed an interesting clue that helped explain the black hole’s wayward location. The host galaxy has faint arc-shaped features called tidal tails, produced by a gravitational tug between two colliding galaxies. This evidence suggests a possible union between the 3C 186 system and another galaxy, each with central, massive black holes that may have eventually merged.

    Based on this visible evidence, along with theoretical work, the researchers developed a scenario to describe how the behemoth black hole could be expelled from its central home. According to their theory, two galaxies merge, and their black holes settle into the center of the newly formed elliptical galaxy. As the black holes whirl around each other, gravity waves are flung out like water from a lawn sprinkler. The hefty objects move closer to each other over time as they radiate away gravitational energy. If the two black holes do not have the same mass and rotation rate, they emit gravitational waves more strongly along one direction. When the two black holes collide, they stop producing gravitational waves. The newly merged black hole then recoils in the opposite direction of the strongest gravitational waves and shoots off like a rocket.

    The researchers are lucky to have caught this unique event because not every black-hole merger produces imbalanced gravitational waves that propel a black hole in the opposite direction. “This asymmetry depends on properties such as the mass and the relative orientation of the back holes’ rotation axes before the merger,” said team member Colin Norman of STScI and Johns Hopkins University. “That’s why these objects are so rare.”

    An alternative explanation for the offset quasar, although unlikely, proposes that the bright object does not reside within the galaxy. Instead, the quasar is located behind the galaxy, but the Hubble image gives the illusion that it is at the same distance as the galaxy. If this were the case, the researchers should have detected a galaxy in the background hosting the quasar.

    If the researchers’ interpretation is correct, the observations may provide strong evidence that supermassive black holes can actually merge. Astronomers have evidence of black-hole collisions for stellar-mass black holes, but the process regulating supermassive black holes is more complex and not completely understood.

    The team hopes to use Hubble again, in combination with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and other facilities, to more accurately measure the speed of the black hole and its gas disk, which may yield more insight into the nature of this bizarre object.

    See the full ESA article here .

    See the full NASA HubbleSite story here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    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 4:07 pm on March 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA/ESA Hubble, The 20th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s STIS Instrument   

    From Hubble: “The 20th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s STIS Instrument” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Happy 20th birthday to Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS)! In February 1997, astronauts installed STIS on the telescope during the second servicing mission. The highly versatile and productive instrument combines a camera with a spectrograph, which separates light into its component colors—or wavelengths — to provide a “fingerprint” of the object being observed. This tells us about the object’s temperature, chemical composition, density, and motion. Spectrographic observations also reveal changes in celestial objects as the universe evolves. STIS has also pioneered the field of high-contrast imaging—the art of capturing faint objects (such as planets, disks, and outflowing jets) next to very bright ones (such as the stars they accompany). The instrument is sensitive to a wide range of wavelengths of light, from ultraviolet through the optical and into the near-infrared. STIS science has illuminated a multitude of different astronomical topics. Below are some examples, but this is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

    1

    Determining the Masses of Black Holes in the Centers of Galaxies

    Astronomers used STIS to conduct a census of more than 30 galaxies to look for evidence of massive black holes at their centers. STIS precisely measures the speed of gas and stars around a black hole, and this yields information about its mass. The findings presented a broad picture of a galaxy’s evolution and its relationship to the growth of the massive central black hole. Hubble evidence favors the idea that titanic black holes did not precede a galaxy’s birth, but instead co-evolved with the galaxy by trapping a surprisingly exact proportion of the mass of the central hub of stars and gas in that galaxy.

    Tracing the Evolution of the Intergalactic Medium

    Astronomers have long sought the vast quantities of hydrogen that were cooked up in the Big Bang but that somehow seemingly managed to disappear. This gas accounts for nearly half of the “normal” matter in the universe—the rest is locked up in galaxies. In an extensive search of the nearby universe, astronomers using STIS have definitively found this missing matter in the space between the galaxies. Called the intergalactic medium, this space extends from just outside our Milky Way galaxy to the most distant regions of space observed by astronomers. STIS observations of the local intergalactic medium showed that the missing hydrogen is still out there in very diffuse clouds in between the galaxies. This confirmation sheds new light on the large-scale structure of the universe and provides information on how galaxies built up over time. It also confirms fundamental models of how so much hydrogen was manufactured in the first few minutes of the universe’s birth in the Big Bang.

    Understanding the Components of the Galactic Halo

    A halo of very hot gas surrounds the Milky Way galaxy. Because the gas is so highly energized, or ionized, it is only visible in spectral features seen in ultraviolet wavelengths with an instrument like STIS. With its extremely high spectral resolution, STIS looks at the spectral features of the atoms in each of the many layers of gas to help scientists identify and understand the complexity of the halo structure. Besides the very hot gas that is trapped in the halo, some gas is falling into the Milky Way from the area between galaxies, known as the intergalactic medium. Other gas in the halo comes from star formation in the disk of the Milky Way. Supernovae and winds from stars can blow this material out of the plane of the Milky Way, up into the Galactic halo. This gas cools and gets denser, and some of it rains back down in what is often described as “the Galactic fountain.” STIS helps scientists understand these complex processes.

    Unraveling the Structure of the Interstellar Medium

    The interstellar medium is everything between the stars. It’s typically very low-density material, which is extremely difficult to study. With its ultraviolet sensitivity and exceedingly high spectral resolution, STIS is a premier instrument for understanding this space. Scientists use stars or other bright sources as background light to view the intervening material. They “see” it indirectly through the absorption of the background light. The interstellar medium is not entirely uniform. There are places it is denser, places where it is less dense, and different clumps move at different velocities. STIS provides the fine velocity information to analyze the details of the interstellar medium. Using STIS, scientists can determine the physical conditions and separate out components from different densities and types of gas along the line of sight.

    Characterizing the Atmosphere of a World around Another Star

    Astronomers using STIS made the first direct chemical analysis of the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. This opened up an exciting new phase of extrasolar planet exploration, where astronomers can compare and contrast the atmospheres of planets around other stars, and search for chemical biomarkers of life beyond Earth. The planet orbits a sun-like star called HD 209458. Its atmospheric composition was probed when the planet passed in front of its parent star, allowing astronomers for the first time ever to see light from the star filtered through the planet’s atmosphere. Scientists detected the presence of sodium in the planet’s atmosphere. They actually saw less sodium than predicted for the Jupiter-class planet, leading to one interpretation that high-altitude clouds in the alien atmosphere may have blocked some of the light.

    Imaging the Dust Disk around Beta Pictoris

    In 1984, Beta Pictoris was the first star discovered to host a bright disk of light-scattering circumstellar dust and debris. Ever since then, the 20-million-year-old star has been an object of intense scrutiny with Hubble and with ground-based telescopes. Astronomers used STIS in 1997 and 2012 to take the most detailed pictures to date of the large, edge-on, gas-and-dust disk. Astronomers found that the disk’s dust distribution had barely changed over 15 years, despite the fact that the entire structure is orbiting the star like a carousel.

    Finding Evidence for Water on Jupiter’s Moons

    Identifying liquid water on other worlds is crucial in the search for habitable planets beyond Earth. STIS imaging shows suspected water plumes erupting from Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Astronomers observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa’s limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter. Europa is a plausible place for life to have developed beyond Earth. If the venting plumes originate in a subsurface ocean, they could act as an elevator to bring deep-sea water above Europa’s surface, where visiting spacecraft could sample it, study its habitability, and even look for life. This offers a convenient way to access the chemistry of that ocean without drilling through miles of ice.

    STIS also revealed that another Jovian moon, Ganymede, may contain a subsurface ocean. STIS found evidence for it by watching aurorae glowing above the moon’s icy surface. The aurorae are tied to the moon’s magnetic field, which descends to the core of Ganymede. A saline ocean would influence the dynamics of the magnetic field as it interacts with Jupiter’s own immense magnetic field, which engulfs Ganymede. Because telescopes can’t look inside planets or moons, tracing the magnetic field through aurorae is a unique way to probe the interior of another world.

    Detecting Monster Stars in a Massive Star Cluster

    R136 is a very massive and young dense star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way. Only Hubble can resolve the individual stars in the dense core, which is only a few light-years across and less than 2 million years old. Astronomers used STIS to obtain ultraviolet spectra of the individual hot luminous stars in the core and showed in 2016 that there are nine stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the sun. The detected stars are not only extremely massive, but also extremely bright. Together these nine stars outshine the sun by a factor of 30 million. This discovery has led astronomers to examine the 20 years’ worth of STIS observations available in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) for further examples of monster stars in more distant star clusters. Some have recently been found in the dwarf galaxy NGC 5253, and the search continues for more examples.

    Unlocking the Secrets of the Massive Star Eta Carinae

    The volatile, erupting pair of massive stars called Eta Carinae has long intrigued astronomers. In 2009, STIS analyzed the ejecta from an eruption seen in the late nineteenth century, resolving the chemical information along a narrow section close to the binary. The resulting spectrum showed iron and nickel that had been cast off in the nineteenth century. STIS also revealed the interior material being carried away by the ongoing, colliding winds from Eta Car A, the primary star, and those of Eta Car B, a hotter, less massive star. A very faint structure, seen in argon, is evidence of the interacting winds excited by ultraviolet radiation from Eta Car B. Eta Car A is one of the most massive and luminous stars visible in the night sky. Because of the star’s extremely high mass, it is unstable and uses its fuel very quickly, compared with other stars. Such massive stars also have short lifetimes, and astronomers expect that Eta Carinae will explode as a supernova within a hundred thousand years.

    Deciphering the Composition of Supernova 1987A

    Thirty years ago, astronomers witnessed one of the brightest stellar explosions seen from Earth in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called SN 1987A, blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its discovery on February 23, 1987. Ten years later, STIS provided an unprecedented look at the light-year-wide ring of glowing gas surrounding SN 1987A. The long-slit spectrograph viewed the entire ring system, dissecting its light and producing a detailed image of the ring in each of its component colors that correspond to nitrogen, hydrogen, and sulfur. By dividing the ring into its component elements, astronomers put together a picture of how the ring was created.

    Measuring the Outflow from the Heart of an Active Galaxy

    STIS measured the velocities of hundreds of gas knots streaming at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour from the nucleus of galaxy NGC 4151, thought to host a supermassive black hole. This was the first time the velocity structure in the heart of an active galaxy was mapped so precisely so close to its central black hole.

    For more information on the Hubble mission and the servicing missions that made STIS possible, you can visit:
    http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    For more Hubble images, educational activities, and resources, visit
    http://www.hubblesite.org

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    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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