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  • richardmitnick 9:59 pm on January 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Space Telescope Will Reveal Unseen Dynamic Lives of Galaxies", , , , , , , STScI, The Aspera mission, The first-ever direct observations of a portion of the circumgalactic medium-low-density gas that permeate and surround individual galaxies some cases bridging large distances across the universe.,   

    From University of Arizona: “New Space Telescope Will Reveal Unseen Dynamic Lives of Galaxies” 

    From University of Arizona


    Daniel Stolte
    Science Writer, University Communications

    Carlos Vargas
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    University of Arizona
    Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory

    NASA has selected Carlos Vargas, a postdoctoral researcher in UArizona’s Steward Observatory, to lead a $20 million mission to build a space telescope that will map vast regions of star-forming gas that have eluded observation for decades.

    Located 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major, Messier 82, or the “Cigar Galaxy,” is known for its intense rate of star formation. Vast regions of gas provide the fuel from which new stars are born. The Aspera mission will send a small telescope into space to map the distribution of some of this gas and help answer fundamental questions about how galaxies evolve. Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: J. Gallagher (University of Wisconsin); M. Mountain (STScI); and P. Puxley (NSF)

    NASA has selected the University of Arizona to lead one of its four inaugural Astrophysics Pioneers missions. With a $20 million cost cap, the Aspera mission will study galaxy evolution with a space telescope barely larger than a mini fridge. The telescope will allow researchers to observe galaxy processes that have remained hidden from view until now.

    Led by principal investigator Carlos Vargas, a postdoctoral researcher in UArizona’s Steward Observatory, the Aspera mission seeks to solve a longstanding mystery about the way galaxies form, evolve and interact with each other. Intended for launch in late 2024, the space telescope is being specifically designed to see in ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the human eye.

    NASA chose Aspera and three other missions for further concept development in the agency’s new Pioneers Program for small-scale astrophysics missions.

    The Aspera mission’s goal is to provide the first-ever direct observations of a certain portion of the circumgalactic medium – vast “oceans” of low-density gas that permeate and surround individual galaxies and in some cases even connect them, bridging large distances across the universe.

    The familiar pictures of galaxies as luminous archipelagos floating in space, filled with millions or billions of stars, tell only a small part of their story, Vargas said.

    “As telescopes have become more sensitive and have allowed us to discover more exotic types of gases, we now realize there is tons of stuff in between galaxies that connects them,” he said. “Galaxies are undergoing this beautiful dance in which inflowing and outflowing gases balance each other.”

    Led by UArizona’s Carlos Vargas and funded with $20 million from NASA, the Aspera mission will launch a space telescope about the size of a mini fridge to observe galaxy processes that have remained hidden from view until now.

    Processes such as supernova explosions blow gas out of the galaxy, and sometimes it rains back down onto the galactic disc, Vargas said.

    Previous observations of the circumgalactic medium, or CGM, revealed that it contains several different populations of gas in a wide range of densities and temperatures astronomers refer to as phases. But one of these gas phases has eluded previous attempts at studying it, and Vargas said it’s important because it is believed to host most of a galaxy’s mass.

    “There is this intermediate form we refer to as warm-hot, and that is particularly interesting because it provides the fuel for star formation,” he said. “No one has been able to successfully map its distribution and really determine what it looks like.”

    The Aspera mission is designed to home in on that missing chunk of the CGM that astronomers know must be there but haven’t been able to observe.

    “Aspera is an exciting mission because it will lead us to discover the nature of mysterious warm-hot gas around galaxies,” said Haeun Chung, a postdoctoral research associate at Steward Observatory.

    As the mission’s project scientist, Chung leads the instrument team charged with building the new space telescope.

    “Though small, Aspera is designed to detect and map faint warm-hot gas, thanks to recent technological advancements and the increased opportunity that small-sized space missions provide,” Chung said.

    Because the portion of the CGM that researchers refer to as warm-hot is thought to host the lion’s share of the mass that makes up a galaxy, it is a crucial piece of the puzzle for understanding how galaxies form and evolve, Vargas said.

    “If you care about how life evolved, you care about how galaxies evolve, because you can’t have a planet without a star, and you can’t have a star without galaxy,” he said. “These all are very interconnected.”

    The Aspera telescope will be the only instrument in space capable of observing in the ultraviolet spectrum, with the exception of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has surpassed its expected mission lifespan by many years.

    Vargas said his team chose the mission’s name, Latin for “hardship,” to highlight the extraordinary difficulties that have needed to be overcome to observe and study the CGM.

    “People have been going for this ‘missing’ gas phase for decades,” he said. “We aptly named our telescope to honor their efforts.”

    UArizona President Robert C. Robbins said the mission marks a new milestone in the university’s long history of space exploration.

    “Being selected for the first iteration of NASA’s Astrophysics Pioneers program is a testament to our excellent track record in space exploration – from providing the scientific approaches needed to tackle some of the most challenging questions in the universe, to developing innovative technology and providing successful management throughout the project,” he said.

    Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, UArizona senior vice president for research and innovation, applauded Vargas’s leadership of the mission.

    “Dr. Vargas’s leadership on the Aspera mission reflects the excellent caliber of researchers attracted to the University of Arizona. We are particularly pleased because Dr. Vargas represents the exemplary nature of scientific inquiry at a Research 1 Hispanic-Serving Institution like the University of Arizona,” she said. “To receive this prestigious award so early in his career demonstrates Dr. Vargas’s incredible capability, and I am thrilled to see our researchers expanding our understanding of a subject as fundamental as galaxy formation and evolution.”

    Cantwell added that the newly launched University of Arizona Space Institute provided the research team with support, and it will be building support for other large and impactful space initiatives as the institute grows.

    “I’m tremendously proud to be part of a university that encourages and supports early career scientists like Carlos Vargas and Haeun Chung – both post-doctoral researchers – and the faculty members and engineers in their team, to successfully compete for ambitious missions like Aspera,” said Steward Observatory Director Buell Jannuzi.

    Aspera brings together an interdisciplinary and diverse team including researchers from Columbia University, the University of Iowa, and Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany. The UArizona team includes deputy principal investigator Erika Hamden, assistant professor of astronomy and assistant astronomer at Steward Observatory; mission manager Tom McMahon, head of Steward Observatory’s engineering group; Peter Behroozi, assistant professor of astronomy; Ewan Douglas, assistant professor of astronomy; Dennis Zaritsky, professor of astronomy and deputy director of Steward Observatory; Aafaque Raza Khan, a graduate student at Steward Observatory; Dae Wook Kim, assistant professor in the College of Optical Sciences; and Simran Agarwal, graduate student in the College of Optical Sciences.

    Corporate mission partners are Tucson-based companies Blue Canyon Technologies, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, and Ascending Node Technologies.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Arizona (UA) is a place without limits-where teaching, research, service and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. We aren’t afraid to ask big questions, and find even better answers.

    In 1885, establishing Arizona’s first university in the middle of the Sonoran Desert was a bold move. But our founders were fearless, and we have never lost that spirit. To this day, we’re revolutionizing the fields of space sciences, optics, biosciences, medicine, arts and humanities, business, technology transfer and many others. Since it was founded, the UA has grown to cover more than 380 acres in central Tucson, a rich breeding ground for discovery.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

  • richardmitnick 1:54 pm on December 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe", , , , , , , , , , , , Our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe is SN UDS10Wil located 17 billion light-years (Gly), , , , STScI   

    From Ethan Siegel: “These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe” 

    From Ethan Siegel
    Dec 30, 2019

    Astronomy’s enduring quest is to go farther, fainter, and more detailed than ever before. Here’s the edge of the cosmic frontier.

    The distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is gravitationally lensed by a foreground cluster, allowing it to be imaged at high resolution and in multiple instruments, even without next-generation technology.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    This galaxy’s light comes to us from 530 million years after the Big Bang, but the stars within it are at least 280 million years old. It is the second-most distant galaxy with a spectroscopically confirmed distance, placing it 30.7 billion light-years away from us. (ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, W. ZHENG (JHU), M. POSTMAN (STSCI), THE CLASH TEAM, HASHIMOTO ET AL.)

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Astronomers have always sought to push back the viewable distance frontiers.

    Although there are magnified, ultra-distant, very red and even infrared galaxies in the eXtreme Deep Field, there are galaxies that are even more distant out there than what we’ve discovered in our deepest-to-date views. These galaxies will always remain visible to us, but we will never see them as they are today: 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang. (NASA, ESA, R. BOUWENS AND G. ILLINGWORTH (UC, SANTA CRUZ))

    More distant galaxies appear fainter, smaller, bluer, and less evolved overall.

    Galaxies comparable to the present-day Milky Way are numerous, but younger galaxies that are Milky Way-like are inherently smaller, bluer, more chaotic, and richer in gas in general than the galaxies we see today. For the first galaxies of all, this ought to be taken to the extreme, and remains valid as far back as we’ve ever seen. The exceptions, when we encounter them, are both puzzling and rare. (NASA AND ESA)

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt. The bar is visible in this image

    Laniakea supercluster. From Nature The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies R. Brent Tully, Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman & Daniel Pomarède at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7516/full/nature13674.html. Milky Way is the red dot.

    Individual planets and stars are only known relatively nearby, as our tools cannot take us farther.

    Local Group. Andrew Z. Colvin 3 March 2011

    A massive cluster (left) magnified a distant star known as Icarus more than 2,000 times, making it visible from Earth (lower right) even though it is 9 billion light years away, far too distant to be seen individually with current telescopes. It was not visible in 2011 (upper right). The brightening leads us to believe that this was a blue supergiant star, formally named MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1. (NASA, ESA, AND P. KELLY (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA))

    As the 2010s end, here are our presently known most distant astronomical objects.

    The ultra-distant supernova SN UDS10Wil, shown here, is the farthest type Ia supernova ever discovered, whose light arrives today from a position 17 billion light-years away.

    A white dwarf fed by a normal star reaches the critical mass and explodes as a type Ia supernova. Credit: NASA/CXC/M Weiss

    Type Ia supernovae are used as distance indicators because of their standard intrinsic brightnesses, and are some of our strongest evidence for the accelerated expansion best explained by dark energy.

    Standard Candles to measure age and distance of the universe from supernovae NASA


    The farthest type Ia supernova, our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe, is SN UDS10Wil, located 17 billion light-years (Gly) away.

    This illustration of superluminous supernova SN 1000+0216, the most distant supernova ever observed at a redshift of z=3.90, from when the Universe was just 1.6 billion years old, is the current record-holder for individual supernovae. Unlike SN UDS10Wil, this supernova is a Type II (core collapse) supernova, and may have formed via the pair instability mechanism, which would explain its extraordinarily large intrinsic brightness. (ADRIAN MALEC AND MARIE MARTIG (SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY))

    The most distant supernova of all, 2012’s superluminous SN 1000+0216, occurred 23 Gly away.

    The most distant X-ray jet in the Universe, from quasar GB 1428, sends us light from when the Universe was a mere 1.25 billion years old: less than 10% its current age. This jet comes from electrons heating CMB photons, and is over 230,000 light-years in extent: approximately double the size of the Milky Way. (X-RAY: NASA/CXC/NRC/C.CHEUNG ET AL; OPTICAL: NASA/STSCI; RADIO: NSF/NRAO/VLA)

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    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)

    The most distant quasar jet, revealed by GB 1428+4217’s X-rays, is 25.4 Gly distant.

    This image of ULAS J1120+0641, a very distant quasar powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, was created from images taken from surveys made by both the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    UKIRT, located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i, USA as part of Mauna Kea Observatory,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    The quasar appears as a faint red dot close to the centre. This quasar was the most distant one known from 2011 until 2017, and is seen as it was just 745 million years after the Big Bang. It is the most distant quasar with a visual image available to be viewed by the public. (ESO/UKIDSS/SDSS)

    The first discovered object whose light exceeds 13 billion years in age, quasar ULAS J1120+0641, is 28.8 Gly away.

    This artist’s concept shows the most distant quasar and the most distant supermassive black hole powering it. At a redshift of 7.54, ULAS J1342+0928 corresponds to a distance of some 29.32 billion light-years; it is the most distant quasar/supermassive black hole ever discovered. Its light arrives at our eyes today, in the radio part of the spectrum, because it was emitted just 686 million years after the Big Bang. (ROBIN DIENEL/CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE)

    However, quasar ULAS J1342+0928 is even farther at 29.32 Gly: our most distant black hole.

    This illustration of the most distant gamma-ray burst ever detected, GRB 090423, is thought to be typical of most fast gamma-ray bursts. When one or two objects violently form a black hole, such as from a neutron star merger, a brief burst of gamma rays followed by an infrared afterglow (when we’re lucky) allows us to learn more about these events. The gamma rays from this event lasted just 10 seconds, but Nial Tanvir and his team found an infrared afterglow using the UKIRT telescope just 20 minutes after the burst, allowing them to determine a redshift (z=8.2) and distance (29.96 billion light-years) to great precision. (ESO/A. ROQUETTE)

    Gamma-ray bursts exceed even that; GRB 090423’s verified light comes from 29.96 Gly away in the distant Universe, while GRB 090429B might’ve been even farther.

    Here, candidate galaxy UDFj-39546284 appears very faint and red, and from the colors it displays, it has an inferred redshift of 10, giving it an age below 500 million years and a distance greater than 31 billion light-years. Without spectroscopic confirmation, however, this and similar galaxies cannot reliably be said to have a known distance; more data is needed, as photometric redshifts are notoriously unreliable. (NASA, ESA, G. ILLINGWORTH (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ), R. BOUWENS (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ, AND LEIDEN UNIVERSITY) AND THE HUDF09 TEAM)

    Ultra-distant galaxy candidates abound, including SPT0615-JD, MACS0647-JD, and UDFj-39546284, all lacking spectroscopic confirmation.

    The most distant galaxy ever discovered in the known Universe, GN-z11, has its light come to us from 13.4 billion years ago: when the Universe was only 3% its current age: 407 million years old. The distance from this galaxy to us, taking the expanding Universe into account, is an incredible 32.1 billion light-years. (NASA, ESA, AND G. BACON (STSCI))

    The most distant galaxy of all is GN-z11, located 32.1 Gly away.

    The James Webb Space Telescope vs. Hubble in size (main) and vs. an array of other telescopes (inset) in terms of wavelength and sensitivity. It should be able to see the truly first galaxies, even the ones that no other observatory can see. Its power is truly unprecedented. (NASA / JWST SCIENCE TEAM)

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    With the 2020s promising revolutionary new observatories, these records may all soon fall.

    Our deepest galaxy surveys can reveal objects tens of billions of light years away, but there are more galaxies within the observable Universe we still have yet to reveal between the most distant galaxies and the cosmic microwave background [CMB], including the very first stars and galaxies of all.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    It is possible that the coming generation of telescopes will break all of our current distance records. (SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY (SDSS))

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “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 1:02 pm on July 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , STScI   

    From Space Science Telescope Institute: “STScI to Design Science Operations for New Panoramic Space Telescope” 

    From Space Science Telescope Institute


    STScI is thrilled to be able to help NASA, the science teams, and the astronomical community, in making WFIRST a success.

    NASA has awarded a contract to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Science Operations Center (SOC) of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. WFIRST is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in a wide-range of science areas, including dark energy and dark matter, and planets outside our solar system.

    July 02, 2019

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

    Roeland van der Marel
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

    NASA has awarded a contract to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
    in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Science Operations Center (SOC) of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. WFIRST is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in a wide-range of science areas, including dark energy and dark matter, and planets outside our solar system.

    WFIRST was ranked as the highest scientific priority for a large space astrophysics mission in the Decadal Survey conducted by the National Research Council in 2010. The launch of WFIRST is planned for the mid-2020s. To be located one million miles beyond Earth, WFIRST’s prime mission will last for five years.

    The approximately $34.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract was issued as a sole-source procurement. The SOC leads work on the mission’s observation scheduling system, wide field instrument data processing system for the direct-imaging mode, and the mission’s entire data archive. STScI has already performed pre-formulation, formulation, and design activities for the WFIRST mission since 2014. The contract enables continued science operations system engineering, design, science research support, and scientific community engagement and public outreach through September 2021.

    STScI is the science operations center for both the Hubble and upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Its expertise with these great observatories puts the Institute in a unique position to support cutting-edge astronomical research well into the future. STScI was established in 1981 on the Johns Hopkins University campus, and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

    AURA/STScI will join a team led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which manages the WFIRST mission for NASA. The team also includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California; the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), also in Pasadena; a science team comprised of members from U.S. research institutions across the country, including STScI astronomers; and various industrial and international partners.

    The WFIRST observatory will follow on the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope. WFIRST has the same-sized mirror, but will have a wide-field view of the universe in near-infrared light. Sharp exposures of millions of far-flung galaxies will be done in a fraction of the time that it would take with Hubble. WFIRST’s deep-space view will cover 100 times the area of sky as Hubble.

    “I am looking forward to the scientific power that WFIRST will provide to the entire astrophysics community. The data sets will be large, accessible to all, and open to support exploration of multiple facets of the universe,” said STScI Deputy Director Nancy Levenson.

    Science research with WFIRST will work in synergy with and complement Webb and extraordinarily powerful new ground-based telescopes going into operation in the 2020 decade. This promises to open a remarkable new era of astrophysics.

    “The WFIRST mission promises to discover thousands of extrasolar planets, survey millions of galaxies, and image billions of individual stars. The research collectively will encompass galactic and stellar populations, environments, evolution, and demographics across all of astrophysics,” said STScI WFIRST Mission Scientist Karoline Gilbert. “Interesting objects discovered by WFIRST can later be studied in more detail by the Webb telescope.”

    In addition to having a wide-field camera, WFIRST will have a coronagraph to block out the glare from a star to look for accompanying planets. This technology demonstrator is expected to find exoplanets, and also pave the way for many of the large space-based missions being studied for the 2030s and beyond, that will directly image Earth-like exoplanets. WFIRST promises to advance the search for worlds that might support life, as we know it.

    “The Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST)
    at STScI already holds the astronomical data from some 20 astronomy missions. The addition of the WFIRST data, including new cloud-based products to support data analysis, will add considerably to its scientific discovery potential for present and future generations of astronomers,” said Arfon Smith, the STScI Data Science Mission Head.

    WFIRST will begin operations after traveling to a gravitational balance point known as Earth-Sun L2, which is located about one million miles from Earth in a direction directly opposite the Sun.

    “WFIRST will offer the world’s astronomers a unique mixture of new capabilities for large surveys, pointed guest-observer science, and archival research. STScI will leverage its expertise in these areas from Hubble, Webb, and other missions. We are thrilled to be able to help NASA, the science teams, and the astronomical community, in making WFIRST a success. The discoveries will be unprecedented,” said Roeland van der Marel, the STScI WFIRST Mission Head.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition</a

    We are the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. We help humanity explore the universe with advanced space telescopes and ever-growing data archives.

    Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

    Founded in 1982, we have helped guide the most famous observatory in history, the Hubble Space Telescope.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Since its launch in 1990, we have performed the science operations for Hubble. We also lead the science and mission operations for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled for launch in 2019.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    We will perform parts of the science operations for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), in formulation for launch in the mid-2020s, and we are partners on several other NASA missions.


    Our staff conducts world-class scientific research; our Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) curates and disseminates data from over 20 astronomical missions;

    Mikulski Archive For Space Telescopes

    and we bring science to the world through internationally recognized news, education, and public outreach programs. We value our diverse workforce and civility in the workplace, and seek to be an example for others to follow.

  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on January 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 20 Gorgeous Hubble Photos That Showcase The Universe’s Beauty, , , , , , , STScI, The Hubble Heritage Team   

    From Ethan Siegel: “20 Gorgeous Hubble Photos That Showcase The Universe’s Beauty” 

    Ethan Siegel
    Jan 1, 2017

    From the birth and deaths of stars to the largest structures in the Universe, Hubble shows us what we’d never see otherwise.

    NASA/ESA The Hubble Space Telescope, as imaged during its last and final servicing mission. Image credit: NASA.0

    When it comes to the Universe itself, perhaps no better views have come, ever, than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. Across a myriad of objects, Hubble’s eyes have shown us the Universe as we’ve never seen it before.

    Here are 20 of its finest moments.

    The Pandora Cluster, known formally as Abell 2744, is a cosmic smash-up of four independent galaxy clusters, all brought together under the irresistible force of gravity. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, & the Hubble Frontier Fields Team.

    Galaxy clusters: The most massive bound structures in the Universe, these contain anywhere from a handful up to thousands of Milky Way-sized galaxies. From incredibly deep views in space to bent light by their gravity, to individual galaxies speeding through them, Hubble offers views like no other.

    When there are bright, massive galaxies in the background of a cluster, their light will get stretched, magnified and distorted due to the general relativistic effects known as gravitational lensing. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and Johan Richard (Caltech, USA) Acknowledgement: Davide de Martin & James Long NASA/ESA Hubble, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team, Space Telescope Science Institute.

    The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, containing over 10,000 galaxies, some of which are clumped and clustered together, is one of the deepest views of the Universe ever taken, showcasing a huge stretch of the Universe from nearby structures to many whose light has traveled for over 13 billion years before reaching us. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Ultra Deep Fields Team.

    This spiral galaxy is leaving a wake of stars, dust, and gas, as it plows through the intra-cluster medium of its home galaxy cluster. The space between these galaxies isn’t completely empty, and that’s what causes this incredible effect. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy).

    Individual galaxies: Whether shaped like spirals, ellipticals, or anything in between, the gas, dust, stars, powerful black holes at the center, and brilliant (pink) star-forming regions highlight these cosmic, island Universes.

    This galaxy has a ‘glowing heart’ because it’s a special type of active galaxy — a Seyfert galaxy — whose central black hole is presently devouring matter and emitting light at a higher temperature and luminosity than all the surrounding regions. Image credit: Space Scoop /NASA/ESA Hubble, D. Calzetti, UMass and the LEGU.S. Team.

    This unusual galaxy is part-way between the evolution from a spiral to a lenticular galaxy, containing both an enormous central bulge and the classic dust lanes associated with a spiral. Over time, if more major mergers occur, this will become a true elliptical. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble.

    This galaxy, like a great many, appears dustier on one side than the other because of how it’s oriented with respect to our line-of-sight. The galaxy is tilted towards us where the dust is most prominent, and away from us where it’s most obscured by the brilliant starlight. Image credit: NASA, ESA and W. Harris — McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.

    The Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) appears pink along its spiral arms due to a large amount of star formation that’s occurring, triggered by an interaction with another nearby galaxy. These pink colors come about because of ionized hydrogen, caused by the heat and UV light from newborn stars formed in these regions. Image credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI / AURA).

    Nebulae: Originating when gas either collapses or gets shocked and heated, these dense configurations attempt to give rise to new stars, while the surrounding environment works to boil the gas off. The race is on.

    As a massive, hot, central star burns through its fuel, its radiation pushes out against the gas-rich interstellar medium, working to evaporate the star-forming gas away and quench this ongoing process. Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team.

    The Eagle Nebula, famed for its ongoing star formation, contains a large number of Bok globules, or dark nebulae, which have not yet evaporated and are working to collapse and form new stars before they disappear entirely. Many of these last remnants will fail, instead leaving only mass clumps and failed stars behind. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble.

    On the other hand, some Bok Globules already have young stars inside of them, like this spectacular Caterpillar-like conglomeration in the Carina Nebula. Image credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith, University of California, Berkeley, and The Hubble Heritage Team. STScI/AURA.

    The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula are some of the most famous, and most spectacular, dusty regions of a star-forming nebula ever captured by any telescope anywhere. Image credit: NASA, ESA / Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

    Individual stars: Whether newborn, middle-aged, or a dying corpse, stars are the building blocks of everything that makes the Universe what it is.

    This dense collection of stars is what you see when you point Hubble towards the galactic center in a relatively dust-free region. Some of the stars appear redder in this image than others, and this is not always due to their intrinsic color, but rather to the amount of dust in between us and the star, along that particular line-of-sight. Image credit: ESA / A. Calamida and K. Sahu, STScI and the SWEEPS Science Team / NASA.

    The largest group of newborn stars in our Local Group of galaxies, cluster R136 contains the most massive stars we’ve ever discovered: over 250 times the mass of our Sun for the largest. Over the next 1–2 million years, there will likely be a large number of supernovae to come from this region of the sky. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and F. Paresce, INAF-IASF, Bologna, R. O’Connell, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee.

    Local Group. Andrew Z. Colvin 3 March 2011

    Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) being tested.

    Ultra-hot, young stars can sometimes form jets, like this Herbig-Haro object in the Orion Nebula, just 1,500 light years away from our position in the galaxy. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble, D. Padgett (Goddard Space Flight Center), T. Megeath (University of Toledo), and B. Reipurth (University of Hawaii).

    This image of the Crab Nebula’s core, a young, massive star that’s recently [1054 C.E.] died in a spectacular supernova explosion, exhibits these characteristic ripples due to the presence of a pulsing, rapidly rotating neutron star: a pulsar. Image credit: NASA / ESA.

    Planetary nebulae: Every star will someday die. These stunning visual examples highlight what might happen to our Sun.

    When seen from a certain orientation, this donut-shaped nebula, known as the Ring Nebula, provides a possible example of what our Sun might become approximately 7 billion years from now, when it dies in a planetary nebula. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and C. Robert O’Dell, Vanderbilt University.

    This planetary nebula may be known as the ‘Butterfly Nebula’, but in reality it’s hot, ionized luminous gas blown off in the death throes of a dying star, and illuminated by the hot, white dwarf this dying star leaves behind. Image credit: STScI / NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team.

    The red spiders nebula, shown here, has ripples and shock waves throughout its gas, due to the ultra-high temperature of its parent star: one of the hottest stars to form a planetary nebula in the known Universe. Image credit: ESA & Garrelt Mellema, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

    Finally, the twin jet nebula shown here is a stunning example of a bipolar nebula, which is thought to originate from either a rapidly rotating star, or a star that’s part of a binary system when it dies. Which one of these, if any, will our Sun someday look like? We’re still working to understand that. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    “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 9:24 am on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , PS1 Science Consortium, STScI   

    From Hubble: “Space Telescope Science Institute to Host Data from World’s Largest Digital Sky Survey” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    December 19, 2016
    Ann Jenkins / Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4488 / 410-338-4514
    jenkins@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu

    Roy Gal
    University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

    Armin Rest
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

    Ken Chambers
    University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

    “The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” said Dr. Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories.

    pann-starrs1-interiorPan-STARRS1 located on Haleakala, Maui, HI, USA

    “Pan-STARRS has made discoveries from Near Earth Objects and Kuiper Belt Objects in the Solar System to lonely planets between the stars; it has mapped the dust in three dimensions in our galaxy and found new streams of stars; and it has found new kinds of exploding stars and distant quasars in the early universe.”

    “With this release we anticipate that scientists — as well as students and even casual users — around the world will make many new discoveries about the universe from the wealth of data collected by Pan-STARRS,” Chambers added.

    The four years of data comprise 3 billion separate sources, including stars, galaxies, and various other objects. The immense collection contains 2 petabytes of data, which is equivalent to one billion selfies, or one hundred times the total content of Wikipedia.

    The first Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) observatory is a 1.8-meter telescope at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui. In May 2010, it embarked on a digital sky survey of the sky in visible and near-infrared light. This was the first survey to observe the entire sky visible from Hawaii multiple times in many colors of light. One of the survey’s goals was to identify moving, transient, and variable objects, including asteroids that could potentially threaten the Earth. The survey took approximately four years to complete, and scanned the sky 12 times in each of five filters.

    This research program was undertaken by the PS1 Science Consortium — a collaboration among 10 research institutions in four countries with support from NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Consortium observations for the sky survey, mapping everything visible from Hawaii, were completed in April 2014. This data is now being released publicly.

    “It’s great to see the Pan-STARRS1 data release supported by the NSF now made available to the general astronomical community,” said Nigel Sharp, Program Director in NSF’s Astronomical Sciences division. “I am impressed by the work the team invested to make the best-calibrated and best-characterized data set they could. I eagerly anticipate the science from mining these data.”

    “The cooperation between STScI and the Pan-STARRS team at the University of Hawaii has been essential to ensuring that this initial data release is successful,” explained Dr. Marc Postman, Head of the Community Missions office at STScI, and liaison between STScI and the PS1 Consortium. “STScI was a natural partner to host the Pan-STARRS public archive given its extensive experience serving astronomy data to the international community. In advance of the release of the Pan-STARRS data, STScI staff helped perform checks of data quality, helped write archive user documentation, tested and installed the local data storage and database query system, and designed, built and deployed the web-based user interfaces to the archive system.”

    The roll-out is being done in two stages. Today’s release is the “Static Sky,” which is the average of each of those individual epochs. For every object, there’s an average value for its position, its brightness, and its colors. In 2017, the second set of data will be released, providing a catalog that gives the information and images for each individual epoch.

    The Space Telescope Science Institute provides the storage hardware, the computers that handle the database queries, and the user-friendly interfaces to access the data.

    The survey data resides in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), which serves as NASA’s repository for all of its optical and ultraviolet-light observations, some of which date to the early 1970s. It includes all of the observational data from such space astrophysics missions as Hubble, Kepler, GALEX, and a wide variety of other telescopes, as well as several all-sky surveys. Pan-STARRS marks the nineteenth mission to be archived in MAST.

    STScI staff members who helped prepare for the Pan-STARRS1 data release are Francesca Boffi, Annalisa Calamida, Stefano Casertano, Vera Gibbs, Romeo Gourgue, Mike Jackson, Tony Keyes, Anton Koekemoer, Dave Liska, Knox Long, Greg Masci, Brian McLean, Prem Mishra, Anthony Obaika, Marc Postman, Armin Rest, Bernie Shiao, Dave Soderblom, Patrick Taylor, Jeff Valenti, and Rick White.

    The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys and its science archive have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, the Queen’s University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation Grant No. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    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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    The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii, is publicly releasing data today from Pan-STARRS — the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System — the world’s largest digital sky survey.


  • richardmitnick 11:16 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Dr. Arfon Smith, , STScI   

    From Hubble: “STScI Appoints Head of Newly Created Data Science Mission Office” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    October 21, 2016
    Donna Weaver

    Ray Villard

    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514


    Dr. Arfon Smith has been selected to lead the newly created Data Science Mission Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. STScI is the science operations center for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled to launch in late 2018. Smith will arrive at STScI in early November.

    The Data Science Mission Head is responsible for maximizing the scientific returns from a huge archive containing astronomical observations from 17 space astronomy missions and ground-based observatories. Called the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), the data facility is named in honor of Maryland U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski.

    The new mission head will work closely with STScI staff to optimize the Institute’s ability to help the scientific community address the big challenges of accessing and working with large, complex astronomical observations.

    “I am very pleased that Dr. Smith will be joining us at STScI,” said STScI Director Ken Sembach. “Our data holdings enable breakthrough science, are in high demand by the astronomical community, and are increasing rapidly. To further enable the community to tap into the tremendous science potential of this resource and the data produced by future missions such as JWST and WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope), we are consolidating our data science efforts under our new Data Science Mission Office. I am confident this will enable better service, easier access, and the creation of new high-value data products that will expand the frontiers of astrophysics.”

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated


    One of Smith’s main goals is to help astronomers conduct their research by streamlining and simplifying how they access the MAST archive.

    “Trying to pull together decades of Hubble data, for example, is not only a data storage challenge for a researcher but also a technical challenge,” Smith said. “So I think there is a huge opportunity to improve the tools and services around archival data that are available to the astronomers so that we can better empower their research. We should be helping people do the most amazing science they can possibly do.”

    Smith also is looking to the future, when powerful new telescopes, such as JWST and WFIRST, begin operation.

    “The long-term thinking that is required to deliver a successful mission, those timescales are very different from, for example, how fast technology moves,” Smith explained. “In the time Hubble has been in space, the Internet was developed and is now used by everybody. Because of these technological advances, the way science can be done has changed significantly over the lifetime of a single mission. One thing I’m keen to explore is how we can be a reliable, robust infrastructure that’s always there for the astronomical community but also how we can incorporate the best technological and methodological advances happening in the community.

    “In the future, major space astronomy missions will produce large, unwieldy data sets,” Smith continued. “We’re not going to be in a good position to do our science unless we catch up in terms of thinking about what tools and technology and approaches we can take to accommodate them.”

    Since 2013, Smith has been a project scientist and program manager at GitHub, Inc., the world’s largest platform for open source software. His duties included working to develop innovative strategies for sharing data and software in academia. Smith also helped to define GitHub’s business strategy for public data products, and he played a key role in establishing the company’s first data science and data engineering teams. He received his doctorate in astrochemistry in 2006 from the University of Nottingham in Nottinghamshire, U.K.

    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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