Tagged: Universities Space Research Association Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 4:46 pm on January 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnetic 'Highway' Channels Materials out of Cigar Galaxy Messier 82", , , , , , , Starburst galaxy, Universities Space Research Association   

    From Universities Space Research Association: “Magnetic ‘Highway’ Channels Materials out of Cigar Galaxy Messier 82” 

    usra-bloc

    From Universities Space Research Association

    January 14, 2021

    Suraiya Farukhi, Ph.D.
    Director, External Communications
    sfarukhi@usra.edu
    443-812-6945

    What’s fueling the massive ejection of gas and dust out of the Cigar galaxy, otherwise known at Messier 82?

    1
    Magnetic fields in Messier 82, or the Cigar galaxy, are shown as lines over a visible light and infrared composite image of the galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared telescope no longer in service. Launched in 2003 and retired on 30 January 2020. Credit: NASA.

    Stellar winds streaming from hot new stars form a galactic super wind that is blasting out plumes of hot gas (red) and a huge halo of smoky dust (yellow/orange) perpendicular to the narrow galaxy (white). Researchers used the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy magnetic field data and tools that have been used extensively to study the physics around the Sun to extrapolate the magnetic field’s strength 20,000 lights-years around the galaxy. They appear to extend indefinitely into intergalactic space, like the Sun’s solar wind, and may help explain how the gas and dust have traveled so far away from the galaxy. Credit: NASA, SOFIA, L. Proudfit; NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team; NASA, JPL-Caltech, C. Engelbracht

    NASA/DLR SOFIA modified Boeing 747 aircraft.

    We know that thousands of stars bursting into existence are driving a powerful super-wind that’s blowing matter into intergalactic space. New research shows that magnetic fields are also contributing to the expulsion of material from Messier 82, a well-known example of a starburst galaxy with a distinctive, elongated shape.

    The findings from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, help explain how dust and gas can move from inside galaxies into intergalactic space, offering clues to how galaxies formed. This material is enriched with elements like carbon and oxygen that support life and are the building blocks for future galaxies and stars. The research was presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

    SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR, previously studied the direction of magnetic fields close to the core of Messier 82, as the Cigar galaxy is officially known. This time the team applied tools that have been used extensively to study the physics around the Sun, known as heliophysics, to understand the magnetic field’s strength surrounding the galaxy at a distance 10 times larger than before.

    “This is old physics for studying the Sun, but new for galaxies,” said Joan Schmelz, an associate director at the Universities Space Research Association based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and co-author of the upcoming paper about this research. “It’s helping us understand how the space between stars and galaxies became so rich with matter for future cosmic generations.”

    Located 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major, the Cigar galaxy is undergoing an exceptionally high rate of star formation called a starburst. The star formation is so intense that it creates a “super wind” that blows material out of the galaxy. As SOFIA previously found using the instrument called the High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera, the wind drags the magnetic field near the galaxy’s core so that it’s perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy across 2,000 light-years.

    NASA/DLR SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera.

    Researchers wanted to learn if the magnetic field lines would extend indefinitely into intergalactic space like the magnetic environment in the solar wind, or turn over to form structures similar coronal loops that are found in active regions of the Sun. They calculate that the galaxy’s magnetic fields extend out like the solar wind, allowing the material blown by the super wind to escape into intergalactic space.

    These extended magnetic fields may help explain how gas and dust spotted by space telescopes have traveled so far away from the galaxy. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope detected dusty material 20,000 lightyears beyond the galaxy, but it was unclear why it had spread so far away from the stars in both directions instead of in a cone-shaped jet.

    “The magnetic fields may be acting like a highway, creating lanes for galactic material to spread far and wide into intergalactic space,” said Jordan Guerra Aguilera, a postdoctoral researcher at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and co-author on the upcoming paper.

    With rare exceptions, the magnetic field in the solar corona cannot be measured directly. So, about 50 years ago, scientists developed methods to accurately extrapolate magnetic fields from the Sun’s surface into interplanetary space, known in heliophysics as the potential field extrapolation. Using SOFIA’s existing observations of central magnetic fields, the research team modified this method to estimate the magnetic field 25,000 light-years around the Cigar galaxy.

    “We can’t easily measure the magnetic fields at scales this large, but we can extrapolate it with these tools from heliophysics,” said Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez, a Universities Space Research Association scientist for SOFIA based at Ames and lead author on the study. “This new, interdisciplinary method gives us the larger perspective that we need to understand starburst galaxies.”

    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center [DLR]. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science, and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Building 703, in Palmdale, California. The High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera instrument was developed and delivered to NASA by a multi-institution team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

    SIGNIFICANCE & PURPOSE

    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:25 pm on January 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Universities Space Research Association   

    From Universities Space Research Association: “Magnetic Chaos Hidden Within the Whirlpool Galaxy” 

    usra-bloc

    From Universities Space Research Association

    January 14, 2021

    Suraiya Farukhi, Ph.D.
    Director, External Communications
    sfarukhi@usra.edu
    443-812-6945

    1
    Magnetic field streamlines detected by SOFIA are shown over an image of the Whirlpool galaxy, Messier 51, from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. For the first time, SOFIA’s infrared view shows that the magnetic fields in the outer arms do not follow the galaxy’s spiral shape and are instead distorted. The intense star formation activity in theses regions, shown in red, may be causing the chaos, along with the forces from neighboring galaxy, NGC 5195, tugging on one of the spiral arms. Credit: NASA, the SOFIA science team, A. Borlaff; NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

    NASA/DLR SOFIA modified Boeing 747 aircraft.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope.

    Not all appears as it would seem in the Whirlpool galaxy. One of the best-studied spiral galaxies and a delight to amateur astronomers, Messier 51, as it’s officially named, is influenced by powerful, invisible forces.

    Located 31 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici, the galaxy’s arms are strikingly visible as they reach out along the central spine structure displaying swirling clouds of gas and dust are massive star-making factories. But new observations by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, presented at this week’s 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, shows a more complicated picture. The lead author of the study on an upcoming paper is Alejandro Borlaff, Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA Ames Research Center, and USRA scientist Enrique Lopez- Rodriguez (based at Ames Research Center) is a co-author on the upcoming paper.

    Radio telescopes previously detected neatly-drawn magnetic fields throughout the length of the galaxy’s massive arms. But under SOFIA’s infrared gaze for the first time those lines give way to a chaotic scene in the outer spiral arms. Using a far-infrared camera and imaging polarimeter instrument called the High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera, or HAWC+, researchers found that the magnetic fields in the outskirts of the galaxy no longer follow the spiral structure and are instead distorted.

    NASA/DLR SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera.

    What’s causing all this magnetic pandemonium? The intense star formation in these areas creates chaos that can only be seen with infrared flight. A nearby, yellowish galaxy called NGC 5195 tugging at the outermost tip of one of the arms adds to the turmoil, possibly strengthening the magnetic fields. The research builds on SOFIA’s previous findings that show magnetic fields are important in shaping spiral galaxies and helps unravel the complex role magnetic fields play in the evolution of galaxies.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

    SIGNIFICANCE & PURPOSE

    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on November 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ancient life signs under dinosaur-killing Chicxulub crater", Ancient microbial ecosystem, , Universities Space Research Association   

    From Universities Space Research Association: “Ancient life signs under dinosaur-killing Chicxulub crater” 

    usra-bloc

    From Universities Space Research Association

    October 30, 2020

    Suraiya Farukhi, Ph.D.
    Director, External Communications
    sfarukhi@usra.edu
    443-812-6945

    1
    Chicxulub crater. Credit: NatGeo.

    3
    Location of Chicxulub crater via Wikipedia.

    4
    Surface outline of Chicxulub Crater as we see it today, beneath the northern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula, México. Image via Kring et al./ NASA/ Astrobiology.

    6
    Microscopic image of sulfide grains and pyrite spheres in the core sample from Chicxulub Crater. Image via Kring et al./ Astrobiology.

    A new study reveals that the Chicxulub impact crater and its hydrothermal system hosted a subterranean ecosystem that could provide a glimpse of Earth’s primordial life.

    The Chicxulub impact crater, roughly 180 kilometers in diameter, is the best-preserved large impact structure on Earth. It is also the best example of the types of impact craters that were produced on Earth during a period of heavy bombardment more than 3800 million years ago.

    Impact events during that period, called the Hadean by geologists, were common and often immense, and produced craters thousands of miles across. Previous research suggested that the largest of those impact events episodically vaporized the oceans and enveloped the Earth in a steamy, rock-vapor-filled atmosphere. During those times, the surface of the Earth was considered uninhabitable.

    When life could not exist on the Earth’s surface, scientists wondered, could it have lurked beneath crater floors in subterranean systems of hydrothermal fluids that streamed through rock fractured by the impact event? A principal author of that concept, Universities Space Research Association’s David Kring at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), called that concept the impact origin of life hypothesis.

    Earlier this year, an international team of scientists, led by Dr. Kring, answered part of that question. They showed that the Chicxulub crater hosted a vast hydrothermal system that persisted for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions of years. That important finding was revealed in rock core extracted from the peak ring of the crater by an expedition supported by the International Ocean Discovery Program and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program.

    2
    Section of the Chicxulub core with the hydrothermal minerals dachiardite (bright orange) and analcime (colorless and transparent). The minerals partially fill cavities in the rock that were niches for microbial ecosystems. This is a composite illustration of core section 0077-53R-3 and a closeup image of a portion of core section 0077-63R-2. Credit: David A. Kring of the USRA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute.

    In a new study, released today in the journal Astrobiology, Kring and his colleagues, Dr. Martin Whitehouse of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Dr. Martin Schmieder of Neu-Ulm University in Germany, show that the system also harbored life. From 15,000 kilograms (33,000 pounds) of rock recovered from a 1.3-kilometer-deep borehole, the authors located tiny spheres of the mineral pyrite, only 10 millionths of a meter in diameter. Isotopes of sulfur in the mineral showed the spheres of pyrite, called framboids, were formed by a microbial ecosystem adapted to the hot mineral-laden fluid of a hydrothermal system that coursed through the shattered peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater. Life in the system extracted energy – or fed from – chemical reactions that occurred in the fluid-filled rock system. The microbes took advantage of sulfate, which was in the fluid, being converted to sulfide, which was preserved as pyrite, providing the energy that the microbes needed to thrive. The sulfate-reducing, hot-water (thermophilic) organisms were like some of the bacteria and archaea found at Yellowstone and other hydrothermal systems.

    3
    A three-dimensional cross-section of the hydrothermal system in the Chicxulub impact crater and its seafloor vents. The system has the potential for harboring microbial life. Credit: Victor O. Leshyk for the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

    The search for that evidence has taken twenty years, since a link between Chicxulub, the life-giving potential of an impact-cratered hydrothermal system, and the origin of life on Earth was first postulated.

    In a series of studies over those two decades, scientists showed the Chicxulub crater had a porous, permeable subsurface environment; that the crater hosted a vast hydrothermal system; and, finally, in the current study released today, that the system hosted a microbial ecosystem. The new finding is an important milestone and suggests that impact sites during the Hadean could have hosted similar systems that provided niches for the early evolution of life on our planet.

    This research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

    SIGNIFICANCE & PURPOSE

    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on January 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes", , , , , Universities Space Research Association,   

    From Universities Space Research Association via phys.org: “Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes” 

    usra-bloc

    From Universities Space Research Association

    via


    phys.org

    January 3, 2020
    Suraiya Farukhi

    1
    This figure shows the volcanic peak Idunn Mons (at 46 degrees south latitude, 214.5 degrees east longitude) in the Imdr Regio area of Venus. The colored overlay shows the heat patterns derived from surface brightness data collected by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS), aboard the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft. Credit: NASA

    ESA VIRTIS Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer

    ESA/Venus Express

    New research led by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and published today in Science Advances shows that lava flows on Venus may be only a few years old, suggesting that Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

    “If Venus is indeed active today, it would make a great place to visit to better understand the interiors of planets,” says Dr. Justin Filiberto, the study’s lead author and a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). “For example, we could study how planets cool and why the Earth and Venus have active volcanism, but Mars does not. Future missions should be able to see these flows and changes in the surface and provide concrete evidence of its activity.”

    Radar imaging from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft in the early 1990s revealed Venus, our neighboring planet, to be a world of volcanoes and extensive lava flows.

    NASA/Magellan spacecraft mission to Venus, May 4, 1989-Oct. 13, 1994

    In the 2000s, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Venus Express [above] orbiter shed new light on volcanism on Venus by measuring the amount of infrared light emitted from part of Venus’ surface (during its nighttime).

    These new data allowed scientists to identify fresh versus altered lava flows on the surface of Venus. However, until recently, the ages of lava eruptions and volcanoes on Venus were not well known because the alteratiion rate of fresh lava was not well constrained.

    Dr. Filiberto and his colleagues recreated Venus’ hot caustic atmosphere in the laboratory to investigate how the observed Venusian minerals react and change over time. Their experimental results showed that an abundant mineral in basalt—olivine—reacts rapidly with the atmosphere and within weeks becomes coated with the iron oxide minerals—magnetite and hematite. They further found that the Venus Express observations of this change in minerology would only take a few years to occur. Thus, the new results by Filiberto and coauthors suggest that these lava flows on Venus are very young, which in turn would imply that Venus does indeed have active volcanoes.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

    SIGNIFICANCE & PURPOSE

    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: