13 Dec 2017, 11:00 UTC The OmegaCAM camera on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope has captured this glittering view of the stellar nursery called Sharpless 29. Many astronomical phenomena can be seen in this giant image, including cosmic dust and gas clouds that reflect, absorb, and re-emit the light of hot young stars within the nebula. Next Previous
12 Dec 2017, 18:00 UTC Next Previous
5 Dec 2017, 15:22 UTC Next Previous
29 Nov 2017, 19:00 UTC A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized planet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. Next Previous
29 Nov 2017, 11:00 UTC Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have conducted the deepest spectroscopic survey ever. They focused on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, measuring distances and properties of 1600 very faint galaxies including 72 galaxies that have never been detected before, even by Hubble itself. This groundbreaking dataset has already resulted in 10 science papers that are being published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics. This wealth of new information is giving astronomers insight into star formation in the early Universe, and allows them to study the motions and other properties of early galaxies — made possible by MUSE’s unique spectroscopic capabilities. Next Previous
27 Nov 2017, 16:00 UTC
Science Release: Hubble and Gaia team up to measure 3D stellar motion with record-breaking precisionNext Previous
20 Nov 2017, 16:00 UTC For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object. The new results appear in the journal Nature on 20 November 2017. Next Previous
16 Nov 2017, 16:38 UTC Twice as big as Earth, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e was thought to have lava flows on its surface. The planet is so close to its star, the same side of the planet always faces the star, such that the planet has permanent day and night sides. Based on a 2016 study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists speculated that lava would flow freely in lakes on the starlit side and become hardened on the face of perpetual darkness. The lava on the dayside would reflect radiation from the star, contributing to the overall observed temperature of the planet. Next Previous
16 Nov 2017, 16:00 UTC This artist’s impression shows a cutaway view of the parts of the Universe that SDSS-V will study. SDSS-V will study millions of stars to create a map of the entire Milky Way. Farther out, the survey will get the most detailed view yet of the largest nearby galaxies like Andromeda in the Northern Hemisphere and the Large Magellanic Cloud in the Southern hemisphere. Even farther out, the survey will measure quasars, bright points of light powered by matter falling into giant black holes. Image Credit: Artist’s Conception of SDSS-V: Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS The next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V), directed by Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science, will move forward with mapping the entire sky following a $16 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The grant will kickstart a groundbreaking all-sky spectroscopic survey for a next wave of discovery, anticipated to start in 2020. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been one of the most-successful and influential surveys in the history of astronomy, creating the most-detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky, and spectra for more than three ... Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 15 Dec 2017, 15:43 UTC Galaxies glow like fireflies in this spectacular NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image! This flickering swarm of cosmic fireflies is a rich cluster of galaxies called Abell 2163.
NASA Breaking News 14 Dec 2017, 18:00 UTC Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star, with the recent discovery of an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light-years from Earth. The planet was discovered in data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 14 Dec 2017, 15:00 UTC Each year, ozone-depleting compounds in the upper atmosphere destroy the protective ozone layer, and in particular above Antarctica. The ozone layer acts as Earth's sunscreen by absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from incoming sunlight that can cause skin cancer and damage plants, among other harmful effects to life on Earth. While these different compounds each release either reactive chlorine or bromine, the two active ozone-destroying ingredients, during a series of chemical reactions, the molecules have a range of different lifetimes in the atmosphere that can affect their ultimate impact on the ozone layer and its future recovery.
ESA Top News 14 Dec 2017, 10:00 UTC Which way is up in space? Planets are usually shown with the north pole at the top and the south pole at the bottom. In this remarkable image taken by ESA’s Mars Express, the Red Planet is seen with north at the bottom, and the equator at the top.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 13 Dec 2017, 16:44 UTC How long might a rocky, Mars-like planet be habitable if it were orbiting a red dwarf star? It's a complex question but one that NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission can help answer.
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Universe Today 15 Dec 2017, 18:44 UTC The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission is an ambitious project. Having launched in December of 2013, the purpose of this space observatory has been to measure the position and distances of 1 billion objects – including stars, extra-solar planets, comets, asteroids and even quasars. From this, astronomers hope to create the most detailed 3D space catalog of the cosmos ever made. Back in 2016, the first batch of Gaia data (based on its first 14 months in space) was released. Since then, scientists have been pouring over the raw data to obtain clearer images of the neighboring stars and galaxies that were studied by the mission. The latest images to be released, based on Gaia data, included revealing pictures of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the Andromeda galaxy, and the Triangulum galaxy.
Universe Today 15 Dec 2017, 17:46 UTC In 2012, the Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields program (aka. Hubble Deep Fields Initiative 2012) officially kicked off. The purpose of this project was to study the faintest and most distant galaxies in the Universe using the gravitational lensing technique, thus advancing our knowledge of early galaxy formation. By 2017, the Frontier Field program wrapped up, and the hard work of analyzing all the data it collected began. One of the more interesting finds within the Frontier Fields data has been the discovery of low mass galaxies with high star formation rates. After examining the “parallel fields” for Abell 2744 and MACS J0416.1-2403 – two galaxy clusters studied by the program – a pair of astronomers noted the presence of what they refer to as “Little Blue Dots” (LBDs), a finding which has implications for galaxy formation and globular clusters.
Tim Kendall's Extreme Astrophysics 15 Dec 2017, 15:33 UTC In a recent paper, Goto et al., (preprint) have used infrared absorption spectroscopy of background stars to probe ice formation on grains in the Pipe nebula (APOD image and credits), detecting water ice absorption in seven out of 21 lines of sight investigated. The peak optical depths of the water ice are about half as large as those on the sources in Taurus with similar visual extinctions. One possible explanation (among others) is that the formation of the ice mantle has just started, that is, the Pipe Nebula is in an earlier phase of ice evolution than Taurus is. Alternatively the interstellar radiation field impinging on the Pipe nebula is larger than that on the Taurus molecular cloud, or the visual extinction through the Pipe nebula may have been overestimated. From the abstract: Spectroscopic studies of ices in nearby star-forming regions indicate that ice mantles form on dust grains in two distinct steps, starting with polar ice formation (water rich) and switching to apolar ice (CO rich). We test how well the picture applies to more diffuse and quiescent clouds where the formation of the first layers of ice mantles can be witnessed. Medium-resolution near-infrared spectra are obtained toward background ...
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Oumuamua Interstellar Visitor: 1st of 4 Observations Via Greenbank Radio Telescope--"No Detection Yet of Alien Technology" (WATCH ESO Video)15 Dec 2017, 15:24 UTC "It is great to see data pouring in from observations of this novel and interesting source," said Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center. "Our team is excited to see what additional observations and analyses will reveal." Oumuamua was discovered by the Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii in October 2017, passing Earth at about 85 times the distance to the Moon – a stone’s throw, in astronomical terms. Oumuamua is a Hawaiian name meaning "messenger" or "scout". This scout may have been travelling through space for hundreds of millions, even billions, of years. It is the first object discovered in the solar system that appears to originate from another star system. Its high speed – 196,000 mph at its peak – suggests it is not gravitationally bound to the Sun, but will continue its voyage back into interstellar space. It has a highly unusual structure for an asteroid – an elongated cigar shape, hundreds of meters in length but with width and height perhaps only one tenth as long. Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimize ...
All About Space 15 Dec 2017, 12:18 UTC The Kepler-90 planetary system now matches our solar system for the number of planets within the system. Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Centre/W. Stenzel Our Solar System is no longer the frontrunner for the ‘most number of planets orbiting a single star’. This comes after news that Google-led artificial intelligence discovered a new world around the star Kepler-90, 2,545 light years from Earth. The eighth planet was found amongst the vast data collected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. The recently discovered exoplanet – a planet outside of our solar system – Kepler-90i, is a rocky planet that is roasted due to the close proximity to its host star, completing one orbiting every 14.4 days. This planet was discovered in an unusual and impressive fashion, as it was found by using a machine learning approach created by Google. As the Kepler data set is so massive, the tech giant put this technique to the test by searching for changes in starlight caused by planets passing in front of their stars. “Just as we expected, there are exciting discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them,” says Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in ...