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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 21 Feb 2020, 13:13 UTC The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is no stranger to spiral galaxies. The telescope has brought us some of the most beautiful images ever taken of our spiral neighbors — and the galaxy known as NGC 4689 is no exception.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Feb 2020, 18:00 UTC Surprising new data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suggests the smooth, settled "brim" of the Sombrero galaxy's disk may be concealing a turbulent past. Hubble's sharpness and sensitivity resolves tens of thousands of individual stars in the Sombrero's vast, extended halo, the region beyond a galaxy's central portion, typically made of older stars. These latest observations of the Sombrero are turning conventional theory on its head, showing only a tiny fraction of older, metal-poor stars in the halo, plus an unexpected abundance of metal-rich stars typically found only in a galaxy's disk, and the central bulge. Past major galaxy mergers are a possible explanation, though the stately Sombrero shows none of the messy evidence of a recent merger of massive galaxies.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory 20 Feb 2020, 16:08 UTC A double star system has been flipping between two alter egos, according to observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation's Karl F. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). Using nearly a decade and a half worth of Chandra data, researchers noticed that a stellar duo behaved like one type of object before switching its identity, and then returning to its original state after a few years. This is a rare example of a star system changing its behavior in this way.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 18 Feb 2020, 21:52 UTC NASA's Juno mission has provided its first science results on the amount of water in Jupiter's atmosphere. Published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy, the Juno results estimate that at the equator, water makes up about 0.25% of the molecules in Jupiter's atmosphere - almost three times that of the Sun. These are also the first findings on the gas giant's abundance of water since the agency's 1995 Galileo mission suggested Jupiter might be extremely dry compared to the Sun (the comparison is based not on liquid water but on the presence of its components, oxygen and hydrogen, present in the Sun).
New Horizons 18 Feb 2020, 19:00 UTC Ninety years ago today, Clyde Tombaugh, a young astronomer working at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered Pluto. In doing so he unknowingly opened the door to the vast "third zone" of the solar system we now know as the Kuiper Belt, containing countless planetesimals and dwarf planets—the third class of planets in our solar system.
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Sky and Telescope 21 Feb 2020, 13:14 UTC Within the first several billion years of the universe, galaxies were growing like the newborns they were — turning gas into stars, sometimes at fantastic rates. But astronomers have discovered one massive galaxy that has apparently stopped forming stars altogether.
Universe Today 21 Feb 2020, 13:12 UTC Sending a mission to moons of Mars has been on the wish list for mission planners and space enthusiasts for quite some time. For the past few years, however, a team of Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) engineers and scientists have been working on putting such a mission together.
Scientific American 20 Feb 2020, 14:22 UTC Not that long ago, it seemed the glory days of NASA’s New Horizons mission were in the rearview mirror, left behind with its historic Pluto encounter in 2015. Then, early last year, the spacecraft streaked by Arrokoth, a bit of flotsam drifting through the Kuiper Belt—the diffuse ring of primitive icy bodies beyond Neptune, of which Pluto is the largest member.
Sky and Telescope 19 Feb 2020, 15:32 UTC With the February dark of the Moon upon us, we have a fine opportunity to enjoy some winter sights. Perhaps most appealing for naked-eye observers is an impressive collection of stellar luminaries. Face south at nightfall, and no fewer than seven stars of first magnitude or brighter can be taken in with a single view. Most are included in the Winter Hexagon, as shown in the chart above.