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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 21 Apr 2017, 19:04 UTC
Hubble Space Telescope News 20 Apr 2017, 18:00 UTC
Stellar Astrophysics Centre at the University of Aarhus 20 Apr 2017, 09:55 UTC The astronomers will never be content! They strive to observe the faintest stars possible, and this means that some of the brighter stars are actually too bright to observe with modern equipment. A workaround to this has now been developed by an international group of astronomers led by Tim White of Stellar Astrophysics Centre, Aarhus University and the method has been tested successfully on the seven brightest stars in the open cluster named the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.
ALMA NAOJ 20 Apr 2017, 05:06 UTC An international research team, led by Chin-Fei Lee in Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA, Taiwan), has made a new high-fidelity image with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), catching a protostar (baby star) being fed with a dusty "Hamburger", which is a dusty accretion disk. This new image not only confirms the formation of an accretion disk around a very young protostar, but also reveals the vertical structure of the disk for the first time in the earliest phase of star formation. It not only poses a big challenge on some current theories of disk formation, but also potentially brings us key insights on the processes of grain growth and settling that are important to planet formation. Figure 1: Jet and disk in the HH 212 protostellar system: (a) A composite image for the jet in different molecules, produced by combining the images from the Very Large Telescope (McCaughrean et al. 2002) and ALMA (Lee et al. 2015). Orange image around the center shows the dusty envelope+disk at submillimeter wavelength obtained with ALMA at 200 AU resolution. (b) A zoom-in to the very center for the dusty disk at 8 AU resolution. Asterisks mark the possible position ...
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NASASpaceFlight.com 21 Apr 2017, 16:53 UTC Nearly 20 years after launch and almost 13 years at the majestic ringed planet, the Cassini spacecraft is about to enter the final phase of its historic mission. The Grand Finale of Cassini’s mission will begin Sunday morning, setting up a series of close-proximity ops to the planet as Cassini dives between the innermost edge of Saturn’s rings and the planet itself to prepare for atmospheric entry into Saturn and the end of its mission on 15 September 2017.
Astronomy Now 21 Apr 2017, 12:51 UTC The composite image of NGC 4696 shows a vast cloud of hot gas (red), surrounding high-energy bubbles 10,000 light years across (blue) on either side of the bright white area around the supermassive black hole. Images of the other galaxies in the study show a similar structure. (The green dots in the image show infrared radiation from star clusters on the outer edges of the galaxy). Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.Allen et al; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G.Taylor; Infrared: NASA/ESA/McMaster Univ./W.Harris At the center of the Centaurus galaxy cluster, there is a large elliptical galaxy called NGC 4696. Deeper still, there is a supermassive black hole buried within the core of this galaxy. New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes has revealed details about this giant black hole, located some 145 million light years from Earth. Although the black hole itself is undetected, astronomers are learning about the impact it has on the galaxy it inhabits and the larger cluster around it. In some ways, this black hole resembles a beating heart that pumps blood outward into the body via the arteries. Likewise, a black hole can inject material and energy into its host galaxy and beyond. By examining the details of ...
Astronaut.com 21 Apr 2017, 11:36 UTC Astronomers catch a galaxy magnifying and splitting the light from a supernova Although the night sky often seems so peaceful and still, a closer look reveals constant movement and change. The Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) in California looks for ephemeral phenomena in the heavens, like stars that fluctuate in brightness, or planets passing in front of their stars. One night in September of 2016, the observatory spotted something that hadn’t been there before: a supernova had popped onto the scene. “What caught my immediate attention on this one is that it was way too bright, considering its distance to us,” says Ariel Goobar, a cosmology and physics researcher at Stockholm University. “It shone more than 50 times more intensely than it should.” Once he and his colleagues were sure there was nothing wrong with their data, they realized that the light from the supernova was getting magnified by a galaxy passing in front of it. Zooming in, they realized they could actually see four different images of the supernova surrounding the intervening galaxy. The results are published today in Science, and they could help measure how quickly the universe is expanding—something cosmologists are still debating. A warped perspective Like ...
EarthSky Blog 21 Apr 2017, 11:21 UTC Artist’s concept of the Cassini spacecraft and Saturn’s large moon Titan. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft – which has been orbiting Saturn, weaving among its rings and moons since 2004 and which now is nearly out of fuel – will make its final close flyby of Saturn’s largest moon, haze-enshrouded Titan, this weekend. Closest approach to Titan is planned for 11:08 p.m. PDT on April 21 (2:08 a.m. EDT or 6:08 UTC on April 22; translate UTC to your time zone). During the encounter, Cassini will pass as close as 608 miles (979 km) above Titan’s surface at a speed of about 13,000 mph (21,000 kph). NASA said: The flyby marks the mission’s final opportunity for up-close observations of the lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons that spread across the moon’s northern polar region, and the last chance to use its powerful radar to pierce the haze and make detailed images of the surface. The flyby is also the gateway to Cassini’s Grand Finale — a final set of 22 orbits that pass between the planet and its rings, ending with a plunge into Saturn on Sept. 15 that will end the mission. During the close pass on April ...