7 Mar 2018, 11:00 UTC New data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and other telescopes have been used to create this stunning image showing a web of filaments in the Orion Nebula. These features appear red-hot and fiery in this dramatic picture, but in reality are so cold that astronomers must use telescopes like ALMA to observe them. Next Previous
1 Mar 2018, 18:00 UTC Next Previous
1 Mar 2018, 16:13 UTC Researchers have found a star that shines more than a million times as bright as the sun. Next Previous
26 Feb 2018, 13:50 UTC Space weather emitted by Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our sun, may make that system rather inhospitable to life after all. Using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a team of astronomers discovered that a powerful stellar flare erupted from Proxima Centauri last March. This finding, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, raises questions about the habitability of our solar system’s nearest exoplanetary neighbor, Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri. Next Previous
15 Feb 2018, 16:10 UTC The biggest black holes in the Universe are growing faster than the rate of stars being formed in their galaxies, according to two new studies using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. Next Previous
14 Feb 2018, 15:00 UTC Beauty, grace, mystery — this magnificent spiral galaxy has all the qualities of a perfect galactic Valentine. Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 3344 presents itself face-on, allowing astronomers a detailed look at its intricate and elegant structure. And Hubble’s ability to observe objects over a wide range of different wavelengths reveals features that would otherwise remain invisible. Next Previous
5 Feb 2018, 16:00 UTC A new study has found that the seven planets orbiting the nearby ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 are all made mostly of rock, and some could potentially hold more water than Earth. The planets' densities, now known much more precisely than before, suggest that some of them could have up to 5 percent of their mass in the form of water — about 250 times more than Earth's oceans. Next Previous
31 Jan 2018, 23:41 UTC A new self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle on Vera Rubin Ridge, which it has been investigating for the past several months. Directly behind the rover is the start of a clay-rich slope scientists are eager to begin exploring. In coming weeks, Curiosity will begin to climb this slope. In the image, north is on the left and west is on the right, with Gale Crater's rim on the horizon of both edges. Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 23 Mar 2018, 14:25 UTC The exquisite sharpness of this 2005 image from NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has plucked out an underlying population of infant stars embedded in the nebula NGC 346 that are still forming from gravitationally collapsing gas clouds. They have not yet ignited their hydrogen fuel to sustain nuclear fusion. The smallest of these infant stars is only half the mass of our Sun.
ESO Supernova 23 Mar 2018, 10:00 UTC The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre offers unique venue alternatives for event organisers in Munich. Our events brochure provides information about the spaces for hire and the available services.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 22 Mar 2018, 21:46 UTC NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.
HubbleSite NewsCenter -- Latest News Releases 22 Mar 2018, 17:00 UTC On the outskirts of our galaxy, a cosmic tug-of-war is unfolding—and only NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope can see who’s winning. The players are two dwarf galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud, both of which orbit our own Milky Way Galaxy. But as they go around the Milky Way, they are also orbiting each other. Each one tugs at the other, and one of them has pulled out a huge cloud of gas from its companion.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 21 Mar 2018, 23:52 UTC A new particle detector design proposed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) could greatly broaden the search for dark matter – which makes up 85 percent of the total mass of the universe yet we don’t know what it’s made of – into an unexplored realm.
ESA Science & Technology 20 Mar 2018, 10:49 UTC ARIEL, the Atmospheric Remote‐sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large‐survey mission, was selected by ESA today as part of its Cosmic Vision plan. The mission addresses one of the key themes of Cosmic Vision: What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?
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Spaceflight Now 23 Mar 2018, 20:46 UTC Ground crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California raised a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on its launch pad earlier this month in preparation for liftoff May 5 with NASA’s InSight lander heading to Mars. The two-stage rocket was assembled in three pieces, beginning with the stacking of the Atlas 5’s first stage booster March 3 at Space Launch Complex 3-East. The first stage’s RD-180 main engine will burn a mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen to send the InSight spacecraft out of the Earth’s atmosphere during the first four minutes of the flight.
Centauri Dreams 23 Mar 2018, 17:47 UTC The possibility of applying the Space-X Falcon-Heavy booster to human exploration of the inner solar system is discussed. A human-rated Dragon command module and an inflatable habitat module would house and support the 2-4 person crew during a ~1 year interplanetary venture. To minimize effects of galactic cosmic rays, older astronauts should conduct the mission during Solar Maximum. Crew life support is discussed as is application of a ~1-km square solar photon sail. The sail would be applied to rendezvous with the destination Near Earth Object (NEO) and to accelerate the spacecraft on its return to Earth. An on-line NASA trajectory browser has been used to examine optimized trajectories and destinations during 2025-2026. A suitable destination with well established solar-orbital parameters is Asteroid 2009 HC. Because the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) has a greater throw mass than the Falcon-Heavy, the primary propulsion for NEO rendezvous and Earth return would likely be a chemical rocket. The sail would be used in this case as an abort mechanism and a back-up for the primary propulsion system. In either scenario, a single Falcon-Heavy or SLS launch would be adequate.
Sky and Telescope 23 Mar 2018, 14:57 UTC Astronomers working with the INTEGRAL (International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) satellite have recently observed a neutron star going aflame in a burst of X-rays, ignited by material from its companion, a red giant star. The observations, which appear in February 27th Astronomy & Astrophysics, might mark the birth of a rare pair of stars.
Starts With a Bang! 23 Mar 2018, 14:01 UTC In 1915, Albert Einstein published his General theory of Relativity, replacing our old Newtonian worldview with a unified concept of spacetime. On one side of Einstein’s equations, the matter and energy in the Universe told spacetime how to curve; on the other side, the curved fabric of spacetime told matter and energy how to move. The complicated nature of these equations ensured that exact solutions would be hard to find, as Einstein himself only ever found two: one for completely empty space and one for a single mass in the weak-field limit. The next year, Karl Schwarzschild found the first interesting solution, for a point mass over all of space. We now recognize this as the solution for a black hole, one of the few exact solutions known even today. While in Schwarzschild’s formulation, black holes were static objects, Hawking was the first to prove that it isn’t so. Black holes radiate over time, and as such, aren’t even completely black.
ESO Announcements 23 Mar 2018, 14:00 UTC The French optics company Safran Reosc has completed the first of six shells that will comprise the M4 deformable mirrorsystem, which forms a fundamental part of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). When complete, the adaptive M4 mirror will be 2.4 metres in diameter but only 1.95 millimetres thick. This very thin mirror is one of the five main mirrors of the ELT’s optical system, with the main segmented mirror being 39 metres in diameter. Safran Reosc are manufacturing all six of the deformable shell mirrors that comprise the M4 mirror. Together, these 60-degree petal sections form the circular segmented M4 mirror. They will be mounted and supported in the adaptive mirror unit. Meanwhile, the Italian consortium AdOptica is manufacturing the complex adaptive support system needed for the M4.
Drew Ex Machina 23 Mar 2018, 13:44 UTC Without a doubt, NASA’s Kepler mission has been the most prolific discoverer of extrasolar planets to date. It has done this by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars caused by the transits of orbiting exoplanets. Even after its primary mission ended in May 2013 when the failure of a second reaction wheel after four years in space prevented Kepler from pointing at its target area straddling the border of the constellations Lyra and Cygnus, project engineers and scientists were able to formulate an alternate extended mission to continue hunting for exoplanets. Since the start of this extended mission called “K2” in March 2014, the spacecraft has been observing a sequence of star fields along the ecliptic for stretches of about 80 days at a time before moving on to the next star field. This observation strategy was possible using the remaining pair of reaction wheels by balancing the slight pressure of sunlight reflecting off of the spacecraft to maintain an accurate fix during the observation runs (see “The First Year of Kepler’s K2 Mission”).