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20 Jun 2019, 16:00 UTC Summary: Using the both ALMA and the VLT, astronomers have imaged the cold, rock-strewn rings encircling the planet Uranus. Rather than observing the reflected sunlight from these rings, ALMA and the VLT imaged the millimeter and mid-infrared “glow” naturally emitted by the frigidly cold particles of the rings themselves.The rings of Uranus are invisible to all but the largest telescopes — they weren’t even discovered until 1977 — and they stand out as surprisingly bright in new thermal images of the planet taken by two large telescopes in Chile.The thermal glow gives astronomers another window onto the rings, which have been seen only because they reflect a little light in the visible, or optical, range and in the near-infrared. The new images taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and its international partners (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ), ALMA is among the most complex and powerful astronomical observatories on Earth or in space. The telescope is an array of 66 high-precision dish antennas in northern Chile. See more here and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) allowed the team for the first time to measure the temperature of the rings: a cool 77 Kelvin, ... Next Previous
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10 Jun 2019, 13:00 UTC
Breakthrough Watch and the European Southern Observatory achieve “first light” on upgraded planet-finding instrument to search for Earth-like planets in nearest star systemNext Previous
5 Jun 2019, 17:00 UTC ** Summary: New ALMA observations reveal a never-before-seen disk of cool, interstellar gas wrapped around the supermassive black holeSupermassive Black HoleA black hole that has a million or as much as a billion solar masses. These large black holes lurk at the centers of most galaxies. at the center of the Milky Way. This nebulous disk gives astronomers new insights into the workings of accretion Accretion diskA disk of gas that accumulates around a center of gravitational attraction, such as a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole. As the gas spirals in, it becomes hot and emits energy at a variety of wavelengths, including X-ray and radio waves. : the siphoning of material onto the surface of a black hole. The results are published in the journal Nature. **Through decades of study, astronomers have developed a clearer picture of the chaotic and crowded neighborhood surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Our galactic center is approximately 26,000 light-years from Earth and the supermassive black hole there, known as Sagittarius A* (A “star”), is 4 million times the mass of our Sun.We now know that this region is brimming with roving stars, interstellar ... Next Previous
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 19 Jul 2019, 11:46 UTC Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes. One of the key galaxy types we see in the universe is the spiral galaxy, as demonstrated in an especially beautiful way by the subject of this Hubble Space Telescope image, NGC 2985. NGC 2985 lies over 70 million light-years from the solar system in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear).
ESA Science & Technology 18 Jul 2019, 16:01 UTC Observing stars that are known to harbour planets with unprecedented accuracy to characterise their planetary population – this is the main goal of ESA's upcoming CHEOPS mission, scheduled for launch between 15 October and 14 November. But how exactly is the mission going to achieve this?
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 17 Jul 2019, 15:00 UTC In 1972, Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke stood on the Moon and looked back at Earth. From the lunar surface, they took a picture of Earth like none before: the first view of our planet in far ultraviolet light.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 17 Jul 2019, 07:41 UTC The only visual record of the historic Apollo 11 landing is from a 16mm time-lapse (6 frames per second) movie camera mounted in Buzz Aldrin’s window (right side of Lunar Module Eagle or LM). Due to the small size of the LM windows and the angle at which the movie camera was mounted, what mission commander Neil Armstrong saw as he flew and landed the LM was not recorded. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team reconstructed the last three minutes of the landing trajectory (latitude, longitude, orientation, velocity, altitude) using landmark navigation and altitude call outs from the voice recording. From this trajectory information, and high resolution LROC Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) images and topography, we simulated what Armstrong saw in those final minutes as he guided the LM down to the surface of the Moon. As the video begins, Armstrong could see the aim point was on the rocky northeastern flank of West crater (190 meters diameter), causing him to take manual control and fly horizontally, searching for a safe landing spot. At the time, only Armstrong saw the hazard; he was too busy flying the LM to discuss the situation with mission control.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 16 Jul 2019, 14:00 UTC As a spacecraft descends to the lunar surface, it sprays it with water and other gases that are released as the vehicle thrusts its engines to slow itself for a soft landing. For astronauts who will be cataloging local water supplies, these Earthly contaminants will make it hard to distinguish between bona-fide Moon water and water from their vehicle’s exhaust.
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Universe Today 19 Jul 2019, 19:17 UTC LightSail 2, the brainchild of The Planetary Society, has gifted us two new gorgeous images of Earth. The small spacecraft is currently in orbit at about 720 km, and the LightSail 2 mission team is putting it through its paces in preparation for solar sail deployment sometime on or after Sunday, July 21st.
Planet Hunters Blog 19 Jul 2019, 15:15 UTC Since Planet Hunters launched in 2010, we’ve made all sorts of interesting discoveries, but apart from the occasional blog posted here you’ve had to wait until we’ve written them up in peer reviewed papers to hear about them. Such formal publication is important – it’s how information gets written into the scientific record, and how credit is recorded – but it’s slow, and this can be frustrating. It’s especially frustrating for volunteers who think they’ve found something and who then have to wait years for us to get around to doing the work required to turn a ‘maybe’ into a candidate worth publishing.
Starts With a Bang! 19 Jul 2019, 14:01 UTC Although our intuition is an incredibly useful tool for navigating daily life, developed from a lifetime of experience in our own bodies on Earth, it’s often horrid for providing guidance outside of that realm. On scales of both the very large and the very small, we do far better by applying our best scientific theories, extracting physical predictions, and then observing and measuring the critical phenomena. Without this approach, we never would have come to understood the basic building blocks of matter, the relativistic behavior of matter and energy, or the fundamental nature of space and time themselves. But nothing matches the counterintuitive nature of quantum vacuum. Empty space isn’t completely empty, but consists of an indeterminate state of fluctuating fields and particles. It’s not science fiction; it’s a theoretical framework with testable, observable predictions. 80 years after Heisenberg first postulated an observational test, humanity has confirmed it. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Drew Ex Machina 19 Jul 2019, 12:27 UTC As the historic Apollo 11 mission was heading to the Moon, a bit of space drama was unfolding before the eyes of the world. Just three days before the launch of Apollo 11, the Soviet Union had launched a 5.7 metric ton robotic spacecraft called Luna 15 towards the Moon with only a vague announcement about its mission. Speculation swirled through the Western press and among space observers about the flight’s true intentions: Was it some last-minute Soviet space spectacular? Or maybe an attempt to spy on or even interfere with the American Apollo mission? It would be decades before it was confirmed that this was actually a lunar sample return attempt employing the new E-8-5 spacecraft launched in a last ditch effort to secure the first samples from the lunar surface before Apollo.
Illuminated Universe 18 Jul 2019, 19:17 UTC This light-year-long knot of interstellar gas and dust resembles a caterpillar on its way to a feast. But the meat of the story is not only what this cosmic caterpillar eats for lunch, but also what’s eating it. Harsh winds from extremely bright stars are blasting ultraviolet radiation at this “wanna-be” star and sculpting the gas and dust into its long shape.