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
31 Jan 2018, 11:00 UTC A dark cloud of cosmic dust snakes across this spectacular wide field image, illuminated by the brilliant light of new stars. This dense cloud is a star-forming region called Lupus 3, where dazzlingly hot stars are born from collapsing masses of gas and dust. This image was created from images taken using the VLT Survey Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope and is the most detailed image taken so far of this region. Next Previous
23 Jan 2018, 18:51 UTC Some Mars experts are eager and optimistic for a dust storm this year to grow so grand it darkens skies around the entire Red Planet. This biggest type of phenomenon in the environment of modern Mars could be examined as never before possible, using the combination of spacecraft now at Mars. Next Previous
18 Jan 2018, 15:00 UTC Next Previous
17 Jan 2018, 11:00 UTC Astronomers using ESO’s MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun — the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull. This important discovery impacts on our understanding of the formation of these star clusters, black holes, and the origins of gravitational wave events. Next Previous
10 Jan 2018, 19:18 UTC Next Previous
10 Jan 2018, 07:15 UTC Astronomers have looked back to a time soon after the Big Bang, and have discovered swirling gas in some of the earliest galaxies to have formed in the Universe. These ‘newborns’ – observed as they appeared nearly 13 billion years ago – spun like a whirlpool, similar to our own Milky Way.An international team led by Renske Smit from the Kavli Institute of Cosmology at the University of Cambridge used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to open a new window onto the distant Universe, and have identified normal star-forming galaxies at a very early stage in cosmic history. The results are reported in the journal Nature, and will be presented at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society.Light from distant objects takes time to reach Earth, so observing objects that are billions of light years away enables us to look back in time and directly observe the formation of the earliest galaxies. The Universe at that time, however, was filled with an obscuring “haze” of neutral hydrogen gas, which makes it difficult to see the formation of the very first galaxies with optical telescopes.Smit and her colleagues used ALMA to observe two small newborn galaxies, as they existed ... Next Previous
Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe 22 Feb 2018, 05:00 UTC The moment a supernova becomes visible in the sky has been captured by an amateur astronomer, and has helped an international team of researchers validate theoretical predictions about the initial evolution of such stellar explosions.
Keck Observatory 21 Feb 2018, 23:00 UTC Astronomers have the “all-clear” for an exciting test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, thanks to a new discovery about S0-2’s star status. Up until now, it was thought that S0-2 may be a binary, a system where two stars circle around each other. Having such a partner would have complicated the upcoming gravity test.
Keck Observatory 21 Feb 2018, 18:00 UTC Thanks to lucky snapshots taken by an amateur astronomer in Argentina, scientists have obtained their first view of the initial burst of light from the explosion of a massive star. During tests of a new camera, Víctor Buso captured images of a distant galaxy before and after the supernova's "shock breakout" – when a supersonic pressure wave from the exploding core of the star hits and heats gas at the star’s surface to a very high temperature, causing it to emit light and rapidly brighten.
ESA Space Science 21 Feb 2018, 10:00 UTC Slowed by skimming through the very top of the upper atmosphere, ESA’s ExoMars has lowered itself into a planet-hugging orbit and is about ready to begin sniffing the Red Planet for methane. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrived at Mars in October 2016 to investigate the potentially biological or geological origin of trace gases in the atmosphere. It will also serve as a relay, connecting rovers on the surface with their controllers on Earth. But before any of this could get underway, the spacecraft had to transform its initial, highly elliptical four-day orbit of about 98 000 x 200 km into the final, much lower and circular path at about 400 km.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Feb 2018, 19:00 UTC Sometimes on a dark night near the poles, the sky pulses a diffuse glow of green, purple and red. Unlike the long, shimmering veils of typical auroral displays, these pulsating auroras are much dimmer and less common. While scientists have long known auroras to be associated with solar activity, the precise mechanism of pulsating auroras was unknown. Now, new research, using data from NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms — or THEMIS — mission and Japan’s Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace — shortened to ERG, or also known as Arase — satellite, has finally captured the missing link thought responsible for these auroras. The answer lies in chirping waves that rhythmically pulse the particles that create the auroras.
ESA Top News 20 Feb 2018, 15:55 UTC The Franco-Italian Antarctic research base of Concordia sits 1670 km from the South Pole. On the plateau some 3200 m high, the air is so thin that inhabitants live in a permanent state of hypoxia – lack of oxygen. The closest humans are 600 km away at Russia’s Vostok base. Average temperatures range from –30°C in the summer months to –60°C in the winter. The ‘winterover’ crew who stay during the long cold winter to conduct research do not see the Sun rise above the horizon for four months. The crew learn to cope and live with the threats of cold, darkness, monotony, danger and no possibility of rescue.
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The Planetary Society Blog 22 Feb 2018, 16:35 UTC Imagine, for a moment, that the sun unleashes the strongest solar flare humanity has ever seen. Then, a coronal mass ejection (CME) event follows, releasing a high-velocity stream of magnetized plasma that slams into the Earth’s protective magnetosphere. The resulting shockwaves propagate through the near Earth-space environment, jolting communications satellites, low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, global positioning system (GPS) satellites, and the International Space Station. Radio communications cease, electrical transmission lines fail on the Earth’s surface, and the world fades to black. This is, of course, an extreme scenario—we are unlikely to experience an apocalyptic global blackout, even with the strongest solar flare. Yet, the idea that flares and CMEs can disrupt human activity on Earth and space is not fiction, and it does happen with significant frequency. Any electric circuit in space is vulnerable to CMEs of measurable magnitude, which means it is in society’s best interest to understand how this kind of “weather in space” affects those circuits, namely those belonging to satellites. We increasingly depend on communications and imaging satellites to tell us where we are, guide us to new places, and show us what kind of thunder storms are headed our way. To begin understanding space weather, ...
The Daily Galaxy
"Will It Defy Einstein's Theory & Laws of Physics?" --Strange Mystery Star Orbiting Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole22 Feb 2018, 14:55 UTC "We have been waiting 16 years for this," said Devin Chu with UCLA's Galactic Center Group. "We are anxious to see how the star will behave under the black hole's violent pull. Will S0-2 follow Einstein's theory or will the star defy our current laws of physics? We will soon find out!"
SPACE.com 22 Feb 2018, 11:31 UTC Last fall, a cucumber-shaped visitor zoomed through the inner solar system. Known as 1I/2017 U1 'Oumuamua, the unusual object sped around the sun before disappearing to the outskirts of the solar system, on its way back to interstellar space.
Space Fellowship 22 Feb 2018, 07:17 UTC Not all roses are red of course, but they can still be very pretty. Likewise, the beautiful Rosette Nebula and other star forming regions are often shown in astronomical images with a predominately red hue, in part because the dominant emission in the nebula is from hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen’s strongest optical emission line, known as H-alpha, is in the red region of the spectrum, but the beauty of an emission nebula need not be appreciated in red light alone.
Planetaria 22 Feb 2018, 03:18 UTC NASA’s Opportunity rover has just crossed another amazing threshold – passing the 5,000-sol mark on Mars. That is a phenomenal achievement, considering that the plucky little machine was designed for a hopeful lifetime of at least 90 sols (a sol is a Martian day, just slightly longer than an Earth day). To put it another way, Opportunity landed way back in January 2004, and the mission would be considered a great success if it lasted for several months in the harsh Martian climate. But now here it is 2018, and it is still going!
AmericaSpace 21 Feb 2018, 22:29 UTC NASA is getting closer to taking the next big step in exoplanet-hunting – the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope has just arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for launch no earlier than April 16. It was built and tested during 2017 at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, and now will be readied for launch in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at Kennedy. This is the same clean room used for the Cassini, New Horizons, Mars rovers, OSIRIS-REx and other missions. TESS will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Complex 40 launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.