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Sky View Cafe
Sky View Cafe

Sky View Café is a Java applet that lets you use your web browser to see many types of astronomical information, in both graphical and numerical form. You can see which stars and planets will be out tonight in the sky above your home town, see how the next solar or lunar eclipse will look from London, or find out when the Moon rose over Sydney on your birthday ten years ago. Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery, displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features. Enter Sky View Café now!

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The Sky Tonight Astronomy News
A storm rolls in - Read more >
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:35:00 +0200


Mars Express imaged a local dust storm in April, a precursor to the dramatic planet-circling event that followed



Martian atmosphere behaves as one - Read more >
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 15:00:00 +0200


New research using a decade of data from ESA’s Mars Express has found clear signs of the complex martian atmosphere acting as a single, interconnected system, with processes occurring at low and mid levels significantly affecting those seen higher up.




Spinning-top asteroids, from Rosetta to Hayabusa2 – and maybe Hera - Read more >
Wed, 18 Jul 2018 08:13:00 +0200


As Japan’s Hayabusa2 drew closer to its target Ryugu asteroid, a strange new planetoid came into view – but one with a somewhat familiar shape. This distinct ‘spinning top’ asteroid class has been seen repeatedly in recent years, and might give a foretaste of things to come for ESA’s proposed Hera mission.




From an almost perfect Universe to the best of both worlds - Read more >
Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:00:00 +0200


It was 21 March 2013. The world’s scientific press had either gathered in ESA’s Paris headquarters or logged in online, along with a multitude of scientists around the globe, to witness the moment when ESA’s Planck mission revealed its ‘image’ of the cosmos. This image was taken not with visible light but with microwaves.




Galaxies galore - Read more >
Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:25:00 +0200


Space Science Image of the Week: It may look like noise or static, but every single point in this image is a galaxy seen by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory



Print and play - Read more >
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 17:32:00 +0200


Test your memory and get to know BepiColombo and its journey to Mercury



Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Fuel Cosmic Conundrum
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Using the powerful Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, astronomers just took a big step toward finding the answer to the Hubble constant, one of the most important and long-sought numbers in all of cosmology. This number measures the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The constant is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, who nearly a century ago discovered that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions. Now, researchers have calculated this number with unprecedented accuracy.

Intriguingly, the new results further intensify the discrepancy between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed. Because the universe is expanding uniformly, these measurements should be the same. The so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe.



NASA's Webb Space Telescope to Inspect Atmospheres of Gas Giant Exoplanets
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit distant stars. Far fewer have had their atmospheres studied. The Webb telescope will bring new capabilities for determining atmospheric compositions, temperatures, and structures. Some of Webb’s earliest observations will focus on gas giants, whose puffy atmospheres should be easier to inspect. Lessons learned there will apply to later observations of small, rocky worlds.



Multi-messenger science - Read more >
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:57:00 +0200


ESA’s Integral satellite joined an international collaboration to find first evidence of the source of high-energy neutrinos: a flaring active galaxy or 'blazar'



New launch date for James Webb Space Telescope - Read more >
Thu, 28 Jun 2018 10:00:00 +0200


After completion of an independent review, a new launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope has been announced: 30 March 2021.




Interstellar asteroid is really a comet - Read more >
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 19:00:00 +0200


An object from another star system that made a brief appearance in our skies guised as an asteroid turns out to be a tiny interstellar comet.




Complex organics bubble from the depths of ocean-world Enceladus - Read more >
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 19:00:00 +0200


Data from the international Cassini spacecraft have revealed complex organic molecules originating from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, strengthening the idea that this ocean-world hosts conditions suitable for life.




Our Solar System's First Known Interstellar Object Gets Unexpected Speed Boost
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

NASA's Press Release (18-056)

Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists have confirmed `Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.

“Our high-precision measurements of ′Oumuamua’s position revealed that there was something affecting its motion other than the gravitational forces of the Sun and planets," said Marco Micheli of ESA’s (European Space Agency) Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre in Frascati, Italy, and lead author of a paper describing the team's findings.

Analyzing the trajectory of the interstellar visitor, co-author Davide Farnocchia of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) found that the speed boost was consistent with the behavior of a comet.

“This additional subtle force on `Oumuamua likely is caused by jets of gaseous material expelled from its surface,” said Farnocchia. “This same kind of outgassing affects the motion of many comets in our solar system.”

Comets normally eject large amounts of dust and gas when warmed by the Sun. But according to team scientist Olivier Hainaut of the European Southern Observatory, “there were no visible signs of outgassing from `Oumuamua, so these forces were not expected.”

The team estimates that `Oumuamua’s outgassing may have produced a very small amount of dust particles — enough to give the object a little kick in speed, but not enough to be detected.

Karen Meech, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy and co-author of the study, speculated that small dust grains, present on the surface of most comets, eroded away during `Oumuamua's long journey through interstellar space.

"The more we study `Oumuamua, the more exciting it gets," Meech said. "I'm amazed at how much we have learned from a short, intense observing campaign. I can hardly wait for the next interstellar object!"

`Oumuamua, less than half a mile in length, now is farther away from our Sun than Jupiter and traveling away from the Sun at about 70,000 mph as it heads toward the outskirts of the solar system. In only another four years, it will pass Neptune’s orbit on its way back into interstellar space.

Because `Oumuamua is the first interstellar object ever observed in our solar system, researchers caution that it’s difficult to draw general conclusions about this newly-discovered class of celestial bodies. However, observations point to the possibility that other star systems regularly eject small comet-like objects and there should be more of them drifting among the stars. Future ground- and space-based surveys could detect more of these interstellar vagabonds, providing a larger sample for scientists to analyze.

NASA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) about the `Oumuamua observations from 4 to 6 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 28. To participate, go to:

https://reddit.com/r/IAMA

The international team of astronomers used observations from Hubble, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, and the Gemini South Telescope and European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The paper with the team’s findings will appear in the June 27 issue of the journal Nature.

JPL hosts CNEOS for the agency’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, an element of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office within the agency's Science Mission Directorate. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Hubble. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations.

Learn more about asteroids and near-Earth objects at:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch

For more information from Hubble, go to:

https://www.nasa.gov/hubble

Felicia Chou / JoAnna Wendel
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
202-358-0257 / 202-358-1003
felicia.chou@nasa.gov / joanna.r.wendel@nasa.gov

Calla Cofield
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-393-1821
calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
dweaver@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu



Postcards from Mars - Read more >
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 11:00:00 +0200


The ExoMars orbiter sends a selection of images from around the Red Planet



Rosetta image archive complete - Read more >
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 14:00:00 +0200


All high-resolution images and the underpinning data from Rosetta’s pioneering mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko are now available in ESA’s archives, with the last release including the iconic images of finding lander Philae, and Rosetta’s final descent to the comet’s surface.




Hand-sewn spacecraft - Read more >
Tue, 12 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0200


BepiColombo’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter is fitted with its bespoke, hand-sewn insulation blankets



Astronomers Release Most Complete Ultraviolet-Light Survey of Nearby Galaxies
Thu, 17 May 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Much of the light in the universe comes from stars, and yet, star formation is still a vexing question in astronomy.

To piece together a more complete picture of star birth, astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at star formation among galaxies in our own cosmic back yard. The survey of 50 galaxies in the local universe, called the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS), is the sharpest, most comprehensive ultraviolet-light look at nearby star-forming galaxies.

The LEGUS survey combines new Hubble observations with archival Hubble images for star-forming spiral and dwarf galaxies, offering a valuable resource for understanding the complexities of star formation and galaxy evolution. Astronomers are releasing the star catalogs for each of the LEGUS galaxies and cluster catalogs for 30 of the galaxies, as well as images of the galaxies themselves. The catalogs provide detailed information on young, massive stars and star clusters, and how their environment affects their development.

The local universe, stretching across the gulf of space between us and the great Virgo cluster of galaxies, is ideal for study because astronomers can amass a big enough sample of galaxies, and yet, the galaxies are close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars. The survey will also help astronomers understand galaxies in the distant universe, where rapid star formation took place.



Stellar family portrait - Read more >
Mon, 14 May 2018 16:00:00 +0200


Explore Gaia’s second data release with this interactive visualisation of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the family portrait of stars in our Milky Way



Hubble Detects Helium in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet for the First Time
Wed, 02 May 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

There may be no shortage of balloon-filled birthday parties or people with silly high-pitched voices on the planet WASP-107b. That's because NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was used to detect helium in the atmosphere for the first time ever on a world outside of our solar system. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet atmospheres.

Though as far back as 2000 helium was predicted to be one of the most readily-detectable gases on giant exoplanets, until now helium had not been found — despite searches for it. Helium was first discovered on the Sun, and is the second-most common element in the universe after hydrogen. It's one of the main constituents of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

An international team of astronomers led by Jessica Spake of the University of Exeter, UK, used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to discover helium. The atmosphere of WASP-107b must stretch tens of thousands of miles out into space. This is the first time that such an extended atmosphere has been discovered at infrared wavelengths.



Stellar Thief Is the Surviving Companion to a Supernova
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

In the fading afterglow of a supernova explosion, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have photographed the first image of a surviving companion to a supernova. This is the most compelling evidence that some supernovas originate in double-star systems. The companion to supernova 2001ig’s progenitor star was no innocent bystander to the explosion—it siphoned off almost all of the hydrogen from the doomed star’s stellar envelope. SN 2001ig is categorized as a Type IIb stripped-envelope supernova, which is a relatively rare type of supernova in which most, but not all, of the hydrogen is gone prior to the explosion. Perhaps as many as half of all stripped-envelope supernovas have companions—the other half lose their outer envelopes via stellar winds.



NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

One of the key science goals of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is to learn about “first light,” the moment when the first stars and galaxies lit the universe. While the first galaxies will be within Webb’s reach, individual stars shine so faintly that Webb would not be able to detect them without help. That help could come in the form of natural magnification from gravitational lensing, according to a new theoretical paper.

A cluster of galaxies can provide the needed gravitational oomph to bring distant objects into focus via lensing. Typical gravitational lensing can boost a target’s brightness by a factor of 10 to 20. But in special circumstances, the light of a faraway star could be amplified by 10,000 times or more.

If Webb monitors several galaxy clusters a couple of times a year over its lifetime, chances are good that it will detect such a magnified star, or possibly the accretion disk of a black hole from the same era. This would give astronomers a key opportunity to learn about the actual properties of the early universe and compare them to computer models.



Hubble 28th Anniversary Image Captures Roiling Heart of Vast Stellar Nursery
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

For 28 years, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been delivering breathtaking views of the universe. Although the telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations of over 40,000 space objects, it is still uncovering stunning celestial gems.

The latest offering is this image of the Lagoon Nebula to celebrate the telescope’s anniversary. Hubble shows this vast stellar nursery in stunning unprecedented detail.

At the center of the photo, a monster young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun is blasting powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds, carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. This region epitomizes a typical, raucous stellar nursery full of birth and destruction.



Meet ESA's science fleet - Read more >
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 13:56:00 +0200


Explore 3D models of ESA's science satellites across the Solar System in this interactive tool



Hubble Makes the First Precise Distance Measurement to an Ancient Globular Star Cluster
Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

When you want to know the size of a room, you use a measuring tape to calculate its dimensions.

But you can’t use a tape measure to cover the inconceivably vast distances in space. And, until now, astronomers did not have an equally precise method to accurately measure distances to some of the oldest objects in our universe – ancient swarms of stars outside the disk of our galaxy called globular clusters.

Estimated distances to our Milky Way galaxy’s globular clusters were achieved by comparing the brightness and colors of stars to theoretical models and observations of local stars. But the accuracy of these estimates varies, with uncertainties hovering between 10 percent and 20 percent.

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to use the same sort of trigonometry that surveyors use to precisely measure the distance to NGC 6397, one of the closest globular clusters to Earth. The only difference is that the angles measured in Hubble’s camera are infinitesimal by earthly surveyors’ standards.

The new measurement sets the cluster’s distance at 7,800 light-years away, with just a 3 percent margin of error, and provides an independent estimate for the age of the universe. The Hubble astronomers calculated NGC 6397 is 13.4 billion years old and so formed not long after the big bang. The new measurement also will help astronomers improve models of stellar evolution.



NASA Awards Prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships
Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

NASA has selected 24 new Fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.



Hubble Uncovers the Farthest Star Ever Seen
Mon, 02 Apr 2018 11:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Through a quirk of nature called “gravitational lensing,” a natural lens in space amplified a very distant star’s light. Astronomers using Hubble took advantage of this phenomenon to pinpoint the faraway star and set a new distance record for the farthest individual star ever seen. They also used the distant star to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a galaxy cluster. The team dubbed the star “Icarus,” after the Greek mythological character who flew too near the Sun on wings of feathers and wax that melted. Its official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1.



Dark Matter Goes Missing in Oddball Galaxy
Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Grand, majestic spiral galaxies like our Milky Way are hard to miss. Astronomers can spot these vast complexes because of their large, glowing centers and their signature winding arms of gas and dust, where thousands of glowing stars reside.

But some galaxies aren't so distinctive. They are big, but they have so few stars for their size that they appear very faint and diffuse. In fact, they are so diffuse that they look like giant cotton balls.

Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of one such galaxy have turned up an oddity that sets it apart from most other galaxies, even the diffuse-looking ones. It contains little, if any, dark matter, the underlying scaffolding upon which galaxies are built. Dark matter is an invisible substance that makes up the bulk of our universe and the invisible glue that holds visible matter in galaxies — stars and gas — together.

Called NGC 1052-DF2, this "ghostly" galaxy contains at most 1/400th the amount of dark matter that astronomers had expected. How it formed is a complete mystery. The galactic oddball is as large as our Milky Way, but the galaxy had escaped attention because it contains only 1/200th the number of stars as our galaxy.

Based on the colors of its globular clusters, NGC 1052-DF2 is about 10 billion years old. It resides about 65 million light-years away.



Kepler Solves Mystery of Fast and Furious Explosions
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:00:00 EDTHubble Image

The universe is so huge that it's estimated that a star explodes as a supernova once every second. Astronomers capture a small fraction of these detonations because they are comparatively short-lived, like fireflies flickering on a summer evening. After skyrocketing to a sudden peak in brightness, a supernova can take weeks to slowly fade away.

For the past decade astronomers have been befuddled by a more curious "flash-in-the-pan" that pops up and then disappears in just a few days, not weeks. It's called a Fast-Evolving Luminous Transient (FELT). Only a few FELTs have been seen in telescopic sky surveys because they are so brief.

Then along came NASA's Kepler Space Telescope that caught a FELT in the act. Kepler's outstanding ability to precisely record changes in the brightness of celestial objects was designed to look for planets across our galaxy. But a great spinoff from the observatory is to go supernova hunting too.

Kelper's unique capabilities captured the properties of the blast. This allowed astronomers to exclude a range of theories about how FELTs happen, and converge on a plausible model. They conclude that the brief flash is from a vast shell of material around a supernova that abruptly lights up when the supernova blast wave crashes into it.



Explore the cosmos - Read more >
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 15:13:00 +0100


Meet ESASky, a discovery portal that provides access to the entire sky as observed by ESA's astronomy missions



Hubble Solves Cosmic 'Whodunit' with Interstellar Forensics
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

In a cosmic tug-of-war between two dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, only NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope can see who’s winning. The players are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and as they gravitationally tug at each other, one of them has pulled out a huge amount of gas from its companion. This shredded and fragmented gas, called the Leading Arm, is being devoured by the Milky Way and feeding new star birth in our galaxy. But which dwarf galaxy is doing the pulling, and whose gas is now being feasted upon? Scientists used Hubble’s ultraviolet vision to chemically analyze the gas in the Leading Arm and determine its origin. After years of debate, we now have the answer to this “whodunit” mystery.



Arrested Development: Hubble Finds Relic Galaxy Close to Home
Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:00:00 EDTHubble Image

The adventuring cinema archeologist Indiana Jones would be delighted to find a long-sought relic in his own backyard. Astronomers have gotten lucky enough to achieve such a quest. They identified a very rare and odd assemblage of stars that has remained essentially unchanged for the past 10 billion years. The diffuse stellar island provides valuable new insights into the origin and evolution of galaxies billions of years ago.

As far as galaxy evolution goes, this object is clearly a case of “arrested development.” The galaxy, NGC 1277, started its life with a bang long ago, ferociously churning out stars 1,000 times faster than seen in our own Milky Way today. But it abruptly went quiescent as the baby boomer stars aged and grew ever redder. Though Hubble has seen such “red and dead” galaxies in the early universe, one has never been conclusively found nearby. Where the early galaxies are so distant, they are just red dots in Hubble deep-sky images. NGC 1277 offers a unique opportunity to see one up close and personal.

The telltale sign of the galaxy’s state lies in the ancient globular clusters that swarm around it. Massive galaxies tend to have both metal-poor (appearing blue) and metal-rich (appearing red) globular clusters. The red clusters are believed to form as the galaxy forms, while the blue clusters are later brought in as smaller satellites are swallowed by the central galaxy. However, NGC 1277 is almost entirely lacking in blue globular clusters. The red clusters are the strongest evidence that the galaxy went out of the star-making business long ago. However, the lack of blue clusters suggests that NGC 1277 never grew further by gobbling up surrounding galaxies.



NASA's Webb Telescope to Make a Splash in the Search for Interstellar Water
Fri, 09 Mar 2018 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Most of the water in the universe floats in vast reservoirs called molecular clouds. It coats the surface of dust grains, turning them into cosmic snowflakes. When stars and planets form, those snowflakes get swept up, delivering key ingredients for life. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will map water and other cosmic ices to gain new insights into these building blocks for habitable planets.



Hubble Finds Huge System of Dusty Material Enveloping the Young Star HR 4796A
Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Finding lots of dust around stars may not sound like anything astronomers would get excited about. The universe is a dusty place. But dust around a young star can be evidence that planet formation is taking place. This isn’t a new idea. In 1755, German Philosopher Immanuel Kant first proposed that planets formed around our Sun in a debris disk of gas and dust. Astronomers imagined that this process might take place around other stars.

They had to wait until the early 1980s for the first observational evidence for a debris disk around any star to be uncovered. An edge-on debris disk was photographed around the southern star Beta Pictoris. Beta Pictoris remained the poster child for such debris systems until the late 1990s when the Hubble Space Telescope’s second-generation instruments, which had the capability of blocking out the glare of a central star, allowed many more disks to be photographed. Now, they are thought to be common around stars. About 40 such systems have been imaged to date, largely by Hubble.

In this recent image, Hubble uncovers a vast, complex dust structure, about 150 billion miles across, enveloping the young star HR 4796A. A bright, narrow inner ring of dust is already known to encircle the star, based on much earlier Hubble photographs. It may have been corralled by the gravitational pull of an unseen giant planet. This newly discovered huge dust structure around the system may have implications for what this yet-unseen planetary system looks like around the 8-million-year-old star, which is in its formative years of planet construction.



NASA Finds a Large Amount of Water in an Exoplanet's Atmosphere
Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Using Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists studied the “hot Saturn” called WASP-39b — a hot, bloated, Saturn-mass exoplanet located about 700 light-years from Earth. By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet’s atmosphere into its component colors, the team found clear evidence for a large amount of water vapor. In fact, WASP-39b has three times as much water as Saturn does. Although the researchers predicted they’d see water, they were surprised by how much they found. This suggests that the planet formed farther out from the star, where it was bombarded by a lot of icy material. Because WASP-39b has so much more water than Saturn, it must have formed differently from our famously ringed neighbor.



Space science starts here - Read more >
Wed, 17 Aug 2016 11:20:00 +0200


Video showcase of ESA's fleet of space science missions and how they are helping us to understand our place in the Universe


This Month's Sky Map
This Month's Sky Map

Take a look at this month's Sky Map to help you explore the wonders of the night sky!

Ideal for all sky watchers including beginners to astronomy.

The Sky Map will help you identify planets, bright stars, constellations and nebulae!
Printable version available too!


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