Nasa Image of the Day

Nebula RCW49

One of the most prolific birthing grounds in our Milky Way galaxy, a nebula called RCW 49, is exposed in superb detail for the first time in this new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Located 13,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Centaurus, RCW 49 is a dark and dusty stellar nursery that houses more than 2,200 stars.

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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 place in the Sun - Read more >
Mon, 25 Mar 2019 13:30:00 +0100


Space Science Image of the Week: From its vantage point in space, the SOHO solar observatory keeps an eye on our parent star



NASA’s Webb to Explore Galaxies from Cosmic Dawn to Present Day
Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

How did the first galaxies in the universe form, and did they make the universe transparent to light? How did later galaxies produce and disperse into the universe the heavier elements that are the building blocks of stars, planets, and even humans? These are questions astronomers will address in some of the first observations made by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, slated to launch in March 2021. Astronomers hope the answers will lead to a better understanding of the origins and evolution of the universe.



ExoMars landing platform arrives in Europe with a name - Read more >
Thu, 21 Mar 2019 14:30:00 +0100


The platform destined to land on the Red Planet as part of the next ExoMars mission has arrived in Europe for final assembly and testing – and been given a name.




Giant ‘chimneys’ vent X-rays from Milky Way’s core - Read more >
Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:00:00 +0100


By surveying the centre of our Galaxy, ESA’s XMM-Newton has discovered two colossal ‘chimneys’ funneling material from the vicinity of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole into two huge cosmic bubbles.




Call for media: Cheops ready for launch in October - Read more >
Tue, 19 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0100


The Cheops mission, ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets, is scheduled to lift off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, within the launch slot 15 October – 14 November 2019. Media representatives are invited to apply for accreditation to visit the spacecraft, which is in the clean rooms of Airbus in Madrid, on 29 March, before it goes into storage ahead of its shipment to Kourou later this year.




InSight lander among latest ExoMars image bounty - Read more >
Thu, 14 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0100


Curious surface features, water-formed minerals, 3D stereo views, and even a sighting of the InSight lander showcase the impressive range of imaging capabilities of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.




Mars image bounty - Read more >
Thu, 14 Mar 2019 10:15:00 +0100


Showcase of the ExoMars orbiter’s imaging capabilities



Weighing the Milky Way - Read more >
Thu, 07 Mar 2019 17:24:00 +0100


Measurements from Hubble and Gaia improve our estimate of the mass of our Galaxy: 1.5 trillion solar masses



What Does the Milky Way Weigh? Hubble and Gaia Investigate
Thu, 07 Mar 2019 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

We live in a gigantic star city. Our Milky Way galaxy contains an estimated 200 billion stars. But that's just the bare tip of the iceberg. The Milky Way is surrounded by vast amounts of an unknown material called dark matter that is invisible because it doesn't release any radiation. Astronomers know it exists because, dynamically, the galaxy would fly apart if dark matter didn't keep a gravitational lid on things.

Still, astronomers would like to have a precise measure of the galaxy's mass to better understand how the myriad galaxies throughout the universe form and evolve. Other galaxies can range in mass from around a billion solar masses to 30 trillion solar masses. How does our Milky Way compare?

Curious astronomers teamed up the Hubble Space Telescope and European Space Agency's Gaia satellite to precisely study the motions of globular star clusters that orbit our galaxy like bees around a hive. The faster the clusters move under the entire galaxy's gravitational pull, the more massive it is. The researchers concluded the galaxy weighs 1.5 trillion solar masses, most of it locked up in dark matter. Therefore, the Milky Way is a "Goldilocks" galaxy, not too big and not too small. Just right!



Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys Resumes Operations
Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:15:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA has recovered the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument, which suspended operations on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. The final tests were conducted and the instrument was brought back to its operational mode on March 6.



ESA gives go-ahead for Smile mission with China - Read more >
Tue, 05 Mar 2019 14:00:00 +0100


The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer, Smile, has been given the green light for implementation by ESA’s Science Programme Committee.




Help shape ESA’s space science programme - Read more >
Mon, 04 Mar 2019 11:00:00 +0100


How did our Milky Way galaxy form? How do black holes grow? What is the origin of our Solar System? Are there other worlds capable of hosting life? These are some of the questions our current science missions are designed to address. But what do you think are the most important questions that our future missions should tackle? Now is your chance to tell us.




Advanced Camera for Surveys Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope
Fri, 01 Mar 2019 20:00:00 ESTHubble Image

At 8:31 p.m. EST on February 28, 2019, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations after an error was detected as the instrument was performing a routine boot procedure. The error indicated that software inside the camera had not loaded correctly. A team of instrument system engineers, flight software experts, and flight operations personnel quickly organized to download and analyze instrument diagnostic information. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan.



NASA's Webb Telescope Will Study an Iconic Supernova
Thu, 28 Feb 2019 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Within a galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, a star exploded 160,000 years ago. In 1987, light from that exploding star reached Earth. Over the past 32 years, astronomers have studied Supernova 1987A to learn about the physics of supernovas and their gaseous remnants. Those observations have revealed a surprising amount of dust, up to an entire sun’s worth. NASA’s infrared James Webb Space Telescope will study the dust within SN 1987A to learn about its composition, temperature and density.



First evidence of planet-wide groundwater system on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 28 Feb 2019 11:00:00 +0100


Mars Express has revealed the first geological evidence of a system of ancient interconnected lakes that once lay deep beneath the Red Planet’s surface, five of which may contain minerals crucial to life.




Signs of ancient flowing water on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 21 Feb 2019 11:00:00 +0100


These images from ESA’s Mars Express satellite show a branching, desiccated system of trenches and valleys, signs of ancient water flow that hint at a warmer, wetter past for the Red Planet.




Tiny Neptune Moon Spotted by Hubble May Have Broken from Larger Moon
Wed, 20 Feb 2019 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

The phrase "a chip off the old block" apparently also applies to the outer moons of our solar system.

A tiny moon whirling around Neptune that was uncovered in Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken in 2013 has puzzled astronomers ever since then because it is very close to a much larger moon named Proteus. The orbits of the two moons are presently 7,500 miles apart.

Proteus, at 260 miles in diameter, is roughly the size of the state of Ohio. By contrast, Hippocamp is just 20 miles across, or the size of metropolitan Columbus, Ohio. Proteus should have gravitationally swept aside or swallowed the moon while clearing out its orbital path.

Smoking-gun evidence for Hippocamp's origin comes from NASA Voyager 2 images from 1989 that show a large impact crater on Proteus, almost large enough to have shattered the moon. Apparently, a little piece of Proteus got kicked off and has slowly migrated away from the parent body.

Neptune's satellite system has a violent and tortured history. Many billions of years ago, Neptune captured the large moon Triton from the Kuiper Belt. Triton's gravity would have torn up Neptune's original satellite system. Triton settled into a circular orbit and the debris from shattered Neptunian moons re-coalesced into a second generation of natural satellites. However, comet bombardment continued to tear things up, leading to the birth of Hippocamp, which might be considered a third-generation satellite.



Earth’s atmosphere stretches out to the Moon – and beyond - Read more >
Wed, 20 Feb 2019 14:00:00 +0100


The outermost part of our planet’s atmosphere extends well beyond the lunar orbit – almost twice the distance to the Moon.




Rosetta’s comet sculpted by stress - Read more >
Mon, 18 Feb 2019 17:00:00 +0100


Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. ESA’s Rosetta mission has revealed that geological stress arising from the shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has been a key process in sculpting the comet's surface and interior following its formation.




Gaia clocks new speeds for Milky Way-Andromeda collision - Read more >
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 16:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Gaia satellite has looked beyond our Galaxy and explored two nearby galaxies to reveal the stellar motions within them and how they will one day interact and collide with the Milky Way – with surprising results.




Hubble Reveals Dynamic Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

The two major planets beyond Saturn have only been visited once by a spacecraft, albeit briefly. NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft swung by Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989. Our robotic deep-space tourist snapped the only close-up, detailed images of these monstrous worlds. For Neptune, the images revealed a planet with a dynamic atmosphere with two mysterious dark vortices. Uranus, however, appeared featureless. But these views were only brief snapshots. They couldn't capture how the planets' atmospheres change over time, any more than a single snapshot of Earth could tell meteorologists about weather behavior. And, they go through protracted seasonal changes in their multi-decades-long orbits. Ever since the Voyager encounter, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided an opportunity to monitor these worlds like a diligent weatherman.

Since Hubble's launch in 1990, astronomers have used it to amass an album of outer planet images. Yearly monitoring of these giant worlds is now allowing astronomers to study long-term seasonal changes, as well as capture transitory weather patterns. One such elusive event is yet another dark storm on Neptune, shown in the latest Hubble image of the planet (right).

The telescope's new snapshot of Uranus (left) shows that the ice giant is not a planetary wallflower. A vast bright polar cap across the north pole dominates the image. The cap, which may form due to seasonal changes in atmospheric flow, has become much more prominent than in previous observations dating back to the Voyager 2 flyby, when the planet, in the throes of winter, looked bland.



ESA’s Mars rover has a name – Rosalind Franklin - Read more >
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 12:00:00 +0100


The ExoMars rover that will search for the building blocks of life on the Red Planet has a name: Rosalind Franklin. The prominent scientist behind the discovery of the structure of DNA will have her symbolic footprint on Mars in 2021.  




Space science vision - Read more >
Tue, 05 Feb 2019 11:32:00 +0100


How ESA’s space science programme tackles the big questions about our place in the Cosmos



Exoplanet imaginarium - Read more >
Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:15:00 +0100


Imagine the alien worlds ESA will investigate with its three generations of exoplanet missions



Hubble Accidentally Discovers a New Galaxy in Cosmic Neighborhood
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

The universe is very cluttered. Myriad island cities of stars, the galaxies, form a backdrop tapestry. Much closer to home are nebulae, star clusters, and assorted other foreground celestial objects that are mostly within our Milky Way galaxy. Despite the vastness of space, objects tend to get in front of each other.

This happened when astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the globular star cluster NGC 6752 (located 13,000 light-years away in our Milky Way's halo). In a celestial game of "Where's Waldo?", Hubble's sharp vision uncovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy located far behind the cluster's crowded stellar population. The loner galaxy is in our own cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away (approximately 2,300 times farther than the foreground cluster).

The object is classified as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy because it measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way), and it is roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way.

Because of its 13-billion-year-old age, and its isolation — which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies — the dwarf is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe.

The international team of astronomers that carried out this study consists of L. Bedin (INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy), M. Salaris (Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England, UK), R. Rich (University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA), H. Richer (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), J. Anderson (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, USA), B. Bettoni (INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy), D. Nardiello, A. Milone, and A. Marino (University of Padua, Italy), M. Libralato and A. Bellini (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, USA), A. Dieball (University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany), P. Bergeron (University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada), A. Burgasser (University of California, San Diego, California, USA), and D. Apai (University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA).

The science team's results will be published online January 31, 2019, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.



Active galaxies point to new physics of cosmic expansion - Read more >
Mon, 28 Jan 2019 17:00:00 +0100


Investigating the history of our cosmos with a large sample of distant ‘active’ galaxies observed by ESA’s XMM-Newton, a team of astronomers found there might be more to the early expansion of the Universe than predicted by the standard model of cosmology.




World's Largest Digital Sky Survey Issues Biggest Astronomical Data Release Ever
Mon, 28 Jan 2019 09:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Data from the world's largest digital sky survey is being publicly released today by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawai’i Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii. Data from the Pan-STARRS1 Surveys will allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies. This data release contains over 1.6 petabytes of data (a petabyte is one million gigabytes), making it the largest volume of astronomical information ever released. The survey data resides in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), which serves as NASA's repository for all of its optical and ultraviolet-light observations.



Hubble Sees Plunging Galaxy Losing Its Gas
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Two's company and three's a crowd. But thousands are a mosh pit. That's the case in the giant Coma cluster of more than 1,000 galaxies.

Hubble spotted a wayward spiral galaxy losing its gas as it plunges toward the center of the massive cluster and is roughed up as it plows through the intergalactic medium. Telltale evidence lies in a long, thin streamer of material that is stretching like taffy from the galaxy's core and on into intergalactic space. Gas is the lifeblood of a galaxy, fueling the birth of new stars. Once it is stripped of all of its gas, the galaxy, named D100, will enter retirement and shine only by the feeble glow of its aging, red stars.

D100 is being stripped of its gas because of the gravitational tug of a grouping of giant "bully" galaxies in the crowded cluster. Their combined gravity is pulling the beleaguered galaxy toward the cluster's center. As D100 falls toward the core, the galaxy barrels through material. This action forces gas from the galaxy.

The gas-stripping process in D100 began roughly 300 million years ago. In the massive Coma cluster this violent gas-loss process occurs in many galaxies. But D100 is unique in several ways. Its long, thin tail is its most unusual feature extending nearly 200,000 light-years. But the pencil-like structure is comparatively narrow, only 7,000 light-years wide. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy lives in a sparsely populated small corner of the universe, with only one other big galaxy as a companion.



Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 Recovered and Collecting Science
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 14:00:00 ESTHubble Image

The Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 was brought back to full operational status and completed its first science observations just after noon EST today, Jan. 17, 2019.

For more information, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/wide-field-camera-3-anomaly-on-hubble-space-telescope.



Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to Resume Operations
Tue, 15 Jan 2019 14:30:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA has moved closer to conducting science operations again with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, which suspended operations on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Today, Jan. 15, the instrument was brought back to its operations mode. After resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards, additional engineering data were collected and the instrument was brought back to operations. All values were normal. Additional calibration and tests will be run over the next 48 to 72 hours to ensure that the instrument is operating properly. Assuming that all tests work as planned, it is expected that the Wide Field Camera 3 will start to collect science images again by the end of the week.

For future updates and more information about Hubble, visit http://www.nasa.gov/hubble.



Wide Field Camera 3 Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope Update
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:00:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA continues to work toward recovering the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, which suspended operations on Tuesday, January 8. A team of instrument system engineers, Wide Field Camera 3 instrument developers, and other experts formed and quickly began collecting all available telemetry and onboard memory information to determine the sequence of events that caused the values to go out of limits. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan. If a significant hardware failure is identified, redundant electronics built into the instrument will be used to recover and return it to operations.

For more information on Hubble and further updates about the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/wide-field-camera-3-anomaly-on-hubble-space-telescope.



NASA's Hubble Helps Astronomers Uncover the Brightest Quasar in the Early Universe
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 17:15:00 ESTHubble Image

Less than a billion years after the big bang, a monster black hole began devouring anything within its gravitational grasp. This triggered a firestorm of star formation around the black hole. A galaxy was being born. A blowtorch of energy, equivalent to the light from 600 trillion Suns, blazed across the universe. Now, 12.8 billion years later, the Hubble Space Telescope captured the beacon from this event. But Hubble astronomers needed help to spot it. The gravitational warping of space by a comparatively nearby intervening galaxy greatly amplified and distorted the quasar's light, making it the brightest such object seen in the early universe. It offers a rare opportunity to study a zoomed-in image of how supermassive black holes accompanied star formation in the very early universe and influenced the assembly of galaxies.



Wide Field Camera 3 Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope
Wed, 09 Jan 2019 11:00:00 ESTHubble Image

The Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations on January 8 due to a hardware problem. Hubble will continue to perform science observations with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly is investigated. Wide Field Camera 3, installed during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009, is equipped with redundant electronics should they be needed to recover the instrument.

For more information about Hubble and further updates about the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/wide-field-camera-3-anomaly-on-hubble-space-telescope.



Young Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs May Lack Ingredients for Life
Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Our Sun is not one of the most abundant types of star in our Milky Way galaxy. That award goes to red dwarfs, stars that are smaller and cooler than our Sun. In fact, red dwarfs presumably contain the bulk of our galaxy's planet population, which could number tens of billions of worlds. Surveys by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and other observatories have shown that rocky planets are common around these diminutive stars. Some of these rocky worlds are orbiting within the habitable zones of several nearby red dwarfs. The temperate climates on such worlds could allow for oceans to exist on their surface, possibly nurturing life.

That's the good news. The bad news is that many of these rocky planets may not harbor water and organic material, the necessary ingredients for life as we know it. Earth, which formed as a "dry" planet, was seeded over hundreds of millions of years with icy material from comets and asteroids arriving from the outer solar system.

If the same life-nurturing process is needed for planets around red dwarfs, then they may be in trouble. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have discovered a rapidly eroding dust-and-gas disk encircling the young, nearby red dwarf star AU Microscopii (AU Mic). The disk is being excavated by fast-moving blobs of material, which are acting like a snowplow by pushing small particles — possibly containing water and other volatiles — out of the system. Astronomers don’t yet know how the blobs were launched. One theory is that powerful mass ejections from the turbulent star expelled them. Such energetic activity is common among young red dwarfs.

If the disk around AU Mic continues to dissipate at the current pace, it will be gone in about 1.5 million years, which is the blink of an eye in cosmic time. Smaller bodies, such as comets and asteroids, could be cleared out of the disk within that short time span. Planets, however, would be too massive to be displaced. Without enrichment from comet and asteroid material, the planets may end up dry, dusty, and lifeless.



Triangulum Galaxy Shows Stunning Face in Detailed Hubble Portrait
Mon, 07 Jan 2019 12:00:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has produced this stunningly detailed portrait of the Triangulum galaxy (M33), displaying a full spiral face aglow with the light of nearly 25 million individually resolved stars. It is the largest high-resolution mosaic image of Triangulum ever assembled, composed of 54 Hubble fields of view spanning an area more than 19,000 light-years across.

The Local Group of galaxies is dominated by the Milky Way, Andromeda, and Triangulum. As the junior member of this trio of spiral galaxies, Triangulum provides the valuable comparisons and contrasts that only a close companion can. Most notably, Triangulum's star formation is 10 times more intense than in the comparable Hubble panorama of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Astronomers have only begun to mine the enormous amount of data generated by these new Hubble observations, and expect they will yield important insights into the effects of such vigorous star formation.

The orderly nature of Triangulum's spiral, with dust distributed throughout, is another distinctive feature. Astronomers think that in the Local Group, Triangulum has been something of an introvert, isolated from frequent interactions with other galaxies while keeping busy producing stars along organized spiral arms. Uncovering the Triangulum galaxy’s story will provide an important point of reference in understanding how galaxies develop over time, and the diverse paths that shape what we see today.



Hubble Takes a Close Look at the Brightest Comet of the Year
Thu, 20 Dec 2018 14:00:00 ESTHubble Image

On December 13th, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope photographed comet 46P/Wirtanen, a periodic comet that orbits the Sun once every 5.4 years. These observations were taken days before the comet’s closest approach to Earth on December 16th, when it passed just over 7 million miles from our planet. Astronomers took advantage of this unusually close approach to study the comet’s inner cloud of gas and dust, or coma, in detail. Their goal was to study how gases are released from ices in the nucleus, what the comet’s ices are composed of, and how gas in the coma is chemically altered by sunlight and solar radiation. In this image, the comet’s nucleus is hidden in the center of a fuzzy glow from the comet’s coma.


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!
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