Hubble Confirms New Dark Spot on Neptune
Thu, 23 Jun 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Pancake-shaped clouds not only appear in the children's book "Cloudy With a
Chance of Meatballs," but also 3 billion miles away on the gaseous planet
Neptune. When they appeared in July 2015, witnessed by amateur astronomers
and the largest telescopes, scientists suspected that these clouds were bright
companions to an unseen, dark vortex. The dark vortex is a high-pressure system
where the flow of ambient air is perturbed and diverted upward over the vortex.
This forms huge, lens-shaped clouds, that resemble clouds that sometimes form
over mountains on Earth.
Venus has potential – but not for water - Read more >
Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:00:00 +0200
ESA’s Venus Express may have helped to explain the puzzling lack of water on Venus. The planet has a surprisingly strong electric field – the first time this has been measured at any planet – that is sufficient to deplete its upper atmosphere of oxygen, one of the components of water.
Gluttonous Star May Hold Clues to Planet Formation
Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:00:00 -0400
In 1936, astronomers observed signs that the young star FU Orionis had begun gobbling material from its surrounding disk of gas and dust with a sudden voraciousness. During a three-month binge, as
matter turned into energy, the star became 100 times brighter, heating the disk
around it to temperatures of up to 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The brightening is
the most extreme event of its kind that has been confirmed around a star the size of
the sun, and may have implications for how stars and planets form. The intense
baking of the star's surrounding disk likely changed its chemistry, permanently
altering material that could one day turn into planets. FU Orionis is still devouring
gas to this day, although not as quickly.
Cloudy Days on Exoplanets May Hide Atmospheric Water
Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:30:00 -0400
Water is a hot topic in the study of exoplanets, including "hot Jupiters," whose
masses are similar to that of Jupiter, but lie much closer to their parent star than
Jupiter is to the sun. They are estimated to be a scorching 2,000 degrees
Fahrenheit, meaning any water they host would take the form of water vapor.
NASA's Hubble Finds Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Expected
Thu, 02 Jun 2016 11:30:00 -0400
When astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered nearly 100 years ago that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions, the finding was a big surprise. Then, in the mid-1990s, another shocker occurred: astronomers found that the expansion rate was accelerating perhaps due to a repulsive property called "dark energy." Now, the latest measurements of our runaway universe suggest that it is expanding faster than astronomers thought. The consequences could be very significant for our understanding of the shadowy contents of our unruly universe. It may mean that dark energy is shoving galaxies away from each other with even greater or growing strength. Or, the early cosmos may contain a new type of subatomic particle referred to as "dark radiation." A third possibility is that "dark matter," an invisible form of matter that makes up the bulk of our universe, possesses some weird, unexpected characteristics. Finally, Einstein's theory of gravity may be incomplete.
Watch LISA Pathfinder briefing - Read more >
Thu, 02 Jun 2016 13:00:00 +0200
Livestreaming of the media briefing on the first results from ESA’s LISA Pathfinder mission will begin on 7 June at 09:30 GMT (11:30 CEST). LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator for the observation of gravitational waves from space.
Mars Webcam goes pro - Read more >
Wed, 25 May 2016 15:22:00 +0200
A modest ‘webcam’ on Mars Express has proven useful for outreach, education and citizen-science. Now ESA have decided to adopt it as a professional science instrument.
NASA Telescopes Find Clues for How Giant Black Holes Formed So Quickly
Tue, 24 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Using data from three of NASA's Great Observatories (the Hubble Space Telescope,
Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Spitzer Space Telescope), scientists have found the best
evidence to date that supermassive black holes in the early universe were produced
by the direct collapse of a gas cloud. If confirmed, this result could lead to new
insight into how black holes were formed and grew billions of years ago. This
artist's illustration depicts a possible "seed" for the formation of a supermassive
black hole. The inset boxes contain Chandra (top) and Hubble (bottom) images of
one of two candidate seeds, where the properties in the data matched those
predicted by sophisticated models produced by researchers of the direct-collapse
Hubble Takes Mars Portrait Near Close Approach
Thu, 19 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
On May 12, 2016, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this striking
image of Mars, when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth. The photo reveals
details as small as 20 miles to 30 miles across. This observation was made just a few
days before Mars opposition on May 22, when the sun and Mars will be on exact
opposite sides of Earth. Mars also will be 47.4 million miles from Earth. On May 30, Mars
will be the closest it has been to Earth in 11 years, at a distance of 46.8 million miles.
Mars is especially photogenic during opposition because it can be seen fully illuminated
by the sun as viewed from Earth.
Hubble Catches Views of a Jet Rotating with Comet 252P/LINEAR
Thu, 12 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
For thousands of years, humans have recorded sightings of mysterious comets
sweeping across the nighttime skies. These celestial wanderers, "snowballs" of dust
and ice, are swift-moving visitors from the cold depths of space. Some of them
periodically visit the inner solar system during their journeys around the sun.
Second ExoMars mission moves to next launch opportunity in 2020 - Read more >
Mon, 02 May 2016 12:00:00 +0200
On 14 March 2016, the Roscosmos State Corporation and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the jointly-developed ExoMars 2016 interplanetary mission, comprising the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli lander, on a Proton rocket from Baikonur, thus marking the first phase in the European-Russian ExoMars cooperation programme.
Hubble Discovers Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake
Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Makemake is one of several dwarf planets that reside in the frigid outer realm of
our solar system called the Kuiper Belt, a "junkyard" of countless icy bodies left
over from our solar system's formation.
Profile of a methane sea on Titan - Read more >
Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +0200
Saturn’s largest moon is covered in seas and lakes of liquid hydrocarbons – and one sea has now been found to be filled with pure methane, with a seabed covered by a sludge of organic-rich material, and possibly surrounded by wetlands.
Herschel’s Galactic panorama - Read more >
Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:00:00 +0200
This new video from ESA’s Herschel space observatory reveals in stunning detail the intricate pattern of gas, dust and star-forming hubs along the plane of our Galaxy, the Milky Way.
Hubble Sees a Star 'Inflating' a Giant Bubble
Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Twenty-six candles grace NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's birthday cake this
year, and now one giant space "balloon" will add to the festivities. Just in time for
the 26th anniversary of Hubble's launch on April 24, 1990, the telescope has
photographed an enormous, balloon-like bubble being blown into space by a
super-hot, massive star. Astronomers trained the iconic telescope on this colorful
feature, called the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635. The bubble is 7 light-years
across about one-and-a-half times the distance from our sun to its nearest
stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri. The Bubble Nebula lies 7,100 light-years from
Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia.
First light for ExoMars - Read more >
Thu, 14 Apr 2016 09:55:00 +0200
The ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars spacecraft are in excellent health following launch last month, with the orbiter sending back its first test image of a starry view taken en route to the Red Planet.
The colour-changing comet - Read more >
Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:00:00 +0200
Rosetta’s comet has been seen changing colour and brightness in front of the ESA orbiter’s eyes, as the Sun’s heat strips away the older surface to reveal fresher material.