Dr. Roeland van der Marel Appointed as STScI Lead on Proposed "Wide View" Space Telescope
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0500
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, has
appointed Dr. Roeland van der Marel to lead its work on a proposed NASA space
telescope that will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but
over a hundred times larger area. The space observatory, called the Wide-Field
Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA),
is being studied for launch in the mid-2020s, pending program approval by NASA.
The telescope will be used to probe the distribution of dark matter and the characteristics of dark energy, measure the abundance and characteristics of planets orbiting other stars, and will provide observations and surveys to study many other astrophysical subjects. STScI is presently the science operations center
for the Hubble Space Telescope and the science and mission operations center for
the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018. Van der Marel joined
the STScI staff in 1997. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of
Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He
is an expert on black holes and the structure of galaxies.
The Party's Over for These Youthful Compact Galaxies
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Hubble has uncovered young, massive, compact galaxies whose raucous star-making
parties are ending early. The firestorm of star birth has blasted out most of the
remaining gaseous fuel needed to make future generations of stars. Now the party's
over for these gas-starved galaxies, and they are on track to possibly becoming so-called "red and dead galaxies," composed only of aging stars. An analysis of 12
merging galaxies is suggesting that energy from the star-birthing frenzy created
powerful winds that are blowing out the gas, squelching future generations of stars. This
activity occurred when the universe was half its current age of 13.7 billion years.
Incoming! - Read more >
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:50:00 +0100
The final stages of Philae’s touchdown seen through the eyes of the lander’s downwards-looking descent camera
Farewell, Philae - Read more >
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:13:00 +0100
Rosetta’s parting image of Philae as the lander began its seven-hour descent to the surface of the comet
Rosetta and Philae Go for separation - Read more >
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:00:00 +0100
Following a night of critical Go/NoGo decisions, Rosetta and Philae are cleared for separation, despite a problem onboard the lander. The mission is set to become the first in history to touch down on a comet.
Hubble Surveys Debris-Strewn Exoplanetary Construction Yards
Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Over the past few years, astronomers have found an incredible diversity in the
architecture of exoplanetary systems, as well as the planets themselves. A survey using the sharp view of the Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a similar diversity
in the debris systems that coincide with the formation of exoplanets. These
circumstellar dusty disks are likely generated by collisions between objects left
over from planet formation around stars. The survey's results suggest that there
is some sort of interdependence between a planet and the accompanying debris
Farewell ‘J’, hello Agilkia - Read more >
Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:30:00 +0100
The site where Rosetta’s Philae lander is scheduled to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November now has a name: Agilkia.
Hubble Sees 'Ghost Light' From Dead Galaxies
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:00:00 -0400
The universe is an infinite sea of galaxies, which are majestic star-cities. When
galaxies group together in massive clusters, some of them can be ripped apart
by the gravitational tug of other galaxies. It's a giant cosmic mosh pit.
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744 nicknamed Pandora's Cluster have found forensic evidence of galaxies torn
apart long ago. It's in the form of a phantom-like faint glow filling the space
between the galaxies. This glow comes from stars scattered into intergalactic
space as a result of a galaxy's disintegration.
Here's Looking At You: Spooky Shadow Play Gives Jupiter a Giant Eye
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
The Hubble Space Telescope treats astronomers to gorgeous close-up views of the eerie outer planets.
But it's a bit of a trick when it seems like the planet's looking back at you! In this
view, the shadow of the Jovian moon Ganymede swept across the center of the
Great Red Spot a giant storm on the planet. This gave Jupiter the uncanny
appearance of having a pupil in the center of a 10,000-mile-diameter "eye." Now
if it blinks, we may really have to worry!
Ambition - Read more >
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:40:00 +0200
How Rosetta is turning science fiction into science fact
Close Encounters: Comet Siding Spring Seen Next to Mars
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:00 -0400
This is a photo composite of the encounter of Comet Siding Spring with Mars on October 19, 2014. Separate Hubble Space Telescope images of Mars and the comet have been combined together into a single picture. This is a composite
image because a single exposure of the stellar background, Comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic because the objects are all moving with respect to each other and the background stars. Hubble can only track one planetary
target at a time. Also, Mars is actually 10,000 times brighter than the comet, and the exposure here has been adjusted so that details on the Red Planet can be
Herschel's Comet - Read more >
Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:30:00 +0200
A month before retiring in 2013, Herschel took a look at Comet Siding Spring. The comet is now heading for a close encounter with Mars on Sunday
Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA's Hubble Space
Telescope has spotted one of the farthest, faintest, and smallest galaxies
ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be more than 13 billion light-years away. This new detection is considered one of the most reliable distance
measurements of a galaxy that existed in the early universe, said the Hubble
researchers. Hubble detected the galaxy due to the lensing power of the mammoth galaxy
cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster. The cluster is so massive that
its powerful gravity bends the light from galaxies far behind it, making the background objects
appear larger and brighter in a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.
NASA's Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:00:00 -0400
The Kuiper Belt is a vast disk of icy debris left over from our Sun's formation 4.6
billion years ago. Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) are a unique class of solar-system body
that has never been visited by interplanetary spacecraft. They contain well-preserved
clues to the origin of our solar system. NASA's New Horizons probe will fly by Pluto in
mid-2015 and then continue across the Kuiper Belt on its way toward interstellar space.
The Hubble Space Telescope was used to do a deep sky survey to identify KBOs that the New
Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit on its outbound trajectory. The deep sky
survey was successful, and Hubble found targetable KBOs for New Horizons.
Hubble Maps the Temperature and Water Vapor on an Extreme Exoplanet
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:00:00 -0400
Located 260 light-years away, exoplanet WASP-43b is no place to call home. It is
a world of extremes, where seething winds howl at the speed of sound from a
3,000-degree-Fahrenheit day side, hot enough to melt steel, to a pitch-black night side with plunging temperatures below 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The Hubble Space Telescope has been used to make the most detailed global map yet of the thermal glow
from this turbulent world. The astronomers were also able to map temperatures
at different layers of the world's atmosphere and traced the amount and
distribution of water vapor. The Jupiter-sized planet lies so close to its orange
dwarf host star that it completes an orbit in just 19 hours. The planet is also
gravitationally locked so that it keeps one hemisphere facing the star.
NASA Telescopes Find Clear Skies and Water Vapor on Exo-Neptune
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400
The weather forecast for a planet 120 light-years from Earth is clear skies and
steamy water vapor. Finding clear skies on a gaseous world the size of Neptune
is a good sign that even smaller, Earth-size planets might have similarly good
visibility. This would allow earthbound astronomers to measure the underlying
atmospheric composition of an exoplanet. Astronomers using the Hubble, Spitzer,
and Kepler space telescopes were able to determine that the planet, cataloged
HAT-P-11b, has water vapor in its atmosphere. The world is definitely steamy
with temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The planet is so hot because
it orbits so close to its star, completing one orbit every five days.