Nasa Image of the Day
White Dwarf May Have Shredded Passing Planet

White Dwarf May Have Shredded Passing Planet

In this Chandra image of ngc6388, researchers have found evidence that a white dwarf star may have ripped apart a planet as it came too close. When a star reaches its white dwarf stage, nearly all of the material from the star is packed inside a radius one hundredth that of the original star. The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. Using several telescopes, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers have found evidence that a white dwarf star – the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel – may have ripped apart a planet as it came too close. More information. Image Credit: NASA

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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!

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!

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Astronomy News
Rosetta and Philae find comet not magnetised - Read more >
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:00:00 +0200


Measurements made by Rosetta and Philae during the probe’s multiple landings on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko show that the comet’s nucleus is not magnetised.




Our Sun Came Late to the Milky Way's Star-Birth Party
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Our Sun missed the stellar "baby boom" that erupted in our young Milky Way galaxy 10 billion years ago. During that time the Milky Way was churning out stars 30 times faster than it does today. Our galaxy was ablaze with a firestorm of star birth as its rich reservoir of hydrogen gas compressed under gravity, creating myriad stars. But our Sun was not one of them. It was a late "boomer," arising 5 billion years later, when star birth had plunged to a trickle.



NASA and STScI Select Hubble Fellows for 2015
Mon, 06 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) have announced the selection of 17 new Hubble Fellows. STScI in Baltimore, Maryland, administers the Hubble Fellowship Program for NASA. The Hubble Fellowship Program includes all research relevant to present and future missions relating to NASA's Cosmic Origins Program. These missions currently include the Herschel Space Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The new Hubble Fellows will begin their programs in the fall of 2015.



Hubble Finds Phantom Objects Near Dead Quasars
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

In 2007, Dutch schoolteacher Hanny van Arkel discovered a never-before-seen ghostly structure near a galaxy, while she was participating in an online amateur scientist project called Galaxy Zoo. The galaxy hosts a bright quasar that may have illuminated the apparition by hitting it with a beam of light from hot gas around a central black hole. Astronomers eagerly used the Hubble Space Telescope to do follow-up observations, which revealed knots of dust and gas in the "greenish blob." Assuming that this feature could offer insights into the puzzling behavior of active galaxies, Bill Keel of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, initiated a search for other similar phenomenon. After all, where there's one strange blob there could be more. Keel had 200 volunteers look at archival data of 15,000 galaxies hosting quasars. In the end, he found eight other galaxies with bright active nuclei that have illuminated material far outside the radius of the galaxy. The eerie structures have looping, spiral, and braided shapes. Hubble's images show that they are like the remnants of galaxy collisions.

Join Hubble scientists for a live Hubble Hangout discussion at 3pm EDT on Thurs., April 2, to learn even more. Visit: http://hbbl.us/y6c .



Herschel and Planck find missing clue to galaxy cluster formation - Read more >
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:00:00 +0200


By combining observations of the distant Universe made with ESA’s Herschel and Planck space observatories, cosmologists have discovered what could be the precursors of the vast clusters of galaxies that we see today.




Hubble and Chandra Discover Dark Matter Is Not as Sticky as Once Thought
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

In particle physics labs, like the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, scientists smash atoms together to study the underpinnings of matter and energy. On the scale of the macrocosm, nature provides a similar experiment by crashing clusters of galaxies together. Besides galaxies and gas, the galaxy clusters contain huge amounts of dark matter. Dark matter is a transparent form of matter that makes up most of the mass in the universe. During collisions, the clouds of gas enveloping the galaxies crash into each other and slow down or stop. Astronomers found that the dark matter continued straight through the violent collisions, without slowing down relative to the galaxies. Their best explanation is that the dark matter did not interact with visible particles, and it also interacted less frequently with other dark matter than previously thought. Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory to study 72 large galaxy cluster collisions. Chandra traced the hot gas, and Hubble saw how the invisible dark matter warps space and distorts the images of background stars. This allowed for the distribution of dark matter in the collision to be mapped. The finding narrows down the options for what this dark matter might be.



Black hole winds pull the plug on star formation - Read more >
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:00:00 +0100


Astronomers using ESA’s Herschel space observatory have found that the winds blowing from a huge black hole are sweeping away its host galaxy’s reservoir of raw star-building material.




Rosetta makes first detection of molecular nitrogen at a comet - Read more >
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 20:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has made the first measurement of molecular nitrogen at a comet, providing clues about the temperature environment in which Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko formed.




Hubble Source Catalog: One-Stop Shopping for Astronomers
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland, have created a new master catalog of astronomical objects called the Hubble Source Catalog. The catalog provides one-stop shopping for measurements of objects observed with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.



NASA's Hubble Observations Suggest Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:00:00 -0400Hubble Image

Nearly 500 million miles from the Sun lies a moon orbiting Jupiter that is slightly larger than the planet Mercury and may contain more water than all of Earth's oceans. Temperatures are so cold, though, that water on the surface freezes as hard as rock and the ocean lies roughly 100 miles below the crust. Nevertheless, where there is water there could be life as we know it. Identifying liquid water on other worlds big or small is crucial in the search for habitable planets beyond Earth. Though the presence of an ocean on Ganymede has been long predicted based on theoretical models, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the best evidence for it. Hubble was used to watch aurorae glowing above the moon's icy surface. The aurorae are tied to the moon's magnetic field, which descends right down to the core of Ganymede. A saline ocean would influence the dynamics of the magnetic field as it interacts with Jupiter's own immense magnetic field, which engulfs Ganymede. Because telescopes can't look inside planets or moons, tracing the magnetic field through aurorae is a unique way to probe the interior of another world.



Crossing the boundary from high to low on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:00:00 +0100


On the boundary between the heavily cratered southern highlands and the smooth northern lowlands of Mars is an area rich in features sculpted by water and ice.




Hot water activity on icy moon’s seafloor - Read more >
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 19:00:00 +0100


Tiny grains of rock detected by the international Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn point to hydrothermal activity on the seafloor of its icy moon Enceladus.




Hubble Sees Supernova Split into Four Images by Cosmic Lens
Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Three-leaf clover plants abound everywhere: on lawns, in gardens, and in forests. But spotting a four-leaf clover is a rare, lucky find. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found the equivalent of a four-leaf clover with the discovery of four images of the same supernova. The images are arranged around a giant foreground elliptical galaxy embedded in a cluster of galaxies. The arrangement forms a cross-shaped pattern called an Einstein Cross. The powerful gravity from both the elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster magnifies the light from the supernova behind them in an effect called gravitational lensing. The elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster, MACS J1149.6+2223, are 5 billion light-years away from Earth. The supernova behind it is 9.3 billion light-years away.



Improved vision for James Webb Space Telescope - Read more >
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:00 +0100


Key science elements of the James Webb Space Telescope have been upgraded ahead of the observatory’s launch in 2018.




Hubble Gets Best View of a Circumstellar Debris Disk Distorted by a Planet
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Over a decade before planets were found orbiting normal stars, the astronomy world was intrigued by the discovery of a vast, edge-on, pancake-flat disk of dust and gas encircling the newborn star Beta Pictoris. It appeared to validate the hypothesis by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, 230 years ago, that our solar system was born when planets condensed from nebular material in the plane of such a disk. (This model was independently proposed by French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1796.) Kant regarded the coplanar obits of the planets a fossil skeleton of the long-ago disintegrated disk. Though nearly two dozen circumstellar debris disks have been viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope to date, Beta Pictoris is the first and best example of what a forming young planetary system looks like. That's because it can be seen edge on, and it is the only disk to date where a planet has also been imaged. Hubble has been used to intensively study the disk for the past two decades and this latest picture when compared to previous observations shows that the disk particles appear to smoothly revolve around the star like a majestic carousel. Ground-based telescopes found a Jupiter-sized world embedded in the disk in 2009, and future observations may yield more planetary objects.



Mars hills hide icy past - Read more >
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:00:00 +0100


A complex network of isolated hills, ridges and small basins spanning 1400 km on Mars is thought to hide large quantities of water-ice.




Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists - Read more >
Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:00:00 +0100


Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet.




Hubble Captures Rare Triple-Moon Conjunction
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Firing off a string of snapshots like a sports photographer at a NASCAR race, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a rare look at three of Jupiter's largest moons zipping across the banded face of the gas-giant planet: Europa, Callisto, and Io. Jupiter's four largest moons can commonly be seen transiting the face of the giant planet and casting shadows onto its cloud tops. However, seeing three moons transiting the face of Jupiter at the same time is rare, occurring only once or twice a decade. Missing from the sequence, taken on January 24, 2015, is the moon Ganymede that was too far from Jupiter in angular separation to be part of the conjunction.



Planck reveals first stars were born late - Read more >
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:00:00 +0100


New maps from ESA’s Planck satellite uncover the ‘polarised’ light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.




Rosetta swoops in for a close encounter - Read more >
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:30:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta probe is preparing to make a close encounter with its comet on 14 February, passing just 6 km from the surface.




Planck: gravitational waves remain elusive - Read more >
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0100


Despite earlier reports of a possible detection, a joint analysis of data from ESA’s Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments has found no conclusive evidence of primordial gravitational waves. 




Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

At first glance, galaxy NGC 7714 resembles a partial golden ring from an amusement park ride. This unusual structure is a river of Sun-like stars that has been pulled deep into space by the gravitational tug of a bypassing galaxy (not seen in this Hubble Space Telescope photo). Though the universe is full of such colliding galaxies that are distorted in a gravitational taffy-pull, NGC 7714 is particularly striking for the seeming fluidity of the stars along a vast arc. The near-collision between the galaxies happened at least 100 million years ago.



Rosetta watches comet shed its dusty coat - Read more >
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta mission is providing unique insight into the life cycle of a comet’s dusty surface, watching 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it sheds the dusty coat it has accumulated over the past four years.




Getting to know Rosetta’s comet - Read more >
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 20:00:00 +0100


Rosetta is revealing its host comet as having a remarkable array of surface features and with many processes contributing to its activity, painting a complex picture of its evolution.




Mysteries in Nili Fossae - Read more >
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:26:00 +0100


These new images from the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express show Nili Fossae, one of the most enticing regions on Mars. This ‘graben system’ lies northeast of the volcanic region of Syrtis Major on the northwestern edge of the large Isidis impact basin – and intriguing hints of methane have been seen here.




Beagle-2 lander found on Mars - Read more >
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:00 +0100


The UK-led Beagle-2 Mars lander, which hitched a ride on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was lost on Mars since 2003, has been found in images taken by a NASA orbiter at the Red Planet.




Origin of high-latitude auroras revealed - Read more >
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:00:00 +0100


Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the Sun’s effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to ESA’s Cluster and NASA’s Image satellites working together, a particular type of very high-latitude aurora has now been explained.




Flying over Becquerel - Read more >
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0100


This latest release from the camera on ESA’s Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.



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