Craters on the edge - Read more >
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:10:00 +0200
Space Science Image of the Week: ESA’s SMART-1 snaps a trio of craters on the edge of the Luna Incognita
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.
Winter in Argyre - Read more >
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:24:00 +0200
Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this frost-tinged scene, imaged by ESA’s Mars Express during winter in the southern hemisphere.
Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy with a Supermassive Black Hole
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Astronomers have found an unlikely object in an improbable place: a monster
black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies known. The dwarf galaxy
containing the black hole is the densest galaxy ever seen, cramming 140 million
stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years (just 1/500th of our Milky Way
galaxy's diameter). However, the black hole inside the galaxy is five times the
mass of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way. This suggests that the
dwarf galaxy may actually be the stripped remnant of a larger galaxy that was
torn apart during a close encounter with a more massive galaxy. The finding
implies that there are many other compact galaxies in the universe that contain
supermassive black holes.
‘J’ marks the spot for Rosetta’s lander - Read more >
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0200
Rosetta’s lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk to the lander compared to the other candidate sites.
Gaia discovers its first supernova - Read more >
Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0200
While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered its first stellar explosion in another galaxy far, far away.
Hubble Finds Companion Star Hidden for 21 Years in a Supernova's Glare
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400
For over two decades astronomers have been patiently monitoring the fading
glow of a supernova in a nearby galaxy. They've been looking for a suspected
companion star that pulled off almost all of the hydrogen from the doomed star that
exploded. At last Hubble's ultraviolet-light sensitivity pulled out the blue glow of
the star from the cluttered starlight in the disk of the galaxy. This observation
confirms the theory that the supernova originated in a double-star system where
one star fueled the mass-loss from the aging primary star. The surviving star's
brightness and estimated mass provide insight into the conditions that preceded
the 1993 explosion.
Call for media: Rosetta landing site announcement - Read more >
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 08:30:00 +0200
Members of the media are invited to ESA Headquarters in Paris, France, on 15 September for the announcement of the primary landing site for Rosetta’s lander Philae, where in November it will attempt the first soft touchdown in history on a comet.
Rosetta arrival competition winners - Read more >
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:00:00 +0200
As Rosetta made its final approach to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, we asked you to join this extraordinary adventure by sharing pictures of your journeys, participating in a fun photo contest that attracted hundreds of entries and nearly 23 000 votes.
Integral catches dead star exploding in a blaze of glory - Read more >
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:00:00 +0200
Astronomers using ESA’s Integral gamma-ray observatory have demonstrated beyond doubt that dead stars known as white dwarfs can reignite and explode as supernovae. The finding came after the unique signature of gamma rays from the radioactive elements created in one of these explosions was captured for the first time.
NASA Telescopes Help Uncover Early Construction Phase of Giant Galaxy
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:00:00 -0400
The birth of massive galaxies, according to galaxy formation theories, begins with
the buildup of a dense, compact core that is ablaze with the glow of millions of
newly formed stars. Evidence of this early construction phase, however, has
eluded astronomers until now. Astronomers identified a dense galactic core,
dubbed "Sparky," using a combination of data from Hubble and Spitzer, other space telescopes, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Hubble photographed the
emerging galaxy as it looked 11 billion years ago, just 3 billion years after the
birth of our universe in the big bang.
Rosetta: Landing site search narrows - Read more >
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:00:00 +0200
Using detailed information collected by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft during its first two weeks at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, five locations have been identified as candidate sites to set down the Philae lander in November – the first time a landing on a comet has ever been attempted.
Rosetta arrives - Read more >
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:45:00 +0200
Video highlights from the event at ESA's mission control centre during Rosetta's arrival at comet 67P/C-G on 6 August 2014
NASA's Hubble Finds Supernova Star System Linked to Potential 'Zombie Star'
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Supernovae are the most powerful stellar explosions in the universe. Some of
them are produced by the detonation of a white dwarf, the stripped-down core of
an ordinary star at the end of its life. But 12 years ago, astronomers began noticing weak stellar blasts, a kind of mini-supernova. When
one such explosion occurred in the galaxy NGC 1309, astronomers looking
through Hubble archival images found for the first time the star system that
produced the supernova blast of a white dwarf.
Rosetta arrives at comet destination - Read more >
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:40:00 +0200
After a decade-long journey chasing its target, ESA’s Rosetta has today become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration.
Rosetta takes comet’s temperature - Read more >
Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:00:00 +0200
ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has made its first temperature measurements of its target comet, finding that it is too hot to be covered in ice and must instead have a dark, dusty crust.
Hubble Shows Farthest Lensing Galaxy Yields Clues to Early Universe
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:00 -0400
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have unexpectedly discovered the
most distant cosmic magnifying glass yet, produced by a monster elliptical galaxy. The galaxy, seen here as it looked 9.6 billion years ago, is so massive that its gravity bends, magnifies,
and distorts light from objects behind it, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. In
the Hubble image, the galaxy is the red object in the enlarged view at left.
Gaia: ‘Go’ for science - Read more >
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:30:00 +0200
Following extensive in-orbit commissioning and several unexpected challenges, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, is now ready to begin its science mission.
Venus Express: up above the clouds so high - Read more >
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:30:00 +0200
ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has climbed to a new orbit following its daring aerobraking experiment, and will now resume observations of this fascinating planet for at least a few more months.
Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water
vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the
Sun and have come up nearly dry. The planets spectroscopically surveyed
have only one-tenth to one one-thousandth the amount of water predicted by
standard planet-formation theories. The planets are not habitable because
they are gaseous and are as big as Jupiter. They lie so much closer to their
host star than Jupiter is to our Sun, so their atmospheres are seething
between 1,500 and 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, this result suggests
that some percentage of Earth-size exoplanets may be more deficient in water
than predicted. And, water is a necessary prerequisite for life as we know it.
The search for water-bearing terrestrial worlds may be more challenging than
thought for future space telescopes. And, scientists may have to revisit their
theories of planet formation.
Call for Media: Rosetta’s comet rendezvous - Read more >
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:20:00 +0200
On 6 August, after a decade-long journey through space, ESA’s Rosetta will become the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.
Venus Express rises again - Read more >
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:00:00 +0200
After a month surfing in and out of the atmosphere of Venus down to just 130 km from the planet’s surface, ESA’s Venus Express is about to embark on a 15 day climb up to the lofty heights of 460 km.
Hubble Sees Spiral Bridge of Young Stars Between Two Ancient Galaxies
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:00 -0400
It seems like our compulsive universe can be downright capricious when it comes
to making oddball-looking things in the cosmos. The latest surprise to Hubble
astronomers is a 100,000-light-year-long structure that looks like a string of
pearls twisted into a corkscrew shape. This Slinky-like structure forms a bridge between two giant elliptical galaxies that
are colliding. The "pearls" on the Slinky are superclusters of blazing, blue-white,
newly born stars. The whole assembly, which looks like a tug-of-war, must result
from the gravitational tidal forces present in the collision.
Hubble to Proceed with Full Search for New Horizons Targets
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:00:00 -0400
Planetary scientists have successfully used the Hubble Space Telescope to
boldly look out to the far frontier of the solar system to find suitable targets for
NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. After the marathon probe zooms past
Pluto in July 2015, it will travel across the Kuiper Belt a vast rim of primitive ice
bodies left over from the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. If NASA
approves, the probe could be redirected to fly to a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) and
photograph it up close.