Venus glory - Read more >
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0100
A rainbow-like feature known as a ‘glory’ has been seen by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter in the atmosphere of our nearest neighbour – the first time one has been fully imaged on another planet.
I spy… Rosetta’s comet - Read more >
Mon, 10 Mar 2014 10:35:00 +0100
Space science image of the week: Rosetta’s target comet, back in the field of view of ground-based telescopes, has brightened over the last four months
Hubble Witnesses an Asteroid Mysteriously Disintegrating
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500
Though fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the Sun, nothing
like the slow breakup of an asteroid has ever before been observed in the asteroid belt.
A series of Hubble Space Telescope images shows that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a
leisurely one mile per hour. This makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating
because of a collision with another asteroid. A plausible explanation is that the asteroid
is crumbling due to a subtle effect of sunlight. This causes the rotation rate to slowly
increase until centrifugal force pulls the asteroid apart. The asteroid's remnant debris,
weighing in at 200,000 tons, will in the future provide a rich source of meteoroids.
Life Is Too Fast, Too Furious for This Runaway Galaxy
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0500
Our spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy lives in a comparatively quiet backwater region of the universe. This is not the case for galaxies crammed together inside huge clusters. As they zip around within a cluster, gas can be pulled from their disks due to a process called ram pressure stripping. Galaxy ESO 137-001 is one example. The star-city looks like it is "leaking" as it plunges through the Norma galaxy cluster.
Hubble Monitors Supernova in Nearby Galaxy M82
Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:00 -0500
This is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a supernova
explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82, at a distance of
approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers using a
ground-based telescope discovered the explosion on January 21, 2014.
This Hubble photograph was taken on January 31, as the supernova
approached its peak brightness.
Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes Find One of the Youngest Galaxies in the Universe
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:00:00 -0500
An international team led by astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de
Canarias (IAC) and La Laguna University (ULL) has just released the first analysis
of the observations of the Abell 2744 cluster of galaxies, a coordinated
program of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. They have discovered one
of the most distant galaxies known to date, which clearly shows the potential of
the multi-year Frontier Fields project. The project uses a
phenomenon called "gravitational lensing" where select foreground galaxy
clusters amplify the faint light from far-more-distant background objects. By combining Hubble and Spitzer data, these astrophysicists have determined the
properties of this young galaxy with a better precision than previous studies of
other samples at similar cosmic epochs. This galaxy, named Abell2744_Y1, is
about 30 times smaller than our galaxy, the Milky Way, but is producing at least
10 times more stars. From Earth, this galaxy is seen as it was 650 million years
after the big bang. It is one of the brightest galaxies discovered at such a
lookback time, say researchers. This study provides new constraints on the
density and properties of the galaxies in the early universe. These results are
accepted for publication in the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics
Gaia comes into focus - Read more >
Thu, 06 Feb 2014 14:00:00 +0100
ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.
Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet
Tue, 04 Feb 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Imagine living on a planet with seasons so unpredictable you would hardly know
what to wear: Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat! That's the situation on a
weird world found by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope. The planet,
designated Kepler-413b, is located 2,300 light-years away in the constellation
Cygnus. It circles a close pair of orange and red dwarf stars every 66 days. But
what makes this planet very unusual is that it wobbles, or precesses, wildly on its
spin axis, much like a child's top. The planet's orbit
is tilted with respect to the plane of the binary star's orbit. Over an 11-year period,
the planet's orbit too would appear to wobble as it circles around the star pair. All
of this complex movement leads to rapid and erratic changes in seasons.
ExoMars orbiter core module completed - Read more >
Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:00:00 +0100
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held in Bremen, Germany, today.
Hubble Helps Solve Mystery of Ultra-Compact, Burned-Out Galaxies
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 10:00:00 -0500
A certain class of massive galaxies in the early universe lived fast and died
young. By "died" astronomers mean that the galaxies had completed building
stars just 3 billion years after the big bang. By contrast, our 12-billion-year-old
Milky Way galaxy continues making stars today. When star formation stops, the
aging stellar population looks redder in the star-forming galaxies that are more
bluish. The nickname for the essentially "burned-out" galaxies is "red and dead."
Rosetta wide awake as check-up continues - Read more >
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0100
Following last week’s wake-up of the Rosetta comet-chaser, ESA’s flight controllers have conducted the first in a series of health checks aimed at assessing how well it came through 31 months of hibernation.
2014 Van Biesbroeck Prize Awarded to Former STScI Deputy Director Hauser
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:30:00 -0500
Michael Hauser, former deputy director of the Space Telescope Science
Institute (STScI) and an adjunct professor in the Johns Hopkins
University's Physics and Astronomy Department, will receive the 2014
George Van Biesbroeck Prize from the American Astronomical Society
Ten years imaging Mars - Read more >
Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:08:00 +0100
Travel across the dramatic flood plains of Mars to celebrate ten years of imaging the Red Planet with Mars Express
High-speed Gaia - Read more >
Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:48:00 +0100
From cleanroom to liftoff, watch an incredible time-lapse movie of Gaia's final preparations on Earth before shooting for the stars
Call for Media: Rosetta wake up event - Read more >
Mon, 13 Jan 2014 09:52:00 +0100
On 20 January 2014, ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft is set to wake up from 957 days in deep-space hibernation. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.
Electronic Book for Students with Visual Impairments Reaches for the Stars
Thu, 09 Jan 2014 10:15:00 -0500
This huge Hubble Space Telescope mosaic, spanning a width of 600
light-years, shows a star factory of more the 800,000 stars being born.
The stars are embedded inside the Tarantula Nebula, a vibrant region of
star birth that resides 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic
Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. Hubble's near-infrared
sensitivity allows astronomers to see behind clouds of dust in the nebula
to unveil where the newborn stars are clustered.
Hubble Views Stellar Genesis in the Southern Pinwheel
Thu, 09 Jan 2014 10:15:00 -0500
The vibrant magentas and blues in this Hubble image of the barred spiral galaxy M83 reveal
that the galaxy is ablaze with star formation. The galactic panorama unveils a tapestry of
the drama of stellar birth and death. The galaxy, also known as the Southern Pinwheel, lies
15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra.
Gaia enters its operational orbit - Read more >
Wed, 08 Jan 2014 08:15:00 +0100
ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is now in its operational orbit around a gravitationally stable virtual point in space called ‘L2’, 1.5 million km from Earth.