Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 25 Years of Unveiling the Universe
Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:15:00 -0400
NASA and ESA are celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's silver anniversary of 25
years in space by unveiling some of nature's own fireworks a giant cluster of
about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides inside a vibrant stellar
breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the
constellation Carina. The comparatively young, 2-million-year-old star cluster
contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The
largest stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds
that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. This creates a fantasy
celestial landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys.
Our Sun Came Late to the Milky Way's Star-Birth Party
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400
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 -0400
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 -0400
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
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 .
Hubble and Chandra Discover Dark Matter Is Not as Sticky as Once Thought
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0400
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.
Hubble Source Catalog: One-Stop Shopping for Astronomers
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:00:00 -0400
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 -0400
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.
Hubble Sees Supernova Split into Four Images by Cosmic Lens
Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500
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.
Hubble Gets Best View of a Circumstellar Debris Disk Distorted by a Planet
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:00 -0500
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.
Hubble Captures Rare Triple-Moon Conjunction
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0500
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: 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.
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.