Comet sinkholes generate jets - Read more >
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:00:00 +0200
A number of the dust jets emerging from Rosetta’s comet can be traced back to active pits that were likely formed by a sudden collapse of the surface. These ‘sinkholes’ are providing a glimpse at the chaotic and diverse interior of the comet.
Hubble Sees a 'Behemoth' Bleeding Atmosphere Around a Warm Neptune-Sized Exoplanet
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an
immense cloud of hydrogen dubbed "The Behemoth" bleeding off a planet
orbiting a nearby star. The enormous, comet-like feature is about 50 times the
size of the parent star. The hydrogen is evaporating from a warm, Neptune-sized
planet, due to extreme radiation from the star. A phenomenon this large has
never before been seen around any exoplanet. It may offer clues to how Super-Earths massive, rocky, versions of Earth are born around other stars
through the evaporation of their outer layers of hydrogen. Finding "The Behemoth"
could be a game-changer for characterizing atmospheres of the whole population
of Neptune-sized planets and Super-Earths in ultraviolet observations.
Exposed water ice detected on comet’s surface - Read more >
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 15:00:00 +0200
Using the high-resolution science camera on board ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, scientists have identified more than a hundred patches of water ice a few metres in size on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta mission extended - Read more >
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:45:00 +0200
The adventure continues: ESA today confirmed that its Rosetta mission will be extended until the end of September 2016, at which point the spacecraft will most likely be landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Hubble Sees the 'Teenage Years' of Quasars
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Quasars are the light fantastic. They are the brightest beacons in the universe,
blazing across space with the intrinsic brightness of one trillion suns. Yet the
objects are not vast galaxies, but they appear as pinpoint sources in the biggest
telescopes of today hence the term "quasar" for quasi-stellar object.
Discovered in the 1960s, it took more than two decades of research to come to
the conclusion that quasars are produced by the gusher of energy coming from
over-fed supermassive black holes inside the cores of very distant galaxies. And,
most quasars bloomed into a brief existence 12 billion years ago.
Dissolving Titan - Read more >
Wed, 17 Jun 2015 15:00:00 +0200
Saturn’s moon Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, but what makes the depressions they lie in? A new study suggests that the moon’s surface dissolves in a similar process that creates sinkholes on Earth.
Philae wake-up triggers intense planning - Read more >
Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:23:00 +0200
The receipt of signals from Rosetta’s Philae lander on 13 June after 211 days of hibernation marked the start of intense activity. In coordination with its mission partners, ESA teams are working to juggle Rosetta’s flight plan to help with renewed lander science investigations.
Hubble Telescope Detects 'Sunscreen' Layer on Distant Planet
Thu, 11 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Researchers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have detected a stratosphere
and temperature inversion in the atmosphere of a planet several times the mass
of Jupiter, called WASP-33b. Earth's stratosphere sits above the
troposphere, the turbulent, active-weather region that reaches from the ground to
the altitude where nearly all clouds top out. In the troposphere, the temperature is
warmer at the bottom ground level and cools down at higher altitudes. The
stratosphere is just the opposite: There, the temperature rises at higher altitudes.
This is called a temperature inversion, and it happens because ozone in the
stratosphere absorbs some of the sun's radiation, preventing it from reaching the
surface and warming this layer of the atmosphere. Similar temperature inversions
occur in the stratospheres of other planets in our solar system, such as Jupiter
and Saturn. But WASP-33b is so close to its star that its atmosphere is a
scathing 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and its atmosphere is so hot the planet
might actually have titanium oxide rain.
Lonely Galaxy 'Lost in Space'
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
This magnificent spiral galaxy is at the edge of what astronomers call the
Local Void. The Local Void is a huge volume of space that is at least 150 million
light-years across that doesn't seen to contain anything much. There are no
obvious galaxies. This void is simply part of the structure of the universe
where matter grows clumpy over time so that galaxies form clusters and chains,
which are separated by regions mostly devoid of galaxies. This results in
sort of a "soap bubble" structure on large scales. The galaxy, as photographed
by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is especially colorful where bright red
patches of gas can be seen scattered through its spiral arms. Bright blue regions
contain newly forming stars. Dark brown dust lanes snake across the galaxy's
bright arms and center, giving it a mottled appearance.
Hubble Finds Two Chaotically Tumbling Pluto Moons
Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Two of the most reliable changes in the sky are the daily rising of the sun in the
east and setting of the sun in the west. But if you lived on a couple of Pluto's
moons you wouldn't know when the day would begin, or even what direction the
sun would rise. That's because, unlike Earth's moon, at least two of Pluto's small
moons, Hydra and Nix, are tumbling chaotically through space. Why? Because
they orbit inside a dynamically shifting gravitational field caused by the system's
two central bodies, Pluto and Charon, that are whirling around each other. The
moons are also football shaped, and this contributes to the chaotic rotation.
Threading the Milky Way - Read more >
Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:00 +0200
These three new images of huge filamentary structures of gas and dust from ESA’s Herschel space observatory reveal how matter is distributed across our Galaxy, the Milky Way.
Hubble Video Shows Shock Collision Inside Black Hole Jet
Wed, 27 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
One of the trademarks of the Star Wars film episodes is the dreaded
Death Star battle station that fires a beam of directed
energy powerful enough to blow up planets. The real universe has such
fireworks, and they are vastly more powerful than the Star Wars
creation. These extragalactic jets are tearing across hundreds of
light-years of space at 98 percent the speed of light. Instead of a
battle station, the source of the killer beam is a supermassive black
hole weighing many million or even a billion times the mass of our
sun. Energy from the spinning black hole, and its titanic
magnetic fields, shape a narrow jet of gas blasting out a
galaxy's center. Hubble has been used over the past 25 years to
photograph and rephotograph a jet blasting out the heart of the
elliptical galaxy 3C 264 (also known as NGC 3862). Hubble's
sharp vision reveals that the jet has a string-of-pearls structure of
glowing knots of material. When these images were assembled into a
time-lapse movie, they reveal to the surprise of astronomers
a faster-moving bright knot rear-ending the bright knot in front of it. The
resulting shock collision further accelerates particles
that produce a focused beam of deadly radiation. The jet is moving so
fast toward us it gives the illusion that it is traveling faster than
the speed of light. But not to worry, the host galaxy is 260 million
light-years away. We are seeing the jet as it looked before the
dinosaurs appeared on Earth, and our planet was suffering a global
Hubble Observes One-of-a-Kind Star Nicknamed 'Nasty'
Thu, 21 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Astronomers have spent decades trying to determine the oddball behavior of an
aging star nicknamed "Nasty 1" residing in our Milky Way galaxy. Nasty 1 was identified as a Wolf-Rayet star, a rapidly evolving star that is much
more massive than our sun. The star loses its hydrogen-filled outer layers quickly, exposing its super-hot and extremely bright helium-burning core.
Impact crater or supervolcano caldera? - Read more >
Thu, 21 May 2015 11:00:00 +0200
At first glance, the region covered by this latest Mars Express image release appears to be pockmarked with impact craters. But the largest structure among them may hold a rather explosive secret: it could be remains of an ancient supervolcano.
Hubble Catches a Stellar Exodus in Action
Thu, 14 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Globular star clusters are isolated star cities, home to hundreds of thousands of
stars. And like the fast pace of cities, there's plenty of action in these stellar
metropolises. The stars are in constant motion, orbiting around the cluster's
center. Past observations have shown that the heavyweight stars live in the
crowded downtown, or core, and lightweight stars reside in the less populated
Hubble Finds Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy
Thu, 07 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The Andromeda galaxy is our Milky Way's nearest neighbor in space. The
majestic spiral of over 100 billion stars is comparable in size to our home galaxy.
At a distance of 2.5 million light-years, it is so close to us the galaxy can be seen
as a cigar-shaped smudge of light high in the autumn sky. But if you could see
the huge bubble of hot, diffuse plasma surrounding it, it would appear 100 times
the angular diameter of the full Moon! The gargantuan halo is estimated to
contain half the mass of the stars in the Andromeda galaxy itself. It can be
thought of as the "atmosphere" of a galaxy. Astronomers using Hubble identified
the gas in Andromeda's halo by measuring how it filtered the light of distant bright background objects
called quasars. It is akin to seeing the glow of a flashlight shining through a fog.
This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure
of one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe.
Send your drawing into space with Cheops - Read more >
Wed, 06 May 2015 17:00:00 +0200
Do you want to send your art into space on the new Cheops satellite? ESA and its mission partners are inviting children to submit drawings that will be miniaturised and engraved on two plaques that will be put on the satellite.
Astronomers Set a New Galaxy Distance Record
Tue, 05 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The universe is incredibly big. But how do astronomers know that? Billion-mile-long tape measures can't be found at the hardware store. Instead, astronomers
use the expansion of the universe itself to establish milepost markers. The light
from remote objects is attenuated and weakened as space stretches like a
rubber band. The consequences are that starlight will look redder relative to a
nearby star of the same temperature. When starlight is spread into its component
color via spectroscopy, features in the light will be shifted to the red end of the
spectrum. This "redshift" can be used to reliably calibrate distances. The
challenge is the farthest objects in the universe are typically too faint for
spectroscopy to work. So instead, astronomers deduce a galaxy's distance by
precisely measuring its colors in visible and infrared light. This technique has
found candidates for the farthest object in the universe.