Inside Rosetta’s comet - Read more >
Thu, 04 Feb 2016 10:00:00 +0100
There are no large caverns inside Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA’s Rosetta mission has made measurements that clearly demonstrate this, solving a long-standing mystery.
Monstrous Cloud Boomerangs Back to Our Galaxy
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:00:00 -0500
The old adage "what goes up must come down" even applies to an
immense cloud of hydrogen gas outside our Milky Way galaxy. First
discovered in the 1960s, the comet-shaped cloud is 11,000 light-years
long and 2,500 light-years across. If the cloud could be seen in visible
light, it would span the sky with an apparent diameter 30 times greater
than the size of the full moon. The cloud, which is invisible at optical wavelengths, is plummeting toward our galaxy at nearly
700,000 miles per hour. Hubble was used to measure the chemical
composition of the cloud as a means of assessing where it came from.
Hubble astronomers were surprised to find that the cloud, which is
largely composed of hydrogen, also has heavier elements that could only
come from stars. This means the cloud came from the star-rich disk of
our galaxy. The Smith Cloud is following a ballistic trajectory and will plow
back into the Milky Way's disk in about 30 million years. When it does,
astronomers believe it will ignite a spectacular burst of star formation,
perhaps providing enough gas to make 2 million suns.
Please join the scientists in a live discussion about the origin and conclusions of this research during the Hubble Hangout at 3pm EST today (Thurs., Jan. 28, 2016): http://hbbl.us/Baq .
Martian labyrinth - Read more >
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:00:00 +0100
This block of martian terrain, etched with an intricate pattern of landslides and wind-blown dunes, is a small segment of a vast labyrinth of valleys, fractures and plateaus.
Integral X-rays Earth’s aurora - Read more >
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 10:00:00 +0100
Normally busy with observing high-energy black holes, supernovas and neutron stars, ESA’s Integral space observatory recently had the chance to look back at our own planet’s aurora.
Hubble Unveils a Tapestry of Dazzling Diamond-Like Stars
Thu, 21 Jan 2016 10:00:00 -0500
Some of the Milky Way's "celebrity stars" opulent, attention-getting,
and short-lived can be found in this Hubble Space Telescope image of the
glittering star cluster called Trumpler 14. It is located 8,000 light-years
away in the Carina Nebula, a huge star-formation region in our galaxy.
Because the cluster is only 500,000 years old, it has one of the highest
concentrations of massive, luminous stars in the entire Milky Way. Like some
Hollywood celebrities, the stars will go out in a flash. Within just a few
million years they will burn out and explode as supernovae. But the story's
not over. The blast waves will trigger the formation of a new generation of stars inside the nebula in an ongoing cycle of star birth and death.
NASA's Great Observatories Weigh Massive Young Galaxy Cluster
Thu, 07 Jan 2016 14:15:00 -0500
Astronomers have made the most detailed study yet of an extremely massive
young galaxy cluster using three of NASA's Great Observatories. This
multiwavelength image shows this galaxy cluster, called IDCS J1426.5+3508
(IDCS 1426 for short), in X-rays recorded by the Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue,
visible light observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in green, and infrared light
from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red.
NASA's Spitzer, Hubble Find 'Twins' of Superstar Eta Carinae in Other Galaxies
Wed, 06 Jan 2016 10:15:00 -0500
Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system located within 10,000 light-years of Earth, is best known for an enormous eruption seen in the mid-19th
century that hurled an amount of material at least 10 times the sun's mass into space. Still shrouded by
this expanding veil of gas and dust, Eta Carinae is the only object of its kind
known in our galaxy. Now a study using archival data from NASA's Spitzer and Hubble
space telescopes has found five similar objects in other galaxies for the first time.
Hubble Sees the Force Awakening in a Newborn Star
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Just about anything is possible in our remarkable universe, and it often
competes with the imaginings of science fiction writers and filmmakers.
Hubble's latest contribution is a striking photo of what looks like a
double-bladed lightsaber straight out of the Star Wars films. In the
center of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust,
a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth
announcement to the universe. Gas from a surrounding disk rains down onto
the dust-obscured protostar and engorges it. The material is superheated
and shoots outward from the star in opposite directions along an uncluttered
escape route the star's rotation axis. Much more energetic than a science
fiction lightsaber, these narrow energetic beams are blasting across space
at over 100,000 miles per hour. This celestial lightsaber does not lie in
a galaxy far, far away but rather inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
ESA confirms James Webb telescope Ariane launch - Read more >
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 11:50:00 +0100
The next great space observatory took a step closer this week when ESA signed the contract with Arianespace that will see the James Webb Space Telescope launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou in October 2018.
Caught in the Act: Hubble Captures First-Ever Predicted Exploding Star
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Hubble has captured an image of the first-ever predicted supernova
explosion. The reappearance of the supernova dubbed "Refsdal" was
calculated by different mass models of a galaxy cluster whose immense
gravity is warping the supernova's light as the light travels toward Earth. The
supernova was previously seen in November 2014 behind the galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223, part of Hubble's Frontier Fields program.
Astronomers spotted four separate images of the supernova in a rare
arrangement known as an Einstein Cross. This pattern was seen around a
galaxy within MACS J1149.5+2223. While the light from the cluster has taken about five billion years to reach us, the supernova itself exploded much earlier, nearly 10 billion years ago. The detection of Refsdal's reappearance served as a unique
opportunity for astronomers to test their models of how mass especially that of mysterious dark matter is distributed within this
NASA Space Telescopes Solve Missing Water Mystery in Comprehensive Survey of Exoplanets
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 11:00:00 -0500
A survey of Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with the Hubble and
Spitzer space telescopes has solved a long-standing mystery why
some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected.
Astronomers have found that planets called hot Jupiters (which orbit very close to their stars) that are apparently cloud-free show strong signs of water.
However, atmospheres of other planets with faint water signals also
contained clouds and haze both of which are known to hide water from
view. The findings show that planetary atmospheres are much more
diverse than expected. Also, the results offer insights into the wide range
of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.
Hubble Helps Solve Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 13:00:00 -0500
For the past 60 years, astronomers have been puzzled by an unusual
type of star that looks hotter and bluer than it should for its age. It has
been dubbed a "blue straggler" because it seems to lag behind the
evolution of neighboring stars. Blue stragglers dwell inside ancient star
clusters that should have stopped making youthful and short-lived blue
stars billions of years ago. The most popular explanation among several
competing theories is that an aging star spills material onto a smaller
companion star. The small star bulks up on mass to become hotter and
bluer, while the aging companion burns out and collapses to a white
dwarf a burned out cinder. To test this theory, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope conducted a survey of the open star cluster NGC 188 that has 21 blue
stragglers. Of those they found that seven had white dwarf companions,
by identifying their ultraviolet glow that is detectable by Hubble. This
confirms the binary star theory for their origin.
NASA Space Telescopes See Magnified Image of the Faintest Galaxy from the Early Universe
Thu, 03 Dec 2015 13:00:00 -0500
Hunting for faraway galaxies that existed long, long ago is like a fishing
trip for astronomers. So far only the "big fish" have been found, bright
galaxies that existed just a few hundred million years after the big bang.
Now, using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers have caught a "smaller fish," a very compact and faint
early galaxy that was forming 400 million years after the big bang, which
happened 13.8 billion years ago.
Cosmic filaments exposed near huge cluster - Read more >
Wed, 02 Dec 2015 19:00:00 +0100
ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has revealed three massive filaments of hot gas flowing towards a cluster of galaxies, uncovering a portion of the cosmic skeleton that pervades the entire Universe.
Call for media: LISA Pathfinder launch - Read more >
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:00:00 +0100
LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s technology demonstrator for detecting gravitational-waves, is set for launch on 2 December at 04:15 GMT (05:15 CET) on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Media representatives can follow the launch online and attend the event in ESA’s operations centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany.
Call for Media: ExoMars 2016 leaving Europe for launch site - Read more >
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0100
The ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2016 spacecraft are ready to depart Europe for the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to prepare for their launch in March.
Members of the media are invited to join ExoMars scientists and engineers from ESA, Roscosmos and Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France on 25 November for a final glimpse of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, the entry, descent and landing demonstrator, before they leave.
The spacecraft will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket during the 14–25 March 2016 window, arriving at Mars in October 2016.
TGO will take a detailed inventory of Mars’ atmospheric gases. Of special interest is the origin of methane – its presence implies an active, current source, and TGO will help to determine if it stems from a geological or biological source.
Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies to enable a controlled landing on Mars in preparation for future missions.
TGO will also serve as a data relay for the second ExoMars mission, comprising a rover and a surface science platform, which is planned for launch in 2018.
Rosetta and Philae: one year since landing on a comet - Read more >
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0100
One year since Philae made its historic landing on a comet, mission teams remain hopeful for renewed contact with the lander, while also looking ahead to next year’s grand finale: making a controlled impact of the Rosetta orbiter on the comet.
Hubble Uncovers Fading Cinders of Some of Our Galaxy's Earliest Homesteaders
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
About 13 billion years ago, long before our sun formed, the construction
of our Milky Way galaxy was just beginning. Young, mostly sun-like stars
in the core, or central bulge, provided the building blocks for the galaxy's
foundation. Many of these building-block stars have long since burned
out, and are now just dying embers. But contained within these dead
stars, called white dwarfs, is the early history of our galaxy, providing
clues on how it came to be.
Shining a light on the aurora of Mars - Read more >
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 14:00:00 +0100
ESA’s Mars Express has shed new light on the Red Planet’s rare ultraviolet aurora by combining for the first time remote observations with in situ measurements of electrons hitting the atmosphere.