Hubble Stretches Stellar Tape Measure 10 Times Farther into Space
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:00:00 -0400
Astronomers continue refining the precision of distance measurement
techniques to better understand the dimensions of the universe.
Calculating the age of the universe, its expansion rate, and the
nature of dark energy all depend on the precise distance measurements to stars and galaxies. If the
astronomical yardsticks are off, the astronomical interpretation may
be flawed. The most reliable method for making astronomical distance
measurements is to use straightforward geometry where the
186-million-mile diameter of Earth's orbit is used to construct a
baseline of a triangle, much as a land surveyor would use. If a target
star is close enough, it will appear to zigzag on the sky during the
year as a reflection of Earth's orbit about the Sun. This technique is
called parallax. The stars are so far away that the angle of this
parallax shift is incredibly tiny. An innovative new observing
technique has extended Hubble's yardstick 10 times farther into
our galaxy, out to a distance of 7,500 light-years from Earth.
Beauty from chaos - Read more >
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0200
Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.
Hubble Finds That Monster 'El Gordo' Galaxy Cluster Is Bigger Than Thought
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400
If someone told you there was an object in space called "El Gordo" (Spanish for "the fat
one") you might imagine some kind of planet-eating monster straight out of a science fiction
movie. The nickname refers to a monstrous cluster of galaxies that is being viewed at a time when the universe was just half of its current age of 13.8 billion years. This is an object
of superlatives. It contains several hundred galaxies swarming around under a collective
gravitational pull. The total mass of the cluster, and refined in new Hubble measurements,
is estimated to be as much as 3 million billion stars like our Sun (about 3,000 times more massive than our own Milky Way galaxy) though most of the mass is hidden away as dark
matter. The cluster may be so huge because it is the result of a titanic collision and merger
between two separate galaxy clusters. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy grew up in an
uncluttered backwater region of the universe.
NASA and STScI Select 17 Hubble Fellows for 2014
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:00 -0400
NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) have announced the
selection of 17 new Hubble Fellows. STScI in Baltimore, Md., administers the Hubble
Fellowship Program for NASA. The Hubble Fellowship Program includes all research
relevant to present and future missions in NASA's Cosmic Origins theme. These
missions currently include the Herschel Space Observatory, the Hubble Space
Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for
Infrared Astronomy, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The new Hubble Fellows will
begin their programs in the fall of 2014.
ESA and CERN sign cooperation agreement - Read more >
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:30:00 +0100
ESA, the European Space Agency, and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, signed a cooperation agreement on 28 March to foster future collaborations on research themes of common interest.
Hubble Sees Mars-Bound Comet Sprout Multiple Jets
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0400
Comet Siding Spring is plunging toward the Sun along a roughly 1-million-year
orbit. The comet, discovered in 2013, was within the radius of Jupiter's orbit
when the Hubble Space Telescope photographed it on March 11, 2014. Hubble
resolves two jets of dust coming from the solid icy nucleus. These persistent jets
were first seen in Hubble pictures taken on Oct. 29, 2013. The feature should
allow astronomers to measure the direction of the nucleus's pole, and hence,
rotation axis. The comet will make its closest approach to our Sun on Oct. 25, 2014, at a distance of 130 million miles, well outside Earth's orbit. On its inbound leg, Comet Siding Spring will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014, which is less than half the Moon's distance from Earth. The comet is
not expected to become bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.
Hubble Celebrates Its 24th Anniversary with an Infrared Look at a Nearby Star Factory
Mon, 17 Mar 2014 05:00:00 -0400
This colorful Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas. The cloud is sculpted by ultraviolet light eating into the cool hydrogen gas. As the interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths, as captured by Hubble. The space photo superficially resembles the "The Great Wave" print by 19th century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.