It’s time for another roundup of the latest space news from various blogs around cyberspace; something we call Carnival of Space. Watch your step and look up as you board the latest ride through the carnival.
Perhaps the biggest, certainly the most exciting, news last week was the announcement from the European Southern Observatory of a scorching world orbiting uber-close to Alpha Centauri B. It’s also the lightest exoplanet discovered around a Sun-like star, reports Next Big Future. Nancy Atkinson at our host Universe Today detailed the new finding. Astroblogger offers reflections (and a celestia file) on the recent Earth-sized red-hot planet.
The official countdown toward the end of the world has begun (if you believe in that sort of thing). Nancy Atkinson of Universe Today explores the 2012 craziness and why people are so willing to get sucked into the hype.
CosmoQuest hits one million total craters between the Moon and asteroid Vesta. What are the fruits of this citizen science labor of love?
Next Big Future writes that Keck observations reveal the more details of Uranus than even the Voyager flyby in 1986.
Researchers presented infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analyses of Apollo samples that reveal the presence of significant amounts of hydroxyl inside glasses formed in the lunar regolith by micrometeorite impacts.Lunar regolith is everywhere on the lunar surface, and glasses make up about half of lunar regolith. Finding hydroxl in the glass means that a huge amount of material that could be turned into water on the moon.
Spacex is developing a new more powerful engine that will enable a rocket to take 200 tons of payload to low earth orbit. Musk said the new rocket, which he calls MCT, will be “several times” as powerful as the 1 Merlin series, and won’t use Merlin’s RP-1 fuel. Beyond adding that it will have “a very big core size”, he declined to elaborate, promising more details in “between one and three years”.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Blue Origin has successfully fired the thrust chamber assembly for its new 100,000 pound thrust BE-3 liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine. As part of Blue’s Reusable Booster System (RBS), the engines are designed eventually to launch the biconic-shaped Space Vehicle the company is developing. Blue Origin is a reusable rocket being developed by Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon.
The NH National Guard Child and Youth Program and NHNG Military Education Outreach Committee were proud to present a pilot science event with the Chandra Education & Outreach Group on October 14, 2012 in Concord, New Hampshire.
Cheap Astronomy presents a podcast on the Hubble Servicing Missions and the expected future for the telescope.
While Any Shira Teitel of Vintage Space readily admits Felix Baumgartner’s high altitude sky dive was awesome to watch, we may have missed an opportunity to teach a huge audience a thing or two about science.
Tranquility Base asks during the Cold War, did the U.S. or the Soviet Union ever launch an armed spacecraft? And, have there been any weapons in space since the cold war ended?
Encounter with Unidentified Flying Object in Southern Finland. The bright light and the irregular pace of the craft caught my attention. Read more on Links Through Space.
You fancy yourself an armchair astronomer? John Williams writes at Universe Today about a group of California researchers who have stepped it up a notch by monitoring the intense volcanic eruptions on Jupiter’s strangest moon Io from the comfort of their home.
Lastly, peer into a tightly spun rainbow. Explore the arching tails of the Pinwheel Galaxy in this composite image featuring imagery from NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra and GALEX telescopes.
Tightly spun filaments of color wind around the core of the Pinwheel galaxy in this combo image from four of NASA’s Great Observatories.
Explore the arching tails of color in this image. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
The Pinwheel Galaxy lies fairly close to Earth; just 21 million light-years away toward the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear or the Big Dipper. It is considered a grand design spiral galaxy and we see it nearly face-on allowing astronomers a good look at the tight, bright nucleus and long, graceful spiral arms. This galaxy is also about 70 percent larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy. It dwarfs our galaxy with a diameter of 170,000 light-years.
Composite images, images made from several telescopes, like this help astronomers match up features that show brightly in some parts of the light spectrum with those in others. They are more than just a rainbow of pretty colors. Each color tells a different story about how stars form and how they die. Red colors in this image come from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Warm dust, where stars are being born, shine brightly for Spitzer. Yellow bits of starlight shining through are from the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble sees the Universe as we would see it with our own eyes in visible light. Blue areas shine brightly in ultraviolet. These are young, hot stars seen by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or GALEX, telescope. The Chandra X-ray telescope sees areas in purple. This is light given off by supernovae, exploded stars, hot gas and material falling into black holes.
When NASA combines images from different telescopes they create amazing works of art and we learn a few things.
Explore this butterfly of combined light, known as NGC 1929, from NASA‘s Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes and ESO‘s ground-based telescope in Chile. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
Star cluster NGC 1929 contains some of the most massive stars known to scientists. These massive stars spew intense radiation and a blistering stellar wind that blow huge bubbles in the surrounding nebula. The massive stars also end their short lives exploding as supernova which further helps carve out cavities in this region. Officially, the entire nebula is known as LHA 120-N 44, or just N 44. The vast superbubble is 325 by 250 light-years across; almost a hundred times the distance between the Sun and the nearest star. As you explore the image, look for dozens of smaller bubbles and the faint rim of another huge bubble on the left side of the nebula. Along the edges of the superbubble, new stars are forming
As beautiful as this destructive scene is, we wouldn’t be able to see it quite like this with our own eyes. Astronomers combined the light of several telescopes; all observing N44 in different wavelengths of light. X-rays from Chandra, in blue, reveal areas created by winds and shocks. Infrared data from Spitzer, in red, show where dust and cooler gas reside. Optical light from ESO’s telescope in Chile, light we can see with our eyes, outlines where ultraviolet radiation from the stars causes the gas to glow.
N 44 and NGC 1929 are found about 160,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf, irregular companion galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy.
An expanding translucent bubble is all that remains of a star in this combinded image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other observatories.
Explore the bumps, ribbons and sheets throughout this image of SN 1006. What stories or images do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
In the spring of 1006, night-time observers in China, Japan, Europe, the Arab world and the Americas documented a new light in the sky. To this day the supernova of 1006 is the brightest stellar event in recorded history. Reports from China and Arab astronomers report the star was more than twice as big as Venus and objects cast shadows. While this new “guest star” glowed for months, ancient observers had no way of knowing that a star had exploded. This was a different type of supernova. Instead of a massive star collapsing and exploding, a white dwarf star captured mass from a companion star. When enough material lands on the surface of a white dwarf it becomes unstable and explodes. White dwarf stars are the burned out cores of stars that were once like our Sun. After billions of years fusing hydrogen atoms in the core, the star runs out of fuel. When this occurs, the star puffs off its outer layers and all that remains is the white-hot core. In this case, the white dwarf probably orbited a much larger red giant star.
SN 1006 is found about 7,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Lupus, the Wolf. The remnant of the supernova of 1006 was not found until 1965 when astronomers using found that a previously known radio source was surrounded by a large shell. We now know that the shell extends for about 65 light-years. The shell is so large that the Hubble Space Telescope can image only parts of the supernova remnant.
Explore the mysterious filaments, supernova remnants and loops of gas in this image. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note below.
For a long time, astronomers have known that a black hole lurks at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. They call it Sagittarius A* or SgrA* for short. The galactic center is far away. If you look to the south in the northern hemisphere summer toward the bottom and brightest part of the Milky Way, you can see toward the center of our galaxy. Light from the galactic core, traveling more than 6 trillion miles a year, takes about 26,000 years to reach our eyes on Earth. Lots of stars and thick veils of gas and dust block our view from Earth. Scientists see the black hole using X-ray images like this one and other infrared images. The X-ray light picked up from the sensors on the Chandra Observatory are high-energy particles created as matter spun into the black hole. Massive young stars near the black hole provide the gas that the black hole consumes.
Chandra looked at the center of the galaxy for about one million seconds, almost two weeks, to create this deep image. This gave astronomers a good view of the lobes of hot gas arcing light years on either side of the black hole. The image also shows scientists a good view of a supernova remnant called Sgr A East. Look close and you can see faint filaments of hot gas. Astronomers call these pulsar wind nebulae. They may be associated with the strong magnetic fields created by the fast spinning neutron stars.