Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

Ringing a Bulls-Eye

NASA/ESA Hubble

A galactic bulls-eye ringed with pink nebulae is the only evidence of a rare galactic collision of NGC 922 that occurred millions of years ago.

Explore this awesome image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

NGC 922 used to be a spiral galaxy. But as you zoom across the image, the spiral arms look distorted and disrupted. Tell-tale signs of a galactic interaction are many from the large numbers of bright pink nebulae and blue stars to the spray of dim stars toward the top of the image. Ripples set up as the smaller galaxy passed through the gas and dust clouds of NGC 922 created new star formation. Ultraviolet radiation from these bright new stars cause hydrogen gas in the surrounding nebula to glow a characteristic pink. The tugs of gravity hurled thousands of stars outward.

Scientists believe that millions of years ago a small galaxy, known as 2MASXI J0224301-244443, plunged through the heart of NGC 922. Sometimes, if a small galaxy hits a larger galaxy just right, a circle is formed. But more often than not, galaxies are not aligned perfectly. When a galaxy smacks another off center, one side of the ring is brighter than the other. NGC 922 is a prime example of what astronomers call collisional ring galaxies.

As you explore the empty places of the image, look for faraway background galaxies. Several dim spiral galaxies dot the image both outside the galaxy and within the star-speckled interior.

NGC 922 is found about 330 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Fornax. Fornax, the Furnace, is a constellation we haven’t visited before. Introduced by sky mapper and French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756, Fornax is relatively devoid of stars allowing astronomers to peer deep into the universe. Astronomers targeted Fornax for the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image.

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Now Available! Hubble Star Cards

If you’ve visited this website in the past, you’ve probably seen the big area on the home page featuring Hubble Star Cards. The space-themed card game puts the universe in the hands of parents, children and teachers.

The game won a Hubble Gold Star award in 2010 from NASA and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for its inspiring use of the amazing imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope. The vivid, stunning images motivate and engage children of all ages to learn about objects in Space.

Hubble has a unique ability to draw the public into exploring space. Through beautiful images of planets, star clusters, pillars of dust, and galaxies, Hubble provides a crucial stepping stone in the process of scientific inquiry. Hubble Star Cards create a hand-held experience that opens the door to new questions and answers. You can actually hold the Universe, all of creation, in the palm of your hand and have fun learning about it at the same time.

The game includes 60 cards categorized by planets, planetary nebulae, supernovae remnants, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. The cards include an image, a basic description, a key to the type of object, location in the sky, constellation, and distance from Earth. Possible games include War, Go Fish, Sorting, Distances and Matching. Although targeted for students 8 and older, preschoolers have played many of the games just by using the amazing imagery as a guide.

Hubble Star Cards, just $24.95, are available for secure online purchasing at hubblestarcards.com.

I think they are pretty neat and I think you will too.

Carnival of Space #272

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.

Artist's impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B.

This artist’s impression shows the planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Alpha Centauri B is the most brilliant object in the sky and the other dazzling object is Alpha Centauri A. Our own Sun is visible to the upper right. Credit: ESO

The Carnival is full of more information on this nearby world from The Meridian Journal and Aartscope

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.

Eruptions on Io from Earth

Observations of several bright & young eruptions detected at short wavelengths (~2.1 microns) on the top and longer wavelengths (~3.2 microns) on the bottom since 2004 using the W. M. Keck 10-meter telescope (May 2004, Aug 2007, Sep 2007, July 2009), the Gemini North 8-meter telescope (Aug 2007), and the ESO VLT-Yepun 8-meter telescope (Feb 2007), all with their adaptive optics systems. The thermal signature of the Tvashtar outburst can be seen near the north pole on images collected in 2007. A new eruption on Pillan Patera was seen in Aug 2007. A young and bright eruption was detected on Loki Patera in July 2009. This is the last bright eruption that was detected in our survey; since then, Io’s volcanic activity has been quiescent. Credit: F. Marchis

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.

Sparks in the Dark

NASA/ESA Hubble

Violent things can come in small faint packages as shown in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the starburst galaxy NGC 3738.

Explore the glowing red reservoirs of hydrogen gas, filaments of dust, and diffuse glow of thousands of stars in this faint irregular galaxy. What shapes and stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

NGC 3738 is a dwarf galaxy in the middle of extreme star formation. The glowing red areas are full of hydrogen, the stuff that helps make new stars. Gravity pulls together gas and dust in pockets within the cloud. As the pocket becomes more massive, it begins to heat up until eventually it can become hot enough to fuse hydrogen atoms in a sustainable nuclear reaction. These new stars give off strong stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation that excites hydrogen atoms in the rest of the cloud causing it to glow a characteristic red.

This galaxy is relatively close to Earth; just 12 million light-years from the Sun; meaning light, traveling nearly 6 trillion miles per year, took 12 million years to cross the intergalactic distance. NGC 3738 is a compact bluish dwarf galaxy, the faintest of starburst galaxies. Blue compact dwarfs are generally blue because of large clusters of hot, blue and young stars. These stars tend to be massive, meaning they burn through their supply of hydrogen fuel within just a million years. If they are massive enough, they will end their lives in cataclysmic stellar explosions called supernovae. For a time, a single star can outshine an entire galaxy, releasing more energy in a few moments than our Sun produces in its entire expected lifespan of 8 billion years.

As you explore NGC 3738, you may notice it seems jumbled and disorganized. These galaxies don’t have spiral arms nor bright center bulges. Some astronomers believe these galaxies resemble some of the earliest galaxies that formed in the early Universe and may provide clues into how stars and galaxies formed during that time. As you pan across the image, look for dozens of faint and faraway galaxies scattered throughout this deep image of the cosmos.

NGC 3738, first observed by British astronomer William Herschel in 1789, is found in the constellation Ursa Major, The Great Bear or Big Dipper. It belongs to the Messier 81 group of galaxies, a nearby galactic cluster.

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Butterfly of Combined Light

X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m

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.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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