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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • UFC champ Ronda Rousey accepts date to Marine Corps Ball

    09/01/2015 7:55:23 PM PDT · by DUMBGRUNT · 18 replies
    CNN ^ | 1 Sept 2015 | Greg Botelho
    Days after Jarrod Haschert asked his "celebrity crush" Rousey to the annual Marine Corps Ball at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he scored big-time when the mixed martial arts fighter accepted his proposal.
  • First global antineutrino emission map highlights Earth's energy budget

    09/01/2015 12:56:32 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 3 replies
    PhysOrg ^ | 9/1/15
    The first-ever global map of antineutrino flux, which accounts for natural and human-made sources of antineutrinos, with the latter making up less than 1 percent of the total flux. Credit: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency/AGM2015 The neutrino and its antimatter cousin, the antineutrino, are the tiniest subatomic particles known to science. These particles are byproducts of nuclear reactions within stars (including our sun), supernovae, black holes and human-made nuclear reactors. They also result from radioactive decay processes deep within the Earth, where radioactive heat and the heat left over from the planet's formation fuels plate tectonics, volcanoes and Earth's magnetic field....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Distant Neutrinos Detected Below Antarctic Ice

    09/01/2015 4:19:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From where do these neutrinos come? The IceCube Neutrino Observatory near the South Pole of the Earth has begun to detect nearly invisible particles of very high energy. Although these rarely-interacting neutrinos pass through much of the Earth just before being detected, where they started remains a mystery. Pictured here is IceCube's Antarctic lab accompanied by a cartoon depicting long strands of detectors frozen into the crystal clear ice below. Candidate origins for these cosmic neutrinos include the violent surroundings of supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies, and tremendous stellar explosions culminating in gamma ray bursts...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto in Enhanced Color

    08/30/2015 9:58:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto is more colorful than we can see. Color data and images of our Solar System's most famous dwarf planet, taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July, have been digitally combined to give an enhanced view of this ancient world sporting an unexpectedly young surface. The featured enhanced color image is not only esthetically pretty but scientifically useful, making surface regions of differing chemical composition visually distinct. For example, the light-colored heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio on the lower right is clearly shown here to be divisible into two regions that are geologically different, with the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

    08/30/2015 2:26:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy? Andromeda. In fact, our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it...
  • The Dwarf Planet Orcus

    08/29/2015 5:18:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Matt Williams
    Orcus was discovered on February 17th, 2004, by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. Although discovered using images that were taken in 2004, prerecovery images of Orcus have been identified going back as far as November 8th, 1951. In accordance with the IAU’s astronomical conventions, objects with a similar size and orbit to that of Pluto are to be named after underworld deities. Therefore, the discovery team suggested the name Orcus, after the Etruscan god of the underworld and the equivalent of the Roman god Pluto. estimates of Orcus’ diameter...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Seagull Nebula

    08/29/2015 11:16:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker - The Seagull Nebula. This portrait of the cosmic bird covers a 1.6 degree wide swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Of course, the region includes objects with other catalog designations: notably NGC 2327, a compact, dusty emission region with an embedded massive star that forms the bird's head (aka the Parrot Nebula, above center). Dominated by the reddish glow of atomic hydrogen, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Puppis A Supernova Remnant

    08/29/2015 11:13:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away. At that distance, this colorful telescopic field based on broadband and narrowband optical image data is about 60 light-years across. As the supernova remnant expands into its clumpy, non-uniform surroundings, shocked filaments of oxygen atoms glow in green-blue hues. Hydrogen and nitrogen are in red. Light from the initial supernova itself, triggered by the collapse of the massive star's core, would have reached Earth about 3,700 years ago. The Puppis A remnant is actually seen through...
  • First of three supermoons Saturday

    08/29/2015 6:53:41 AM PDT · by virgil283 · 20 replies
    tucsonnewsnow ^ | Aug 29, 2015 12:06 AM CST | Kevin Jeanes
    "You've heard of the supermoon before, and we have three of them this year. The first occurs Saturday, August 29th. A supermoon refers to a full or new moon when it's at its closet point (called the perigee) to Earth in its orbit. The moon can appear up to 30% larger than it's normal size from Earth. The full moon occurs at 11:35 a.m. MST on Saturday, so the moon technically won't be 100% full when it rises in the east at 6:54 p.m., but we won't be able to tell.
  • Astronomers on Quixotic Quest to immortalize Cervantes With a Star

    08/28/2015 11:27:55 PM PDT · by nickcarraway · 9 replies
    The Local ^ | 28 Aug 2015
    Some celebrities get the honour of having their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But a group of Spanish astronomers have something more cosmic in mind for their own literary star. literature could soon see his name written not just on paper, but also in the stars, if a group of Spanish astronomers gets their way. The Society of Spanish Astronomers, Pamplona Planetarium and Cervantes Institute have launched a campaign, calling for support to name a little-known star after Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The International Astronomical Union vote opened earlier this month, giving people all over the...
  • The Gas (and Ice) Giant Uranus

    08/27/2015 11:24:07 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 49 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Matt Williams
    Uranus, which takes its name from the Greek God of the sky, is a gas giant and the seventh planet from our Sun. It is also the third largest planet in our Solar System, ranking behind Jupiter and Saturn. Like its fellow gas giants, it has many moons, a ring system, and is primarily composed of gases that are believed to surround a solid core. Though it can be seen with the naked eye, the realization that Uranus is a planet was a relatively recent one. Though there are indications that it was spotted several times over the course of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Large Cloud of Magellan

    08/26/2015 11:33:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Collinder 399: The Coat Hanger

    08/26/2015 8:30:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this coat hanger a star cluster or an asterism? This cosmic hang-up has been debated over much of last century, as astronomers wondered whether this binocular-visible object is really a physically associated open cluster or a chance projection. Chance star projections are known as asterisms, an example of which is the popular Big Dipper. Recent precise measurements from different vantage points in the Earth's orbit around the Sun have uncovered discrepant angular shifts indicating that the Coat Hanger is better described as an asterism. Known more formally as Collinder 399, this bright stellar grouping is wider than the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Meteors and Milky Way over Mount Rainier

    08/25/2015 8:49:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Despite appearances, the sky is not falling. Two weeks ago, however, tiny bits of comet dust were. Featured here is the Perseids meteor shower as captured over Mt. Rainier, Washington, USA. The image was created from a two-hour time lapse video, snaring over 20 meteors, including one that brightened dramatically on the image left. Although each meteor train typically lasts less than a second, the camera was able to capture their color progressions as they disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere. Here an initial green tint may be indicative of small amounts of glowing magnesium atoms that were knocked off...
  • Giant Galaxy Ring Shouldn't Exist

    08/24/2015 7:30:54 AM PDT · by fishtank · 89 replies
    Institute for Creation Research ^ | 8-24-15 | Jake Hebert, Ph.D.
    Giant Galaxy Ring Shouldn't Exist by Jake Hebert, Ph.D. * A team of astronomers from Hungary and the United States, led by Professor Lajos Balázs of Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, has announced the discovery of an enormous ring of galaxies. According to the Big Bang model, this ring should not exist.1,2,3 The galaxies were identified from gamma-ray bursts (GRBs)—extremely intense, narrow beams of high-energy electromagnetic radiation which are thought to result from the collapse of high-mass stars. The astronomers estimated that the gamma-ray bursts originated in nine galaxies located approximately seven billion light-years from Earth. These galaxies are thought to...
  • Astro-Challenge: Splitting 44 Boötis

    08/24/2015 9:12:50 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    Universe Today ^ | on August 24, 2015 | David Dickinson
    How good are your optics? Nothing can challenge the resolution of a large light bucket telescope, like attempting to split close double stars. This week, we’d like to highlight a curious triple star system that presents a supreme challenge over the next few years and will ‘keep on giving’ for decades to come. The star system in question is 44 Boötis, in the umlaut-adorned constellation of Boötes the herdsman. Boötes is still riding high to the west at dusk for northern hemisphere observers in late August, providing observers a chance to split the pair during prime-time viewing hours. Sometimes also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dione, Rings, Shadows, Saturn

    08/24/2015 5:35:56 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening in this strange juxtaposition of moon and planet? First and foremost, Saturn's moon Dione was captured here in a dramatic panorama by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting the giant planet. The bright and cratered moon itself spans about 1100-km, with the large multi-ringed crater Evander visible on the lower right. Since the rings of Saturn are seen here nearly edge-on, they are directly visible only as a thin horizontal line that passes behind Dione. Arcing across the bottom of the image, however, are shadows of Saturn's rings, showing some of the rich texture that could not...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Giant Cluster Bends, Breaks Images

    08/23/2015 3:29:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those strange blue objects? Many of the brightest blue images are of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here typically appear yellow and -- together with the cluster's dark matter -- act as a gravitational lens. A gravitational lens can create several images of background galaxies, analogous to the many points of light one would see while looking through a wine glass at a distant street light. The distinctive shape of this background galaxy -- which is probably just forming -- has allowed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Little Planet Curiosity

    08/22/2015 10:40:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A curious robot almost completely straddles this rocky little planet. Of course, the planet is really Mars and the robot is the car-sized Curiosity Rover, posing over its recent drilling target in the Marias Pass area of lower Mount Sharp. The 92 images used to assemble the little planet projection, a digitally warped and stitched mosaic covering 360x180 degrees, were taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the Curiosity mission sol (martian day) 1065. That corresponds to 2015 August 5, three Earth years since Curiosity landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The composite selfie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sprites from Space

    08/20/2015 10:26:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: An old Moon and the stars of Orion rose above the eastern horizon on August 10. The Moon's waning crescent was still bright enough to be overexposed in this snapshot taken from another large satellite of planet Earth, the International Space Station. A greenish airglow traces the atmosphere above the limb of the planet's night. Below, city lights and lightning flashes from thunderstorms appear over southern Mexico. The snapshot also captures the startling apparition of a rare form of upper atmospheric lightning, a large red sprite caught above a lightning flash at the far right. While the space station's...
  • The Case for Complex Dark Matter

    08/20/2015 7:50:41 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 30 replies
    Quanta Magazine ^ | 8/20/15 | Liz Kruesi
    The Case for Complex Dark Matter The physicist James Bullock explains how a complicated “dark sector” of interacting particles may illuminate some puzzling observations of the centers of galaxies. Jonathan Alcorn for Quanta MagazineJames Bullock, a physicist at the University of California, Irvine, imagines what the universe would look like if dark matter interacted with itself. By: Liz KruesiAugust 20, 2015 Dark matter — the unseen 80 percent of the universe’s mass — doesn’t emit, absorb or reflect light. Astronomers know it exists only because it interacts with our slice of the ordinary universe through gravity. Hence the hunt for this...
  • How to Find Rosetta’s Comet In Your Telescope

    08/20/2015 5:21:07 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Bob King
    How would you like to see one of the most famous comets with your own eyes? Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko plies the morning sky, a little blot of fuzzy light toting an amazing visitor along for the ride — the Rosetta spacecraft. When you look at the coma and realize a human-made machine is buzzing around inside, it seems unbelievable. If you have a 10-inch or larger telescope, or you’re an experienced amateur with an 8-inch and pristine skies, 67P is within your grasp. The comet glows right around magnitude +12, about as bright as it will get this apparition. Periodic comets...
  • SpaceLiner: Europe-Australia, 90 minutes, Europe-US, one hour

    08/20/2015 1:29:36 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 7 replies
    phys.org ^ | 08-20-2015 | by Nancy Owano
    In aviation circles, the talk of the future involves phrases like "space planes" and "hypersonic atmospheric flight vehicles." A group presently in the spotlight is from Germany; they are carrying a roadmap for low-cost space access which involves calling upon the air passenger market for fast-travel flights. Welcome to the world of SpaceLiner, which, when fully developed, could have dramatic impact in global aerospace. The DLR Institute of Space Systems said this suborbital, hypersonic, winged passenger transport idea is under investigation at DLR-SART. (DLR is a German aerospace research agency and it evaluates complex systems of space flight. SART is...
  • Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator

    08/20/2015 1:07:19 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 28 replies
    phys.org ^ | August 15, 2015 | by Nancy Owano
    20 km Space Tower ====================================================================================================================== Exploring space while seated on Earth, gazing up on screens in museum theaters or at home via VR headsets. is exciting but the top imagination-grabber is the very idea of finding a way to access space. This is the present-day realm of creative thinking over space elevators, in the use of a giant tower to carry us to space. Scientists working on space elevators are thinking about materials and designs that can be used to access space as an alternative to rocket technology. A sign of the times is the upcoming Space Elevator Conference...
  • Ummmm... how was this picture taken?

    08/20/2015 7:56:58 AM PDT · by djf · 31 replies
    Curiosity has left it's base deployment and afaik no external cameras exist. So does anyone know how this picture was taken? The original article is at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/20/curiosity_rolls_over_onto_martian_wet_patch_takes_happy_selfie/
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: Not a Comet

    08/19/2015 10:50:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list. In fact, 21st century astronomers would identify it as a planetary nebula, but it's not a planet either, even though it may appear round and planet-like in a small telescope. Messier 27 (M27) is an excellent example of a gaseous emission nebula created as a sun-like star runs out of nuclear fuel in its core. The nebula forms as the star's...
  • Cassini’s Farewell Look at Dione

    08/19/2015 11:35:44 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    Universe Today ^ | David Dickenson
    Cassini passed just 474 kilometers (295 miles) above the surface of the icy moon on Monday, August 17th at 2:33 PM EDT/18:33 UT. The flyby is the fifth and final pass of Cassini near Dione (pronounced dahy-OH-nee). The closest passage was 100 kilometers (60 miles) in December 2011. This final flyby of Dione will give researchers a chance to probe the tiny world’s internal structure, as Cassini flies through the gravitational influence of the moon. Cassini has only gathered gravity science data on a handful of Saturn’s 62 known moons. “Dione has been an enigma, giving hints of active geologic...
  • Watch HTV-5 Chase the International Space Station From Your Backyard

    08/19/2015 7:16:39 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 1 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | August 19, 2015 | David Dickinson
    HTV does not incorporate deployable solar panels, but instead, has panels wrapped around its body. This can also lend itself to some pretty bright flares as it passes overhead. The H-IIB is a two stage rocket, and ground observers should keep an eye out for the second stage booster during ISS passes as well... Grapple of the HTV-5 will occur Monday over central Asia. Keep in mind, the HTV-5 will have to perform several burns to reach the elevation of the ISS: this means its orbit will evolve daily. Heavens-Above and NASA’s Spot the Station tracker typically publish sighting predictions...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Central Cygnus Skyscape

    08/18/2015 10:55:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In cosmic brush strokes of glowing hydrogen gas, this beautiful skyscape unfolds across the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy and the center of the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. The featured image spans about six degrees. Bright supergiant star Gamma Cygni (Sadr) to the upper left of the image center lies in the foreground of the complex gas and dust clouds and crowded star fields. Left of Gamma Cygni, shaped like two luminous wings divided by a long dark dust lane is IC 1318, whose popular name is understandably the Butterfly Nebula. The more compact, bright nebula at...
  • Late Summer Tales of Tanabata

    08/18/2015 2:19:52 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    Universe Today ^ | David Dickinson
    One of the surest signs that late summer is here in the northern hemisphere is the arrival of the Milky Way in the early evening sky....the star-dappled plane of our home galaxy sits almost due south and stretches far to the north. This is also why we refer to the triangular shaped asterism formed by the bright stars of Altair, Deneb and Vega as the Summer Triangle. Two of these stars are the focus of a fascinating mythos from the Far East, and a poetic celestial configuration that commemorates star-crossed lovers lost. We first heard of tales of Tanabata while...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Announcing Comet Catalina

    08/18/2015 1:24:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will Comet Catalina become visible to the unaided eye? Given the unpredictability of comets, no one can say for sure, but it seems like a good bet. The comet was discovered in 2013 by observations of the Catalina Sky Survey. Since then, Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) has steadily brightened and is currently brighter than 8th magnitude, making it visible with binoculars and long-duration camera images. As the comet further approaches the inner Solar System it will surely continue to intensify, possibly becoming a naked eye object sometime in October and peaking sometime in late November. The comet will reside...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Andromeda Rising over the Alps

    08/16/2015 9:46:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | August 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Andromeda galaxy? Although M31 appears as a faint and fuzzy blob to the unaided eye, the light you see will be over two million years old, making it likely the oldest light you ever will see directly. Now rising near a few hours after sunset from mid-latitude northern locations, Andromeda is rising earlier each night and will be visible to northerners all night long starting in September. The featured image captured Andromeda rising above the Italian Alps last month. As cool as it may be to see this neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble

    08/16/2015 7:06:58 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The featured image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perihelion Approaches

    08/15/2015 12:07:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This dramatic outburst from the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko occured on August 12, just hours before perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun. Completing an orbit of the Sun once every 6.45 years, perihelion distance for this periodic comet is about 1.3 astronomical units (AU), still outside the orbit of planet Earth (at 1 AU). The stark image of the 4 kilometer wide, double-lobed nucleus in bright sunlight and dark shadows was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's science camera about 325 kilometers away. Too close to see the comet's growing tail, Rosetta maintains its ringside seat to watch the...
  • Astronomers Discover A New Exoplanet Orbiting in ‘Habitable Zone’ of Two Stars

    08/14/2015 11:59:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    Celebrity Cafe ^ | August 14, 2015 | Tina Kim
    If there were life on the planet however, they would witness a sky much like the one shown on the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars film franchise with two blazing suns which orbit each other every 27 days. Kepler-453b is the tenth example of a planet orbiting a binary star system that Kepler has found... Most appear to sport large planets many times the mass of Earth close to their stars, whereas in our solar system the small rocky planets are in the inner regions, while the larger gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are scattered much further out....
  • Jupiter-like Planet Discovered Outside our Solar System

    08/14/2015 2:15:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    SpaceRef ^ | August 13, 2015 | UCLA
    The planet, called 51 Eridani b, is only 20 million years old a mere infant by astronomy standards. (Jupiter, the sun and Earth are all about 4.5 billion years old.) It is the first planet detected by the Gemini Planet Imager, or GPI, which was designed to discover and analyze faint, young planets orbiting bright, nearby stars... Larkin and colleagues at UCLA's Infrared Laboratory for Astrophysics developed and built GPI's highly advanced spectrometer, which enabled the instrument to detect the presence of methane on 51 Eridani b. It revealed that the planet has the strongest concentration of methane ever detected...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Dust over Enchanted Rock

    08/14/2015 4:38:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | August 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dusty debris from periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle was swept up by planet Earth this week. Vaporized by their passage through the dense atmosphere at 59 kilometers per second, the tiny grains produced a stream of Perseid meteors. A bright, colorful Perseid meteor flash was captured during this 20 second exposure. It made its ephemeral appearance after midnight on August 12, in the moonless skies over the broad granite dome of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, central Texas, USA. Below the Perseid meteor, trees stand in silhouette against scattered lights along the horizon and the faint Milky Way, itself cut by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonless Meteors and the Milky Way

    08/13/2015 2:26:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you watched the Perseid meteor shower? Though the annual shower's predicted peak was last night, meteor activity should continue tonight (August 13/14), best enjoyed by just looking up in clear, dark skies after midnight. Of course, this year's Perseid shower has the advantage of being active near the August 14 New Moon. Since the nearly New Moon doesn't rise before the morning twilight many fainter meteors are easier to spot until then, with no interference from bright moonlight. The Perseid meteor shower last occurred near a New Moon in 2013. That's when the exposures used to construct this...
  • Rosetta's Comet Lets Out An Epic Fart [Toot, toot]

    08/12/2015 8:48:40 AM PDT · by Purdue77 · 29 replies
    Popular Science ^ | 8/11/2015 | Sarah Fecht
    Popular Science (8/11, Fecht) reports that on July 29, the Rosetta spacecraft was able to capture what the ESA called a “dramatic outburst” from Comet 67P, which was strong enough to affect the solar wind. The article notes that the ESA said that “unpredictable outbursts” like this one are occurring more frequently as the comet reaches perihelion, or its closest point to the sun in its orbit, on August 13.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way and Exploding Meteor

    08/12/2015 3:49:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight the Perseid Meteor Shower reaches its maximum. Grains of icy rock will streak across the sky as they evaporate during entry into Earth's atmosphere. These grains were shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids result from the annual crossing of the Earth through Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit, and are typically the most active meteor shower of the year. Although it is hard to predict the level of activity in any meteor shower, in a clear dark sky an observer might see a meteor a minute. This year's Perseids occur just before a new Moon and so the relatively dark sky...
  • Study Shows That Universe Is Dying [We Are All Doomed]

    08/11/2015 2:00:06 PM PDT · by Purdue77 · 69 replies
    LA Times ^ | 8/10/2015 | Amina Khan
    The Los Angeles Times (8/10, Khan) reports that an international study led by Simon Driver of the University of Western Australia and presented at the International Astronomical Union meeting on Monday found that the amount of light the 200,000 galaxies are outputting is half of what they did two billion years ago, meaning “the universe is dying.” The article notes that seven telescopes were used in the study, including NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft. Driver said that the conclusion is consistent with each of the three indicators measured. However, the universe should continue to exist “far into the foreseeable...
  • A Thrift Store Find Yields an Astronomical Mystery

    08/11/2015 1:27:40 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 16 replies
    Universe Today ^ | David Dickinson
    Meagan Abell recently made a discovery during a thrift store expedition that... contains an interesting astronomical dimension as well. This is an instance where observational astronomy may play a key role in pinning down a date...first discovered the set of four medium format negatives at a thrift store on Hull Street in Richmond, Virginia. Beyond that, they have no provenance. ...Facebook users have pinned down the location as Dockweiler Beach... One ... image shows a tiny sliver of Moon just to the subject’s upper left. ...The Moon looks to be a 5-6 day old waxing crescent about 30-40% illuminated. Not...
  • Dramatic Outburst at Rosetta’s Comet Just Days Before Perihelion

    08/11/2015 12:34:27 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 18 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Bob King
    In a sequence of images taken by Rosetta’s scientific camera OSIRIS, the brilliant, well-defined jet erupts from the side of the comet’s neck in the Anuket region. It was first seen in a photo taken at 8:24 a.m. CDT, but not in one taken 18 minutes earlier, and had faded significantly in an image captured 18 minutes later. The camera team estimates the material in the jet was traveling at a minimum of 22 mph (10 meters/sec), but possibly much faster. It’s the brightest jet ever seen by Rosetta. Normally, the camera has to be set to overexpose 67P/C-G’s nucleus...
  • 'The ISS is being monitored by aliens': Conspiracy theorists spot yet another UFO hovering...

    08/11/2015 10:15:34 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 38 replies
    www.dailymail.co.uk ^ | Updated: 04:09 EST, 11 August 2015 | By Mia De Graaf
    Full Title: 'The ISS is being monitored by aliens': Conspiracy theorists spot yet another UFO hovering above the space station ============================================================================================================= Another UFO has been spotted hovering over the International Space Station, conspiracy theorists claim. Footage allegedly taken from a Nasa camera shows a pink and white object soaring across space. It has reignited claims the ISS is being 'monitored by extra-terrestrials'. The latest supposed sighting comes after another Nasa video, shot from the ISS in June, which showed mysterious lights 'leaving' Earth before the stream cut. The short clip, uploaded to YouTube, is the latest to fuel claims that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Blue Moon Halo over Antarctica

    08/11/2015 2:59:22 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | August 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen a halo around the Moon? Such 22 degree rings around the Moon -- caused by ice crystals falling in the Earth's atmosphere -- are somewhat rare. OK, but have you ever seen a blue moon? Given the modern definition of blue moon -- the second full moon occurring in a calendar month -- these are also rare. What is featured above might therefore be considered doubly rare -- a halo surrounding a blue moon. The featured image was taken late last month near Zhongshan Station in Antarctica. Visible in the foreground are a power generating...
  • What is the Oort Cloud?

    08/10/2015 4:36:14 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Matt Williams
    The Oort Cloud is a theoretical spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals that is believed to surround the Sun at a distance of up to around 100,000 AU (2 ly). This places it in interstellar space, beyond the Sun’s Heliosphere where it defines the cosmological boundary between the Solar System and the region of the Sun’s gravitational dominance. Like the Kuiper Belt and the Scattered Disc, the Oort Cloud is a reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, though it is over a thousands times more distant from our Sun as these other two. The idea of a cloud of icy infinitesimals was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sagittarius Triplet

    08/10/2015 8:00:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- HCG 87: A Small Group of Galaxies

    08/09/2015 12:58:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes galaxies form groups. For example, our own Milky Way Galaxy is part of the Local Group of Galaxies. Small, compact groups, like Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) shown above, are interesting partly because they slowly self-destruct. Indeed, the galaxies of HCG 87 are gravitationally stretching each other during their 100-million year orbits around a common center. The pulling creates colliding gas that causes bright bursts of star formation and feeds matter into their active galaxy centers. HCG 87 is composed of a large edge-on spiral galaxy visible near the image center, an elliptical galaxy visible to its...
  • The 4-mile-tall pyramid mountain on dwarf planet Ceres is glowing

    08/08/2015 3:22:46 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 55 replies
    In its latest video, posted Thursday, NASA shows us that in addition to the intriguing bright spots in a large crater on Ceres, there are also bright streaks running down the sides of a pyramid-shaped mountain rising higher than Alaska's 20,000-foot (6,100 meter) Mt. McKinley. ... And then there's that conical, almost pyramid-looking mountain that rises 4 miles high and is oddly dark on one side while the other side glows with bright streaks that seem similar in their effect to what's causing the other bright spots. "What does this structure tell us about how this world works?" Rayman says....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity's View

    08/08/2015 4:23:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: By planet Earth's calendar, the Curiosity Mars Rover reached its 3rd anniversary on the surface of the Red Planet on August 6. To celebrate, gaze across this dramatic panoramic view of diverse terrain typical of the rover's journey to the layered slopes of Aeolis Mons, also known as Mount Sharp. Recorded with Curiosity's Mast Camera instrument, the scene looks south across gravel, sand ripples, and boulders toward rounded buttes. In the background, higher layers at left are toward the southeast, with southwest at panorama right. The individual images composing the view were taken on Curiosity's mission sols (martian days)...