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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Rosetta’s View of a Comet’s “Great Divide”

    05/24/2015 6:02:16 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on May 22, 2015 | Jason Major
    The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff separating two regions on 67P, the high, smooth plateaus of Babi and the boulder-strewn, slumped valley of Aten. Both are located on the larger lobe of the comet, while parts of the Ma’at region on the smaller “head” lobe can be seen in the distance at upper left. (You can see a regional map of comet 67P here.) The image scale is about 75 cm (2.4 feet) per...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Dark and Dusty Sky

    05/22/2015 4:25:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In the dusty sky toward the constellation Taurus and the Orion Arm of our Milky Way Galaxy, this broad mosaic follows dark and faint reflection nebulae along the region's fertile molecular cloud. The six degree wide field of view starts with long dark nebula LDN 1495 stretching from the lower left, and extends beyond the (upside down) bird-like visage of the Baby Eagle Nebula, LBN 777, at lower right. Small bluish reflection nebulae surround scattered fainter Taurus stars, sights often skipped over in favor of the constellation's better known, brighter celestial spectacles. Associated with the young, variable star RY...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6240: Merging Galaxies

    05/21/2015 3:55:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 6240 offers a rare, nearby glimpse of a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes. The titanic galaxy-galaxy collision takes place a mere 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. The merging galaxies spew distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergo fast and furious bursts of star formation. The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole and soon, only one large galaxy will remain. This dramatic image of the scene is a composite of narrowband and near-infrared to visible broadband data from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Cliff Looming on Comet 67P

    05/20/2015 4:46:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | May 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What that looming behind this gravel-strewn hill on Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko? A jagged cliff. The unusual double-lobed nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko lends itself to unusual and dramatic vistas, another of which has been captured by the Rosetta spacecraft that arrived at the comet last September. The featured cometscape, taken last October and digitally enhanced, spans about 850 meters across. Meanwhile, Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko continues to sprout jets as it nears its closest approach to the Sun in August. Along the way, Rosetta will continue listening for signals from Philae, a probe that landed on the nucleus but rebounded to an unknown...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Globular Star Cluster 47 Tucanae

    05/19/2015 2:30:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | May 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel box of the southern sky. Also known as NGC 104, it roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy along with over 150 other globular star clusters. The second brightest globular cluster (after Omega Centauri) as seen from planet Earth, 47 Tuc lies about 17,000 light-years away and can be spotted naked-eye near the Small Magellanic Cloud in the constellation of the Toucan. The dense cluster is made up of hundreds of thousands of stars in a volume only about 120 light-years across. Recent observations have shown that 47 Tuc's white...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Auroras and Star Trails over Iceland

    05/18/2015 9:57:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | May 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was one of the quietest nights of aurora in weeks. Even so, in northern- Iceland during last November, faint auroras lit up the sky every clear night. The featured 360-degree panorama is the digital fusion of four wide-angle cameras each simultaneously taking 101 shots over 42 minutes. In the foreground is serene Lake Myvatn dotted with picturesque rock formations left over from ancient lava flows. Low green auroras sweep across the sky above showing impressive complexity near the horizon. Stars far in the distance appear to show unusual trails -- as the Earth turned -- because early exposures...
  • The problems with talking to aliens

    05/18/2015 7:51:56 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 36 replies
    dailydot.com ^ | on May 17th, 2015 | Marissa Fessenden
    A nude man and woman, standing in front of a representation of the spacecraft itself (for scale) may be easily interpretable to humans, but what if the aliens that find the plaque don’t have eyes and instead communicate by smell? Even if they do see, will the lines look like squiggles or like beings? Will they judge us by the quality of the art? The plaque has earned a fair amount of criticism, but the researchers charged with the task—Frank Drake, Carl Sagan and the artist, Linda Salzman Sagan—had three weeks to come up with a message. They were happy...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 2440: Pearl of a New White Dwarf

    05/17/2015 11:50:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | May 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a pearl, a white dwarf star shines best after being freed from its shell. In this analogy, however, the Sun would be a mollusk and its discarded hull would shine prettiest of all! In the above shell of gas and dust, the planetary nebula designated NGC 2440, contains one of the hottest white dwarf stars known. The glowing stellar pearl can be seen as the bright dot near the image center. The portion of NGC 2440 shown spans about one light year. The center of our Sun will eventually become a white dwarf, but not for another five...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ares 3 Landing Site: The Martian Revisited

    05/16/2015 5:45:12 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This close-up from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera shows weathered craters and windblown deposits in southern Acidalia Planitia. A striking shade of blue in standard HiRISE image colors, to the human eye the area would probably look grey or a little reddish. But human eyes have not gazed across this terrain, unless you count the eyes of NASA astronauts in the scifi novel The Martian by Andy Weir. The novel chronicles the adventures of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded at the fictional Mars mission Ares 3 landing site corresponding to the coordinates of this cropped HiRISE frame. For...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter, Ganymede, Great Red Spot

    05/15/2015 4:03:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | May 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this sharp snapshot, the Solar System's largest moon Ganymede poses next to Jupiter, the largest planet. Captured on March 10 with a small telescope from our fair planet Earth, the scene also includes Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the Solar System's largest storm. In fact, Ganymede is about 5,260 kilometers in diameter. That beats out all three of its other fellow Galilean satellites, along with Saturn's Moon Titan at 5,150 kilometers and Earth's own Moon at 3,480 kilometers. Though its been shrinking lately, the Great Red Spot's diameter is still around 16,500 kilometers. Jupiter, the Solar System's ruling gas...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dwarf Planet, Bright Spot

    05/14/2015 3:45:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now at Ceres, Dawn's camera recorded this closer view of the dwarf planet's northern hemisphere and one of its mysterious bright spots on May 4. A sunlit portrait of a small, dark world about 950 kilometers in diameter, the image is part of a planned sequence taken from the solar-powered spacecraft's 15-day long RC3 mapping orbit at a distance of 13,600 kilometers (8,400 miles). The animated sequence shows Ceres' rotation, its north pole at the top of the frame. Imaged by Hubble in 2004 and then by Dawn as it approached Ceres in 2015, the bright spot itself is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Magnificent Horsehead Nebula

    05/14/2015 3:42:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud by chance has assumed this recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is some 1,500 light-years distant, embedded in the vast Orion cloud complex. About five light-years "tall", the dark cloud is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is visible only because its obscuring dust is silhouetted against the glowing red emission nebula IC 434. Stars are forming within the dark cloud. Contrasting blue reflection nebula NGC 2023, surrounding a hot, young star, is at the lower left. The gorgeous featured image combines both narrowband and broadband images....
  • All 5 of Pluto's Known Moons Spied by NASA Probe (Photo)

    05/13/2015 8:28:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    space.com ^ | May 12, 2015 08:08pm ET | Mike Wall |
    "Detecting these tiny moons from a distance of more than 55 million miles [88.5 million kilometers] is amazing, and a credit to the team that built our LORRI long-range camera and [mission team member] John Spencer’s team of moon and ring hunters," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. [Photos of Pluto and Its Moons]
  • Scientists want to send a fish-like ‘soft robot’ to swim the oceans of Europa

    05/13/2015 3:20:44 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 21 replies
    washington post ^ | Abby Ohlheiser
    Europa, one of the many moons of Jupiter, is a very promising address in the solar system for those who say it's possible we'll find life beyond Earth right here in the Milky Way. For one thing, researchers have pretty good evidence that a giant liquid ocean exists below the moon's icy crust. A group of researchers at Cornell has come up with an idea for an animal-like underwater rover that could one day explore Europa. The "soft robot" proposal just won a $100,000 grant from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts initiative -- an award for project ideas that are at...
  • A Guide to Saturn Through Opposition 2015

    05/12/2015 7:26:45 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | David Dickinson
    Saturn reaches opposition for 2015 on May 23rd at 1:00 Universal Time (UT), which equates to 9:00 PM EDT the evening prior on May 22 at nearly 9 astronomical units (AU) distant. Oppositions of Saturn are getting slightly more distant to the tune of 10 million kilometers in 2015 versus last year as Saturn heads towards aphelion in 2018. Saturn crosses eastward from the astronomical constellation of Scorpius in the first week of May, and spends most of the remainder of 2015 in Libra before looping back into the Scorpion in mid-October. The first of June finds Saturn just over...
  • More evidence that the Milky Way has four spiral arms

    05/12/2015 12:33:15 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 30 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-12-2015 | by Dan Majaess, Universe Today
    Astronomers have been arguing over just how many spiral arms our galaxy exhibits. Is the Milky Way a four or two-armed spiral galaxy? Astronomers had often assumed the Milky Way was potentially a four-armed spiral galaxy, but comparatively recent observations from NASA's Spitzer telescope implied the galaxy had two spiral arms. In 2013, astronomers mapped star forming regions and argued they had found the two missing arms, bringing the total number of arms back to four. The case for a four-armed Milky Way may have just gotten stronger. A team of Brazilian astronomers used star clusters embedded in their natal...
  • Newton's Telescope and Hubble - Objectivity #16 (VIDEO)

    05/12/2015 7:44:59 AM PDT · by servo1969 · 6 replies
    Youtube.com ^ | 4-20-2015 | Objectivity
    With the 25th anniversary of The Hubble Space Telescope fast approaching, Brady and Keith look at a priceless artefact - Sir Isaac Newton's very own reflecting telescope.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Worlds, One Sun

    05/12/2015 3:51:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How different does sunset appear from Mars than from Earth? For comparison, two images of our common star were taken at sunset, one from Earth and one from Mars. These images were scaled to have same angular width and featured here side-by-side. A quick inspection will reveal that the Sun appears slightly smaller from Mars than from Earth. This makes sense since Mars is 50% further from the Sun than Earth. More striking, perhaps, is that the Martian sunset is noticeably bluer near the Sun than the typically orange colors near the setting Sun from Earth. The reason for...
  • Departing Space Station Commander Provides Tour of Orbital Laboratory

    05/11/2015 2:53:04 PM PDT · by Enlightened1 · 5 replies
    Youtube ^ | NASA
    In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. The tour includes scenes of each of the station's modules and research facilities with a running narrative by Williams of the work that has taken place and which is ongoing aboard the orbital outpost.
  • What Would It Be Like to Live on Alien Planet Kepler-186f?

    05/11/2015 1:42:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    Space.com ^ | May 09, 2015 | Joseph Castro
    In recent years, NASA's Kepler space telescope and other observatories have discovered more than 1,800 extra-solar planets, with thousands of additional "candidate" planets awaiting confirmation. Current technology is nowhere near able to allow quick intergalactic travel, but if you somehow wound up on an Earth-size alien world, what would you experience? Last year, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f — the first Earth-size exoplanet found in its star's habitable zone, the region of space in a planetary system where liquid water (and, therefore, life) could exist. "The star [Kepler-186] is about half the size and about half the mass of...
  • A Remarkable Direct Image Of A Nearby Super-Jupiter

    05/11/2015 1:38:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 33 replies
    io9 ^ | George Dvorsky
    Typically, exoplanets are observed indirectly using such techniques as the transit method, or by measuring changes in the radial velocity of host stars. In the vast majority of cases, astronomers aren’t able to detect the light from these planets due to their extreme distance from observational equipment. But VHS J1256b—a gas giant located 40 light-years from Earth—is close enough, bright enough, and distant enough from its host star to be seen and distinguished by our telescopes. The direct image of VHS J1256b, along with its spectral signature, was acquired by scientists at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries (IAC),...
  • Did Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Trigger Largest Lava Flows on Earth?

    05/11/2015 1:22:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    Astrobiology ^ | May 1, 2015 | University of California, Berkeley
    The asteroid that slammed into the ocean off Mexico 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe that may have contributed to the devastation, according to a team of University of California, Berkeley, geophysicists. Specifically, the researchers argue that the impact likely triggered most of the immense eruptions of lava in India known as the Deccan Traps, explaining the "uncomfortably close" coincidence between the Deccan Traps eruptions and the impact, which has always cast doubt on the theory that the asteroid was the sole cause of...
  • Thorium Abundances in Solar Twins and Analogues: Implications for the Habitability of Extrasolar...

    05/11/2015 11:50:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    Astrobiology ^ | May 4, 2015 | astro-ph.EP
    We present the first investigation of Th abundances in Solar twins and analogues to understand the possible range of this radioactive element and its effect on rocky planet interior dynamics and potential habitability. The abundances of the radioactive elements Th and U are key components of a planet's energy budget, making up 30% to 50% of the Earth's (Korenaga 2008; Allegre et al. 2001; Schubert et al. 1980; Lyubetskaya & Korenaga 2007; The KamLAND Collaboration 2011; Huang et al. 2013). Radiogenic heat drives interior mantle convection and surface plate tectonics, which sustains a deep carbon and water cycle and thereby...
  • Closest look yet at Ceres’ bright spots

    05/11/2015 10:25:52 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 19 replies
    earthsky.org ^ | May 11, 2015 | Staff
    Mysterious Spot 5 – the most prominent of Ceres’ bright spots – is shown in a new image from the orbiting Dawn spacecraft to consist of many smaller spots. Bright spots on Ceres are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots in this May, 2015 image from the Dawn spacecraft. Image via NASA Dawn mission. Alright! Now we’re getting somewhere. The Dawn spacecraft – which has now completed its first mapping orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres – acquired these closest-yet images of the mysterious bright spots on Ceres, known as Spot 5, on May 3 and 4, 2015....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sky from Mauna Kea

    05/11/2015 6:45:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What if you could stand at the top of a volcano and peer out across the universe? It the timing is right, you might see an amazing panorama like the one featured here. In this case, the volcano is the Hawaii's Mauna Kea, and the time was a clear night last summer In the foreground of this south-facing panorama lies a rugged landscape dotted with rocks and hardy plants. Slightly above and further out, a white blanket of clouds spreads horizontally to the horizon, seemingly dividing heaven and Earth. City lights illuminate the clouds and sky on the far...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MyCn18: An Hourglass Planetary Nebula

    05/09/2015 10:04:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The sands of time are running out for the central star of this hourglass-shaped planetary nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a Sun-like star's life occurs as its outer layers are ejected - its core becoming a cooling, fading white dwarf. In 1995, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to make a series of images of planetary nebulae, including the one above. Here, delicate rings of colorful glowing gas (nitrogen-red, hydrogen-green, and oxygen-blue) outline the tenuous walls of the hourglass. The unprecedented sharpness of the HST images has revealed surprising details of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Trio Leo

    05/09/2015 6:58:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | May 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This popular group is famous as the Leo Triplet - a gathering of three magnificent galaxies in one field of view. Crowd pleasers when imaged with even modest telescopes, they can be introduced individually as NGC 3628 (left), M66 (bottom right), and M65 (top). All three are large spiral galaxies but they tend to look dissimilar because their galactic disks are tilted at different angles to our line of sight. NGC 3628 is seen edge-on, with obscuring dust lanes cutting across the plane of the galaxy, while the disks of M66 and M65 are both inclined enough to show...
  • NASA’s Hubble Finds Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy

    05/09/2015 6:27:38 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    nasa ^ | Rob Gutro
    Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. The dark, nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our own Milky Way galaxy. This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure of majestic giant spirals, one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe. “Halos are the gaseous atmospheres of galaxies. The properties of these gaseous halos control the rate...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- When Vega is North

    05/08/2015 4:16:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In only about 12,000 years Vega will be the North Star, the closest bright star to our fair planet's North Celestial Pole. By then, when you fix your camera to a tripod long exposures of the night sky will show the concentric arcs of star trails centered on a point near Vega as Earth rotates on its axis. Of course, presently the bright star conveniently near the North Celestial Pole is Polaris, but that will change as the Earth's axis of rotation precesses, like the wobble of a spinning top with a precession period of about 26,000 years. If...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Limit of Diffraction

    05/07/2015 12:34:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | May 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Did you ever want to just look through the eyepiece of a large telescope in space? If you could, you would see a sharp view that was diffraction limited. Unaffected by atmospheric blurring that ultimately plagues earthbound observers, the angular resolution of your diffraction limited view would be determined only by the wavelength of light and diameter of the telescope lens or mirror; the larger the diameter, the sharper the image. Still, in this working earth-based snapshot a new active adaptive optics system (MagAO) is being used to cancel out the atmospheric blurring in a visual observation of famous...
  • NASA developing faster-than-light space travel technology

    05/06/2015 8:58:16 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 39 replies
    Fox News ^ | May. 04, 2015 - 3:31 | Fox News
    NASA developing faster-than-light space travel technology Concept could revolutionize travel [Video]
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Summer Triangles over Japan

    05/06/2015 4:16:35 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | May 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Summer Triangle? The bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair form a large triangle on the sky that can be seen rising in the early northern early spring during the morning and rising in the northern fall during the evening. During summer months, the triangle can be found nearly overhead near midnight. Featured here, the Summer Triangle asterism was captured last month from Gunma, Japan. In the foreground, sporting a triangular shape of its own, is a flowering 500 year old cherry tree, standing about 15 meters tall. The triangular shape of the asterism is...
  • Astronomers unveil the farthest galaxy

    05/05/2015 10:50:45 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 29 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-05-2015 | Provided by Yale University
    An international team of astronomers led by Yale University and the University of California-Santa Cruz have pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5% of its present age. The team discovered an exceptionally luminous galaxy more than 13 billion years in the past and determined its exact distance from Earth using the powerful MOSFIRE instrument on the W.M. Keck Observatory's 10-meter telescope, in Hawaii. It is the most distant galaxy currently measured. The galaxy, EGS-zs8-1, was originally identified based on its particular colors in images from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gravitational Anomalies of Mercury

    05/05/2015 4:09:19 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that under the surface of Mercury? The robotic MESSENGER spacecraft that had been orbiting planet Mercury for the past four years had been transmitting its data back to Earth with radio waves of very precise energy. The planet's gravity, however, slightly changed this energy when measured on Earth, which enabled the reconstruction of a gravity map of unprecedented precision. Here gravitational anomalies are shown in false-color, superposed on an image of the planet's cratered surface. Red hues indicate areas of slightly higher gravity, which in turn indicates areas that must have unusually dense matter under the surface. The...
  • Size of the Milky Way Upgraded, Solving Galaxy Puzzle

    05/04/2015 2:19:04 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 17 replies
    Space.com ^ | 4/4/15 | Shannon Hall
    The Corrugated Galaxy The disk of the Milky Way Galaxy disk may actually be rippled. Two ringlike structures of stars wrapping around the Milky Way's outer disk now appear to belong to the disk itself. The results, outlined in a new study, show that the disk is about 60 percent larger than previously thought. Not only do the results extend the size of the Milky Way, they also reveal a rippling pattern, which raises intriguing questions about what sent wavelike fluctuations rippling through the disk. The researchers said the likely culprit was a dwarf galaxy. It might have plunged...
  • This High-Res Moon Photo Was Made by a Self-Taught Astrophotographer

    05/04/2015 11:40:20 AM PDT · by Heartlander · 45 replies
    PetaPixel ^ | May 4, 2015 | Michael Zhang
    This High-Res Moon Photo Was Made by a Self-Taught Astrophotographer May 04, 2015 · Michael Zhang     It’s amazing the kinds of space photos that amateur photographers can create from their own backyards these days. Case in point: the high-resolution moon photo above was captured last week by Polish photographer Bartosz Wojczyński. It was stitched together using 32000 separate photos. Wojczyński tells us that he used “advanced image acquisition and processing techniques,” mapping violet and infrared images of the moon to blue and red channels in the final shot. It took him about 28 minutes to shoot 32000 photos...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Unexpected Aurora over Norway

    05/04/2015 5:49:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes the sky lights up unexpectedly. A trip to northern Norway to photograph auroras was not going as well as hoped. It was now past midnight in Steinsvik, Troms, in northern Norway, and the date was 2014 February 8. Despite recent activity on the Sun, the skies were disappointing. Therefore, the astrophotographer began packing up to go. His brother began searching for a missing lens cap. When the sky suddenly exploded with spectacular aurora. Reacting quickly, a sequence detailing dramatic green curtains was captured, with the bright Moon near the image center, and the lens-cap seeking brother on the...
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Space Ventures Will Spawn First Trillionaire

    05/03/2015 10:43:23 PM PDT · by Usagi_yo · 11 replies
    NBC ^ | 5/3/2015 | Neil deGrasse Tyson
    A passion for exploration is the fuel to an innovative economy, says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. In an interview with CNBC's On the Money, the host of the new National Geographic Channel show StarTalk — based on Tyson's podcast and Sirius XM radio show of the same name — described the dynamic implications of scientific discovery. ....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonrise Through Mauna Kea's Shadow

    05/03/2015 4:12:45 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How can the Moon rise through a mountain? It cannot -- what was photographed here is a moonrise through the shadow of a large volcano. The volcano is Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, USA, a frequent spot for spectacular photographs since it is arguably the premier observing location on planet Earth. The Sun has just set in the opposite direction, behind the camera. Additionally, the Moon has just passed full phase -- were it precisely at full phase it would rise, possibly eclipsed, at the very peak of the shadow. The Moon is actually rising in the triangular shadow cone of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy

    05/02/2015 4:37:29 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl until you get to the handle's last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (right), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular...
  • Space radiation may harm astronauts' brains

    05/01/2015 4:42:44 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 38 replies
    Yahoo News ^ | 5/1/15 | AFP
    Miami (AFP) - Flying people to deep space -- like Mars or an asteroid -- is high on NASA's wish list, but research on mice suggested Friday that extended radiation exposure permanently harms the brain. Central nervous system damage and cognitive impairments were observed in lab animals that were exposed to highly energetic charged particles -- similar to the galactic cosmic rays that astronauts would encounter during long space flights -- said researchers at the University of California, Irvine. "This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two- to three-year round trip to Mars," said lead author Charles...
  • Here's what the Pillars of Creation look like in three dimensions

    05/01/2015 4:09:45 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 7 replies
    CNet ^ | 5/1/15 | NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team
    Researchers have been able to map how the Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation are distributed in three-dimensional space for the first time, using new data from the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. Given the tremendous size of this section of the Eagle Nebula and its distance from Earth (around 7,000 light-years), researchers previously thought we were unlikely to ever see the shape of it in anything other than two flat dimensions, as in Hubble's famous photograph.
  • Interactive: What Is Space? -- Imagine the fabric of space-time peeled back layer by layer.

    05/01/2015 10:20:09 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 8 replies
    Quanta Magazine ^ | 4/30/15 | Thomas Lin
    Interactive: What Is Space? Imagine the fabric of space-time peeled back layer by layer. By: Thomas Lin April 30, 2015 In 1915, Albert Einstein’s field equations of gravitation revolutionized our understanding of space, time and gravity. Better known as general relativity, Einstein’s theory defined gravity as curves in the geometry of space-time, overturning Isaac Newton’s classic theory and correctly predicting the existence of black holes and gravity’s ability to bend light. But a century later, the fundamental nature of space-time remains shrouded in mystery: Where does its structure come from? What do space-time and gravity look like in the subatomic...
  • How Quantum Pairs Stitch Space-Time

    05/01/2015 10:10:32 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 11 replies
    Quanta Magazine ^ | 4/28/15 | Jennifer Ouellette
    Hannes Hummel for Quanta MagazineTensor networks could connect space-time froth to quantum information. Next in the series Interactive: What Is Space? Chapter 2: Network Tapestry How Quantum Pairs Stitch Space-Time New tools may reveal how quantum information builds the structure of space. By: Jennifer OuelletteApril 28, 2015 Comments (8) Brian Swingle was a graduate student studying the physics of matter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he decided to take a few classes in string theory to round out his education — “because, why not?” he recalled — although he initially paid little heed to the concepts he...
  • New exoplanet too big for its stars

    05/01/2015 9:10:45 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 40 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05/01/2015 | Provided by Australian National University
    The Australian discovery of a strange exoplanet orbiting a small cool star 500 light years away is challenging ideas about how planets form. "We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely," said researcher George Zhou from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy. "It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can't explain how this happened." In the past two decades more than 1,800 extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) have been discovered outside our solar system orbiting around other stars. The host star of the latest exoplanet, HATS-6,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MESSENGER's Last Day on Mercury

    05/01/2015 4:58:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first to orbit Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft came to rest on this region of Mercury's surface yesterday. Constructed from MESSENGER image and laser altimeter data, the scene looks north over the northeastern rim of the broad, lava filled Shakespeare basin. The large, 48 kilometer (30 mile) wide crater Janacek is near the upper left edge. Terrain height is color coded with red regions about 3 kilometers above blue ones. MESSENGER'S final orbit was predicted to end near the center, with the spacecraft impacting the surface at nearly 4 kilometers per second (over 87,000 miles per hour) and creating...
  • Watch an Enormous “Plasma Snake” Erupt from the Sun

    04/30/2015 11:53:24 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 28 replies
    universetoday.com/ ^ | Jason Major
    Over the course of April 28–29 a gigantic filament, briefly suspended above the surface* of the Sun, broke off and created an enormous snakelike eruption of plasma that extended millions of miles out into space. The event was both powerful and beautiful, another demonstration of the incredible energy and activity of our home star…and it was all captured on camera by two of our finest Sun-watching spacecraft.
  • Mysterious Lights Spotted South of Downtown San Diego

    04/30/2015 10:09:04 AM PDT · by Las Vegas Dave · 79 replies
    nbcsandiego.com ^ | 4/30/2015 | Laura McVicker
    This video was taken by our NBC 7 crew in San Ysidro. Several viewers also told us about the lights. Some said they appeared to be red, blue, and green and kept flashing and changing colors. Some who saw them say the lights didn't seem to move,like those on a plane or a drone. We put in calls to the military here to see if they could identify what these were. So far, no response. (Published Thursday, Apr 30, 2015) Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Mysterious-Lights-Spotted-Above-San-Diego-301729021.html#ixzz3YoUKeDVV
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Across the Sun

    04/30/2015 4:05:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | April 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A long solar filament stretches across the relatively calm surface of the Sun in this telescopic snap shot from April 27. The negative or inverted narrowband image was made in the light of ionized hydrogen atoms. Seen at the upper left, the magnificent curtain of magnetized plasma towers above surface and actually reaches beyond the Sun's edge. How long is the solar filament? About as long as the distance from Earth to Moon, illustrated by the scale insert at the left. Tracking toward the right across the solar disk a day later the long filament erupted, lifting away from...
  • Latest images of Pluto may show a polar ice cap

    04/29/2015 2:41:30 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    washingtonpost.com ^ | April 29 at 4:40 PM | By Rachel Feltman
    you can see the best-ever images of Pluto, our solar system's most distant (dwarf) planet. The animation is made up of images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft between April 12 and 18 from a distance of 69 to 64 million miles from Pluto. They capture one complete rotation of Pluto and its moon Charon... The images have already surpassed the Hubble's resolution, but there are plenty of features too subtle for the spacecraft to pick up. In fact, the images don't even show all of Pluto's known moons yet -- let alone any smaller ones we've yet to discover...