Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Mysterious feature on Saturn's moon baffles NASA scientists

    09/30/2014 8:38:04 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 34 replies
    theweek.com ^ | 09-30-2014 10:16am ET | Meghan DeMaria
    NASA's Cassini spacecraft has discovered a "mysterious feature" on Saturn's moon Titan. Scientists are working to determine, what, exactly, this feature might be. NASA reports that the feature is roughly 100 square miles, and it lies in Ligeia Mare, one of Titan's hydrocarbon seas. Cassini's radar has observed the feature twice, but its appearance changed between the two sightings. Scientists suspect the feature's change in appearance could be the result of Titan's changing seasons, which Cassini's current extended mission will monitor. The feature's first sighting was in July 2013, and the radar images depicted a bright spot, which stood out...
  • Our quantum problem

    09/29/2014 4:34:42 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 37 replies
    Aeon ^ | 1/28/14 | Adrian Kent
    In 1909, Ernest Rutherford, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden took a piece of radium and used it to fire charged particles at a sheet of gold foil. They wanted to test the then-dominant theory that atoms were simply clusters of electrons floating in little seas of positive electrical charge (the so-called ‘plum pudding’ model). What came next, said Rutherford, was ‘the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life’. Despite the airy thinness of the foil, a small fraction of the particles bounced straight back at the source – a result, Rutherford noted, ‘as incredible as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Black Holes Dancing in 3C 75

    09/27/2014 9:50:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | September 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of active galaxy 3C 75? The two bright sources at the center of this composite x-ray (blue)/ radio (pink) image are co-orbiting supermassive black holes powering the giant radio source 3C 75. Surrounded by multimillion degree x-ray emitting gas, and blasting out jets of relativistic particles the supermassive black holes are separated by 25,000 light-years. At the cores of two merging galaxies in the Abell 400 galaxy cluster they are some 300 million light-years away. Astronomers conclude that these two supermassive black holes are bound together by gravity in a binary system in part...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Launch and a Landing

    09/27/2014 9:46:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Taken from an Atlantic beach, Cape Canaveral, planet Earth, four identically framed digital images are combined in this night skyscape. Slightly shifted short star trails dot the sky, but the exposure times were adjusted to follow the flight of a Falcon 9 rocket. The September 21 launch delivered a Dragon X capsule filled with supplies to the International Space Station. Above the bright flare seen just after launch, the rocket's first stage firing trails upward from the left. After separation, the second stage burn begins near center with the vehicle climbing toward low Earth orbit. At the horizon, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MAVEN at Mars

    09/27/2014 9:45:04 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Launched on November 18, 2013, the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft completed its interplanetary voyage September 21, captured into a wide, elliptical orbit around Mars. MAVEN's imaging ultraviolet spectrograph has already begun its planned exploration of the Red Planet's upper atmosphere, acquiring this image data from an altitude of 36,500 kilometers. In false color, the three ultraviolet wavelength bands show light reflected from atomic hydrogen (in blue), atomic oxygen (in green) and the planet's surface (in red). Low mass atomic hydrogen is seen to extend thousands of kilometers into space, with the cloud of more massive oxygen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda

    09/27/2014 9:40:49 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The large stellar association cataloged as NGC 206 is nestled within the dusty arms of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Also known as M31, the spiral galaxy is a mere 2.5 million light-years away. NGC 206 is near top center in this gorgeous close-up of the southwestern extent of Andromeda's disk, a remarkable composite of data from space and ground-based observatories. The bright, blue stars of NGC 206 indicate its youth. In fact, its youngest massive stars are less than 10 million years old. Much larger than the open or galactic clusters of young stars in the disk of our...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Lagoon Nebula in Stars Dust and Gas

    09/27/2014 9:37:39 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora and Volcanic Light Pillar

    09/27/2014 9:35:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: That's no sunset. And that thin red line just above it -- that's not a sun pillar. The red glow on the horizon originates from a volcanic eruption, and the red line is the eruption's reflection from fluttering atmospheric ice crystals. This unusual volcanic light pillar was captured over Iceland earlier this month. The featured scene looks north from Jkulsrln toward the erupting volcano Brarbunga in the Holuhraun lava field. Even the foreground sky is picturesque, with textured grey clouds in the lower atmosphere, shimmering green aurora in the upper atmosphere, and bright stars far in the distance. Although...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth at Equinox

    09/27/2014 9:33:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Earth is at equinox. Over the next 24 hours, day and night have nearly equal duration all over planet Earth. Technically, equinox transpires at 2:29 am Universal Time tomorrow, but this occurs today in North and South America. This September equinox signal that winter is approaching in the northern hemisphere, and summer is approaching in the south. At equinox, the dividing line between the sunlit half of Earth and the nighttime half of Earth temporarily passes through Earth's north and south spin poles. This dividing line is shown in clear detail in the featured video, taken by the Russian...
  • Water On Earth Is Older Than The Sun

    09/27/2014 4:51:07 PM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 51 replies
    Science 2.0 ^ | 09/27/2014
    It's no surprise that water was crucial to the formation of life on Earth. What may surprise you is that water on earth is older than the sun itself. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments came into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. A new paper in Science says that much of our Solar System's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Water is found throughout the Solar System, not just on Earth; on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of...
  • Cosmic inflation is dead, long live cosmic inflation!

    09/26/2014 11:54:05 AM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 19 replies
    New Scientist ^ | 09/26/2014 | Michael Slezak
    Inflation is dead, long live inflation! The very results hailed this year as demonstrating a consequence of inflationary models of the universe and therefore pointing to the existence of multiverses now seem to do the exact opposite. If the results can be trusted at all, they now suggest inflation is wrong, raising the possibility of cyclic universes that existed before the big bang. In March experimentalists announced that primordial gravitational waves had been discovered. The team behind the BICEP2 Telescope in Antarctica had observed telltale twists and turns in the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)...
  • There Are No Such Things As Black Holes

    09/24/2014 12:36:10 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 87 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 24, 2014 | Jason Major on
    Thats the conclusion reached by one researcher from the University of North Carolina: black holes cant exist in our Universe not mathematically, anyway. Im still not over the shock, said Laura Mersini-Houghton, associate physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Weve been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about. In a news article spotlighted by UNC the scenario suggested by Mersini-Houghton is briefly explained. Basically, when a massive star reaches the end of its life and collapses under its own gravity after blasting its outer layers into space ...
  • 2 Days Out from the Red Planet, Indias MOM Probe Test Fires Main Engine for Mars Orbit Insertion

    09/22/2014 5:30:06 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 34 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 22, 2014 | Ken Kremer on
    Two days out from her history making date with destiny, Indias Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) successfully completed a crucial test firing of the spacecrafts main liquid engine to confirm its operational readiness for the critical Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) engine firing on Wednesday morning Sept. 24 IST (Tuesday evening Sept. 23 EDT). Engineers at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which designed and developed MOM successfully fired the probes 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) earlier today, Sept. 22, 2014, for a duration of 3.968 seconds at 1430 hrs IST (Indian Standard Time), according to todays announcement from ISRO.
  • WATCH LIVE @ 9:30 pm ET: NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

    09/21/2014 6:42:39 PM PDT · by Dallas59 · 22 replies
    http://www.space.com ^ | September 20, 2014 | www.space.com
    A NASA spacecraft built to study the atmosphere of Mars like never before will arrive at the Red Planet tonight (Sept. 21) and you can watch it live online. After 10 months in deep-space, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Mars and begin a one-year mission studying the planet's upper atmosphere. The Mars arrival will cap a 442 million-mile (711 million kilometers) trek across the solar system. You can watch the MAVEN spacecraft arrive at Mars on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, in a live webcast that runs from 9:30 p.m. to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Equinox

    09/21/2014 6:35:14 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How would Saturn look if its ring plane pointed right at the Sun? Before August 2009, nobody knew. Every 15 years, as seen from Earth, Saturn's rings point toward the Earth and appear to disappear. The disappearing rings are no longer a mystery -- Saturn's rings are known to be so thin and the Earth is so near the Sun that when the rings point toward the Sun, they also point nearly edge-on at the Earth. Fortunately, in this third millennium, humanity is advanced enough to have a spacecraft that can see the rings during equinox from the side....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Shoreline of the Universe

    09/20/2014 12:38:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Against dark rifts of interstellar dust, the ebb and flow of starlight along the Milky Way looks like waves breaking on a cosmic shore in this night skyscape. Taken with a digital camera from the dunes of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, planet Earth, the monochrome image is reminiscent of the time when sensitive black and white film was a popular choice for dimmly lit night- and astro-photography. Looking south, the bright stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius are near the center of the frame. Wandering Mars, Saturn, and Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae) form the compact triangle of bright celestial beacons farther...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Potentially Habitable Moons

    09/20/2014 12:35:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    NASA ^ | September 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: For astrobiologists, these may be the four most tantalizing moons in our Solar System. Shown at the same scale, their exploration by interplanetary spacecraft has launched the idea that moons, not just planets, could have environments supporting life. The Galileo mission to Jupiter discovered Europa's global subsurface ocean of liquid water and indications of Ganymede's interior seas. At Saturn, the Cassini probe detected erupting fountains of water ice from Enceladus indicating warmer subsurface water on even that small moon, while finding surface lakes of frigid but still liquid hydrocarbons beneath the dense atmosphere of large moon Titan. Now looking...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cocoon Nebula Wide Field

    09/20/2014 12:30:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this crowded starfield covering over 2 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora over Maine

    09/20/2014 12:27:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It has been a good week for auroras. Earlier this month active sunspot region 2158 rotated into view and unleashed a series of flares and plasma ejections into the Solar System during its journey across the Sun's disk. In particular, a pair of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) impacted the Earth's magnetosphere toward the end of last week, creating the most intense geomagnetic storm so far this year. Although power outages were feared by some, the most dramatic effects of these impacting plasma clouds were auroras seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. In the featured image taken last Friday...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way above Atacama Salt Lagoon

    09/20/2014 12:24:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galaxies, stars, and a serene reflecting pool combine to create this memorable land and skyscape. The featured panorama is a 12-image mosaic taken last month from the Salar de Atacama salt flat in northern Chile. The calm water is Laguna Cejar, a salty lagoon featuring a large central sinkhole. On the image left, the astrophotographer's fiancee is seen capturing the same photogenic scene. The night sky is lit up with countless stars, the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies on the left, and the band of our Milky Way galaxy running diagonally up the right. The Milky Way may...
  • Space Station Extension May Cost More Than NASA Expects: Report

    09/19/2014 12:44:28 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 19, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    NASAs anticipated $3 billion to $4 billion annual budget for the International Space Station is overly optimistic, a new report from NASAs Inspector General says. Transportation costs will likely rise when NASA uses commercial spacecraft to access the station instead of Russian Soyuzes, the report said. Also, if international partners dont commit to extending the station four extra years to 2024, NASA will need to pick up more of the financial burden. While ISS program officials have been seeking ways to reduce costs and consolidate resources, it is unclear whether these efforts will be sufficient to address anticipated cost increases,...
  • Radiation Blast Delays NASA Spacecrafts Arrival At Dwarf Planet Ceres

    09/17/2014 2:17:55 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 17, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    Controllers discovered Dawn was in safe mode Sept. 11 after radiation disabled its ion engine, which uses electrical fields to push the spacecraft along. The radiation stopped all engine thrusting activities. The thrusting resumed Monday (Sept. 15) after controllers identified and fixed the problem, but then they found another anomaly troubling the spacecraft. ... Dawn is en route to Ceres after orbiting the huge asteroid Vesta between July 2011 and September 2012. A similar suspected radiation blast three years ago also disabled Dawns engine before it reached Vesta, but the ion system worked perfectly in moving Dawn away from Vesta...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 62 Kilometers above Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    09/14/2014 10:40:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to approach, circle, and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet last month, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The reconstructed-color image featured, taken about 10 days ago, indicates how dark this comet nucleus is. On the average, the comet's surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: The Dumbbell Nebula

    09/13/2014 9:28:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us...
  • Scientists turn textbook volcanic eruption theory on its head

    09/13/2014 12:52:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    Zeenews (India) ^ | Tuesday, September 9, 2014 | ANI
    Researchers at Caltech and the University of Miami in Florida found that the volcano pictures, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian Islands, illustrate that it erupts when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth but those pictures are wrong. Don Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillian Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at Caltech said that new seismology data are now confirming that such narrow jets don't actually exist. He further explained that, in fact, basic physics doesn't support the presence of these jets, called mantle plumes, and the new results corroborated those fundamental ideas. It...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Median Mashup: Hubble's Top 100

    09/13/2014 12:42:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now, as you sip your cosmic latte you can view 100 Hubble Space Telescope images at the same time. The popular scenes of the cosmos as captured from low Earth orbit are all combined into this single digital presentation. To make it, Hubble's top 100 images were downloaded and resized to identical pixel dimensions. At each point the 100 pixel values were arranged from lowest to highest, and the middle or median value was chosen for the final image. The combined image results in a visual abstraction - light from across the Universe surrounded by darkness.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova Remnant Puppis A

    09/13/2014 12:40:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 12, 2014 | (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 remarkable false-color exploration of its complex expansion is about 180 light-years wide. It is based on the most complete X-ray data set so far from the Chandra and XMM/Newton observations, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. In blue hues, the filamentary X-ray glow is from gas heated by the supernova's shock wave, while the infrared emission shown in red and green is from warm dust. The bright pastel tones trace...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zodiacal Light before Dawn

    09/13/2014 12:36:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | September 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You might not guess it, but sunrise was still hours away when this nightscape was taken, a view along the eastern horizon from a remote location in Chile's Atacama desert. Stretching high into the otherwise dark, starry sky the unusually bright conical glow is sunlight though, scattered by dust along the solar system's ecliptic plane . Known as Zodiacal light, the apparition is also nicknamed the "false dawn". Near center, bright star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster seem immersed in the Zodiacal light, with Orion toward the right edge of the frame. Reddish emission from NGC 1499, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster of Galaxies

    09/13/2014 12:33:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is not only one of the largest structures known -- it is our home. The just-identified Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies contains thousands of galaxies that includes our Milky Way Galaxy, the Local Group of galaxies, and the entire nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The colossal supercluster is shown in the above computer-generated visualization, where green areas are rich with white-dot galaxies and white lines indicate motion towards the supercluster center. An outline of Laniakea is given in orange, while the blue dot shows our location. Outside the orange line, galaxies flow into other galatic concentrations. The Laniakea Supercluster...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Aurora Cupcake with a Milky Way Topping

    09/13/2014 12:30:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sky looked delicious. Double auroral ovals were captured above the town lights of stersund, Sweden, last week. Pictured above, the green ovals occurred lower to the ground than violet aurora rays above, making the whole display look a bit like a cupcake. To top it off, far in the distance, the central band or our Milky Way Galaxy slants down from the upper left. The auroras were caused by our Sun ejecting plasma clouds into the Solar System just a few days before, ionized particles that subsequently impacted the magnetosphere of the Earth. Aurora displays may continue this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Super Moon vs. Micro Moon

    09/13/2014 12:28:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, given one definition, tomorrow's will be the third supermoon of the year -- and the third consecutive month that a supermoon occurs. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside...
  • Is anyone seeing aurora's.Got pictures?

    09/12/2014 6:33:39 PM PDT · by fatima · 137 replies
    Getting reports on Twitter they are beautiful.Post them if you got them.
  • Will Aurora Strike Tonight? Heres What to Expect

    09/12/2014 1:12:34 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 12, 2014 | Bob King on
    Activity should begin right at nightfall and peak between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Central Daylight Time. The best place to observe the show is from a location well away from city lights with a good view of the northern sky. Auroras are notoriously fickle, but if the NOAA space forecasting crew is on the money, flickering lights should be visible as far south as Illinois and Kansas. The storm also has the potential to heat and expand the outer limits of Earths atmosphere enough to cause additional drag on low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. High-frequency radio transmissions like shortwave radio may...
  • Scientists: 'Extreme' Solar Storm Heading to Earth

    09/11/2014 12:18:35 PM PDT · by Tolerance Sucks Rocks · 37 replies
    Newsmax.com ^ | September 10, 2014 | Associated Press
    Scientists say an extreme solar flare is blasting its way to Earth and could mess up some power grids, satellites and radio transmissions. Forecasters at the Space Weather Prediction Center don't yet know when Wednesday's solar storm will arrive here and which part of the planet will be facing the sun and bear the brunt of the effects. It could be as early as Thursday morning to a few days.
  • Solar Flare Geomagnetic Strength Increased by Twice: NASA

    09/11/2014 11:07:27 AM PDT · by dware · 12 replies
    Capital Wired ^ | 09.11.2014 | Jidde Plas
    NASAs recent reports alerted that Earths magnetic field will face a double-blow from a pair of CMEs on Sept. 12th. Previously, the two storm clouds were propelled in our direction by explosions in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2158, which also fired off another intense solar flare on 9th and 10. These two flare outburst process was captured on camera by NASA. Huge geomagnetic tornados are expected on Sept. 12th and 13th as an outcome of the above repeated impacts.
  • When Will Betelgeuse Explode? (Constellation Orion)

    09/11/2014 6:32:08 AM PDT · by C19fan · 34 replies
    Slate ^ | September 8, 2014 | Phil Plait
    If theres one star in the sky people know about, its Betelgeuse.* Marking the right shoulder of the hunter Orionremember, hes facing us, so its on our leftthis orange-red star is one of the brightest in the night sky. Its been studied for as long as weve had telescopes, yet for all our advanced technology and knowhow, details about it are maddeningly vague. We dont even have a good determination of how far away it is! Still, theres a lot we do know: Its a red supergiant, a star that started out life already a lot bigger, more massive, and...
  • Solar Storm Warning: Sun Shoots X-Flare Outburst at Earth

    09/10/2014 2:18:35 PM PDT · by Kartographer · 96 replies
    NBC News ^ | 9/10/14 | Alan Boyle
    Alan Boyle
  • Laniakea: Our home supercluster (Video)

    09/07/2014 12:28:21 AM PDT · by JerseyanExile · 13 replies
    Youtube ^ | Sep 3, 2014 | Nature Video
    Superclusters regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means immeasurable heaven in Hawaiian. Video Link
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Full Moon Silhouettes

    09/06/2014 10:10:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged in early 2013 over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonbow Beach

    09/06/2014 4:52:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a rainbow at night, a beautiful moonbow shines above the western horizon in this deserted beach scene from Molokai Island, Hawaii, USA, planet Earth. Captured last June 17 in early morning hours, the lights along the horizon are from Honolulu and cities on the island of Oahu some 30 miles away. So where was the Moon? A rainbow is produced by sunlight internally reflected in rain drops from the direction opposite the Sun back toward the observer. As the light passes from air to water and back to air again, longer wavelengths are refracted (bent) less than shorter...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sagittarius Starscape

    09/06/2014 4:49:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This rich starscape spans nearly 7 degrees on the sky, toward the Sagittarius spiral arm and the center of our Milky Way galaxy. A telescopic mosaic, it features well-known bright nebulae and star clusters cataloged by 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier. Still popular stops for skygazers M16, the Eagle (far right), and M17, the Swan (near center) nebulae are the brightest star-forming emission regions. With wingspans of 100 light-years or so, they shine with the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen atoms from over 5,000 light-years away. Colorful open star cluster M25 near the upper left edge of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cloud, Clusters and

    09/04/2014 4:37:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On October 19th, a good place to watch Comet Siding Spring will be from Mars. Then, this inbound visitor (C/2013 A1) to the inner solar system, discovered in January 2013 by Robert McNaught at Australia's Siding Spring Observatory, will pass within 132,000 kilometers of the Red Planet. That's a near miss, equivalent to just over 1/3 the Earth-Moon distance. Great views of the comet for denizens of planet Earth's southern hemisphere are possible now, though. This telescopic snapshot from August 29 captured the comet's whitish coma and arcing dust tail sweeping through southern skies. The fabulous field of view...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M6: The Butterfly Cluster

    09/04/2014 4:33:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To some, the outline of the open cluster of stars M6 resembles a butterfly. M6, also known as NGC 6405, spans about 20 light-years and lies about 2,000 light years distant. M6, pictured above, can best be seen in a dark sky with binoculars towards the constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius), coving about as much of the sky as the full moon. Like other open clusters, M6 is composed predominantly of young blue stars, although the brightest star is nearly orange. M6 is estimated to be about 100 million years old. Determining the distance to clusters like M6 helps...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Holometer: A Microscope into Space and Time

    09/04/2014 4:29:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How different are space and time at very small scales? To explore the unfamiliar domain of the miniscule Planck scale -- where normally unnoticeable quantum effects might become dominant -- a newly developed instrument called the Fermilab Holometer has begun operating at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, Illinois, USA. The instrument seeks to determine if slight but simultaneous jiggles of a mirror in two directions expose a fundamental type of holographic noise that always exceeds a minimum amount. Pictured above is one of the end mirrors of a Holometer prototype. Although the discovery of holographic noise...
  • Hunting for Minimoons Orbiting Earth

    09/02/2014 11:37:46 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 3 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | September 2, 2014 | David Dickinson on
    solar orbit from time to time. Now, a recent paper out of the University of Hawaii written in partnership with the SETI Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki has looked at the possible prospects for the population of captured Near-Earth asteroids, and the feasibility of detecting these with existing and future systems about to come online. ... Turns out, our large Moon makes a pretty good goaltender, ejecting and sometimes taking a beating from any tiny second moon hopeful. Of course, you cant blame those astronomers of yore entirely. Though none of these spurious...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow Ripples over Tibet

    09/01/2014 12:50:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would the sky look like a giant target? Airglow. Following a giant thunderstorm over Bangladesh in late April, giant circular ripples of glowing air appeared over Tibet, China, as pictured above. The unusual pattern is created by atmospheric gravity waves, waves of alternating air pressure that can grow with height as the air thins, in this case about 90 kilometers up. Unlike auroras powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction. More typically seen near the horizon, airglow keeps the night...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Together

    08/30/2014 11:05:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station in 2011 May, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Starry Sky under Hollow Hill

    08/30/2014 12:02:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Look up in New Zealand's Hollow Hill Cave and you might think you see a familiar starry sky. And that's exactly what Arachnocampa luminosa are counting on. Captured in this long exposure, the New Zealand glowworms scattered across the cave ceiling give it the inviting and open appearance of a clear, dark night sky filled with stars. Unsuspecting insects fooled into flying too far upwards get trapped in sticky snares the glowworms create and hang down to catch food. Of course professional astronomers wouldn't be so easily fooled, although that does look a lot like the Coalsack Nebula and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Wizard Nebula

    08/28/2014 10:03:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Open star cluster NGC 7380 is still embedded in its natal cloud of interstellar gas and dust popularly known as the Wizard Nebula. Seen with foreground and background stars along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy it lies some 8,000 light-years distant, toward the constellation Cepheus. A full moon would easily fit inside this telescopic view of the 4 million year young cluster and associated nebula, normally much too faint to be seen by eye. Made with telescope and camera firmly planted on Earth, the image reveals multi light-year sized shapes and structures within the Wizard in a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 20 and 21

    08/28/2014 7:32:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The beautiful Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. About 5,000 light-years away, the colorful study in cosmic contrasts shares this well-composed, nearly 1 degree wide field with open star cluster Messier 21 (top right). Trisected by dust lanes the Trifid itself is about 40 light-years across and a mere 300,000 years old. That makes it one of the youngest star forming regions in our sky, with newborn and embryonic stars embedded in its natal dust and gas clouds. Estimates of the distance to open...