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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • 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 · 12 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 Einsteins field equations of gravitation revolutionized our understanding of space, time and gravity. Better known as general relativity, Einsteins theory defined gravity as curves in the geometry of space-time, overturning Isaac Newtons classic theory and correctly predicting the existence of black holes and gravitys 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 2829 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 starand 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 · 8 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...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko in Crescent

    04/29/2015 9:23:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? As the 3-km wide comet moves closer to the Sun, heat causes the nucleus to expel gas and dust. The Rosetta spacecraft arrived at the comet's craggily double nucleus last July and now is co-orbiting the Sun with the giant dark iceberg. Recent analysis of data beamed back to Earth from the robotic Rosetta spacecraft has shown that water being expelled by 67P has a significant difference with water on Earth, indicating that Earth's water could not have originated from ancient collisions with comets like 67P. Additionally, neither Rosetta nor its Philae lander detected...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Massive Nearby Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841

    04/28/2015 3:48:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | April 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is one of the more massive galaxies known. A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way and captured by this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Station over Lunar Terminator

    04/27/2015 1:58:50 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | April 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that in front of the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit Moon last year. The featured image was taken from Madrid, Spain with an exposure time of only 1/1000 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. The sun-glinting station can be seen just to the dark side of the day / night line known as the terminator. Numerous circular craters are visible on the distant Moon, as well...
  • Starwatch: Jupiter is mooning about the spring sky

    04/26/2015 8:16:24 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    postbulletin.com ^ | MIKE LYNCH
    Tonight it's extra easy to locate, as the waxing gibbous moon will be parked just to the lower left of Jupiter. Even though it's nearly 475 million miles away, you can look through even a small telescope and see at least some of the cloud bands that circle the gargantuan, 88,000-mile wide planet. These cloud bands are made of sulfur, methane, and other gases. Underneath the cloud bands, Jupiter is basically a giant ball of hydrogen gas with a solid core. With your telescope, you can also see something that Galileo Galilei saw in the 1600s, something that eventually got...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planetary Nebula Mz3: The Ant Nebula

    04/26/2015 10:39:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | April 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why isn't this ant a big sphere? Planetary nebula Mz3 is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun that is, surely, round. Why then would the gas that is streaming away create an ant-shaped nebula that is distinctly not round? Clues might include the high 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible above at the nebula's center. One possible answer is that Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds...
  • Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

    04/26/2015 10:30:30 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 11 replies
    Quanta Magazine ^ | 4/24/15 | K.C. Cole
    Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox A bold new idea aims to link two famously discordant descriptions of nature. In doing so, it may also reveal how space-time owes its existence to the spooky connections of quantum information. By: K.C. ColeApril 24, 2015 Comments (19) One hundred years after Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity, physicists are still stuck with perhaps the biggest incompatibility problem in the universe. The smoothly warped space-time landscape that Einstein described is like a painting by Salvador Dal seamless, unbroken, geometric. But the quantum particles that occupy this space are more like...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cluster and Starforming Region Westerlund 2

    04/25/2015 3:55:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | April 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, the young cluster and starforming region Westerlund 2 fills this cosmic scene. Captured with Hubble's cameras in near-infrared and visible light, the stunning image is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990. The cluster's dense concentration of luminous, massive stars is about 10 light-years across. Strong winds and radiation from those massive young stars have sculpted and shaped the region's gas and dust, into starforming pillars that point back to the central cluster. Red dots surrounding the bright stars are...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Blue Tears and the Milky Way

    04/24/2015 11:29:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | April 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Lapping at rocks along the shore of the Island of Nangan, Taiwan, planet Earth, waves are infused with a subtle blue light in this sea and night skyscape. Composed of a series of long exposures made on April 16 the image captures the faint glow from Noctiluca scintillans. Also known as sea sparkles or blue tears, the marine plankton's bioluminescence is stimulated by wave motion. City lights along the coast of mainland China shine beneath low clouds in the west but stars and the faint Milky Way still fill the night above. Over the horizon the galaxy's central bulge...
  • Astronomers find runaway galaxies

    04/24/2015 10:30:47 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 6 replies
    Phys.org ^ | 4/23/15
    Astronomers find runaway galaxies 21 hours ago Enlarge This schematic illustrates the creation of a runaway galaxy. In the first panel, an "intruder" spiral galaxy approaches a galaxy cluster center, where a compact elliptical galaxy (cE) already revolves around a massive central elliptical galaxy. In the second panel, a close encounter occurs and the compact elliptical receives a gravitational kick from the intruder. In the third panel, the compact elliptical escapes the galaxy cluster while the intruder is devoured by the giant elliptical galaxy in the cluster center. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-astronomers-runaway-galaxies.html#jCp We know of about two dozen runaway stars,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Meteor in the Milky Way

    04/23/2015 4:22:06 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | April 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Earth's April showers include the Lyrid Meteor Shower, observed for more than 2,000 years when the planet makes its annual passage through the dust stream of long-period Comet Thatcher. A grain of that comet's dust, moving 48 kilometers per second at an altitude of 100 kilometers or so, is swept up in this night sky view from the early hours of April 21. Flashing toward the southeastern horizon, the meteor's brilliant streak crosses the central region of the rising Milky Way. Its trail points back toward the shower's radiant in the constellation Lyra, high in the northern springtime sky...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Colorful Star Clouds in Cygnus

    04/22/2015 9:55:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars can form in colorful surroundings. Featured here is a star forming region rich in glowing gas and dark dust toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus), near the bright star Sadr. This region, which spans about 50 light years, is part of the Gamma Cygni nebula which lies about 1,800 light years distant. Toward the right of the image is Barnard 344, a dark and twisted dust cloud rich in cool molecular gas. A dramatic wall of dust and red-glowing hydrogen gas forms a line down the picture center. While the glowing red gas is indicative of small...
  • The 2015 Lyrid Meteors Peak Tomorrow Night!

    04/21/2015 5:57:26 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    2015 should be a favorable year for the first major meteor shower of the Spring season for the northern hemisphere. The peak for the shower in 2015 is predicted to arrive just after midnight Universal Time on Thursday April 23rd, which is 8:00 PM EDT on the evening of Wednesday April 22nd. This favors European longitudes right around the key time, though North America could be in for a decent show as well. Remember, meteor showers dont read forecasts, and the actual peak can always arrive early or late. We plan to start watching tonight and into Wednesday and Thursday...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Vesta Trek: A Digital Model of Asteroid Vesta

    04/21/2015 5:23:54 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You can explore asteroid Vesta. Recently, NASA's robotic spaceship Dawn visited Vesta, the second largest object in our Solar System's main asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter. During a year-long stopover, Dawn's cameras photographed Vesta's entire surface, documenting all of the minor planet's major mountains and craters. These images have now been combined into a digital model that allows anyone with a full-featured browser to fly all around Vesta, virtually, and even zoom in on interesting surface features, by just dragging and clicking. If desired, the initially flat 2D map can be wrapped into a nearly spherical...
  • Ceres' bright spots are back: Dawn captures new images of mystery features - and scientists STILL...

    04/20/2015 8:06:31 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 41 replies
    MailOnline ^ | Jonathan O'Callaghan
    As the spacecraft gets closer to the dwarf planet and moves around it, more and more of the surface is coming into view. The two brightest spots seen in a crater are known as spot 5. The scale in the image is about 1.3 miles (2.1km) per pixel, almost 70 per cent better than previous images. But the origin of the bright spots remains a mystery for now - with theories ranging from exposed ice to volcanoes. Salt flats or ice seem to be the predominant theories at the moment, with the bright spots appearing to reflect incoming sunlight towards...
  • Mysterious 'supervoid' in space is largest object ever discovered, scientists claim

    04/20/2015 1:25:31 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 92 replies
    www.telegraph.co.u ^ | 7:09PM BST 20 Apr 2015 | By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
    A supervoid has been discovered in the universe which is too big to fit into current models Astronomers have discovered a curious empty section of space which is missing around 10,000 galaxies. The supervoid, which is 1.8 billion light-years across, is the largest known structure ever discovered in the universe but scientists are baffled about what it is and why it is so barren. It sits in a region of space which is much colder than other parts of the universe and although it is not a vacuum, it seems to have around 20 per cent less matter than other...
  • Close Encounter of the Asteroid Kind 2015 HD1 Skims By Earth Tonight

    04/20/2015 8:55:50 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    Around 3 a.m. (CDT) tomorrow morning April 21, a 50-foot-wide asteroid will hurdle just 0.2 lunar distances or 45,600 miles over your bed. The Mt. Lemmon Survey, based in Tucson, Arizona, snagged the space rock Saturday. 2015 HD1 is about as big as a full grown T-rex through not nearly as scary, since it will safely miss Earth but not by much.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Total Solar Eclipse over Svalbard

    04/20/2015 1:27:54 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | April 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Going, going, gone. That was the feeling in Svalbard, Norway last month during a total eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. In the featured image, the eclipse was captured every three minutes and then digitally merged with a foreground frame taken from the same location. Visible in the foreground are numerous gawking eclipse seekers, some deploying pretty sophisticated cameras. As the Moon and Sun moved together across the sky -- nearly horizontally from this far north -- an increasing fraction of the Sun appears covered by the Moon. In the central frame, the Moon's complete blockage of the...
  • Planet spotted deep within our galaxy: One of the most distant planets known

    04/19/2015 4:46:01 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 12 replies
    ScienceDaily ^ | April 14, 2015 | Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ring Galaxy AM 0644-741 from Hubble

    04/19/2015 4:10:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How could a galaxy become shaped like a ring? The rim of the blue galaxy pictured on the right is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars. That galaxy, AM 0644-741, is known as a ring galaxy and was caused by an immense galaxy collision. When galaxies collide, they pass through each other -- their individual stars rarely come into contact. The ring-like shape is the result of the gravitational disruption caused by an entire small intruder galaxy passing through a large one. When this happens, interstellar gas and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Crater Hokusai

    04/18/2015 5:27:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One of the largest young craters on Mercury, 114 kilometer (71 mile) diameter Hokusai crater's bright rays are known to extend across much of the planet. But this mosaic of oblique views focuses on Hokusai close up, its sunlit central peaks, terraced crater walls, and frozen sea of impact melt on the crater's floor. The images were captured by the MESSENGER spacecraft. The first to orbit Mercury, since 2011 MESSENGER has conducted scientific explorations, including extensive imaging of the Solar System's innermost planet. Now running out of propellant and unable to counter orbital perturbations caused by the Sun's gravity,...
  • Scientists Map the ["inferred"] Dark Matter Around Millions of Galaxies

    04/17/2015 2:15:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 28 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Ramin Skibba
    The research and maps, which span a large area of the sky, are the product of a massive effort of an international team from the US, UK, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil. They announced their new results at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. According to cosmologists, dark matter particles stream and clump together over time in particular regions of the cosmos, often in the same places where galaxies form and cluster. Over time, a cosmic web develops across the universe. Though dark matter is invisible, it expands with the universe and feels the pull of gravity....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M46 Plus Two

    04/17/2015 10:30:16 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galactic or open star clusters are young. These swarms of stars are born together near the plane of the Milky Way, but their numbers steadily dwindle as cluster members are ejected by galactic tides and gravitational interactions. In fact, this bright open cluster, known as M46, is around 300 million years young. It still contains a few hundred stars within a span of 30 light-years or so. Located about 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation Puppis, M46 also seems to contain contradictions to its youthful status. In this pretty starscape, the colorful, circular patch above and right of the...
  • Dawn Rises Over Ceres North Pole

    04/16/2015 2:51:10 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    Brand new images taken on April 10 by NASAs Dawn probe show the dwarf planet from high above its north pole. Photographed at a distance of just 21,000 miles (33,000 km) less than 10 times the Earth-moon distance theyre our sharpest views to date. The crispness combined with the low-angled sunlight gives Ceres a stark, lunar-like appearance. ... Meanwhile, scientists have assembled images taken by Dawn through blue, green and infrared filters to create a new color-enhanced map of the dwarf planet. The variety of landforms in conjunction with the color variations hint that Ceres was once an...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725

    04/16/2015 4:56:15 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | April 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While most spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have two or more spiral arms, NGC 4725 has only one. In this sharp color composite image, the solo spira mirabilis seems to wind from a prominent ring of bluish, newborn star clusters and red tinted star forming regions. The odd galaxy also sports obscuring dust lanes a yellowish central bar structure composed of an older population of stars. NGC 4725 is over 100 thousand light-years across and lies 41 million light-years away in the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. Computer simulations of the formation of single spiral arms suggest that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mystic Mountain Dust Pillars

    04/16/2015 4:54:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | April 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's stars versus dust in the Carina Nebula and the stars are winning. More precisely, the energetic light and winds from massive newly formed stars are evaporating and dispersing the dusty stellar nurseries in which they formed. Located in the Carina Nebula and known informally as Mystic Mountain, these pillar's appearance is dominated by the dark dust even though it is composed mostly of clear hydrogen gas. Dust pillars such as these are actually much thinner than air and only appear as mountains due to relatively small amounts of opaque interstellar dust. About 7,500 light-years distant, the featured image...
  • NASA's New Horizons probe is visiting Pluto and just sent back its first [blurry] color photos

    04/14/2015 12:54:15 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 26 replies
    vox.com ^ | Joseph Stromberg
    Next month, as New Horizons nears Pluto, it will start taking the most detailed photos we've ever seen of it. The craft will begin sending back atmospheric data on Pluto in May, and data on the dwarf planet's surface composition in June. "By the time we get there in July, we will have returned over a thousand images to the ground," Stern told me in a recent interview. This is a big deal. Even though Pluto seems very familiar to us, we know far less about it than about any of the planets in our solar system. Two of its...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Through the Shadow of the Moon

    04/14/2015 4:17:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | April 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it look like to fly through a total eclipse of the Sun? On a typical place on Earth in the path of the dark shadow of the Moon during a total eclipse, an observer would see the Moon cross the face of the Sun, completely blocking it for a few minutes. A particularly clear view of the darkness created on Earth during last month's total solar eclipse was captured by an aircraft flying through the Moon's umbral shadow. One second of time in the featured time-lapse video corresponds to about one minute of real time. The Moon's...
  • Mystery of Ceres' bright spots grows

    04/13/2015 12:28:08 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 24 replies
    nature.com ^ | Alexandra Witze
    Not all of the puzzling bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are alike. The closest-yet images of the gleams, taken from 45,000 kilometres away, suggest that at least two of the spots look different from one another when seen in infrared wavelengths. The Hubble Space Telescope spied many of the bright spots from afar years ago, but the observations from NASA's Dawn spacecraft which began looping around Ceres on 6 March are the first at close range. The images were released on 13 April in Vienna, Austria, at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union. Scientists say...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Erupting Volcano

    04/13/2015 7:30:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The view was worth the trip. Battling high winds, cold temperatures, and low oxygen, the trek to near the top of the volcano Santa Maria in Guatemala -- while carrying sensitive camera equipment -- was lonely and difficult. Once set up, though, the camera captured this breathtaking vista during the early morning hours of February 28. Visible on the ground are six volcanoes of the Central America Volcanic Arc, including Fuego, the Volcano of Fire, which is seen erupting in the distance. Visible in the sky, in separate exposures taken a few minutes later, are many stars much further...
  • Accelerating universe? Not so fast

    04/12/2015 9:14:56 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 10 replies
    Eurekalert ^ | 4/10/15
    Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results, reported in two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say. The team, led by UA astronomer Peter A. Milne, discovered that type Ia supernovae, which have been considered so uniform that cosmologists...