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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora over Clouds

    11/23/2015 9:57:24 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | November 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Auroras usually occur high above the clouds. The auroral glow is created when fast-moving particles ejected from the Sun impact the Earth's magnetosphere, from which charged particles spiral along the Earth's magnetic field to strike atoms and molecules high in the Earth's atmosphere. An oxygen atom, for example, will glow in the green light commonly emitted by an aurora after being energized by such a collision. The lowest part of an aurora will typically occur at 100 kilometers up, while most clouds usually exist only below about 10 kilometers. The relative heights of clouds and auroras are shown clearly...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A 212-Hour Exposure of Orion

    11/22/2015 11:03:29 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | November 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The constellation of Orion is much more than three stars in a row. It is a direction in space that is rich with impressive nebulas. To better appreciate this well-known swath of sky, an extremely long exposure was taken over many clear nights in 2013 and 2014. After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard's Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars

    11/22/2015 6:33:53 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 42 replies
    NASA ^ | November 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This moon is doomed. Mars, the red planet named for the Roman god of war, has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, whose names are derived from the Greek for Fear and Panic. These martian moons may well be captured asteroids originating in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter or perhaps from even more distant reaches of the Solar System. The larger moon, Phobos, is indeed seen to be a cratered, asteroid-like object in this stunning color image from the robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, recorded at a resolution of about seven meters per pixel. But Phobos orbits...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Recycling NGC 5291

    11/21/2015 10:45:19 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | November 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Following an ancient galaxy-galaxy collision 200 million light-years from Earth, debris from a gas-rich galaxy, NGC 5291, was flung far into intergalactic space. NGC 5291 and the likely interloper, also known as the "Seashell" galaxy, are captured near the center of this spectacular scene. The sharp, ground-based telescopic image looks toward the galaxy cluster Abell 3574 in the southern constellation Centaurus. Stretched along the 100,000 light-year long tidal tails, are clumps resembling dwarf galaxies, but lacking old stars, apparently dominated by young stars and active star forming regions. Found to be unusually rich in elements heavier than hydrogen and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Leonids and Friends

    11/21/2015 10:43:22 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | November 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Leonid meteors rained down on planet Earth this week, the annual shower of dusty debris from the orbit of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Leonids streak through this composite night skyview from a backyard observatory in southern Ontario. Recorded with camera fixed to a tripod, the individual frames capture the bright meteor activity throughout the night of November 16/17, about a day before the shower's very modest peak. The frames are registered to the fixed field of view, so the meteor trails are not all aligned to the background star field recorded that same evening when nebula-rich Orion stood above the southern...
  • Galactic Monster Mystery Revealed in Ancient Universe [Galaxies that shouldn't exist!]

    11/19/2015 12:26:11 PM PST · by Red Badger · 34 replies
    Discovery.com ^ | Nov 19, 2015 07:00 AM ET | by Ian O'Neill Source: ESO
    ESO's VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have for the first time found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared. The newly discovered massive galaxies are marked on this image of the UltraVISTA field. [RED CIRCLES] ================================================================================================================ Astronomers have detected something baffling at the furthest frontiers of our observable universe: massive galaxies -- lots of massive galaxies -- that shouldn't even exist. Depending on the wavelength you observe the universe in,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Centaurus A

    11/19/2015 3:42:37 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | November 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A's fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy's center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sudden Jet on Comet 67P

    11/18/2015 1:29:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | November 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: There she blows! A dramatic demonstration of how short-lived some comet jets can be was documented in late July by the robotic Rosetta spacecraft orbiting the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The featured animation depicts changes in the rotating comet with three illuminating stills. Although the first frame shows nothing unusual, the second frame shows a sudden strong jet shooting off the 67P's surface only 20 minutes later, while the third frame -- taken 20 minutes after that -- shows but a slight remnant of the once-active jet. As comets near the Sun, they can produce long and beautiful tails...
  • How property rights in outer space may lead to a scramble to exploit the moon’s resources

    11/18/2015 9:17:32 AM PST · by Theoria · 15 replies
    The Washington Post ^ | 18 Nov 2015 | Dominic Basulto
    This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation known as the SPACE Act of 2015 (The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act), which recognizes and promotes the rights of U.S. companies to engage in the exploration and extraction of space resources from asteroids and other celestial bodies. That’s a huge win for private space exploration companies, especially for companies with upcoming plans to tap into the economic potential of the moon. That’s because the legislation, in its definition of “space resources,” is sufficiently broad to include resources found on the lunar surface. In short, the moon could now be...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Pelican Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars

    11/17/2015 10:28:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | November 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Pelican Nebula is slowly being transformed. IC 5070, the official designation, is divided from the larger North America Nebula by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust. The Pelican, however, receives much study because it is a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The featured picture was produced in three specific colors -- light emitted by sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen -- that can help us to better understand these interactions. The light from young energetic stars is slowly transforming the cold gas to hot gas, with the advancing boundary between the two, known as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Blazing Fireball between the Orion Nebula and Rigel

    11/15/2015 10:46:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | November 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening to that meteor? A few days ago, a bright fireball was photographed from the Alps mountain range in Switzerland as it blazed across the sky. The fireball, likely from the Taurids meteor shower, was notable not only for how bright it was, but for the rare orange light it created that lingered for several minutes. Initially, the orange glow made it seem like the meteor trail was on fire. However, the orange glow, known as a persistent train, originated neither from fire nor sunlight-reflecting smoke. Rather, the persistent train's glow emanated from atoms in the Earth's atmosphere...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Leonids Over Monument Valley

    11/15/2015 10:45:26 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | November 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: There was a shower over Monument Valley -- but not water. Meteors. The featured image -- actually a composite of six exposures of about 30 seconds each -- was taken in 2001, a year when there was a very active Leonids shower. At that time, Earth was moving through a particularly dense swarm of sand-sized debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, so that meteor rates approached one visible streak per second. The meteors appear parallel because they all fall to Earth from the meteor shower radiant -- a point on the sky towards the constellation of the Lion (Leo). The yearly...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Gegenschein Lunar Eclipse

    11/14/2015 12:50:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | November 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is there anything interesting to see in the direction opposite the Sun? One night last month, there were quite a few things. First, the red-glowing orb on the lower right of the featured image is the full moon, darkened and reddened because it has entered Earth's shadow. Beyond Earth's cone of darkness are backscattering dust particles orbiting the Sun that standout with a diffuse glow called the gegenschein, visible as a faint band rising from the central horizon and passing behind the Moon. A nearly horizontal stripe of green airglow is also discernable just above the horizon, partly blocked...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Tadpoles of IC 410

    11/12/2015 11:49:42 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | November 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This telescopic close-up shows off the otherwise faint emission nebula IC 410. It also features two remarkable inhabitants of the cosmic pond of gas and dust below and right of center, the tadpoles of IC 410. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of stars. Formed in the interstellar cloud a mere 4 million years ago, the intensely hot, bright cluster stars energize the glowing gas. Composed of denser cooler gas and dust, the tadpoles are around 10 light-years long and are likely sites of ongoing star formation. Sculpted by winds...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Kenya Morning Moon, Planets, and Taurid

    11/12/2015 4:32:17 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | November 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On November 8, a waning crescent Moon joined the continuing parade of planets in Earth's morning skies. Captured here from Amboseli National Park, Kenya, even the overexposed moonlight can't washout brilliant Venus though, lined up near the ecliptic plane with faint Mars and bright Jupiter above. As if Moon and planets aren't enough, a comparably bright Taurid meteor also streaks through the scene. In fact November's Taurid meteor showers have had a high proportion of bright fireballs. Apparently streaming from radiants in Taurus, the meteors are caused by our fair planet's annual passage through debris from Comet 2P/Encke. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Unexpected Rocket Plume over San Francisco

    11/11/2015 9:36:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | November 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is that unusual light in the sky? A common question, this particular light was not only bright but moving and expanding. It appeared just as the astrophotographer and his friend were photographing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California against a more predictable night sky. They were not alone in seeing this unusual display -- at least hundreds of people in California reported a similar sight. The consensus of experienced sky observers was that the plume resulted from a rocket launch -- an explanation that was soon confirmed as an unpublicized test of a submarine-launched, unarmed, Trident...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

    11/09/2015 10:01:43 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | November 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No. Even though AE Aurigae is named the flaming star, the surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula, and the region appears to have the color of fire, there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments such as stars. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible toward the right...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Assembly of The International Space Station

    11/09/2015 12:21:09 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | November 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the largest and most sophisticated object ever built off the Earth. It has taken numerous spaceflights and over a decade to construct. The International Space Station (ISS) is currently the premiere habitat for humans in Earth orbit, and an amalgamation of sophisticated orbiting laboratories that have examined everything from the formation of new materials and medicines created in microgravity -- to the limitations of the human body -- to the composition of the universe. This month, the ISS is celebrating 15 years of continuous human habitation. The ISS has been visited by astronauts from 15 countries, so...
  • Photographer Caught Stunning Meteor Instead of Spooky Asteroid

    11/08/2015 7:45:00 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    Gizmodo ^ | November 02, 2015 | Attila Nagy [Photo: Peter Komka/MTI]
    Hungarian photographer Pter Komka wanted to capture the Halloween asteroid that looked like a skull, as it made its closest approach to Earth. What he got instead was a striking image of a meteor streaking across the sky. Komka set up his camera gear on an equatorial mounted tripod near the medieval castle of Salg, and took several long exposure shot of the night sky, hoping to get some good enough image of the 2015 TB145 asteroid. Sadly the spooky space rock was too faint and did not appear in his photos. But what he finally captured in one photo...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Quadruple Sky Over Great Salt Lake

    11/08/2015 1:01:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | November 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This was a sky to show the kids. All in all, three children, three planets, the Moon, a star, an airplane and a mom were all captured in one image near Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA in early September of 2005. Minus the airplane and the quadruple on the ground, this busy quadruple coincidence sky was visible last week all over the world. The easiest object to spot is the crescent Moon, which is easily the brightest sky orb in the featured image. Venus is the highest planet in the sky, with Jupiter to its right. The bright...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth and Milky Way from Space

    11/07/2015 11:17:46 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | November 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Since November 2000, people have been living continuously on the International Space Station. To celebrate humanity's 15th anniversary off planet Earth, consider this snapshot from space of our galaxy and our home world posing together beyond the orbital outpost. The Milky Way stretches below the curve of Earth's limb in the scene that also records a faint red, extended airglow. The galaxy's central bulge appears with starfields cut by dark rifts of obscuring interstellar dust. The picture was taken by Astronaut Scott Kelly on August 9, 2015, the 135th day of his one-year mission in space.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Unraveling NGC 3169

    11/06/2015 4:19:29 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | November 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spiral galaxy NGC 3169 appears to be unraveling in this cosmic scene, played out some 70 million light-years away just below bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Its beautiful spiral arms are distorted into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (top) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally, a common fate even for bright galaxies in the local universe. In fact, drawn out stellar arcs and plumes, indications of gravitational interactions, seem rampant in the deep and colorful galaxy group photo. The picture spans 20 arc minutes, or about 400,000 light-years at the group's estimated distance, and includes...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 1333: Stellar Nursery in Perseus

    11/05/2015 5:10:13 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | October 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 1333 is seen in visible light as a reflection nebula, dominated by bluish hues characteristic of starlight reflected by interstellar dust. A mere 1,000 light-years distant toward the heroic constellation Perseus, it lies at the edge of a large, star-forming molecular cloud. This striking close-up spans about two full moons on the sky or just over 15 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 1333. It shows details of the dusty region along with hints of contrasting red emission from Herbig-Haro objects, jets and shocked glowing gas emanating from recently formed stars. In fact, NGC 1333 contains hundreds...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Orion Nebula M42

    11/04/2015 11:49:43 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | November 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, also known as M42, is one of the most famous nebulas in the sky. The star forming region's glowing gas clouds and hot young stars are on the right in this sharp and colorful image that includes the bluish reflection nebulae NGC 1977 and friends on the left. Located at the edge of an otherwise invisible giant molecular cloud complex, these eye-catching nebulas represent only a small fraction of this galactic neighborhood's wealth of interstellar material. Within the well-studied stellar nursery, astronomers have also identified what appear to be numerous infant planetary systems. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Seeking Venus under the Spitzkoppe Arch

    11/03/2015 9:33:59 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | November 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that in the sky? Although there was much to see in this spectacular panorama taken during the early morning hours of a day in late September, the brightest object in the sky was clearly the planet Venus. In the featured image, Venus was captured actually through a natural rock bridge, itself picturesque, in Spitzkoppe, Namibia. The planet, on the left of the opening, was complemented by a silhouette of the astrophotographer on the right. Above and beyond the rock bridge were many famous icons of a dark night sky, including, from left to right, the Pleiades star cluster,...
  • Did Jupiter Bumped The Giant Planet From Our Solar System?

    11/02/2015 7:03:39 PM PST · by Beowulf9 · 65 replies
    http://www.starminenews.com ^ | NOV 1, 2015 | PTI
    Toronto– A close encounter with Jupiter about four billion years ago may have resulted in another planet’s ejection from the solar system altogether, scientists have found. The existence of a fifth giant gas planet at the time of the solar system’s formation — in addition to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune that we know of today — was first proposed in 2011, researchers said.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet ISON Being Destroyed by the Sun

    11/01/2015 10:24:46 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | November 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Most comets don't survive a close encounter with the Sun. Two years ago this month, though, Comet ISON was thought by some to be big enough to withstand its perilous sungrazing dive. The featured video shows the drama as it was recorded by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite. As many Earthlings watched in fascination, a bright area did emerge from closest approach, but it soon faded and dispersed. It is now assumed that no large fragments of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) survived. Besides the comet, the active Sun is seen to eject puffs of plasma known as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Milky Way Over Monument Valley

    10/31/2015 9:14:38 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | November 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You don't have to be at Monument Valley to see the Milky Way arch across the sky like this -- but it helps. Only at Monument Valley USA would you see a picturesque foreground that includes these iconic rock peaks called buttes. Buttes are composed of hard rock left behind after water has eroded away the surrounding soft rock. In the featured image taken in 2012, the closest butte on the left and the butte to its right are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte can be seen just further to the right. High overhead stretches a band...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ghosts and Star Trails

    10/31/2015 1:15:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | October 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Don't be scared. Stars won't fall from the sky and ghosts won't really haunt your neighborhood tonight. But it looks like they might be doing just that in this eerie picture of an eccentric old abandoned house in moonlight. A treat for the eye the image is a trick of stacked multiple exposures, 60 frames exposed for 25 seconds each. While the digital frames were recorded with a camera fixed to a tripod stars traced concentric arcs about the north celestial pole, only a reflection of planet Earth's rotation on its axis. Conveniently marked by bright star Polaris, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Witch Head Nebula

    10/31/2015 1:13:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble .... maybe Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula. A frighteningly shaped reflection nebula, this cosmic crone is about 800 light-years away though. Its malevolent visage seems to glare toward nearby bright star Rigel in Orion, just off the right edge of this frame. More formally known as IC 2118, the interstellar cloud of dust and gas is nearly 70 light-years across, its dust grains reflecting Rigel's starlight. In this composite portrait, the nebula's color is caused not only by the star's intense bluish light but because the...
  • If the Moon were replaced with some of our planets (at night) 4k

    10/30/2015 5:58:22 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 5 replies
    YouTube ^ | May 2, 2013 | yeti dynamics
    This is a visualization of what it might be like if the Moon was replaced with some of the other planets at the same distance as our moon. Planets Rendered in 4K resolution! On Change Quality click on "original" to view in 4k. You need a 4k Monitor to watch. otherwise just watch in 1080p or lower
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1871: Inside the Soul Nebula

    10/29/2015 2:31:38 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This cosmic close-up looks deep inside the Soul Nebula. The dark and brooding dust clouds outlined by bright ridges of glowing gas are cataloged as IC 1871. About 25 light-years across, the telescopic field of view spans only a small part of the much larger Heart and Soul nebulae. At an estimated distance of 6,500 light-years the star-forming complex lies within the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way, seen in planet Earth's skies toward the constellation Cassiopeia. An example of triggered star formation, the dense star-forming clouds of IC 1871 are themselves sculpted by the intense winds and...
  • Galaxy Grande: Milky Way May Be More Massive Than Thought

    12/03/2012 10:02:45 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 22 replies
    Scientific American ^ | 12/3/12 | Ken Croswell
    Hubble observations of a speedy galaxy weigh on the Milky Way and indicate that our galaxy is at least a trillion times as massive as the sunMilky Way GREAT GALAXY: The Milky Way maintains a fleet of some two dozen satellite galaxies whose motions help reveal its mass. Image: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team Although scientists know the masses of the sun and Earth, it's a different story for the galaxy. Mass estimates range widely: At the low end, some studies find that the galaxy is several hundred billion times as massive as the sun whereas the largest values exceed two trillion...
  • Deeply embedded stellar clusters found in Milky Way

    08/03/2003 5:43:34 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 1 replies · 213+ views
    Peering into a giant molecular cloud in the Milky Way galaxy - known as W49 - astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered a whole new population of very massive newborn stars. This research was presented at the International Astronomical Union's 25th General Assembly held in Sydney, Australia, by ESO-scientist Joao Alves. With the help of infrared images obtained during a period of excellent observing conditions with the ESO 3.5-m New Technology Telescope (NTT) at the La Silla Observatory (Chile), the astronomers looked deep into this molecular cloud and discovered four massive stellar clusters, with hot and energetic...
  • If the Moon were replaced with some of our planets

    10/29/2015 10:21:16 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 34 replies
    YouTube ^ | Jan 10, 2013 | yeti dynamics
    This is a visualization of what it might be like if the Moon was replaced with some of the other planets at the same distance as our moon
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Massive Black Hole Shreds Passing Star

    10/28/2015 5:14:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What happens when a star gets too close to a black hole? Recent observations from Earth-orbiting observatories of an event dubbed ASASSN-14li, in a distant galactic center, appears to be giving one star's harrowing story. Although angularly unresolved, variations in high energy light indicate that some of the star became shredded and reformed into a disk swirling around the dark abyss. In the hypothesized scenario envisioned, a jet formed on the spin axis of the black hole. The innermost part of the disk, colored white, glows most strongly in X-rays and may drive a periodic wind, shown in blue....
  • SETI Institute undertakes search for alien signal from Kepler Star KIC 8462852

    10/24/2015 5:31:16 AM PDT · by Momaw Nadon · 13 replies
    PHYS.ORG ^ | October 22, 2015 | Bob King
    "We either caught something shortly after an event like two planets crashing together or alien intelligence," said Dr. Gerald Harp, senior scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, referring to the baffling light variations seen in the Kepler star KIC 8462852. And he and a team from the Institute are working hard at this moment to determine which of the two it is. Beginning last Friday (Oct. 16), the Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA) was taken off its normal survey schedule and instead focused on KIC 8462852, one of the 150,000-plus stars studied by NASA's Kepler Mission to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright from the Heart Nebula

    10/27/2015 3:46:27 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that inside the Heart Nebula? First, the large emission nebula dubbed IC 1805 looks, in whole, like a human heart. The nebula glows brightly in red light emitted by its most prominent element: hydrogen. The red glow and the larger shape are all created by a small group of stars near the nebula's center. In the center of the Heart Nebula are young stars from the open star cluster Melotte 15 that are eroding away several picturesque dust pillars with their energetic light and winds. The open cluster of stars contains a few bright stars nearly 50 times...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon and the Small Moons of Pluto

    10/27/2015 3:43:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What do the moons of Pluto look like? Before a decade ago, only the largest moon Charon was known, but never imaged. As the robotic New Horizons spacecraft was prepared and launched, other moons were identified on Hubble images but remained only specks of light. Finally, this past summer, New Horizons swept right past Pluto, photographed Pluto and Charon in detail, and took the best images of Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra that it could. The featured image composite shows the results -- each moon is seen to have a distinct shape, while underlying complexity is only hinted. Even...
  • Boozy comet leaves '500 bottles of wine per second' trail in its wake

    10/26/2015 7:26:54 PM PDT · by Fred Nerks · 40 replies
    ninemsn ^ | 27/10/2015 | N/A
    A comet with the nickname Happy Hour leaves a boozy trail equivalent to "500 bottles of wine per second" in its wake as it shoots through space. Scientists studying the comet, known as Lovejoy, have found its glowing trail is made up of alcohol and sugar. A study published by a group of scientists from NASA and European agencies observed the unusual comet as it rocketed alongside the sun on January 30, NASA reports. "You have alcohol and sugar, so that can lead to a 'happy hour' name, but I would not recommend anyone drink this water," team researcher Darek...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter and Venus from Earth

    10/26/2015 8:12:40 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | October 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2012 was visible almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. Pictured above in 2012, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Jupiter and Venus will be at it again this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter in 2015

    10/24/2015 12:04:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | October 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Two remarkable global maps of Jupiter's banded cloud tops can be compared by just sliding your cursor over this sharp projection (or follow this link) of image data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Both captured on January 19, during back-to-back 10 hour rotations of the ruling gas giant, the all-planet projections represent the first in a series of planned annual portraits by the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy program. Comparing the two highlights cloud movements and measures wind speeds in the planet's dynamic atmosphere. In fact, the Great Red Spot, the famous long-lived swirling storm boasting 300 mile per hour...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Starburst Galaxy Messier 94

    10/23/2015 10:13:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | October 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Beautiful island universe Messier 94 lies a mere 15 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. A popular target for earth-based astronomers, the face-on spiral galaxy is about 30,000 light-years across, with spiral arms sweeping through the outskirts of its broad disk. But this Hubble Space Telescope field of view spans about 7,000 light-years or so across M94's central region. The sharp close-up examines the galaxy's compact, bright nucleus and prominent inner dust lanes, surrounded by a remarkable bluish ring of young, massive stars. The massive stars in the ring are all likely...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Factory Messier 17

    10/22/2015 4:49:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | October 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this 1/3 degree wide field of view spans over 30 light-years. The sharp composite, color image, highlights faint details of the region's gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17 stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material producing the cavernous appearance and undulating shapes. M17 is also known as...
  • Most Earth-like worlds have yet to be born

    10/22/2015 4:47:05 AM PDT · by samtheman · 25 replies
    http://www.sciencedaily.com ^ | October 20, 2015 | Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
    Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won't be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets - 92 percent - have yet to be born.
  • Astronomers say real-life 'death star' destroying faraway rocky object

    10/22/2015 1:02:05 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 20 replies
    Associated Press ^ | October 22, 2015 | Associated Press
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A white dwarf star in the Constellation Virgo turns out to be a "death star" worthy of "Star Wars." Astronomers announced Wednesday that they have discovered a rocky object coming apart in a death spiral around this distant star. They used NASA's exoplanet-hunting Kepler spacecraft to make the discovery, then followed up with ground observations. "This is something no human has seen before," said Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the lead author. "We're watching a solar system get destroyed," he said in a statement.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Fractured North Pole of Saturn's Enceladus

    10/21/2015 3:59:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | October 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation:Ne Explanation: The north pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus is unexpectedly fascinating and complex. Previous to the latest flyby of the robotic Cassini spacecraft, the northern region was known mostly for its unusually high abundance of craters. Last week's flyby, however, returned images of unprecedented detail, including the featured image showing the expected craters coupled with an unexpected and circuitous pattern of picturesque cracks and fractures. Broken terrain has been recorded at lower latitudes, with deep canyons dubbed Tiger Stripes near Enceladus' South Pole. The fractures may further indicate global interplay between the surface and potential seas underneath, seas that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- When Black Holes Collide

    10/20/2015 4:32:59 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | October 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What happens when two black holes collide? This extreme scenario likely occurs in the centers of some merging galaxies and multiple star systems. The featured video shows a computer animation of the final stages of such a merger, while highlighting the gravitational lensing effects that would appear on a background starfield. The black regions indicate the event horizons of the dynamic duo, while a surrounding ring of shifting background stars indicates the position of their combined Einstein ring. All background stars not only have images visible outside of this Einstein ring, but also have one or more companion images...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Southern Cross in a Southern Sky

    10/18/2015 11:04:37 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | October 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Southern Cross? This famous constellation is best seen from Earth's Southern Hemisphere. Captured from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the four bright stars that mark the Southern Cross are visible just above the horizon in the featured image. On the left of this constellation, also known as The Crux, is the orange star Gamma Crucis. The band of stars, dust, and gas rising through the middle of the image mosaic is part our Milky Way Galaxy. Just to the right of the Southern Cross is the dark Coal Sack Nebula, and the bright nebula at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mammatus Clouds Over Saskatchewan

    10/18/2015 2:23:22 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | October 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is this cloud so bubbly? Normally, cloud bottoms are flat. The flatness is caused by moist warm air that rises and cools and so condenses into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. These mammatus clouds were...