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Archive for March 15, 2012

AuroraWatch Issues Red Alert for Observers in the United Kingdom

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

A red alert means that aurora will likely be visible from the entire United Kingdom – don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Full Story: http://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/

Quasars Discovered Acting As Gravitational Lenses

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found several examples of galaxies containing quasars, which act as gravitational lenses, amplifying and distorting images of galaxies aligned behind them.

Quasars are among the brightest objects in the universe, far outshining the total starlight of their host galaxies. Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes.

To find these rare cases of galaxy-quasar combinations acting as lenses, a team of astronomers led by Frederic Courbin at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) selected 23,000 quasar spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). They looked for the spectral imprint of galaxies at much greater distances that happened to align with foreground galaxies. Once candidates were identified, Hubble’s sharp view was used to look for gravitational arcs and rings (which are indicated by the arrows in these three Hubble photos) that would be produced by gravitational lensing.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/quasar-lens.html

Korean Connection Makes 8,000-km Telescope

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Australian and Korean radio telescopes have been linked together for the first time, forming a system acting as a gigantic telescope more than 8000 kilometres across and with 100 times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope.

“This is another step in Australia’s ongoing collaboration with Asia in the field of radio astronomy,” said CSIRO’s Astronomy and Space Science Chief, Dr Philip Diamond.

Australia has been making similar linkups with Japan and China for many years, and now is also doing initial tests with telescopes in India.

Combining signals from widely separated telescopes in this way is the technique that will underlie the coming international mega-scope, the Square Kilometre Array or SKA.

Full Story: http://www.csiro.au/Portals/Media/Korean-connection-makes-an-8000-km-telescope.aspx

NASA Releases New WISE Mission Catalog of Entire Infrared Sky

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA unveiled a new atlas and catalog of the entire infrared sky today showing more than a half billion stars, galaxies and other objects captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

“Today, WISE delivers the fruit of 14 years of effort to the astronomical community,” said Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator at UCLA, who first began working on the mission with other team members in 1998.

WISE launched Dec. 14, 2009, and mapped the entire sky in 2010 with vastly better sensitivity than its predecessors. It collected more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, capturing everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies. Since then, the team has been processing more than 15 trillion bytes of returned data. A preliminary release of WISE data, covering the first half of the sky surveyed, was made last April.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-072

Cassini Garners Top Honor From Air and Space Museum

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has received the top group honor from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum – the Trophy for Current Achievement. Representatives for Cassini will receive the trophy on March 21 at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C.

“Here we are some 15 years since Cassini launched and it’s amazing how well the spacecraft has operated,” said Charles Elachi, director of JPL. “Thanks to the superb work of both the development team and the operations team, Cassini has been able to show us the beauty and diversity of the Saturn system and, beyond that, to study what is really a miniature solar system in its own right.”

The trophies for current and lifetime achievement are the National Air and Space Museum’s most prestigious awards. They recognize outstanding achievements in the fields of aerospace science, technology and their history.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-071

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