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Archive for March 20, 2012

Auroras Broadcast Live from Alaska, Mar. 22/23

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Solar activity is at its highest in years and Slooh Space Camera will capture the beauty and fire of one of natures most spectacular phenomena — The Aurora Borealis. Astronomer Bob Berman will be onsite outside of Fairbanks, Alaska at one of the best viewing sites in the world, reporting in as we view the beautiful blaze of the Northern Lights live and in true color.

The show will begin on Thursday. 3/22 starting at 11:00 PM PDT / 2:00 AM EDT (06:00 UTC on 3/23). The broadcast can be accessed at Slooh’s homepage or by visiting Slooh’s G+ page, where you will be able to see the panel interact live via G+ Hangouts On Air.

Media websites can embed Slooh’s live syndicated image feed directly into their own coverage of the event by visiting Slooh’s media page.

Viewing the Aurora Borealis is not easy unless the display is unusually intense, the auroral oval has thickened and moved south, you live in the northern third of the US, and observe away from city lights, where the sky is dark. However, central Alaska sits directly under the auroral oval and can see the Northern Lights most nights when the sun is active, like now.

Full Story: http://www.slooh.com/pr/slooh-live-feed-aurora-march-2012.php

NASA’s Swift Narrows Down Origin of Important Supernova Class

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Studies using X-ray and ultraviolet observations from NASA’s Swift satellite provide new insights into the elusive origins of an important class of exploding star called Type Ia supernovae.

These explosions, which can outshine their galaxy for weeks, release large and consistent amounts of energy at visible wavelengths. These qualities make them among the most valuable tools for measuring distance in the universe. Because astronomers know the intrinsic brightness of Type Ia supernovae, how bright they appear directly reveals how far away they are.

“For all their importance, it’s a bit embarrassing for astronomers that we don’t know fundamental facts about the environs of these supernovae,” said Stefan Immler, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Now, thanks to unprecedented X-ray and ultraviolet data from Swift, we have a clearer picture of what’s required to blow up these stars.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/supernova-narrowing.html

NASA Calls for Student-Designed Deep Space Habitat Proposals

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA is offering college and university students a chance to help design a deep space habitat. The Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is accepting applications for the 2013 challenge, inviting students to design, manufacture, assemble and test systems for use on NASA’s deep space habitat prototype.

Past projects have included an inflatable loft for crew sleeping quarters, plant growth systems and sample handling tools. This year, students in multiple disciplines can choose projects from a variety of possibilities, including photovoltaic solar arrays, a workstation to support human-robotic collaboration or a telepresence and holodeck conceptual system. Students will work together on potential solutions to needs future astronauts might have living and working outside Earth.

“Students will play a vital role in our critical early system planning and development,” said Alvin Drew, a NASA astronaut and habitat systems project manager at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Their designs could become the basis for the concepts and technologies that will make up the habitat we eventually send to space.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/mar/HQ_12-087_X-HAB_2012.html

Effect May Bring Universe’s Formation into Sharper Focus

March 20, 2012 2 comments

The first observation of a cosmic effect theorized 40 years ago could provide astronomers with a more precise tool for understanding the forces behind the universe’s formation and growth, including the enigmatic phenomena of dark energy and dark matter.

A large research team from two major astronomy surveys reports in a paper submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters that scientists detected the movement of distant galaxy clusters via the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (kSZ) effect, which has never before been seen. The paper was recently posted on the arXiv preprint database, and was initiated at Princeton University by lead author Nick Hand as part of his senior thesis. Fifty-eight collaborators from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) projects are listed as co-authors.

Proposed in 1972 by Russian physicists Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel’dovich, the kSZ effect results when the hot gas in galaxy clusters distorts the cosmic microwave background radiation — which is the glow of the heat left over from the Big Bang — that fills our universe. Radiation passing through a galaxy cluster moving toward Earth appears hotter by a few millionths of a degree, while radiation passing through a cluster moving away appears slightly cooler.

Full Story: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S33/21/69O40/

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