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Archive for August, 2011

NASA Announces Media Teleconference About Opportunity Rover

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA will host a media teleconference on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 12:30 p.m. PDT to discuss progress of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Opportunity reached the Martian Endeavour crater earlier this month after years of driving.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ-M11-181_Rover_Telecon.html

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Discovery Sheds Light on Ecosystem of Young Galaxies

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

A team of scientists, led by Michael Rauch from the Carnegie Observatories, has discovered a distant galaxy that may help elucidate two fundamental questions of galaxy formation: How galaxies take in matter and how they give off energetic radiation. Their work will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Full Story: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/new_discovery_sheds_light_ecosystem_young_galaxies

First Simulation to Create a Milky Way-like Galaxy

August 30, 2011 1 comment

Credit: J. Guedes and P. Madau.

After nine months of number-crunching on a powerful supercomputer, a beautiful spiral galaxy matching our own Milky Way emerged from a computer simulation of the physics involved in galaxy formation and evolution. The simulation by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Zurich solves a longstanding problem that had led some to question the prevailing cosmological model of the universe.

“Previous efforts to form a massive disk galaxy like the Milky Way had failed, because the simulated galaxies ended up with huge central bulges compared to the size of the disk,” said Javiera Guedes, who recently earned her Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and is first author of a paper on the new simulation, called “Eris.” The paper has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

Full Story: http://news.ucsc.edu/2011/08/eris-simulation.html

 

Uncovering the Secrets of the Great Supernova

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

A once-in-a-lifetime nearby stellar explosion now unfolding in a neighboring galaxy has astronomers at the W. M. Keck Observatory scrambling to ask questions that can’t be answered at any other ground-based telescope in the world. The first big question: What causes this pivotally important type of stellar cataclysm?

Observing this spectacular supernova, dubbed PTF11kly, began on August 24, with the detection of the explosion in the nearby Pinwheel Galaxy, a.k.a. M101, by the automated Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey. That survey is designed to detect short-lived astronomical events as they happen.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/secrets_of_supernova/

Cassini Closes in on Saturn’s Tumbling Moon Hyperion

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Hyperion on Aug. 25, 2011. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured new views of Saturn’s oddly shaped moon Hyperion during its encounter with this cratered body on Thursday, Aug. 25. Raw images were acquired as the spacecraft flew past the moon at a distance of about 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers), making this the second closest encounter.
Hyperion is a small moon — just 168 miles (270 kilometers) across. It has an irregular shape and surface appearance, and it rotates chaotically as it tumbles along in orbit. This odd rotation prevented scientists from predicting exactly what terrain the spacecraft’s cameras would image during this flyby.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-266

40-Year-Old Mariner 5 Solar-Wind Problem Finds Answer

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: European Space Agency

Credit: European Space Agency

Research led by astrophysicists at the University of Warwick has resolved a 40 year old problem with observations of turbulence in the solar wind first made by the probe Mariner Five. The research resolves an issue with what is by far the largest and most interesting natural turbulence lab accessible to researchers today.

Our current understanding tells us that turbulence in the solar wind should not be affected by the speed and direction of travel of that solar wind. However when the first space probes attempted to measure that turbulence they found their observations didn’t quite match that physical law. The first such data to be analysed from Mariner 5 in 1971 found a small but nonetheless irritatingly clear pattern in the turbulence perpendicular to both the direction of the travel and the magnetic field the solar wind was travelling through.

Full Story: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/40_year_old

‘Once in a Generation’ Supernova Discovered

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

A supernova discovered Wednesday is closer to Earth ––approximately 21 million light years away –– than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion –– a rare feat for events of this type.

The discovery of a supernova so early in its life, and so close to Earth has energized the astronomical community. Scientists around the world are scrambling to observe it with as many telescopes as possible, including the Hubble Space Telescope, and telescopes from the UC Santa Barbara-affiliated Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT).

Full Story: http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2550