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Archive for October 2, 2011

Cosmic Weight Watching Reveals Black Hole-Galaxy History

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Using state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated data analysis tools, a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has developed a new and powerful technique to directly determine the mass of an active galaxy at a distance of nearly 9 billion light-years from Earth.

This pioneering method promises a new approach for studying the co-evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. First results indicate that for galaxies, the best part of cosmic history was not a time of sweeping changes.

Full Story: http://www.mpia.de/Public/menu_q2.php?Aktuelles/PR/2011/PR110930/PR_110930_en.html

Scientists Release Most Accurate Simulation of the Universe to Date

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

“Bolshoi” supercomputer simulation provides new benchmark for cosmological studies

The Bolshoi supercomputer simulation, the most accurate and detailed large cosmological simulation run to date, gives physicists and astronomers a powerful new tool for understanding such cosmic mysteries as galaxy formation, dark matter, and dark energy.

The simulation traces the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe, including the evolution and distribution of the dark matter halos in which galaxies coalesced and grew. Initial studies show good agreement between the simulation’s predictions and astronomers’ observations.

Full Story: http://www.astronews.us/2011-09-30-1225.html

ESA Spacecraft Reveal New Anatomy Around a Black Hole

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Kriss (STScI) and J. de Plaa (SRON)

Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Kriss (STScI) and J. de Plaa (SRON)

A fleet of spacecraft including ESA’s XMM-Newton and Integral have shown unprecedented details close to a supermassive black hole. They reveal huge ‘bullets’ of gas being driven away from the ‘gravitational monster’.

The black hole that the team chose to study lies at the heart of the galaxy Markarian 509, 500 million light years away in space. This black hole is colossal, containing 300 million times the mass of the Sun and growing more massive every day as it continues to feed.

Markarian 509 was chosen because it is known to vary in brightness, which indicates that the flow of matter into the black hole is turbulent. The radiation from this inner region then drives an outflow of some gas away from the black hole.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMAQQ6UXSG_index_0.html

Moon’s Shadow, like a Ship, Creates Waves

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

During a solar eclipse, the Moon’s passage overhead blocks out the majority of the Sun’s light and casts a wide swath of the Earth into darkness. The land under the Moon’s shadow receives less incoming energy than the surrounding regions, causing it to cool. In the early 1970s, researches proposed that this temperature difference could set off slow-moving waves in the upper atmosphere. They hypothesized that the waves, moving more slowly than the travelling temperature disparity from which they spawned, would pile up along the leading edge of the Moon’s path — like slow-moving waves breaking on a ship’s bow. The dynamic was shown theoretically and in early computer simulations, but it was not until a total solar eclipse on 22 July 2009 that researchers were able to observe the behavior.

Full Story: http://www.astronews.us/2011-09-30-1330.html

NASA Supercomputer Enables Largest Cosmological Simulations

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Scientists have generated the largest and most realistic cosmological simulations of the evolving universe to-date, thanks to NASA¹s powerful Pleiades supercomputer. Using the “Bolshoi” simulation code, researchers hope to explain how galaxies and other very large structures in the universe changed since the Big Bang.

To complete the enormous Bolshoi simulation, which traces how largest galaxies and galaxy structures in the universe were formed billions of years ago, astrophysicists at New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico and the University of California High-Performance Astrocomputing Center (UC-HIPACC), Santa Cruz, Calif. ran their code on Pleiades for 18 days, consumed millions of hours of computer time, and generating enormous amounts of data. Pleiades is the seventh most powerful supercomputer in the world.

Full Story: http://www.astronews.us/2011-09-30-1309.html

NASA, Aerospace Business Leaders Discuss Space Launch System

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA leaders met Thursday to discuss acquisition plans for the agency’s new heavy-lift rocket with hundreds of representatives of aerospace industry companies, small businesses and independent entrepreneurs. The rocket, known as the Space Launch System (SLS), will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home, and provide the cornerstone for America’s future human space exploration efforts.

The Industry Day event, hosted by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., provided industry representatives with an overview of the SLS Program and defined its near-term business requirements, including details of NASA’s acquisition strategy for procurement of critical hardware, systems and vehicle elements. Marshall is leading design and development of the Space Launch System for NASA.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-332_SLS_MSFC_Industry_Day.html