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Amateur Skywatchers Help Space Hazards Team

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

For the first time, observations coordinated by ESA’s space hazards team have found an asteroid that comes close enough to Earth to pose an impact threat. The space rock was found by amateur astronomers, highlighting the value of ‘crowd-sourcing’ to science and planetary defence.

The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme in September.

The four-night survey used the 1m-aperture telescope at ESA’s Optical Ground Station at Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMURW6UXSG_index_0.html

Ambitious Hubble Survey Obtaining New Dark Matter Census

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH Team

Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH Team

This image of galaxy cluster MACS J1206.2-0847 (or MACS 1206 for short) is part of a broad survey with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

The distorted shapes in the cluster are distant galaxies from which the light is bent by the gravitational pull of an invisible material called dark matter within the cluster of galaxies. This cluster is an early target in a survey that will allow astronomers to construct the most detailed dark matter maps of more galaxy clusters than ever before.

These maps are being used to test previous, but surprising, results that suggest that dark matter is more densely packed inside clusters than some models predict. This might mean that galaxy cluster assembly began earlier than commonly thought.

Full Story: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2011/25

A Middle-Aged Supernova Remnant

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Texas/S. Park et al, ROSAT; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Texas/S. Park et al, ROSAT; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

G299.2-2.9 is an intriguing supernova remnant found about 16,000 light years away in the Milky Way galaxy. Evidence points to G299.2-2.9 being the remains of a Type Ia supernova, where a white dwarf has grown sufficiently massive to cause a thermonuclear explosion. Because it is older than most supernova remnants caused by these explosions, at an age of about 4,500 years, G299.2-2.9 provides astronomers with an excellent opportunity to study how these objects evolve over time. It also provides a probe of the Type Ia supernova explosion that produced this structure.

This composite image shows G299.2-2.9 in X-ray light from Chandra and the ROSAT satellite, in orange, that has been overlaid on an infrared image from the Two Micron All-Sky Survey, or 2MASS. The faint X-ray emission from the inner region reveals relatively large amounts of iron and silicon, as expected for a remnant of a Type Ia supernova. The outer shell of the remnant is complex, with at least a double shell structure. Typically, such a complex outer shell is associated with a star that has exploded into space where gas and dust are not uniformly distributed.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/photo-11-121.html

Time Reversal: A Simple Particle Could Reveal New Physics

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The physics world was rocked recently by the news that a class of subatomic particles known as neutrinos may have broken the speed of light.

Adding to the rash of new ideas, University of Arizona theoretical physicist Bira van Kolck recently proposed that experiments with another small particle called a deuteron could lead to an explanation for one of the most daunting puzzles physicists face: the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe.

Full Story: http://uanews.org/node/42347

 

 

Giant-Sized Webb Space Telescope Model to ‘Land’ in Baltimore

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: EADS Astrium

Credit: EADS Astrium

Baltimore’s Maryland Science Center is going to be the “landing site” for the life-sized full-scale model of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and it’s free for all to see.

The Webb telescope life-sized model is as big as a tennis court, and its coming to the Maryland Science Center at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from October 14 through 26, 2011. It’s a chance for young and old to get a close-up look at the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in the same size it will be launched into space.

The real James Webb Space Telescope is currently being built, but this model will be constructed in a couple of days. The real Webb will be the largest space telescope ever built. Once in orbit, the Webb telescope will look back in time more than 13 billion years to help us understand the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.

Experts will be on hand to discuss the Webb telescope’s deep-space mission, how it will observe distant galaxies and nearby stars and planets, and the progress made to date in building the observatory. Spokespeople will also be available throughout the model exhibition.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/webb-balto.html