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Archive for November 7, 2011

Significant Asteroid Flyby on Nov. 8

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA radars are monitoring 2005 YU55, an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier, as it heads for a Nov. 8th flyby of the Earth-Moon system. There is no danger to our planet. At closest approach on Tuesday at 3:28 pm PST (23:28 UT), the 400m-wide space rock will be 324,600 kilometers away, about 85% the distance from Earth to the Moon.

Professional astronomers are eagerly anticipating the flyby as the asteroid presents an exceptionally strong radar target. Powerful transmitters at Goldstone and Arecibo will ping the space rock as it passes by, revealing the asteroid’s shape and texture in crisp detail, and pinpointing its orbit for future flyby calculations.

Full Story: http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=07&month=11&year=2011

Also, from Sky & Telescope…

Earth is about to be visited by the largest close-approaching asteroid on record. Known as 2005 YU55, it is about a quarter mile (400 m) across, round, and quite dark. When it comes closest to us, at 6:28 p.m. EST (23:28 Universal Time) on November 8th, it will be 198,000 miles (319,000 km) from Earth’s surface — closer than the Moon’s orbit. Professional astronomers around the world will closely follow the asteroid as it glides across the sky.

 Weather permitting, backyard skywatchers also have a chance to spot this interloper. A few hours after passing closest to us, it will peak in brightness at magnitude 11.1, roughly 100 times fainter than the limit of human vision. “The good news,” says Alan MacRobert of Sky & Telescopemagazine, “is that you should be able to spot the asteroid with your telescope if it has an aperture of at least 6 to 8 inches.”

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/133357483.html

 

 

 

3 New Elements Named, Including 1 for Copernicus

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), taking place at the Institute of Physics in London, today approved the names of three new elements.

Elements 110, 111 and 112 have been named darmstadtium (Ds), roentgenium (Rg) and copernicium (Cn) respectively.

The General Assembly approved these suggestions from the Joint Working Party on the Discovery of Elements, which is a joint body of IUPAP and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, Chief Executive at IOP and Secretary-General of IUPAP, said, “The naming of these elements has been agreed in consultation with physicists around the world and we’re delighted to see them now being introduced to the Periodic Table.”

Full Story: http://www.iop.org/news/11/nov/page_52686.html

NASA’s Fermi Finds Youngest Millisecond Pulsar, 100 Pulsars To-Date

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

An international team of scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has discovered a surprisingly powerful millisecond pulsar that challenges existing theories about how these objects form.

At the same time, another team has located nine new gamma-ray pulsars in Fermi data, using improved analytical techniques.

A pulsar is a type of neutron star that emits electromagnetic energy at periodic intervals. A neutron star is the closest thing to a black hole that astronomers can observe directly, crushing half a million times more mass than Earth into a sphere no larger than a city. This matter is so compressed that even a teaspoonful weighs as much as Mount Everest.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/young-pulsar.html

City Lights Could Reveal E.T. Civilization

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. “Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe,” said Loeb.

As with other SETI methods, they rely on the assumption that aliens would use Earth-like technologies. This is reasonable because any intelligent life that evolved in the light from its nearest star is likely to have artificial illumination that switches on during the hours of darkness.

How easy would it be to spot a city on a distant planet? Clearly, this light will have to be distinguished from the glare from the parent star. Loeb and Turner suggest looking at the change in light from an exoplanet as it moves around its star.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201130.html

Hubble Directly Observes the Disc Around a Black Hole

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA, ESA and J.A. Muñoz (University of Valencia)

Credit: NASA, ESA and J.A. Muñoz (University of Valencia)

A team of scientists has used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to observe a quasar accretion disc — a brightly glowing disc of matter that is slowly being sucked into its galaxy’s central black hole. Their study makes use of a novel technique that uses gravitational lensing to give an immense boost to the power of the telescope. The incredible precision of the method has allowed astronomers to directly measure the disc’s size and plot the temperature across different parts of the disc.

An international team of astronomers has used a new technique to study the bright disc of matter surrounding a faraway black hole. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, combined with the gravitational lensing effect of stars in a distant galaxy, the team measured the disc’s size and studied the colours (and hence the temperatures) of different parts of the disc. These observations show a level of precision equivalent to spotting individual grains of sand on the surface of the Moon.

While black holes themselves are invisible, the forces they unleash cause some of the brightest phenomena in the Universe. Quasars — short for quasi-stellar objects — are glowing discs of matter that orbit supermassive black holes, heating up and emitting extremely bright radiation as they do so.

Full Story: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1116/

Cassini Significant Events 10/26/11 – 11/01/11

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired on Nov.1 from the Deep Space Network tracking complex at Madrid, Spain. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and with the exception of the CAPS instrument being powered off, all subsystems are operating normally. Information on the present position and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the “Present Position” page at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/presentposition/.

Full Story: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/significantevents/significantevents20111103/