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Archive for February 22, 2012

Space Camera to Broadcast Moon-Planet Conjunctions

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Slooh Space Camera will broadcast a free, real-time feed of the Venus/Moon and Jupiter/Moon conjunction Saturday 2/25 and Sunday, 2/26 starting at 02:30 UT / 6:30 PM PST / 9:30 EST. Slooh will provide multiple observatory feeds, including from Arizona and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. 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.

Conjunctions are amazing phenomena to behold as viewers will be able to see both the Moon and planet Venus or Jupiter nearby in the same field of view. Individuals can also attempt to view the conjunction using binoculars pointed at the Moon.

Slooh’s own Patrick Paolucci will join Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman along with other guests and Slooh members to discuss the event live and in true color.

Full Story: http://www.slooh.com/pr/slooh-live-feed-conjunction-february-2012.php

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Chandra Finds Fastest Wind from Stellar-Mass Black Hole

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have clocked the fastest wind yet discovered blowing off a disk around a stellar-mass black hole. This result has important implications for understanding how this type of black hole behaves.

The record-breaking wind is moving about 20 million mph, or about 3 percent of the speed of light. This is nearly 10 times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole.

Stellar-mass black holes are born when extremely massive stars collapse. They typically weigh between five and 10 times the mass of the sun. The stellar-mass black hole powering this super wind is known as IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short.

“This is like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a category five hurricane,” said Ashley King from the University of Michigan, lead author of the study published in the Feb. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “We weren’t expecting to see such powerful winds from a black hole like this.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/H-12-056.html

Rare Earth Element Found Far, Far Away

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Nearly 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was made of only hydrogen, helium and traces of lithium — byproducts of the Big Bang. Some 300 million years later, the very first stars emerged, creating additional chemical elements throughout the universe. Since then, giant stellar explosions, or supernovas, have given rise to carbon, oxygen, iron and the rest of the 94 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.

Today, stars and planetary bodies bear traces of these elements, having formed from the gas enriched by these supernovas over time. For the past 50 years, scientists have been analyzing stars of various ages, looking to chart the evolution of chemical elements in the universe and to identify the astrophysical phenomena that created them.

Now a team of researchers from institutions including MIT has detected the element tellurium for the first time in three ancient stars. The researchers found traces of this brittle, semiconducting element — which is very rare on Earth — in stars that are nearly 12 billion years old. The finding supports the theory that tellurium, along with even heavier elements in the periodic table, likely originated from a very rare type of supernova during a rapid process of nuclear fusion. The researchers published their findings online in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Full Story: http://web.mit.edu/press/2012/heavy-metal-stars-tellurium.html