Archive for June 21, 2012

VLT Takes A Close Look At NGC 6357

Deep in the Milky Way in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion) lies NGC 6357, a region of space where new stars are being born in of chaotic clouds of gas and dust. The outer parts of this vast nebula have now been imaged by ESO’s Very Large Telescope, producing the best picture of this region taken so far.

The new picture shows a broad river of dust across the centre that absorbs the light from more distant objects. To the right there is a small cluster of brilliant blue-white young stars that have formed from the gas. These are probably only a few million years old, very young by stellar standards. The intense ultraviolet radiation streaming out from these stars is hollowing out a cavity in the surrounding gas and dust and sculpting it in strange ways.

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NASA Set To Host Future Female Explorers

Eighty-four female high school students from 29 states will plan a simulated mission to Mars and experience life as an engineer or scientist when NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston hosts two events focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in June and July.

The Women in STEM High School Aerospace Scholars project, or WISH, is sponsoring two six-day summer camps for rising high school seniors. The young women will work in teams with female NASA mentors to develop mission plans for launching to Mars, living and working there, and integrating the many components necessary for a successful planetary mission. They will work within the confines of a fictitious budget and build several small mockups of vehicles to demonstrate a successful launch and landing of the Mars spacecraft.

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Looking Into The Dark: Ahead With The Euclid Mission

On 19 June 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) formally adopted the largest collaboration of astronomers in the World, including scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics to help build the Euclid satellite. Euclid will study the “Dark Universe” with great precision, tracing the distribution and evolution of the enigmatic dark matter and dark energy throughout the Universe.

“Euclid will provide a wealth of data on the three dimensional matter distribution in the universe”, explains Ralf Bender from MPE, the German representative in the Euclid Board. “Not only will this give us interesting insights into the evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters, we will also be able to better understand the accelerating expansion of the universe. Hopefully, this will bring us a big step forward in solving the riddle that is Dark Energy.”

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Gruber Cosmology Prize 2012 Awarded To Charles Bennett And The WMAP Team

Charles L. Bennett and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) team are the recipients of the 2012 Cosmology Prize from the Gruber Foundation. They used observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation to determine the Universe’s age, content, geometry, and origin. This achievement has helped to transform cosmology into a precision science.

The 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize recognises the astronomers for their vital contribution to the study of the properties of the Universe as a whole. The prize citation further recognises that the measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) by Bennett and the WMAP team have helped to transform the current paradigm of the structure formation of the Universe from “appealing scenario into precise science”.

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