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Archive for August, 2012

A Surprisingly Bright Superbubble

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m

This composite image shows a superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located about 160,000 light years from Earth. Many new stars, some of them very massive, are forming in the star cluster NGC 1929, which is embedded in the nebula N44. The massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. The winds and supernova shock waves carve out huge cavities called superbubbles in the surrounding gas. X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) show hot regions created by these winds and shocks, while infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found. The optical light from the 2.2m Max-Planck-ESO telescope (yellow) in Chile shows where ultraviolet radiation from hot, young stars is causing gas in the nebula to glow.

A long-running problem in high-energy astrophysics has been that some superbubbles in the LMC, including N44, give off a lot more X-rays than expected from models of their structure. A Chandra study published in 2011 showed that there are two extra sources of the bright X-ray emission: supernova shock waves striking the walls of the cavities, and hot material evaporating from the cavity walls.

Full Story: http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2012/n1929/

Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/bright_superbubble.html

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Slooh Space Camera to cover the “Once in a Blue Moon”

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

In an ongoing mission to share a live view of the universe, Slooh Space Camera will broadcast the Blue Moon live on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting on Friday, August 31st at 3:00 PM PDT / 6:00 PM EDT / 22:00 UTC – viewers can watch live on their PC or favorite IOS/Android mobile device.

This Blue Moon, which will be the last one until July 2015, can be viewed worldwide the night of August 31st – weather permitting. Blue Moons occur every 2.7 years and are defined as the second full Moon in the same calendar month. Some countries will technically not be in Blue Moon status, but they will be able to view the full Moon nonetheless.

During the program, Slooh will not only pull zoomed in, live feeds of the Moon from their Canary Islands observatory located off the coast of Africa, but will also pull stunning live feeds of the Sun from Prescott observatory in Arizona- giving viewers a unique opportunity to view both the Moon and the Sun at the same time – all live in real time and in true color.

Full Story: https://www.facebook.com/groups/slooh/doc/420034328053534/

Also: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=Slooh+Blue+Moon&iso=20120831T22&ah=1

NASA Launches Radiation Belt Storm Probes Mission

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), the first twin-spacecraft mission designed to explore our planet’s radiation belts, launched into the predawn skies at 4:05a.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

“Scientists will learn in unprecedented detail how the radiation belts are populated with charged particles, what causes them to change and how these processes affect the upper reaches of the atmosphere around Earth,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “The information collected from these probes will benefit the public by allowing us to better protect our satellites and understand how space weather affects communications and technology on Earth.”

The hardy RBSP satellites will spend the next 2 years looping through every part of both Van Allen belts. By having two spacecraft in different regions of the belts at the same time, scientists finally will be able to gather data from within the belts themselves, learning how they change over space and time.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/aug/HQ_12-289_RBSP_Launches.html

Uwingu Begins Funding Research Ahead Of Schedule Via Crowd Funding: SETI Allen Telecope Array Chosen

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

UwinguTM, LLC and the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) designed to search out extraterrestrial life, together announced today that the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array’s science team will be the first project funded by Uwingu, via its crowd-sourcing IndieGoGo campaign. Uwingu will donate half of all “bonus” funds above its $75K business launch target to the ATA.

“We don’t have to wait to begin helping space research until we launch our first product, we’re starting now!” said Uwingu CEO, Dr. Alan Stern. “And I can’t overstate how proud Uwingu is to have the SETI Institute’s ATA as a beneficiary of our IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign. SETI is one of the noblest and most important space research enterprises. We hope this will be a double-win—generating more funds available to launch our own commercial products, and more funds available to the ATA’s research teams.”

Full Story: http://www.prlog.org/11961386-uwingu-begins-funding-research-ahead-of-schedule-via-crowd-funding-seti-allen-telecope-array-chosen.html

NASA Curiosity Rover Begins Eastbound Trek On Martian Surface

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Soil clinging to the right middle and rear wheels of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has set off from its landing vicinity on a trek to a science destination about a quarter mile (400 meters) away, where it may begin using its drill.

“This drive really begins our journey toward the first major driving destination, Glenelg, and it’s nice to see some Martian soil on our wheels,” said mission manager Arthur Amador of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The drive went beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it.”

Glenelg is a location where three types of terrain intersect. Curiosity’s science team chose it as a likely place to find a first rock target for drilling and analysis.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20120829.html

NASA’s WISE Survey Uncovers Millions Of Black Holes

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has led to a bonanza of newfound supermassive black holes and extreme galaxies called hot DOGs, or dust-obscured galaxies.

Images from the telescope have revealed millions of dusty black hole candidates across the universe and about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found. These powerful galaxies, which burn brightly with infrared light, are nicknamed hot DOGs.

“WISE has exposed a menagerie of hidden objects,” said Hashima Hasan, WISE program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We’ve found an asteroid dancing ahead of Earth in its orbit, the coldest star-like orbs known and now, supermassive black holes and galaxies hiding behind cloaks of dust.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/news/wise20120829.html

NASA, Texas Astronomers Find First Multi-Planet System Around A Binary Star

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Kepler mission has found the first multi-planet solar system orbiting a binary star, characterized in large part by University of Texas at Austin astronomers using two telescopes at the university’s McDonald Observatory in West Texas. The finding, which proves that whole planetary systems can form in a disk around a binary star, is published in today’s issue of the journal Science.

The binary star in question is called Kepler-47. The primary star is about the same mass as the Sun, and its companion is an M-dwarf star one-third its size. The inner planet is three times the size of Earth and orbits the binary star every 49.5 days, while the outer planet is 4.6 times the size of Earth with an orbit of 303.2 days.

Full Story: http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/news/releases/2012/0829