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Astrochemistry Enters A Bold New Era With ALMA

September 21, 2012 1 comment

Combining the cutting-edge capabilities of the ALMA telescope with newly-developed laboratory techniques, scientists are opening a completely new era for deciphering the chemistry of the Universe. A research team demonstrated their breakthrough using ALMA data from observations of the gas in a star-forming region in the constellation Orion.

Using new technology both at the telescope and in the laboratory, the scientists were able to greatly improve and speed the process of identifying the “fingerprints” of chemicals in the cosmos, enabling studies that until now would have been either impossible or prohibitively time-consuming.

“We’ve shown that, with ALMA, we’re going to be able to do real chemical analysis of the gaseous ‘nurseries’ where new stars and planets are forming, unrestricted by many of the limitations we’ve had in the past,” said Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA.

Full Story: http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2012/widespectra/

NASA Mars Rover Targets Unusual Rock Enroute To First Destination

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has driven up to a football-size rock that will be the first for the rover’s arm to examine.NASA.

Curiosity is about 8 feet (2.5 meters) from the rock. It lies about halfway from the rover’s landing site, Bradbury Landing, to a location called Glenelg. In coming days, the team plans to touch the rock with a spectrometer to determine its elemental composition and use an arm-mounted camera to take close-up photographs.

Both the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and the mast-mounted, laser-zapping Chemistry and Camera Instrument will be used for identifying elements in the rock. This will allow cross-checking of the two instruments.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-295&cid=release_2012-295

B612 Foundation Receives New Funding And Strategic Support From Prominent Leaders In Business, Entertainment, Science And Technology

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The world’s first privately funded deep space mission – SENTINEL – received major support this week from prominent members of the business and financial community who joined the B612 Foundation’s Founding Circle. Founding Circle Members not only contribute substantial funding to the mission, but also pledge continued support in multiple areas of finance, technology and science.

In June, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission, a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of asteroid discovery and mapping. This premier scientific instrument will not only provide millions of asteroid discoveries, but may also help us prevent a major asteroid impact on Earth. Sentinel will detect and track asteroids accurately enough to give decades of warning of impending impacts, enough to allow humanity to easily deflect threatening asteroids using existing technology.

Full Story: http://b612foundation.org/media/press-releases/

Ultra-Distant Galaxy Spied Amidst Cosmic “Dark Ages”

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

With the combined power of NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, a team of astronomers, including Carnegie’s Daniel Kelson, have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the young galaxy captured by the orbiting observatories was emitted when our 13.7-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old. Their work is published September 20 by Nature.

The far-off galaxy existed within an important era when the universe just emerged from the so-called cosmic Dark Ages. During this period, the universe went from a dark, starless expanse to a recognizable cosmos full of galaxies. The discovery of the faint, small galaxy therefore opens up a window into the deepest, remotest epochs of cosmic history.

Light from the primordial galaxy traveled approximately 13.2 billion light-years before reaching NASA’s telescopes. In other words, the starlight snagged by Hubble and Spitzer left the galaxy when the universe was just 3.6 percent of its present age.

Full Story: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/ultradistant_galaxy_spied_amidst_cosmic_“dark_ages

NASA Telescopes Spy Ultra-Distant Galaxy

September 21, 2012 1 comment

With the combined power of NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the young galaxy captured by the orbiting observatories first shone when our 13.7-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old.

The far-off galaxy existed within an important era when the universe began to transit from the so-called cosmic dark ages. During this period, the universe went from a dark, starless expanse to a recognizable cosmos full of galaxies. The discovery of the faint, small galaxy opens a window onto the deepest, most remote epochs of cosmic history.

Unlike previous detections of galaxy candidates in this age range, which were only glimpsed in a single color, or waveband, this newfound galaxy has been seen in five different wavebands. As part of the Cluster Lensing And Supernova Survey with Hubble Program, the Hubble Space Telescope registered the newly described, far-flung galaxy in four visible and infrared wavelength bands. Spitzer measured it in a fifth, longer-wavelength infrared band, placing the discovery on firmer ground.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-294

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