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Life And Death In A Star-Forming Cloud

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Herschel’s three-colour infrared view of supernova remnant W44. Credits: Herschel: Q. Nguyen Luong & F. Motte, HOBYS Key Program consortium, Herschel SPIRE/PACS/ESA consortia

The aftershock of a stellar explosion rippling through space is captured in this new view of supernova remnant W44, which combines far-infrared and X-ray data from ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories.

W44, located around 10 000 light-years away within a forest of dense star-forming clouds in the constellation of Aquila, the Eagle, is one of the best examples of a supernova remnant interacting with its parent molecular cloud.

The product of a massive star that has already reached the end of its life and expelled its outer layers in a dramatic explosion, all that remains of the stellar behemoth is the spinning core of a neutron star, or pulsar.

It is thought to be around 20 000 years old and as it rapidly rotates it sweeps out a wind of highly energetic particles and beams of light ranging from radio to X-ray energies.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMNPE72Q8H_index_0.html

NASA’s Kepler Completes Prime Mission, Begins Extended Mission

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA is marking two milestones in the search for planets like Earth; the successful completion of the Kepler Space Telescope’s 3 1/2- year prime mission and the beginning of an extended mission that could last as long as four years.

Scientists have used Kepler data to identify more than 2,300 planet candidates and confirm more than 100 planets. Kepler is teaching us the galaxy is teeming with planetary systems and planets are prolific, and giving us hints that nature makes small planets efficiently.

So far, hundreds of Earth-size planet candidates have been found as well as candidates that orbit in the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet. None of the candidates is exactly like Earth. With the completion of the prime mission, Kepler now has collected enough data to begin finding true sun-Earth analogs – Earth-size planets with a one-year orbit around stars similar to the sun.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2012/12-85AR.html