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Archive for January 20, 2013

Shedding Light On The Power Of M 82’s Superwinds

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

An international team of astronomers, led by Dr. Kazuya Matsubayshi (Kyoto University), has discovered that outflows of gas from starburst galaxy M 82 collide with a “cap” of gas clouds 40,000 light years away from the galactic disk. Shockwaves from M 82’s central starburst region are the most likely source of the bright clouds within the cap. The large light-gathering power of Subaru Telescope’s 8.2-m mirror and its ability to produce highly detailed images enabled the researchers to make these findings, which provide important clues about the wind’s power.

The central regions of starburst galaxies are sites of immense star formation. They give birth to thousands of massive stars, which are dozens of times heavier than the Sun and then explode as supernovae when they die. Many supernovae explosions heat the gas around them to temperatures of more than a million degrees, and this hot gas flows out from the galaxy as galactic wind. These winds are so powerful that they may play an important role in the evolution of galaxies and the inter-galactic medium.

Full Story: http://www.naoj.org/Pressrelease/2012/12/26/index.html

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Eclipse Calculator: A New Application To Simulate Eclipses On Your Mobile, Developed At The UB

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Which future eclipses will be visible from my location? How will they be like? How long will they last? These are some of the questions answered by the new application Eclipse Calculator, designed for Android mobiles by the researcher from the UB Eduard Masana.

It is a new appealing tool for those who love astronomy; it is easy to use and it provides information about all solar and lunar eclipses or planetary transits from 1900 to 2100. The application, public and free, can be downloaded from the Google Play website (https://play.google.com/store). At first, it has been developed in Catalan, Spanish and English, but it is planned to translate it to other languages.

Full Story: http://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2013/01/041.html

IMAGE RELEASE: A Microquasar Makes A Giant Manatee Nebula

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Top Credits: NRAO/AUI/NSF, K. Golap, M. Goss; NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE) Bottom Credit: Tracy Colson

Top Credits: NRAO/AUI/NSF, K. Golap, M. Goss; NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE) Bottom Credit: Tracy Colson

A new view of a 20,000-year old supernova remnant demonstrates the upgraded imaging power of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and provides more clues to the history of this giant cloud that resembles a beloved endangered species, the Florida Manatee. W50 is one of the largest supernova remnants ever viewed by the VLA. At nearly 700 light years across, it covers two degrees on the sky – that’s the span of four full Moons!

The enormous W50 cloud formed when a giant star, 18,000 light years away in the constellation of Aquila, exploded as a supernova around twenty thousand years ago, sending its outer gases flying outward in an expanding bubble. The remaining, gravitationally-crushed relic of that giant star, most likely a black hole, feeds on gas from a very close, companion star. The cannibalized gas collects in a disk around the black hole. The disk and black hole’s network of powerful magnetic field lines acts like an enormous railroad system to snag charged particles out of the disk and channel them outward in powerful jets traveling at nearly the speed of light. This system of a black hole and its feeder star shines brightly in both radio waves and X-rays and is known collectively as the SS433 microquasar.

Full Story and Image Links: https://www.nrao.edu/pr/2013/w50/

Titan Gets A Dune ‘Makeover’

January 20, 2013 1 comment

A relatively "fresh" crater called Sinlap (left) and an extremely degraded crater called Soi (right). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/GSFC

A relatively “fresh” crater called Sinlap (left) and an extremely degraded crater called Soi (right). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/GSFC

Titan’s siblings must be jealous. While most of Saturn’s moons display their ancient faces pockmarked by thousands of craters, Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – may look much younger than it really is because its craters are getting erased. Dunes of exotic, hydrocarbon sand are slowly but steadily filling in its craters, according to new research using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

“Most of the Saturnian satellites – Titan’s siblings – have thousands and thousands of craters on their surface. So far on Titan, of the 50 percent of the surface that we’ve seen in high resolution, we’ve only found about 60 craters,” said Catherine Neish, a Cassini radar team associate based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “It’s possible that there are many more craters on Titan, but they are not visible from space because they are so eroded. We typically estimate the age of a planet’s surface by counting the number of craters on it (more craters means an older surface). But if processes like stream erosion or drifting sand dunes are filling them in, it’s possible that the surface is much older that it appears.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-024

NASA’S Webb Telescope Team Completes Optical Milestone

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Engineers working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope met another milestone recently with they completed performance testing on the observatory’s aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp’s facilities in Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system.

“Completing Aft Optics System performance testing is significant because it means all of the telescope’s mirror systems are ready for integration and testing,” said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Since last May, the AOS has undergone a series of thermal, vibration and cryogenic testing to demonstrate that it can withstand the rigorous vibration environment of the rocket launch and remain precisely aligned in order to function at the extremely cold temperatures in space.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/news/aft-optics.html
Also: http://www.ballaerospace.com/page.jsp?page=30&id=511

Reull Vallis: A River Ran Through It

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

ESA’s Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year.

Reull Vallis, the river-like structure in these images, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin.

This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side.

The new Mars Express images show a region of Reull Vallis at a point where the channel is almost 7 km wide and 300 m deep.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Reull_Vallis_a_river_ran_through_it