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Archive for July 24, 2013

NASA’s Spitzer Observes Gas Emission From Comet ISON


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have observed what most likely are strong carbon dioxide emissions from Comet ISON ahead of its anticipated pass through the inner solar system later this year.

Images captured June 13 with Spitzer’s Infrared Array Camera indicate carbon dioxide is slowly and steadily “fizzing” away from the so-called “soda-pop comet,” along with dust, in a tail about 186,400 miles (300,000 kilometers) long.

“We estimate ISON is emitting about 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of what is most likely carbon dioxide gas and about 120 million pounds (54.4 million kilograms) of dust every day,” said Carey Lisse, leader of NASA’s Comet ISON Observation Campaign and a senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. “Previous observations made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission and Deep Impact spacecraft gave us only upper limits for any gas emission from ISON. Thanks to Spitzer, we now know for sure the comet’s distant activity has been powered by gas.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-231

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Team Led By University Of Leicester Sets New Record For Cosmic X-Ray Sightings


Scientists led by the University of Leicester have set a new record for cosmic X-ray sources ever sighted – creating an unprecedented cosmic X-ray catalogue that will provide a valuable resource allowing astronomers to explore the extreme Universe.

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre, led by a team from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, used the University’s ‘ALICE’ supercomputer to help them produce a new X-ray catalogue, dubbed “3XMM”.

This new catalogue contains over half a million X-ray source detections, representing a 50% increase over previous catalogues and is the largest catalogue of X-ray sources ever produced. This vast inventory is also home to some of the rarest and most extreme phenomena in the Universe, such as tidal disruption events – when a black hole swallows another star, producing prodigious outbursts of X-ray emission.

Full Story: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2013/july/team-led-by-university-of-leicester-sets-new-record-for-cosmic-x-ray-sightings

Pawsey Powerhouse Supercomputer Crunches Pre-SKA Data Torrent


High-performance computing specialists from Perth’s International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) today became the first users of one of Australia’s leading supercomputing facilities – the Pawsey Centre – ahead of its official opening later this year.

The recent launch of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) – a radio telescope based in Western Australia’s Mid West – marked the start of an impressive flow of astronomical data that will be stored in the iVEC-managed Pawsey Centre in Kensington for later use by researchers around the world.

“We now have more than 400 megabytes per second of MWA data streaming along the National Broadband Network from the desert 800km away,” said Professor Andreas Wicenec, from The University of Western Australia node of ICRAR.

“To store the Big Data the MWA produces, you’d need almost three 1TB hard drives every two hours,” said Prof Wicenec. “The technical challenge isn’t just in saving the observations but how you then distribute them to astronomers from the MWA team in far-flung places so they can start using it.”

Full Story: http://www.icrar.org/news/news_items/pawsey-powerhouse-supercomputer-crunches-pre-ska-big-data