Most Massive Stellar Black Hole Ever FoundAn international team, including astronomers from Tel Aviv University, has uncovered the most massive stellar black hole found to date in a binary system.
Reported in the prestigious journal Nature this week, the research was conducted by an international team including Professor Tsevi Mazeh, who is the director of the Sackler Institute of Astronomy at Tel Aviv University and holds the Oren Family Chair of Experimental Physics, and his Ph.D.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/8/2007 9:50:14 PM)
Mars Express Probes Red Planet's Unusual DepositsThe radar system on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter has uncovered new details about some of the most mysterious deposits on Mars: the Medusae Fossae Formation. It has provided the first direct measurement of the depth and electrical properties of these materials, providing new clues about their origin.
The Medusae Fossae Formation consists of enigmatic deposits. Found near the Martian equator along a divide between highlands........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/1/2007 8:20:22 PM)
If We Had No MoonThe Earth has a large moon, making it unique in the inner solar system. The father of the SMART-1 lunar mission, Bernard Foing of the European Space Agency, looks at the effect the Moon has had on the Earth, and explores how different our world would be if we had no planetary companion.So, would life have evolved differently, or even appeared onEarth without the Moon?........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/1/2007 6:53:31 PM)
Hubble spies shells of sparkling starsNew images taken with NASAs Hubble Space Telescope part of a research project led by UC Riversides Gabriela Canalizo have revealed the wild side of an elliptical galaxy, nearly two billion light-years away, that previously had been considered mild-mannered.
The Hubble photos show shells of stars around a bright quasar, known as MC2 1635+119, which dominates the center of the galaxy. The presence of the shells is an indication of a titanic........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/25/2007 10:00:39 PM)
Ancient Salt Deposits in a Martian CraterThe ancient cratered highlands of the southern hemisphere of Mars has an intriguing and complex history as it has been riddled with impact craters and modified by volcanic processes and by the wind.
Additionally, it is one of the most heavily dissected terrains on Mars exhibiting the densest population of valley networks: old dried up channels and valleys that may have been formed by surface runoff, the seepage of ground water, or both.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/24/2007 7:22:20 PM)
Paolo Nespoli to the International Space StationPaolo Nespoli set off on his way to the International Space Station earlier this evening on board NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery. Inside the Shuttle's cargo bay is the Node 2 module, the first European-built module to be permanently attached to the Station.
This evening, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:38 local time (17:38 CEST) and successfully entered low Earth orbit........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/23/2007 9:05:34 PM)
Earth from Space: Birth of an icebergThis animation, comprised of images acquired by Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument, shows the breaking away of a giant iceberg from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. Spanning 34 km in length by 20 km in width, the new iceberg covers an area nearly half the size of Greater London.
The animation highlights the movement in the area between September 2006 and October 2007. The Pine Island Glacier is visible........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/21/2007 10:12:23 PM)
Selecting Next Mars Rover Landing SiteResearchers scouting potential landing sites for NASA's next Mars rover mission are using new data from a powerful mineral-mapping camera to narrow the site selection.
When NASA Mars Program officials and members of the Mars science community gather in California next week to pare down the list of candidate landing sites for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), they can refer to 125 new images from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 10/21/2007 10:03:38 PM)
Cassini on the trail of a runaway mysteryResearchers are on the trail of Iapetus' mysterious dark side, which seems to be home to a bizarre 'runaway' process that is transporting vaporised water ice from the dark areas to the white areas of the Saturnian moon.
This 'thermal segregation' model may explain a number of details of the moon's strange and dramatically two-toned appearance, which have been revealed in exquisite detail in images collected during Cassini's recent close........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/12/2007 5:04:59 AM)
Isotope may add to Venus' greenhouse effectPlanetary researchers on both sides of the Atlantic have tracked down a rare molecule in the atmospheres of both Mars and Venus. The molecule, an exotic form of carbon dioxide, could affect the way the greenhouse mechanism works on Venus.
The discovery is being announced recently at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Societys Division of Planetary Sciences in Orlando, Florida. Its presence could affect the way the greenhouse........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/10/2007 5:56:08 PM)
Pluto-Bound New Horizons Sees ChangesThe voyage of NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft through the Jupiter system earlier this year provided a bird's-eye view of a dynamic planet that has changed since the last close-up looks by NASA spacecraft.
New Horizons passed Jupiter on Feb. 28, riding the planet's gravity to boost its speed and shave three years off its trip to Pluto. It was the eighth spacecraft to visit Jupiter - but a combination of trajectory, timing and........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/9/2007 9:03:01 PM)
Conditions 'Just Right' for Building an EarthAn Earth-like planet is likely forming 424 light-years away in a star system called HD 113766, say astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Researchers have discovered a huge belt of warm dust - enough to build a Mars-size planet or larger - swirling around a distant star that is just slightly more massive than our sun. The dust belt, which they suspect is clumping together into planets, is located in the middle of the system's........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/4/2007 5:05:54 AM)
Extreme star cluster in new Hubble imagesThe gigantic nebula NGC 3603 hosts one of the most prominent, massive, young clusters in the Milky Way. Hubble has been observing this prime location for star formation studies.
NGC 3603 is located in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20 000 light-years from the Solar System.
Images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas. Most of the bright stars in the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/2/2007 10:21:10 PM)
'Embryonic Planets' Forming in Nearby Stellar SystemsAstronomers at the University of Rochester are pointing to three nearby stars they say may hold "embryonic planets"-a missing link in planet-formation theories.
As researchers try to piece together how our own planet came to be, they look to the forming planets of other star systems for clues. But astronomers have been unable to find evidence for one of the key stages of planet development, a period early in the planet's formation when it is........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/1/2007 10:20:00 PM)
Cornucopia of Earth-sized PlanetsIn the Star Wars movies fictional planets are covered with forests, oceans, deserts, and volcanoes. But new models from a team of MIT, NASA, and Carnegie researchers begin to describe an even wider range of Earth-size planets that astronomers might actually be able to find in the near future.
Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Marc Kuchner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Catherine........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/24/2007 10:11:07 PM)
Reading the planetary tea leavesAn international team of astronomers is one step closer to answering the question, "Will the world end with a bang or a whimper?".
Using an array of telescopes around the globe, a team of 23 scientists led by Italian astronomer Dr. Roberto Silvotti of the Observatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte in Naples has spent seven years investigating the pulses of the star V391 Pegasi. This international collaboration has resulted in the discovery of........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/23/2007 11:07:26 AM)
Lift-off for Foton microgravity missionAn unmanned Foton spacecraft, carrying a payload of more than 40 ESA experiments, was successfully launched earlier today. The Soyuz-U launcher lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 13:00 CEST (11:00 GMT).
Nearly 9 minutes later, the Russian Foton-M3 spacecraft separated from the rocket's upper stage and was inserted into a 300 km orbit that will carry it around the Earth once every 90 minutes.
The Foton will spend 12 days........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/18/2007 5:36:27 AM)
Planet That Offers Clues To Earth's FutureAn international team of astronomers that includes Steve Kawaler of Iowa State University has announced the first discovery of a planet orbiting a star near the end of its life.
The announcement, culminating seven years of research, would be reported in the Sept. 13 issue of the journal Nature.
The news provides a preliminary picture of what could be the Earth's destiny in four to five billion years. That's when the sun will exhaust its........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/12/2007 8:04:35 PM)
Bizarre Planet-Mass Object Orbiting Neutron StarUsing NASA's Swift and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellites, astronomers have discovered one of the most bizarre planet-mass objects ever found.
The object's minimum mass is only about 7 times the mass of Jupiter. But instead of orbiting a normal star, this low-mass body orbits a rapidly spinning pulsar. It orbits the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/12/2007 7:00:31 PM)
Elusive Waves In Sun's CoronaResearchers for the first time have observed elusive oscillations in the Sun's corona, known as Alfven waves, that transport energy outward from the surface of the Sun. The discovery is expected to give scientists more insight into the fundamental behavior of solar magnetic fields, eventually leading to a fuller understanding of how the Sun affects Earth and the solar system.
The research, led by Steve Tomczyk of the National Center for........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/3/2007 11:49:30 AM)
Missing Black Hole ReportAstronomers have unmasked hundreds of black holes hiding deep inside dusty galaxies billions of light-years away.
The massive, growing black holes, discovered by NASA's Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes, represent a large fraction of a long-sought missing population. Their discovery implies there were hundreds of millions of additional black holes growing in our young universe, more than doubling the total amount known at that distance.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/1/2007 8:29:06 PM)
A Mighty DuoBlack holes announce the death of a massive star. When such a gas balloon exhausts its hydrogen fuel, it can no longer create any energy. Within seconds, the core of the star collapses under its own weight, while its temperature rises. With the core of the star collapsing in upon itself, a shock wave is generated that speeds outward and sweeps away the outer gas layers. The star flares up as a supernova. What is left is an extremely dense and........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/1/2007 8:13:52 PM)
Supermassive Black Holes Produce Powerful Galaxy-Shaping WindsSupermassive black holes can produce powerful winds that shape a galaxy and determine their own growth, confirms a group of researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology.
The RIT team has, for the first time, observed the vertical launch of rotating winds from glowing disks of gas, known as accretion disks, surrounding supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. The findings are published in the Nov. 1 issue of Nature.
Gas........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/31/2007 7:24:51 PM)
Crew set for first spacewalkTwo astronauts will step out of the International Space Station later today to take part in a six and a half hour spacewalk (Extra Vehicular Activity, EVA) to install the Italian-built Node 2 module, also known as Harmony.
Follow the spacewalk live on NASA TV.
Dressed in American EVA suits, two members of the STS-120 crew, Scott Parazynski and Douglas Wheelock, will start to make their way out of the hatch on the Station's Quest airlock........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/28/2007 4:10:15 PM)
To Catch a Galactic ThiefOn Earth, thieves steal everything from diamonds to art to bags full of money. In space, gas - fuel for making stars - is a commodity worth the price of theft.
New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveal a distant, massive galaxy in the act of ripping off vast reservoirs of gas - the equivalent of one billion suns - from its smaller, neighbor galaxy. The stolen gas, which has become scorching hot during the heist, will likely........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 10/24/2007 7:25:32 PM)
Successful Ariane 5 upper stage engine re-ignitionA successful re-ignition of the Ariane 5 upper stage engine performed during the most recent mission has consolidated Ariane 5's readiness for the launch of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle.
The launch of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which carries supplies to the International Space Station, will require multiple firings of the Ariane 5 ES upper stage engine. In this context, hundreds of re-ignition tests under various........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/22/2007 8:30:26 PM)
Boosting the accuracy of Rosetta's Earth approachCEST, the thrusters of ESA's comet chaser, Rosetta, were fired in a planned, 42-second trajectory correction manoeuvre designed to 'fine tune' the spacecraft's approach to Earth. Rosetta is now approaching Earth for its second planetary swing-by of 2007.
After passing Mars in April 2007, Rosetta is now approaching Earth for the second time - the third of four planetary swing-bys that provide fuel-saving gravitational assists enabling the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/21/2007 10:15:09 PM)
Biggest 'small' black hole discoveredNew Haven, Conn. Discovery of the largest example of a small black hole one formed from the collapse of a single massive star at the end of its lifetime has led researchers to revaluate of how black holes come into being, as per a report in Nature.
The theory we operated with for the last decade was that single-star black holes are formed from the remnants of massive stars the more massive the star, the more massive the remnant. But,........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 10/21/2007 10:04:46 PM)
Heaviest Stellar Black Hole DiscoveredAstronomers have located an exceptionally massive black hole in orbit around a huge companion star. This result has intriguing implications for the evolution and ultimate fate of massive stars.
The black hole is part of a binary system in M33, a nearby galaxy about 3 million light years from Earth. By combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Gemini telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, the mass of the black hole, known as M33........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/17/2007 8:17:16 PM)
Drizzly mornings on XanaduNoted for its bizarre hydrocarbon lakes and frozen methane clouds, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, also appears to have widespread drizzles of methane, as per a team of astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley. New near-infrared images from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii show for the first time a nearly global cloud cover at high elevations and, dreary as it may seem, a widespread........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/11/2007 10:59:35 PM)
Knowing Origin of Cosmic RaysRecent observations from NASA and Japanese X-ray observatories have helped clarify one of the long-standing mysteries in astronomy -- the origin of cosmic rays.
Outer space is a vast shooting gallery of cosmic rays. Discovered in 1912, cosmic rays are not actually rays at all; they are subatomic particles and ions (such as protons and electrons) that zip through space in all directions at near-light speed, with energies tens of thousands of........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/10/2007 4:41:35 AM)
Scientists 'Weigh' Tiny Galaxy Halfway Across UniverseA tiny galaxy, nearly halfway across the universe, the smallest in size and mass known to exist at that distance, has been identified by an international team of researchers led by two from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The researchers used data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. This galaxy is about half the size, and approximately one-tenth the "weight" of the smallest........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/4/2007 9:52:49 PM)
Black holes, galaxies young and old visible in massive mappingColor images documenting the past 10 billion years of galactic evolution were distributed online this week as part of the first public release of data from a massive project to map a distant region of the universe that combines the efforts of nearly 100 scientists from around the world, including the University of Pittsburgh.
Scientists in the All-wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey, or AEGIS, observed the same small region........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/4/2007 4:55:02 AM)
Titan's icy climate mimics Earth's tropicsIf space travelers ever visit Saturn's largest moon, they will find a tropical world where temperatures plunge to minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit, methane rains from the sky and dunes of ice or tar cover the planet's most arid regions. These conditions reflect a cold mirror image of Earth's tropical climate, as per researchers at the University of Chicago.
"You have all these things that are analogous to Earth. At the same time, it's foreign........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/2/2007 10:11:06 PM)
Chance encounter with comet nets surprising resultsComets are made of the most primitive stuff in the solar system. As hunks of rock and ice that never coalesced into more planets, they give scientists clues to the evolution of solar systems.
So a chance encounter between spacecraft Ulysses and Comet McNaught's ion tail has researchers in the University of Michigan's College of Engineering marveling at a stroke of luck and some surprising data.
The NASA/European Space Agency spacecraft is........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/1/2007 9:08:06 PM)
Orphan stars found in long galaxy tailAstronomers have found evidence that stars have been forming in a long tail of gas that extends well outside its parent galaxy. This discovery suggests that such "orphan" stars may be much more prevalent than previously thought.
The comet-like tail was observed in X-ray light with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and in optical light with the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope in Chile. The feature extends for more than........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/21/2007 6:46:20 AM)
Carnegie Mellon Building Robot for Lunar ProspectingScientists in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science are building a robotic prospector for NASA that can creep over rocky slopes and then anchor itself as a stable platform for drilling deep into extraterrestrial soils.
Called "Scarab," this four-wheeled robot will never leave the Earth. But it will demonstrate technologies that a lunar rover will need to find concentrations of hydrogen, possibly........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/21/2007 6:38:25 AM)
Life on Mars test successfully launchedKey components of a new approach to discover life on Mars were successfully launched into space Friday as part of a twelve-day, low-Earth orbit experiment to assess their survivability in the space radiation environmenta prelude future journeys to Mars.
The new approach is based on technology similar to that used in pregnancy test kits. The so-called immunoassays are embodied in the Life Marker Chip (LMC) experiment, which has the potential........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/18/2007 5:26:04 AM)
mission to study dark energyNASA and the U.S. Department of Energy should pursue the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) as the first mission in the "Beyond Einstein" program, as per a new report from the National Research Council. Beyond Einstein is NASA's research roadmap for five proposed mission areas to study the most compelling questions at the intersection of physics and astronomy. The committee that wrote the report added that another proposed mission to detect........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/6/2007 9:43:13 PM)
'Heart' of Herschel to be presented to mediaBy the end of 2007, the assembly of the ESA's Herschel far-infrared space observatory - the latest mission to study the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies - will be completed.
ESA and Astrium are jointly inviting the media to a press conference in Friedrichshafen, Gera number of, on 19 September 2007, to hear about this revolutionary spacecraft, its scientific objectives, and to view the very heart of its hardware.
The Herschel........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/4/2007 8:02:38 PM)