Largest, brightest supernova ever seenAn exploding star first observed last September is the largest and most luminous supernova ever seen, as per University of California, Berkeley, astronomers, and may be the first example of a type of massive exploding star rare today but probably common in the very early universe.
Unlike typical supernovas that reach a peak brightness in days to a few weeks and then dim into obscurity a few months later, SN2006gy took 70 days to reach full........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/7/2007 11:14:01 PM)
Back to the MoonOf the two luminaries that dominate our sky, it is the moon that is of particular interest to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) project. The LRO will travel to the moon in late fall 2008, mapping the surface to help pave the way for humans to return. It will help prepare us for extended surface exploration on the moon and for subsequent missions to Mars and other distant destinations. Lunar surface exploration will help us to practice........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/24/2007 10:40:00 PM)
Satellites offer sunny outlookFar beyond signaling the days weather, clouds play a key role in regulating and understanding climate. A team of scientists recently completed a project to confirm what NASA satellites are telling us about how changes in clouds can affect climate in the coldest regions on Earth.
Clouds and their traits their temperature, depth, size and shape of their droplets play a significant role in how much of the sun's radiation reaches Earth's........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/24/2007 10:32:43 PM)
Mystery spiral (galaxy) arms explained?Using a quartet of space observatories, University of Maryland astronomers may have cracked a 45-year mystery surrounding two ghostly spiral arms in the galaxy M106.
The Maryland team, led by Yuxuan Yang, took advantage of the unique capabilities of NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope, the European Space Agencys XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, and data obtained almost a decade ago with NASAs Hubble Space Telescope.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/10/2007 8:45:35 PM)
Glimpse Of Future Sentinel-1 Images Over IceIt is perhaps fitting that at the beginning of the International Polar Year, an ambitious airborne campaign is now underway and realising excellent results in the extreme north of Europe. The IceSAR campaign is in support of ESA's Sentinel-1 mission - which amongst other application areas will contribute to ice monitoring.
Carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), the images that.
Sentinel-1 will provide are especially well suited for........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/21/2007 4:53:34 AM)
Global 'sunscreen' has likely thinnedA new NASA study has observed that an important counter-balance to the warming of our planet by greenhouse gases sunlight blocked by dust, pollution and other aerosol particles appears to have lost ground.
The thinning of Earths "sunscreen" of aerosols since the early part of 1990s could have given an extra push to the rise in global surface temperatures. The finding, published recently in the journal Science, may lead to an improved........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 3/15/2007 9:20:10 PM)
THEMIS Weighs In On The Northern LightsInstruments known as solid-state telescopes (SSTs), built with detectors fabricated at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and carried aboard the recently launched THEMIS mission, have delivered their first data on how charged particles in the solar wind interact with Earth's magnetic field to shape the planet's magnetosphere.
THEMIS's principal investigator is Vassilis Angelopoulos of the University of California at Berkeley's Space........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/14/2007 10:30:22 PM)
Spacecraft Gets a Boost from JupiterNASA's New Horizons spacecraft successfully completed a flyby of Jupiter early this morning, using the massive planet's gravity to pick up speed on its 3-billion mile voyage to Pluto and the unexplored Kuiper Belt region beyond.
"We're on our way to Pluto," says New Horizons Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. "The swingby was a success; the spacecraft is on........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 2/28/2007 9:26:41 PM)
Successful Rosetta swingThe European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft successfully completed a swing-by of Mars in the early hours of Sunday morning (25th February 2007). Not only did this mark an important milestone on the spacecraft's 7.1 billion km journey to comet Churyumov Gerasimenko but it provided a unique opportunity to gather further scientific data and images from the Red Planet.
INTA/UPM/DASP/IDAThe critical gravity assist manoeuvre around Mars........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/27/2007 8:45:21 PM)
Watching Sky Through Three Giant EyesThe ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer, which allows astronomers to scrutinise objects with a precision equivalent to that of a 130-m telescope, is proving itself an unequalled success every day. One of the latest instruments installed, AMBER, has led to a flurry of scientific results, an anthology of which is being published this week as special features in the research journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
"With its unique capabilities,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/21/2007 9:13:47 PM)
Our View Of The Gamma-ray SkyIntegral's latest survey of the gamma-ray universe continues to change the way astronomers think of the high-energy cosmos. With over seventy percent of the sky now observed by Integral, astronomers have been able to construct the largest catalogue yet of individual gamma-ray-emitting celestial objects. And there is no end in sight for the discoveries.
Integral is the European Space Agency's latest orbiting gamma-ray observatory. Ever since........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/20/2007 9:00:13 PM)
Formation of aurorasGiant electrical circuits power the magical open-air light show of the auroras, forming arcs in high-latitude regions like Scandinavia. New results obtained thanks to ESA's Cluster satellites provide a new insight into the source of the difference between the two types of electrical circuits currently known to be associated to the auroral arcs.
The deep mechanisms that rule the creation of the beautiful auroras, or polar lights, have been........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/20/2007 8:45:40 PM)
Ulysses scores a hat-trickESA-NASA Ulysses mission has marked another high point in its mission. For the third time in a long and highly successful career, Ulysses has reached its maximum south solar latitude of 80 degrees as it flies over the Sun's southern polar cap.
Launched in 1990, the European-built spacecraft visits both polar regions once every 6.2 years as it circles the Sun in an orbit that is almost perpendicular to the ecliptic, the plane in which the........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 2/20/2007 8:40:38 PM)
Where is Beagle 2?
Go to the Astronomy-news
(Added on 2/19/2007 8:28:05 PM)
Rocket launches from Poker Flat
This morning, a NASA suborbital sounding rocket launched from Poker Flat Research Range into an aurora display over northern Alaska at 3:45 a.m. Alaska Standard Time, allowing scientists to gather more data about the power source behind pulsating auroras.
Marc Lessard of the physics department at the University of New Hampshire was the principle investigator for the experiment to investigate various aspects of pulsating aurora. The 662 pound........Go to the Astronomy-blog
(Added on 2/12/2007 8:49:13 PM)
Closest Gravitational Lensing Galaxy
A giant elliptical galaxy seen in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope is the closest gravitational lens yet known, as per information released by the Hubble Heritage Project.
John Blakeslee, an assistant professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University, working with colleagues from the University of Hawaii and the University of Durham in England, targeted the galaxy for a closer look by Hubble.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog
(Added on 2/8/2007 9:53:33 PM)
Our tempest not even breeze here
Earth's inhabitants are used to temperatures that vary, sometimes greatly, between day and night. New measurements for three planets outside our solar system indicate their temperatures remain fairly constant -- and blazing hot -- from day to night, even though it is likely one side of each planet always faces its sun and the other is in permanent darkness.
The reason apparently is supersonic winds, perhaps as strong as 9,000 miles an hour,........Go to the Astronomy-blog
(Added on 2/5/2007 8:48:49 PM)
Hubble's Main Camera Stops Working
On Saturday 27 January, Hubble's main camera, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), stopped working. Until a solution, at least in part, can be found, Hubble will be returned to work with the remaining instruments.
On Saturday 27 January 2007 at 13:34 CET the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope entered into a protective "safemode" condition, most likely triggered by a short circuit in Hubble's main instrument the Advanced Camera for Surveys........Go to the Astronomy-facts
(Added on 1/30/2007 9:36:05 PM)
The jet stream of Titan
A pair of rare celestial alignments that occurred in November 2003 helped an international team of astronomers investigate the far-off world of Titan. In particular, the alignments helped validate the atmospheric model used to design the entry trajectory for ESA's Huygens probe.
Now the unique results are helping to place the descent of Huygens in a global context, and to investigate the upper layers of Titan's atmosphere.
Occasionally........Go to the Astronomy-news
(Added on 1/24/2007 7:30:26 PM)
The Sun May Have A Dimmer Switch
THERE'S a dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years - exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth. So says a physicist who has created a computer model of our star's core.
Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, modelled the effect of temperature fluctuations in the sun's interior. As per the standard view, the temperature of the sun's core........Go to the Astronomy-blog
(Added on 1/24/2007 5:53:35 PM)
GIOVE-A transmits first navigation messageEarlier this week, GIOVE-A successfully transmitted its first navigation message, containing the information needed by user receivers to calculate their position. Previous to reaching this milestone, the satellite had been broadcasting only the data needed for measuring the receiver-to-satellite distance.
The first Galileo navigation message was created by the navigation signal generator unit on board GIOVE-A, using content prepared by the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/6/2007 5:34:22 PM)
Cosmic LighthousesThe end of a star's life, when the star has become heavy enough, is marked by a huge explosion - a supernova. For a few weeks, a supernova looks almost as bright as a whole galaxy containing billions of stars. Physicists designate the brightest of these supernovae as Type Ia. Their brightness, measured from the Earth, is a measure of their distance from us - but there are several uncertainties. "The question still remains: how suitable are........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/29/2007 7:19:21 PM)
Water In Extrasolar Planet AtmosphereFor the first time, water has been identified in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. Through a combination of previously published Hubble Space Telescope measurements and new theoretical models, Lowell Observatory astronomer Travis Barman has found good evidence for water absorption in the atmosphere of transiting planet HD209458b. This result was recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.
"We now know that water........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/11/2007 9:30:03 PM)
Close-ups Of Extrasolar PlanetsIn July, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft released a probe that blasted a crater in comet Tempel 1, spilling its elements into space so researchers could discover its composition. The assault was justified because comets are believed to be leftovers from the formation of our solar system, so learning more about them helps to understand how our solar system came to be.
Since those fireworks, the spacecraft has cruised silently through space,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/11/2007 9:22:32 PM)
NASA cloud mission April 25 A satellite carrying two University of Colorado at Boulder instruments to study silvery-blue clouds that mysteriously form 50 miles above Earth's polar regions every year is slated to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 25.
The spectacular clouds, known as noctilucent clouds, will be probed by NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere mission, or AIM, to determine why they form and how they change. First spotted in........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 4/10/2007 7:51:14 PM)
Most Energetic Form Of Lightn 2002, when astronomers first detected cosmic gamma rays - the most energetic form of light known - coming from the constellation Cygnus they were surprised and perplexed. The region lacked the extreme electromagnetic fields that they thought were mandatory to produce such energetic rays. But now a team of theoretical physicists propose a mechanism that can explain this mystery and may also help account for another type of cosmic ray, the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/19/2007 9:29:40 PM)
Water Quantity Around Mars South PoleThe amount of water trapped in frozen layers over Mars' south polar region is equivalent to a liquid layer about 11 metres deep covering the planet.
This new estimate comes from mapping the thickness of the dusty ice by the Mars Express radar instrument that has made more than 300 virtual slices through layered deposits covering the pole. The radar sees through icy layers to the lower boundary, which in places is as deep as 3.7 kilometres........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/15/2007 9:15:10 PM)
STEREO panoramic imagesThe latest panoramic images from National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) twin STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft enable researchers to track solar storms from the sun to the Earth for the first time.
"The new view from the STEREO spacecraft will greatly improve our ability to forecast the arrival time of severe space weather," said Dr Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, the........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 3/5/2007 4:43:23 PM)
About The ExtrasolarsSo far, astronomers have discovered about 200 planets outside our solar system, known as "extrasolar" planets. Very little is known about most of them, but for the first time, scientists have obtained new information about the atmospheres of two such planets by splitting apart the light emitted from them.
Sara Seager, MIT associate professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, is part of a research group based at Goddard Space........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/27/2007 8:01:16 PM)
South Pole Telescope achieves first lightScientists aimed the South Pole Telescope at Jupiter on the evening of Feb. 16 and successfully collected the instrument's first test observations. Soon, far more distant quarry will fall under the SPT's sights as a team from nine institutions tackles one of the.
biggest mysteries of modern cosmological research. That mystery: What is dark energy, the force that dominates the universe?
"The telescope, camera and optics are all working as.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/26/2007 7:10:44 PM)
Surprises from the Sun's South PoleEventhough very close to the minimum of its 11-year sunspot cycle, the Sun showed that it is still capable of producing a series of remarkably energetic outbursts - ESA-NASA Ulysses mission revealed.
In keeping with the first and second south polar passes (in 1994 and 2000), the latest high-latitude excursion of the joint ESA-NASA Ulysses mission has already produced some surprises. In mid-December 2006, eventhough very close to the minimum........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 2/20/2007 8:56:20 PM)
Five Spacecraft To The Sun-earth FlotillaThe main scientific objective of THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) is to find what triggers magnetic substorms. This phenomenon corresponds to periods of time during which violent changes happen within the Earth's magnetic environment or magnetosphere. It is triggered at distances from one tenth to half the Earth-Moon distance on the nightside of Earth and hurls energetic particles towards our planet.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/20/2007 8:47:38 PM)
Universe contains more calcium than expectedThe universe contains one and a half times more calcium than previously assumed. This conclusion was drawn by astronomers of the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, after observations with ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory.
This research offers researchers new insights in the formation history of the elemental building blocks of the cosmos in which supernovae play a crucial role.
The iron in our blood, the oxygen we breathe,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/20/2007 8:38:21 PM)
All Set For Mars Swing-byUK researchers from 10 institutions are involved in the instruments on both the Rosetta orbiter and lander some of which will be operating during the flyby. UK industry is also heavily involved in the mission, having provided key components, including the mission control system (SciSys UK Ltd) and the orbit control and propulsion system (EADS Astrium, UK). SciSys staff will be closely monitoring events at ESA's European Space Operations Centre........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/19/2007 8:25:11 PM)
The colourful demise of a Sun-like starA brand new image taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 shows the planetary nebula NGC 2440 - the chaotic structure of the demise of a star.
This image, just taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colourful "last hurrah" of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/13/2007 9:29:05 PM)
Enceladus is a 'cosmic graffiti artist'Astronomers from the University of Virginia and other institutions have observed that Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, is a "cosmic graffiti artist," pelting the surfaces of at least 11 other moons of Saturn with ice particles sprayed from its spewing surface geysers. This ice sandblasts the other moons, creating a reflective surface that makes them among the brightest bodies in the solar system (Enceladus, itself a ball of mostly........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/8/2007 8:46:08 PM)
mammoth cloud engulfing Titan's North PoleA giant cloud half the size of the United States has been imaged on Saturn's moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft. The cloud may be responsible for the material that fills the lakes discovered last year by Cassini's radar instrument.
Cloaked by winter's shadow, this cloud has now come into view as winter turns to spring. The cloud extends down to 60 degrees north latitude, is roughly 2400 kilometers in diameter and engulfs almost the entire........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/4/2007 8:18:47 PM)
Dig Deeper To Find Martian LifeProbes designed to find life on Mars do not drill deep enough to find the living cells that researchers believe may exist well below the surface of Mars, as per research led by UCL (University College London). Eventhough current drills may find essential tell-tale signs that life once existed on Mars, cellular life could not survive the radiation levels for long enough any closer to the surface of Mars than a few metres deep - beyond the reach........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/30/2007 4:36:27 AM)
Corot Sees First Light!In the night between 17 and 18 January 2007, the protective cover of the COROT telescope has been successfully opened, and COROT has seen for the first time light coming from stars.
Surveying vast stellar fields to learn about star interiors and to search for extra-solar planets is the goal of this unique mission, whose scientific observations will officially start at the beginning of February this year.
The first light detected by COROT........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/24/2007 6:42:23 PM)
First 3D map of the Universe's Dark MatterBy analysing the COSMOS survey - the largest ever survey undertaken with Hubble - an international team of researchers has assembled one of the most important results in cosmology: a three-dimensional map that offers a first look at the web-like large-scale distribution of dark matter in the Universe. This historic achievement accurately confirms standard theories of structure formation.
For astronomers, the challenge of mapping the Universe........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 1/15/2007 9:17:44 PM)