Up, Up And Away -- To VenusResearchers hope to learn more about climate changes here on Earth by studying Venus. A prototype balloon could eventually study the planet's surface and examine its atmosphere and the bizarre winds and chemistry within it. A team of JPL, ILC Dover and NASA Wallops Flight Facility engineers designed, fabricated and tested the balloon.
Slightly smaller than Earth, Venus is often regarded as Earth's sister planet. Both have similar densities,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/3/2007 11:39:13 AM)
Method For Probing Exotic MatterAstronomers using XMM-Newton and Suzaku have seen Einstein's predicted distortion of space-time and pioneered a ground-breaking technique for determining the properties of neutron stars.
ESA's XMM-Newton and the JAXA/NASA Suzaku X-ray observatories have been used to see the distortion of space-time around three neutron stars. These objects contain the densest observable matter in the Universe.
Neutron stars cram more than a Sun's worth of........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/27/2007 9:12:02 PM)
Software Coordinates 19 MirrorsResearchers and engineers have created and successfully tested a set of algorithms and software programs which are designed to enable the 19 individual mirrors comprising NASA's powerful James Webb Space Telescope to function as one very sensitive telescope.
NASA scientists will present findings on these algorithms and software programs, called the "Wavefront Sensing and Controls" at the Optics and Photonics meeting of the Society for........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/25/2007 7:24:56 AM)
Gaping Hole In The UniverseUniversity of Minnesota astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious, unseen dark matter. While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all.
Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/23/2007 10:09:13 PM)
Dark matter mystery deepensAstronomers have discovered a chaotic scene unlike any witnessed before in a cosmic train wreck between giant galaxy clusters. NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical telescopes revealed a dark matter core that was mostly devoid of galaxies, which may pose problems for current theories of dark matter behavior.
"These results challenge our understanding of the way clusters merge," said Dr. Andisheh Mahdavi of the University of Victoria,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/16/2007 9:29:33 PM)
Star Caught SmokingUsing ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer, astronomers from France and Brazil have detected a huge cloud of dust around a star. This observation is further evidence for the theory that such stellar puffs are the cause of the repeated extreme dimming of the star.
R Coronae Borealis stars are supergiants exhibiting erratic variability. Named after the first star that showed such behaviour , they are more than 50 times larger than our........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/3/2007 10:22:04 PM)
Japanese and NASA Satellites Unveil New Type of Active GalaxyAn international team of astronomers using NASA's Swift satellite and the Japanese/U.S. Suzaku X-ray observatory has discovered a new class of active galactic nuclei (AGN).
By now, you'd believe that astronomers would have found all the different classes of AGN - extraordinarily energetic cores of galaxies powered by accreting supermassive black holes. AGN such as quasars, blazars, and Seyfert galaxies are among the most luminous objects in........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/30/2007 8:04:23 PM)
An Ice Machine in the Ultimate Deep FreezeFrigid geysers spewing material up through cracks in the crust of Pluto's companion Charon and recoating parts of its surface in ice crystals could be making this distant world into the equivalent of an outer solar system ice machine.
Evidence for these ice deposits comes from high-resolution spectra obtained using the Gemini Observatory's Adaptive Optics system, ALTAIR coupled with the near-infrared instrument NIRI. The observations, made........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/18/2007 7:29:49 PM)
Images from AKARIAKARI's Far Infrared Surveyor (FIS) instrument also observed the Milky Way and the Orion region. In this image, two views at visual light (left) and infrared light (right) are juxtaposed, both covering a region of about 30x40 square degrees. AKARI's view is taken at 140 micrometres. For the first time ever, AKARI provided coverage of the Orion region at infrared wavelengths longer than 100 micrometres at such fine resolution.
The right side........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/12/2007 10:56:57 PM)
Giant Outer Extrasolar Planets Are RareAstronomers who used powerful telescopes in Arizona and Chile in a survey for planets around nearby stars have discovered that extrasolar planets more massive than Jupiter are extremely rare in other outer solar systems.
University of Arizona astronomers and their collaborators from the European Southern Observatory, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Italy's Arcetri Observatory, the W.M. Keck Observatory and the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/12/2007 5:40:33 AM)
Stellar fireworks through Hubble's eyesNearly 12.5 million light-years away, in the dwarf galaxy NGC 4449, stellar fireworks on display have been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
NGC 4449 belongs to a group of galaxies in the constellation Canes Venatici, 'the Hunting Dogs'. Astronomers believe that NGC 4449's episode of star formation has been influenced by interactions with several of its neighbours. It is likely that the current widespread starburst was triggered by........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/4/2007 5:02:23 AM)
Tectonic signatures at Aeolis MensaeThe High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board Mars Express has provided snapshots of the Aeolis Mensae region. This area, well known for its wind-eroded features, lies on a tectonic transition zone, characterised by incised valleys and unexplained linear features.
Illuminated by the Sun from the west (right side in the image), the pictures are of a ground resolution of approximately 13 metres per pixel. The region, imaged on 26 and 29........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/3/2007 5:15:09 AM)
Neutron stars join the black hole jet setNASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed an X-ray jet blasting away from a neutron star in a binary system. This discovery may help astronomers understand how neutron stars as well as black holes can generate powerful beams of relativistic particles.
The jet was found in Circinus X-1, a system where a neutron star is in orbit around a star several times the mass of the Sun, about 20,000 light years from Earth. A neutron star is an........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/27/2007 7:07:21 PM)
NASA's Swift Sees Double Supernova in GalaxyIn just the past six weeks, two supernovae have flared up in an obscure galaxy in the constellation Hercules. Never before have astronomers observed two of these powerful stellar explosions occurring in the same galaxy so close together in time.
The galaxy, known as MCG +05-43-16, is 380 million light-years from Earth. Until this year, astronomers had never sighted a supernova popping off in this stellar congregation. A supernova is an........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/27/2007 6:03:24 AM)
New Technique for Observing Faint CompanionsObserving the image of a faint object that lies close to a star is a demanding task as the object is generally hidden in the glare of the star. Characterising this object, by taking spectra, is an even harder challenge. Still, thanks to ingenious researchers and a new ESO imaging spectrograph, this is now feasible, paving the way to an eldorado of a number of new thrilling discoveries.
These very high contrast observations are fundamental........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/20/2007 10:17:33 AM)
Gazing up at the Man in the Star?Using a suite of four telescopes, astronomers have captured an image of Altair, one of the closest stars to our own and a fixture in the summer sky.
While astronomers have recently imaged a few of the enormous, dying, red-giant stars, this is the first time anyone has seen the surface of a relatively tiny hydrogen-burning star like our own sun.
"The galaxy is shaped by the effects of relatively rare but powerful hot, rapidly rotating........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/10/2007 9:20:45 PM)
Breathtaking views of Deuteronilus MensaeThe High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express has captured breathtaking images of the Deuteronilus Mensae region on Mars.
The images were taken on 14 March 2005 during orbit number 1483 of the Mars Express spacecraft with a ground resolution of approximately 29 metres per pixel.
They show the Deuteronilus Mensae region, located on the northern edge of Arabia Terra and bordering the southern highlands and the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/21/2007 12:39:27 PM)
Cracks on EnceladusCracks in the icy surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus open and close daily under the pull of Saturn's gravity, as per new calculations by NASA-sponsored researchers.
"Tides generated by Saturn's gravity could control the timing of eruptions from cracks in the southern hemisphere of Enceladus," said Dr. Terry Hurford of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Hurford is lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Nature May........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/16/2007 10:39:21 PM)
Hyper-accurate clocks: the beating heart of GalileoTravellers have relied on accurate timekeeping for navigation since the development of the marine chronometer in the eighteenth century. Galileo, Europe's twenty-first century navigation system, also relies on clocks - but they are millions of times more accurate than those earlier timepieces.
The operational Galileo satellites will carry two types of clocks - passive hydrogen masers and rubidium atomic frequency standards. Each satellite........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 5/10/2007 10:22:18 PM)
Evidence Of Early Martian Volcanic ActivityA plateau on Mars known as Home Plate shows evidence of long-past explosive volcanic activity, say researchers on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission. And data collected during the rover Spirit's initial pass across the 90-meter (295 feet) wide plateau also supports earlier findings indicating that water once existed at or beneath the planet's surface.
"One of the neatest pictures we've taken with the rovers": A false-color image of a........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/9/2007 11:29:44 PM)
Fasten your seat belts, turbulence ahead Ever spilled your drink on an airline due to turbulence? Scientists on both sides of the Atlantic are finding new ways to understand the phenomenon - both on Earth and on Titan.
Turbulence plays an important role in Earth's weather system, and can be more than an inconvenience - hundreds of injuries have occurred on commercial flights due to turbulence. It is studied both in Earth's atmosphere and in that of Saturn's moon, Titan, aided by........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/28/2007 9:44:08 PM)
First Look At Uranus's Rings As They Swing Edge-on To EarthAs the rings of Uranus swing edge-on to Earth - a short-lived view we get only once every 42 years - astronomers observing the event are getting an unprecedented, glare-free view of the rings and the fine dust that permeates them.
The rings were discovered in 1977, so this is the first opportunity astronomers have had to observe a Uranus ring crossing and perhaps to discover a new moon or two.
While the Keck II telescope and the Hubble........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 8/26/2007 10:45:24 AM)
Jupiter: Friend Or Foe?The traditional belief that Jupiter acts as a celestial shield, deflecting asteroids and comets away from the inner Solar System, has been challenged by the first in a series of studies evaluating the impact risk to the Earth posed by different groups of object.
On Friday 24th August at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Dr Jonathan Horner presented a study of the impact hazard posed to Earth by the Centaurs, the parent........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/26/2007 10:35:27 AM)
Catching Some RaysAn international team of scientists has detected low-energy solar neutrinos--subatomic particles produced in the core of the sun--and measured in real-time the rate the particles hit our planet.
The scientists also obtained fresh evidence that neutrinos oscillate (transform from one state to another) before arriving at Earth, adding weight to present theories about the nature of neutrinos and the inner workings of the sun and other stars.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/21/2007 5:46:47 PM)
Where chemistry happens for the very first timePicture a cool place, teeming with a multitude of hot bodies twirling about in rapidly changing formations of singles and couples, partners and groups, constantly dissolving and reforming.
If you were thinking of the dance floor in a modern nightclub, think again.
It's a description of the shells around dying stars, the place where newly formed elements make compounds and life takes off, said Katharina Lodders, Ph.D., research associate........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/7/2007 10:35:19 PM)
Monster galaxy pileup sightedNew Haven, Conn. Four galaxies are slamming into each other and kicking up billions of stars in one of the largest cosmic smash-ups ever observed.
The clashing galaxies, spotted by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the WIYN Telescope, will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way. This rare sighting provides an unprecedented look at how the most massive galaxies in the universe form.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/6/2007 5:26:41 PM)
Astronaut tosses junk from space stationVia Associated Press - Quoted - A spacewalking astronaut did some massive housecleaning at the international space station Monday, tossing out a camera mounting and an ammonia tank weighing more than half a ton. The outdated equipment was no longer needed and joined more than 9,000 pieces of orbital debris already being tracked from Earth.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/24/2007 10:02:17 PM)
First Step Towards Universal Colonization?After leaving their mark all over the world, it is now time for the human beings to find a place elsewhere to accommodate gradually growing community and cater their needs. This time NASA plans to colonize Mars, by means of plantation on the planet and make the place habitable for humans.
NASA scientists are examining a high altitude pine forest in a Mexican volcano Pico de Orizaba in order to find the practicalities of colonizing Mars.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/24/2007 10:02:13 PM)
False-colour CompositeThis false-colour composite was obtained by AKARI's Far Infrared Surveyor (FIS) instrument at 90 and 140 micrometres. It shows star-forming regions in the constellation Cygnus, one of the brightest regions in the Milky Way. The image covers 7.6 x 10.0 square degrees.
This region is in a direction along the so-called 'Orion arm', one of the spiral arms of our Galaxy. A number of objects at distances of three thousand to ten thousand light........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/12/2007 10:54:26 PM)
Characterizing Density Wave Features In a paper published in The Astronomical Journal (133:2584-2606, June 2007) Dr. Xiaolei Zhang, of the Naval Research Laboratory, and Dr. Ronald J. Buta, of the University of Alabama, report that they have developed an accurate and widely-applicable method for characterizing density wave features in galaxies. These density waves appear as high-density regions in galaxies in the forms of spirals, bars, and rings. Orbiting stars and gas stream in........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/10/2007 5:32:40 AM)
The Origin Of GalaxiesThe Origin of Galaxies remains one of the big questions in astrophysics, primarily because births of the first galaxies is largely hidden by (astrophysical) dust, tiny fragments of solid material in interstellar space. This dust hides the fundamental processes responsible for galaxy formation from traditional optical telescopes, as much of the optical light generated by the stars forming in the first galaxies is absorbed by the dust. However,........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 7/4/2007 4:56:37 AM)
What happened before the Big Bang?New discoveries about another universe whose collapse appears to have given birth to the one we live in today will be announced in the early on-line edition of the journal Nature Physics on 1 July 2007 and would be reported in the August 2007 issue of the journal's print edition. "My paper introduces a new mathematical model that we can use to derive new details about the properties of a quantum state as it travels through the Big Bounce,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/3/2007 5:07:01 AM)
Satellites Discovered ‘Twilight ZoneScientists seem to be satisfied with all their findings about the clouds and the sun and their mutual links and contributions towards the environment. They are now trying to go a step forward trying to find out, whats happening up there in between the clouds and the sun.
To the surprise of both the researchers in U.S. and Israeli, they have discovered a in the area between clouds and the sun, which are said to be made of particles that are........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/29/2007 5:32:53 AM)
Plant Life On Extrasolar Earthlike PlanetsWhen we think of extrasolar Earth-like planets, the first tendency is to imagine weird creatures like Jar Jar Binks, Chewbacca, and, if those are not bizarre enough, maybe even the pointy-eared Vulcan, Spock, of Star Trek fame.
But scientists seeking clues to life on extrasolar planets are studying various biosignatures found in the light spectrum leaking out to Earth to speculate on something more basic and essential than the musical........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/20/2007 11:06:39 AM)
Planetary And Extrasolar Planet AtmospheresThe world is abuzz with the discovery of an extrasolar, Earth-like planet around the star Gliese 581 that is relatively close to our Earth at 20 light years away in the constellation Libra.
Bruce Fegley, Jr., Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has worked on computer models that can provide hints to what comprises the atmosphere of such planets and better-known celestial........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 6/20/2007 11:03:34 AM)
Gearing Up For Mercury Mission Flyby Of Venus University of Colorado at Boulder scientists will scan Venus during a spacecraft flyby this week using an $8.7 million instrument they designed and built for NASA's MESSENGER Mission, launched in 2004 and speeding toward Mercury.
Built by CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the instrument will make measurements of the thick clouds and shrouded surface of Venus during the June 5th flyby, said LASP Senior Research........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 6/5/2007 12:19:19 AM)
Cassini 'CAT Scan' maps clumps in Saturn's ringsSaturn's largest and most densely packed ring is composed of dense clumps of particles separated by nearly empty gaps, as per new findings from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
These clumps in Saturn's B ring are neatly organized and constantly colliding, which surprised scientists.
Prior interpretations assumed the ring particles were distributed uniformly and so researchers underestimated the total mass of Saturn's rings. The mass may........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/22/2007 9:42:11 PM)
Two Supermassive Black Holes In Colliding GalaxiesAstronomers, including UC Riversides Gabriela Canalizo, have used powerful adaptive optics technology at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to reveal the precise locations and environments of a pair of supermassive black holes at the center of an ongoing collision between two galaxies 300 million light-years away.
The new observations of the galaxy merger known as NGC 6240 reveal that each of the black holes resides at the center of a........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/17/2007 7:21:26 PM)
U.S. Naval Academy-Built Satellite to Carry NASA ExperimentsResearchers at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are taking advantage of the opportunity to carry promising technologies into orbit for evaluation.
For MidSTAR-2, midshipmen are in the process of developing a satellite bus, which is the main portion of the satellite. It is similar to the prior MidSTAR-1 satellite, which was launched earlier in 2007. The MidSTAR-1 satellite was a highly successful proof of design for the........Go to the Astronomy-news (Added on 5/14/2007 8:56:43 PM)
A New Way To Investigate Exploding StarsESA's X-ray observatory XMM-Newton has revealed a new class of exploding stars - where the X-ray emission 'lives fast and dies young'.
The identification of this particular class of explosions gives astronomers a valuable new constraint to help them model and understand stellar explosions.
Exploding stars called novae remain a puzzle to astronomers. "Modelling these outbursts is very difficult," says Wolfgang Pietsch of the Max Planck........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 5/10/2007 10:19:07 PM)