Archive

Posts Tagged ‘telescope’

Planck spots hot gas bridging galaxy cluster pair

November 22, 2012 1 comment

Planck spots hot gas bridging galaxy cluster pair

 
Galaxy clusters connected by gas bridge

 20 November 2012
ESA’s Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.
 
Planck’s primary task is to capture the most ancient light of the cosmos, the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. As this faint light traverses the Universe, it encounters different types of structure including galaxies and galaxy clusters – assemblies of hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity.

If the CMB light interacts with the hot gas permeating these huge cosmic structures, its energy distribution is modified in a characteristic way, a phenomenon known as the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich (SZ) effect, after the scientists who discovered it.

This effect has already been used by Planck to detect galaxy clusters themselves, but it also provides a way to detect faint filaments of gas that might connect one cluster to another.

In the early Universe, filaments of gaseous matter pervaded the cosmos in a giant web, with clusters eventually forming in the densest nodes.

Much of this tenuous, filamentary gas remains undetected, but astronomers expect that it could most likely be found between interacting galaxy clusters, where the filaments are compressed and heated up, making them easier to spot.

 Read more: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Planck/SEMRT791M9H_0.html

Advertisements

NASA locates most distant galaxy ever discovered

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

The most distant galaxy ever seen in the universe has been detected by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The most distant galaxy ever seen in the universe has been detected by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way Photo: Nasa

By , Science Correspondent

11:58AM GMT 16 Nov 2012

Light from the newly discovered galaxy, which astronomers have named MACS0647-JD, reached Earth after travelling across space for 13.3 billion years.

It provides a window on what the galaxy looked like just 420 million years after the big bang, when the universe was only three per cent of its current age.

The galaxy was detected using an effect known as gravitational lensing, where large clusters of galaxies are used as “natural zoom lenses” to enlarge the appearance of galaxies behind them.

Astronomers were able to detect a hint of light from MACS0647-JD because it was magnified as it passed around an enormous galaxy cluster known as MACS J0647+7015 as it travelled towards Earth.

Thanks to the gravitational force of the cluster, the Hubble telescope was able to detect the light at up to eight times the brightness it otherwise would.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9682959/NASA-locates-most-distant-galaxy-ever-discovered.html

 

Gravitational lens magnifies earliest galaxy yet seen

November 17, 2012 Leave a comment

by  – Nov 17 2012, 8:45pm GTBST

Small galaxy was producing stars only 425 million years after the Big Bang.

 

The contours of the gravitational lens (colored lines) along with the three images of the distant background galaxy (JD1-3).

The Universe’s first galaxies played a key role in shaping the environment in which we now find ourselves. They fostered the formation of the first stars, which died in spectacular explosions that enabled a new generation of smaller stars, orbited by rockier planets. And the galaxies themselves merged and grew, forming the large galaxies and clusters that populate the Universe today. But, despite their critical role in shaping the Universe, we’ve never actually been able to see one of them.

Slowly, that’s changing. The Hubble Deep Field exposures have helped us spot galaxies from the Universe’s early days. But now, a special Hubble project has used an intervening cluster of galaxies as a lens to spot what appears to be the most distant galaxy ever imaged, one that dates from just 425 million years after the Big Bang.

Since it takes light time to reach us from distant corners of the Universe, the further you look, the older the objects you see. The wavelength of the light also gets shifted towards the red by the expansion of the Universe, which stretches it out as it travels. As you get closer to the Big Bang, light that started out in the UV end of the spectrum gets pushed deeper and deeper into the infrared. To make these galaxies even harder to spot, the extreme distance means that very few photons actually make their way to Earth, so these objects are incredibly dim.

Read more: http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/11/gravitational-lens-magnifies-earliest-galaxy-yet-seen/

 

NASA’s Cassini Sees Burp at Saturn After Large Storm

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

These red, orange and green clouds (false color) in Saturn's northern hemisphere indicate the tail end of a  massive storm

These red, orange and green clouds (false color) in Saturn’s northern hemisphere indicate the tail end of a massive storm that started in December 2010. Even after visible signs of the storm started to fade, infrared measurements continued to reveal powerful effects at work in Saturn’s stratosphere. Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
› Full image and caption

October 25, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a rare massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet’s upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought.

Data from Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm’s powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn’s stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit (83 kelvins) above normal. At the same time, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md., detected a huge increase in the amount of ethylene gas, the origin of which is a mystery. Ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas, isn’t typically observed on Saturn. On Earth, it is created by natural and man-made sources.

Goddard scientists describe the unprecedented belch of energy in a paper to be published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

“This temperature spike is so extreme it’s almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn’s atmosphere, which typically is very stable,” said Brigette Hesman, the study’s lead author and a University of Maryland scientist who works at Goddard. “To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you’d be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert.”

Read more: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-335&rn=news.xml&rst=3564

Is NASA about to unveil plans for manned moon mission?

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

by Robert T. Gonzalez at http://io9.com/

Suit up, people — word is we’re heading back to the Moon.

According to space policy expert John Logsdon, there’s a decent chance NASA has already cleared plans to establish a manned base on the far side of the Moon with the Obama administration. Thing is, they’ve probably been keeping it under wraps in the event that Romney had won Tuesday’s election. Now that Obama has secured a second term, Logsdon says an accouncement from the Agency could be forthcoming.

“NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan,” said Logsdon in an interview with SPACE.com’s Mike Wall.

“They’ve been holding off announcing that until after the election,” Logsdon added, noting that NASA’s mission, direction, and budget could have been revised under a Romney administration.

An announcement would certainly gel with the Obama administration’s ambitious agenda for space. In 2010, the President signed the NASA 2010 Authorization Act into law, freeing up close to $60 billion in NASA spending through 2013. This funding would serve as one of the first sparks in a plan to ignite a resurgence in space exploration, including an asteroid visit by 2025 and and a trip to Mars by the 2030s. A manned outpost at the Earth-moon L2 “gateway” — shown in the diagram below — could serve as an important stepping stone in our path out into the solar system.

Is NASA about to unveil plans for manned moon mission?

Read more: http://io9.com/5958867/is-nasa-about-to-unveil-plans-for-manned-moon-mission#13524574961213&{“type”:”iframeUpdated”,”height”:1984}

 

 

NASA’s NuSTAR Spots Flare from Milky Way’s Black Hole

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

ScienceDaily (Oct. 23, 2012) — NASA’s newest set of X-ray eyes in the sky, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), has caught its first look at the giant black hole parked at the center of our galaxy. The observations show the typically mild-mannered black hole during the middle of a flare-up.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured these first, focused views of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy in high-energy X-ray light. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
 

“We got lucky to have captured an outburst from the black hole during our observing campaign,” said Fiona Harrison, the mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “These data will help us better understand the gentle giant at the heart of our galaxy and why it sometimes flares up for a few hours and then returns to slumber.”

The new images can be seen by visiting: http://www.nasa.gov/nustar .

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121023145224.htm

Earth-sized planet found just outside solar system

October 17, 2012 Leave a comment

October 16, 2012 by Seth Borenstein

Earth-sized planet found just outside solar systemEnlargeThis artist’s impression shows the planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Alpha Centauri B is the most brilliant object in the sky and the other dazzling object is Alpha Centauri A. Our own Sun is visible to the upper right. The tiny signal of the planet was found with the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

(Phys.org)—European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system—the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.

Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System—only 4.3 light-years away. It is actually a triple star—a system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, designated Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red component known as Proxima Centauri. Since the nineteenth century astronomers have speculated about orbiting these bodies, the closest possible abodes for life beyond the Solar System, but searches of increasing precision had revealed nothing. Until now.

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-earth-sized-planet-solar.html