Dual Illuminated Enceladus

Dual Illuminated Enceladus

Two light sources illuminate Saturn’s highly reflective moon Enceladus in this image featuring bright rings and the small moon Pandora in the foreground. This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across). Most of the moon is dimly lit by sunlight reflected off Saturn. However, a thin crescent of the moon is lit by sunlight on the moon’s leading hemisphere. Pandora (81 kilometers, or 50 miles across) is visible on the left of the image, orbiting beyond the thin F ring and illuminated by sunlight and Saturnshine. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Enceladus is more distant than the rings in this view. Pandora is on side of the rings nearest Cassini. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 11, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometers (932,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 142 degrees. Image scale is 9 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Exploring the Carina Nebula By Touch

Exploring the Carina Nebula By Touch

The Hubble Space Telescope’s dramatic glimpse of the Carina Nebula, a gigantic cloud of dust and gas bustling with star-making activity, is a glorious feast for the eyes. Energetic young stars are sculpting a fantasy landscape of bubbles, valleys, mountains, and pillars. Now this celestial fantasyland has been brought into view for people who cannot explore the image by sight.

Max Mutchler, a research and instrument scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and Noreen Grice, president of You Can Do Astronomy LLC and author of several tactile astronomy books, have created a touchable image of the Carina Nebula that is engaging for everyone, regardless of their visual ability.

The 17-by-11-inch color image is embossed with lines, slashes, and other markings that correspond to objects in the giant cloud, allowing visually impaired people to feel what they cannot see and form a picture of the nebula in their minds. The image’s design is also useful and intriguing for sighted people who have different learning styles.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: Chandra/Spitzer Image

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: Chandra/Spitzer Image

PASADENA, Calif. — A new image from NASA’s Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes shows the dusty remains of a collapsed star. The dust is flying past and engulfing a nearby family of stars.

“Scientists think the stars in the image are part of a stellar cluster in which a supernova exploded,” said Tea Temin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., who led the study. “The material ejected in the explosion is now blowing past these stars at high velocities.”

It shows the Chandra X-ray Observatory data in blue, and data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in green (shorter wavelength) and red-yellow (longer). The white source near the center of the image is a dense, rapidly rotating neutron star, or pulsar, left behind after a core-collapse supernova explosion. The pulsar generates a wind of high-energy particles — seen in the Chandra data — that expands into the surrounding environment, illuminating the material ejected in the supernova explosion.

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Herschel Crater in 3-D

Herschel Crater in 3-D

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured a three-dimensional view of the large Herschel Crater on Saturn’s moon Mimas during its closest-ever flyby of the moon. Herschel Crater is 130 kilometers (80 miles) wide and covers most of the bottom center of this image. Scientists continue to study this impact basin and its surrounding terrain (see Streaks and Markings on Mimas and Streaked Craters in False-Color). This 3-D view is a color composite mosaic made from 14 different black and white images that were taken from slightly different viewing angles. The images were re-projected to a simple cylindrical projection. The images were combined so that the viewer’s left and right eye, respectively and separately, see a left and right image of the black and white stereo pair when viewed through red-blue glasses. This view is centered on terrain at 11 degrees north latitude, 122 degrees west longitude. This view looks toward the hemisphere of Mimas that leads in its orbit around Saturn. Mimas is 396 kilometers (246 miles) across. North on Mimas is up. The images were taken in visible light with Cassini’s spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 13, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) from Mimas. Image scale is 92 meters (302 feet) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Mimas Three-Quarter Portrait

Mimas Three-Quarter Portrait

Appearing like a cyclops gazing off into space, Saturn’s moon Mimas and its large Herschel Crater are profiled in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Herschel Crater is 130 kilometers, or 80 miles, wide and covers most of the left of this image. Scientists continue to study this impact basin and its surrounding terrain (see PIA12569 and Streaked Craters in False-Color). This view looks toward the hemisphere of Mimas that leads in its orbit around Saturn. Mimas is 396 kilometers (246 miles) across. North on Mimas is up and rotated 13 degrees to the left. The image was taken in visible green light with Cassini’s wide-angle camera on Feb. 13, 2010 during its closest-ever flyby of the moon. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 15,000 kilometers (9,000 miles) from Mimas and at a sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 49 degrees. Image scale is 895 meters (2,937 feet) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Bizarre Temperatures on Mimas

Bizarre Temperatures on Mimas

This figure illustrates the unexpected and bizarre pattern of daytime temperatures found on Saturn’s small inner moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles, in diameter). The data were obtained by the composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during the spacecraft’s closest-ever look at Mimas on Feb. 13, 2010. In the annotated version, the upper left image shows the expected distribution of temperatures. The white sun symbol shows the point where the sun is directly overhead, which is at midday close to the equator. Just as on Earth, the highest temperatures (shown in yellow) were expected to occur after midday, in the early afternoon. The upper right image in the annotated version shows the completely different pattern that Cassini actually saw. Instead of the expected smoothly varying temperatures, this side of Mimas is divided into a warm part (on the left) and a cold part (on the right) with a sharp, v-shaped boundary between them. The warm part has typical temperatures near 92 Kelvin (minus 294 Fahrenheit), while typical temperatures on the cold part are about 77 Kelvin (minus 320 Fahrenheit). The cold part is probably colder because surface materials there have a greater thermal conductivity, so the sun’s energy soaks into the subsurface instead of warming the surface itself. But why conductivity should vary so dramatically across the surface of Mimas is a mystery. The lower two panels in the annotated version compare the temperature map to Mimas’ appearance in ordinary visible light at the time of the observations. The map used to create this image is a mosaic of images taken by Cassini’s imaging science subsystem cameras on previous flybys of Mimas. The cold side includes the giant Herschel Crater, which is a few degrees warmer than its surroundings. It’s not yet known whether Herschel is responsible in some way for the larger region of cold temperatures that surrounds it. The green grid shows latitudes and longitudes on Mimas at 30-degree intervals. Cassini took 85 minutes to make the temperature map, as the spacecraft receded from Mimas. During that time, the distance to Mimas increased from 38,000 to 67,000 kilometers (24,000 to 42,000 miles) and the longitude of the center of Mimas’ disk increased from 128 degrees west to 161 degrees west, due to the moon’s rotation. Because of this changing geometry, the alignment of the temperatures relative to specific features or coordinates on Mimas is shown only approximately. The temperatures were calculated from the brightness of the moon’s infrared heat radiation, measured by CIRS at a wavelength of 12 to 16 microns, and are color coded according to the scale in the lower right of the annotated figure. The unannotated version shows the imaging science subsystem visible-light mosaic of Mimas from previous flybys on the left. The right-hand image shows the new CIRS temperature data mapped on top of the visible-light image. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Hiding Rhea

Hiding Rhea

The moon Rhea moves behind Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, in this “mutual event” imaged by the Cassini spacecraft. Mutual event sequences, in which one moon passes close to or in front of another, help scientists refine their understanding of the orbits of Saturn’s moons. Part of Rhea’s southern hemisphere is also visible here through the haze of Titan’s atmosphere. See Catching Big Sister to watch a movie of a mutual event. Titan has been brightened by a factor of 1.5 relative to Rhea. This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across) and the trailing hemisphere of Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across). The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Titan and from 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Rhea. Image scale in the original image was 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Titan and 27 kilometers (17 miles) per pixel on Rhea. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Bizarre Temperatures on Mimas (not annotated)

Bizarre Temperatures on Mimas (not annotated)

+ Annotated Version This figure illustrates the unexpected and bizarre pattern of daytime temperatures found on Saturn’s small inner moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles, in diameter). The data were obtained by the composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during the spacecraft’s closest-ever look at Mimas on Feb. 13, 2010. In the annotated version, the upper left image shows the expected distribution of temperatures. The white sun symbol shows the point where the sun is directly overhead, which is at midday close to the equator. Just as on Earth, the highest temperatures (shown in yellow) were expected to occur after midday, in the early afternoon. The upper right image in the annotated version shows the completely different pattern that Cassini actually saw. Instead of the expected smoothly varying temperatures, this side of Mimas is divided into a warm part (on the left) and a cold part (on the right) with a sharp, v-shaped boundary between them. The warm part has typical temperatures near 92 Kelvin (minus 294 Fahrenheit), while typical temperatures on the cold part are about 77 Kelvin (minus 320 Fahrenheit). The cold part is probably colder because surface materials there have a greater thermal conductivity, so the sun’s energy soaks into the subsurface instead of warming the surface itself. But why conductivity should vary so dramatically across the surface of Mimas is a mystery. The lower two panels in the annotated version compare the temperature map to Mimas’ appearance in ordinary visible light at the time of the observations. The map used to create this image is a mosaic of images taken by Cassini’s imaging science subsystem cameras on previous flybys of Mimas. The cold side includes the giant Herschel Crater, which is a few degrees warmer than its surroundings. It’s not yet known whether Herschel is responsible in some way for the larger region of cold temperatures that surrounds it. The green grid shows latitudes and longitudes on Mimas at 30-degree intervals. Cassini took 85 minutes to make the temperature map, as the spacecraft receded from Mimas. During that time, the distance to Mimas increased from 38,000 to 67,000 kilometers (24,000 to 42,000 miles) and the longitude of the center of Mimas’ disk increased from 128 degrees west to 161 degrees west, due to the moon’s rotation. Because of this changing geometry, the alignment of the temperatures relative to specific features or coordinates on Mimas is shown only approximately. The temperatures were calculated from the brightness of the moon’s infrared heat radiation, measured by CIRS at a wavelength of 12 to 16 microns, and are color coded according to the scale in the lower right of the annotated figure. The unannotated version shows the imaging science subsystem visible-light mosaic of Mimas from previous flybys on the left. The right-hand image shows the new CIRS temperature data mapped on top of the visible-light image. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

NASA’s Spitzer Unearths Primitive Black Holes

NASA's Spitzer Unearths Primitive Black Holes

Astronomers have come across what appear to be two of the earliest and most primitive supermassive black holes known. The discovery, based largely on observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, will provide a better understanding of the roots of our universe, and how the very first black holes, galaxies and stars came to be.

“We have found what are likely first-generation quasars, born in a dust-free medium and at the earliest stages of evolution,” said Linhua Jiang of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Jiang is the lead author of a paper announcing the findings in the March 18 issue of Nature.

Black holes are beastly distortions of space and time. The most massive and active ones lurk at the cores of galaxies, and are usually surrounded by doughnut-shaped structures of dust and gas that feed and sustain the growing black holes. These hungry, supermassive black holes are called quasars.

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Calypso Close Up

Calypso Close Up

The Cassini spacecraft’s February 2010 encounter with Calypso yielded this incredibly detailed view of this Trojan moon. Irregularly shaped Calypso is one of two Trojan moons of the larger moon Tethys; Calypso trails Tethys in its orbit by 60 degrees. See Colorful Cratered Calypso to learn more about Calypso and its fellow Tethys Trojan, Telesto. Like Telesto, Calypso’s smooth surface does not appear to retain the record of intense cratering that most of Saturn’s other moons possess (see Smooth Surface of Telesto). This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Calypso (21 kilometers, or 13 miles across). North on Calypso is up and rotated 1 degree to the left. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 13, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) from Calypso and at a Sun-Calypso-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 75 degrees. Scale in the original image was 128 meters (420 feet) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]