Space Calendar November 29 – December 5 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for November 29 – December 5 2010. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Brian Marsden, Eminent Astronomer and Comet/Asteroid Tracker, Dies

Brian Marsden, Eminent Astronomer and Comet/Asteroid Tracker, Dies

Dr. Brian Geoffrey Marsden passed away today at the age of 73 following a prolonged illness. He was a Supervisory Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Director Emeritus of the Minor Planet Center.

“Brian was one of the most influential comet investigators of the twentieth century,” said Charles Alcock, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “and definitely one of the most colorful!”

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Hubble Captures New Life in an Ancient Galaxy

Hubble Captures New Life in an Ancient Galaxy

Elliptical galaxies were once thought to be aging star cities whose star-making heyday was billions of years ago.

But new observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are helping to show that elliptical galaxies still have some youthful vigor left, thanks to encounters with smaller galaxies.

Images of the core of NGC 4150, taken in near-ultraviolet light with the sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), reveal streamers of dust and gas and clumps of young, blue stars that are significantly less than a billion years old. Evidence shows that the star birth was sparked by a merger with a dwarf galaxy.

The new study helps bolster the emerging view that most elliptical galaxies have young stars, bringing new life to old galaxies.

“Elliptical galaxies were thought to have made all of their stars billions of years ago,” says astronomer Mark Crockett of the University of Oxford, leader of the Hubble observations. “They had consumed all their gas to make new stars. Now we are finding evidence of star birth in many elliptical galaxies, fueled mostly by cannibalizing smaller galaxies.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar November 22 – November 28 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for November 22 – November 28 2010. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Astronomers Discover Merging Star Systems that Might Explode

Astronomers Discover Merging Star Systems that Might Explode

Sometimes when you’re looking for one thing, you find something completely different and unexpected. In the scientific endeavor, such serendipity can lead to new discoveries. Today, researchers who found the first hypervelocity stars escaping the Milky Way announced that their search also turned up a dozen double-star systems. Half of those are merging and might explode as supernovae in the astronomically near future.

All of the newfound binary stars consist of two white dwarfs. A white dwarf is the hot, dead core left over when a sun-like star gently puffs off its outer layers as it dies. A white dwarf is incredibly dense, packing as much as a sun’s worth of material into a sphere the size of Earth. A teaspoon of it would weigh more than a ton.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Looking Over Dione’s Wisps

Looking Over Dione's Wisps

The Cassini spacecraft looks across the surface of Saturn’s moon Dione and details the “wispy” terrain first chronicled by Voyager. This fractured terrain covers the trailing hemisphere of Dione (1,123 kilometers, or 698 miles across). See Dione’s Icy Wisps to learn more. This view is centered on terrain at 53 degrees north latitude, 209 degrees west longitude. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 17, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 61,000 kilometers (38,000 miles) from Dione and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 32 degrees. Image scale is 363 meters (1,190 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, 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]

NASA’s Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole

NASA's Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole

Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy.

The black hole could help scientists better understand how massive stars explode, which ones leave behind black holes or neutron stars, and the number of black holes in our galaxy and others.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Detailed Dark Matter Map Yields Clues to Galaxy Cluster Growth

Detailed Dark Matter Map Yields Clues to Galaxy Cluster Growth

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took advantage of a giant cosmic magnifying glass to create one of the sharpest and most detailed maps of dark matter in the universe. Dark matter is an invisible and unknown substance that makes up the bulk of the universe’s mass.

The new dark matter observations may yield new insights into the role of dark energy in the universe’s early formative years. The result suggests that galaxy clusters may have formed earlier than expected, before the push of dark energy inhibited their growth. A mysterious property of space, dark energy fights against the gravitational pull of dark matter. Dark energy pushes galaxies apart from one another by stretching the space between them, thereby suppressing the formation of giant structures called galaxy clusters. One way astronomers can probe this primeval tug-of-war is through mapping the distribution of dark matter in clusters.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar November 15 – November 21 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for November 15 – November 21 2010. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Astronomers Find Giant, Previously Unseen Structure in our Galaxy

Astronomers Find Giant, Previously Unseen Structure in our Galaxy

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way — a finding likened in terms of scale to the discovery of a new continent on Earth. The feature, which spans 50,000 light-years, may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.

“What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center,” said Doug Finkbeiner, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., who first recognized the feature. “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.”

At more than 100 degrees across, the structure spans more than half of the sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus. It may be millions of years old.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]