Space Calendar February 29 – March 6 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for February 29 – March 6 2012. 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.

NASA’s Spitzer Finds Solid Buckyballs in Space

NASA's Spitzer Finds Solid Buckyballs in Space

PASADENA, Calif. — Astronomers using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have, for the first time, discovered buckyballs in a solid form in space. Prior to this discovery, the microscopic carbon spheres had been found only in gas form in the cosmos.

Formally named buckministerfullerene, buckyballs are named after their resemblance to the late architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes. They are made up of 60 carbon atoms arranged into a hollow sphere, like a soccer ball. Their unusual structure makes them ideal candidates for electrical and chemical applications on Earth, including superconducting materials, medicines, water purification and armor.

Hubble Reveals a New Type of Planet

Hubble Reveals a New Type of Planet

Our solar system contains three types of planets: rocky, terrestrial worlds (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn), and ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). Planets orbiting distant stars come in an even wider variety, including lava worlds and “hot Jupiters.”

Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have added a new type of planet to the mix. By analyzing the previously discovered world GJ1214b, astronomer Zachory Berta (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and colleagues proved that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere.

“GJ1214b is like no planet we know of,” said Berta. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

NASA’s Hubble Reveals a New Class of Extrasolar Planet

NASA's Hubble Reveals a New Class of Extrasolar Planet

Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have come up with a new class of planet, a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. It’s smaller than Uranus but larger than Earth.

Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and colleagues made the observations of the planet GJ1214b.

“GJ1214b is like no planet we know of,” Berta said. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”

The ground-based MEarth Project, led by CfA’s David Charbonneau, discovered GJ1214b in 2009. This super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost seven times as much. It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 1.3 million miles, giving it an estimated temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. However, their observations could also be explained by the presence of a planet-enshrouding haze in GJ1214b’s atmosphere.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar February 22 – February 28 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for February 22 – February 28 2012. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

NASA’s Hubble Spots a Relic from a Shredded Galaxy

NASA's Hubble Spots a Relic from a Shredded Galaxy

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope may have found evidence for a cluster of young, blue stars encircling one of the first intermediate-mass black holes ever discovered. Astronomers believe the black hole may once have been at the core of a now-disintegrated unseen dwarf galaxy. The discovery of the black hole and the possible star cluster has important implications for understanding the evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies.

Astronomers know how massive stars collapse to form black holes but it is not clear how supermassive black holes, which weigh billions of times the mass of our Sun, form in the cores of galaxies. One idea is that supermassive black holes may build up through the merger of smaller black holes.

Sean Farrell of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy in Australia discovered a middleweight black hole in 2009 using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope. Known as HLX-1 (Hyper-Luminous X-ray source 1), the black hole has an estimated weight of about 20,000 solar masses. It lies towards the edge of the galaxy ESO 243-49, 290 million light-years from Earth.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Black Hole Came from a Shredded Galaxy

Black Hole Came from a Shredded Galaxy

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found a cluster of young, blue stars encircling the first intermediate-mass black hole ever discovered. The presence of the star cluster suggests that the black hole was once at the core of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy. The discovery of the black hole and the star cluster has important implications for understanding the evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies.

“For the first time, we have evidence on the environment, and thus the origin, of this middle-weight black hole,” said Mathieu Servillat, who worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics when this research was conducted.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Astronomers Watch Delayed Broadcast of a Powerful Stellar Eruption

Astronomers Watch Delayed Broadcast of a Powerful Stellar Eruption

Astronomers are watching a delayed broadcast of a spectacular outburst from the unstable, behemoth double-star system Eta Carinae, an event initially seen on Earth nearly 170 years ago.

Dubbed the “Great Eruption,” the outburst first caught the attention of sky watchers in 1837 and was observed through 1858. But astronomers didn’t have sophisticated science instruments to accurately record the star system’s petulant activity.

Luckily for today’s astronomers, some of the light from the eruption took an indirect path to Earth and is just arriving now, providing an opportunity to analyze the outburst in detail. The wayward light was heading in a different direction, away from our planet, when it bounced off dust clouds lingering far from the turbulent stars and was rerouted to Earth, an effect called a “light echo.” Because of its longer path, the light reached Earth 170 years later than the light that arrived directly.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar February 15 – February 21 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for February 15 – February 21 2012. 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.

Space Calendar February 8 – February 14 2012

Space related activities and anniversaries for February 8 – February 14 2012. 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.