Hubble Shows Farthest Lensing Galaxy Yields Clues to Early Universe

Hubble Shows Farthest Lensing Galaxy Yields Clues to Early Universe

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have unexpectedly discovered the most distant cosmic magnifying glass, produced by a monster elliptical galaxy. Seen here as it looked 9.6 billion years ago, this monster elliptical galaxy breaks the previous record holder by 200 million years. These “lensing” galaxies are so massive that their gravity bends, magnifies, and distorts light from objects behind them, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.

The object behind the cosmic lens is a tiny spiral galaxy undergoing a rapid burst of star formation. Its light has taken 10.7 billion years to arrive here. Seeing this chance alignment at such a great distance from Earth is a rare find.

Locating more of these distant lensing galaxies will offer insight into how young galaxies in the early universe built themselves up into the massive dark-matter-dominated galaxies of today. Dark matter cannot be seen, but it accounts for the bulk of the universe’s matter.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar July 30 – August 5 2014

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 30 – August 5 2014. 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.

Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets

Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun — and have come up nearly dry.

The three planets, HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b, are between 60 and 900 light-years away. These giant gaseous worlds are so hot, with temperatures between 1,500 and 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that they are ideal candidates for detecting water vapor in their atmospheres.

However, to the surprise of the researchers, the planets surveyed have only one-tenth to one one-thousandth the amount of water predicted by standard planet-formation theories.

“Our water measurement in one of the planets, HD 209458b, is the highest-precision measurement of any chemical compound in a planet outside the solar system, and we can now say with much greater certainty than ever before that we’ve found water in an exoplanet,” said Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, who led the research. “However, the low water abundance we are finding is quite astonishing.”

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar July 23 – July 29 2014

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 23 – July 29 2014. 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 July 16 – July 22 2014

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 16 – July 22 2014. 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.

Hubble Sees Spiral Bridge of Young Stars Between Two Ancient Galaxies

Hubble Sees Spiral Bridge of Young Stars Between Two Ancient Galaxies

Astronomers routinely use the crisp view of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study all kinds of intricate details in galaxy clusters. By now you would think they’ve seen it all — but nature always has new surprises in store.

The latest is an uncanny 100,000-light-year-long structure that looks like a string of pearls twisted into a corkscrew shape that winds around the cores of two colliding galaxies. Astronomers don’t quite know how to explain the origin and ultimate fate of the object, but the answer must be extraordinary, say scientists.

The Slinky-structure’s unique morphology may yield new insights into the formation of stellar superclusters, the merger-driven growth of galaxies, and gas dynamics in the rarely seen merger process of two giant elliptical galaxies.

“We were surprised to find this stunning morphology, which must be very short-lived” (perhaps about 10 million years, which is a fraction of the time it takes for galaxies to merge), said Grant Tremblay of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany. “We’ve long known that the ‘beads on a string’ phenomenon is seen in the arms of spiral galaxies and in tidal bridges between interacting galaxies. However, this particular supercluster arrangement has never been seen before in giant merging elliptical galaxies,” he said. “We have two monsters playing tug-of-war with a necklace, and its ultimate fate is an interesting question in the context of the formation of stellar superclusters and the merger-driven growth of a galaxy’s stellar component.”

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]

Space Calendar July 9 – July 15 2014

Space related activities and anniversaries for July 9 – July 15 2014. 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.

Hubble to Proceed with Full Search for New Horizons Targets

Hubble to Proceed with Full Search for New Horizons Targets

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been given the go-ahead to conduct an intensive search for a suitable outer solar system object that the New Horizons (NH) spacecraft could visit after the probe streaks though the Pluto system in July 2015.

Hubble observations will begin in July and are expected to conclude in August.

Assuming a suitable target is found at the completion of the survey and some follow-up observations are made later in the year, if NASA approves, the New Horizon’s trajectory can be modified in the fall of 2015 to rendezvous with the target Kuiper Belt object (KBO) three to four years later.

The Kuiper Belt is a debris field of icy bodies left over from the solar system’s formation 4.6 billion years ago. Though the belt was hypothesized in a 1951 science paper by astronomer Gerard Kuiper, no Kuiper Belt objects were found until the early 1990s. So far over 1,000 KBOs have been cataloged, though it’s hypothesized many more KBOs exist.

[SOURCE: hubblesite.org]