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Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration



Phys.org provides the latest news on astronomy and space exploration.



 



Hubble weighs in on mass of three million billion suns

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:22:53 EST

In 2014, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope found that this enormous galaxy cluster contains the mass of a staggering three million billion suns—so it's little wonder that it has earned the nickname of "El Gordo" ("the Fat One" in Spanish)! Known officially as ACT-CLJ0102-4915, it is the largest, hottest, and brightest X-ray galaxy cluster ever discovered in the distant Universe.



Astronomers conduct detailed chemical analysis of eleven globular clusters

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 09:10:09 EST

Astronomers have performed abundance measurements for 11 globular clusters in the galaxies NGC 147, NGC 6822, and Messier 33. The new study, presented January 9 in a paper published on arXiv.org, could improve our knowledge about chemical composition of stellar populations in the universe.



JUICE ground control gets green light to start development of Jupiter operations

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:47:33 EST

ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – JUICE – passed an important milestone, the ground segment requirements review, with flying colours, demonstrating that the teams are on track in the preparation of the spacecraft operations needed to achieve the mission's ambitious science goals.



How massive can neutron stars be?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:11:44 EST

Astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt set a new limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars: They cannot exceed 2.16 solar masses.



Infrared photometric observations reveal insights into the nature of the dwarf nova V2051 Ophiuchi

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 09:10:09 EST

Brazilian astronomers have performed photometric observations of the dwarf nova V2051 Oph during its quiescent period, which revealed important insights into the nature of this object. The results were presented in a paper published January 4 on the arXiv pre-print repository.



The stories behind Aboriginal star names now recognised by the world's astronomical body

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:09:23 EST

Four stars in the night sky have been formally recognised by their Australian Aboriginal names.



Image: Jupiter's colorful cloud belts

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 06:55:27 EST

Colorful swirling cloud belts dominate Jupiter's southern hemisphere in this image captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft.



What stars will hatch from the Tarantula Nebula? NASA's flying observatory seeks to find out

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 13:45:23 EST

To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all stages – from when they're a mass of unformed gas and dust, to their often dynamic end-of-life explosions.



Classified US satellite launched from California after delay

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 05:16:29 EST

A rocket carrying a classified U.S. satellite has blasted off from California.



Virgin Galactic conducts 7th glide test of spacecraft

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 13:33:09 EST

Virgin Galactic says the latest glide test of its space tourism rocket plane was a success, nearly reaching the speed of sound high over California.



Augmented reality 'sandbox' shows how gravity works

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 10:04:53 EST

At the University of Iowa, you can see how gravity works by playing in the sand.



Is the cosmic colossus RCS2J2327 heavier than allowed?

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:05:29 EST

An international team of scientists led by researchers from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy has mapped the mass distribution in a distant galaxy cluster (RCS2J2327). This cosmic colossus is located in the constellation Pisces at a distance of approximately 6.4 billion light years. According to current research results it consists of about 85 percent invisible dark matter.



Nature article turns theory of stellar evolution upside-down

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:50:02 EST

This week, Nature published an article that could challenge the theory of stellar evolution.



Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:20:02 EST

Statistical analysis of supermassive black holes suggests that the spin of the black hole may play a role in the generation of powerful high-speed jets blasting radio waves and other radiation across the universe.



GeoCarb—a new view of carbon over the Americas

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 07:50:52 EST

A new NASA Earth science mission in the early stages of design may achieve a transformational advance in our understanding of the global carbon cycle by mapping concentrations of key carbon gases from a new vantage point: geostationary orbit. Satellites in geostationary orbit travel at the same speed as Earth's rotation, allowing them to remain over the same place on Earth's surface at all times.



India launches rocket carrying dozens of satellites

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 02:56:41 EST

India launched a rocket carrying dozens of satellites from India and six other countries Friday from its island space center.



Pentagon mum on fate of secret satellite

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 17:54:36 EST

The mystery surrounding the fate of a secret military satellite deepened Thursday when the Pentagon refused to answer even simple questions about whether the mission to launch it had gone awry.



Hubble and Spitzer team up to find magnified and stretched out image of distant galaxy

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:22:20 EST

An intensive survey deep into the universe by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has yielded the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack: the farthest galaxy yet seen in an image that has been stretched and amplified by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.



Hubble probes the archeology of our Milky Way's ancient hub

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:20:16 EST

For many years, astronomers had a simple view of our Milky Way's central hub, or bulge, as a quiescent place composed of old stars, the earliest homesteaders of our galaxy.



Steep slopes on Mars reveal structure of buried ice

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:08:21 EST

Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have found eight sites where thick deposits of ice beneath Mars' surface are exposed in faces of eroding slopes.



NASA space telescopes provide a 3-D journey through the Orion Nebula

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:01:33 EST

Astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA's Universe of Learning program have combined visible and infrared vision of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to create an unprecedented, three-dimensional, fly-through view of the picturesque Orion Nebula, a nearby star-forming region.



Researchers catch supermassive black hole burping—twice

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:58:25 EST

A team led by CU Boulder researchers has caught a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy snacking on gas and then "burping"—not once, but twice.



Magnetic coil springs accelerate particles on the Sun

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:47:45 EST

In April and July 2014, the Sun emitted three jets of energetic particles into space, that were quite exceptional: the particle flows contained such high amounts of iron and helium-3, a rare variety of helium, as have been observed only few times before. Since these extraordinary events occurred on the backside of our star, they were not discovered immediately. A group of researchers headed by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the Institute for Astrophysics of the University of Göttingen (Germany) present a comprehensive analysis now in the Astrophysical Journal. It is based on data from the twin space probes STEREO A and STEREO B, which – at that time still both operating – were in a favorable observation position behind the Sun at the crucial time. For the first time, the study shows a correlation between helium-3 and iron-rich particle flows and helical eruptions of ultraviolet radiation in the Sun's atmosphere. These could provide the necessary energy to accelerate the particles into space.



Citizen scientists discover five-planet system

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:42:22 EST

In its search for exoplanets—planets outside of our solar system—NASA's Kepler telescope trails behind Earth, measuring the brightness of stars that may potentially host planets. The instrument identifies potential planets around other stars by looking for dips in the brightness of the stars that occur when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. Typically, computer programs flag the stars with these brightness dips, then astronomers look at each one and decide whether or not they truly could host a planet candidate.



Possible lava tube skylights discovered near the North Pole of the Moon

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:37:22 EST

The SETI Institute and the Mars Institute announced today the discovery of small pits in a large crater near the North Pole of the Moon, which may be entrances to an underground network of lava tubes. The pits were identified through analysis of imaging data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). If water ice is present, these potential lava tube entrances or "skylights" might allow future explorers easier access to subsurface ice, and therefore water, than if they had to excavate the gritty ice-rich "regolith" (surface rubble) at the actual lunar poles.



GBT detection unlocks exploration of 'aromatic' interstellar chemistry

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:34:39 EST

Astronomers had a mystery on their hands. No matter where they looked, from inside the Milky Way to distant galaxies, they observed a puzzling glow of infrared light. This faint cosmic light, which presents itself as a series of spikes in the infrared spectrum, had no easily identifiable source. It seemed unrelated to any recognizable cosmic feature, like giant interstellar clouds, star-forming regions, or supernova remnants. It was ubiquitous and a bit baffling.



No planets needed: NASA study shows disk patterns can self-generate

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:31:25 EST

When exoplanet scientists first spotted patterns in disks of dust and gas around young stars, they thought newly formed planets might be the cause. But a recent NASA study cautions that there may be another explanation—one that doesn't involve planets at all.



Hubble finds substellar objects in the Orion Nebula

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:29:23 EST

Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to peer deep into the vast stellar nursery called the Orion Nebula, astronomers searched for small, faint bodies. What they found was the largest population yet of brown dwarfs—objects that are more massive than planets but do not shine like stars. Researchers identified 17 brown dwarf companions to red dwarf stars, one brown dwarf pair, and one brown dwarf with a planetary companion. They also found three giant planets, including a binary system where two planets orbit each other in the absence of a parent star. This survey could only be done with Hubble's exceptional resolution and infrared sensitivity.



NASA team first to demonstrate X-ray navigation in space

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 12:49:07 EST

In a technology first, a team of NASA engineers has demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space—a capability that could revolutionize NASA's ability in the future to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond.



Image: China's space station Tiangong-1

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 09:41:44 EST

This vivid image shows China's space station Tiangong-1 – the name means 'heavenly palace' – and was captured by French astrophotographer Alain Figer on 27 November 2017. It was taken from a ski area in the Hautes-Alpes region of southeast France as the station passed overhead near dusk.