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Category Archives: Hubble Telescope

Saturn’s weird hexagon has ‘sandwich-like’ layers of hazy mists – Space.com

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:14 pm

There's an extensive system of haze layers in the bizarre hexagon on Saturn, a new study has found.

"Saturn's Hexagon" is a swirling maelstrom at the planet's north pole that, as its name implies, has an odd, hexagonal shape. The hexagon is an ever-present cloud pattern that "stands" as tall as an enormous, whirling tower on the planet. The phenomenon was first discovered in 1980 by NASA's Voyager spacecraft and was later on imaged in exquisite detail by the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited the planet from 2004 to 2017.

Now in a new study, scientists with the Planetary Science Group at the University of Basque Country used images from Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope to show that Saturn's hexagon is more than just a geometric oddity. The feature has its own system of hazes layered on top of one another.

Related: Saturn's weird hexagon storms in stunning photos

In 2015, Cassini's main camera snapped high-resolution images of Saturn that revealed the hazes above the clouds in the hexagon. Fifteen days later, the Hubble telescope also took a look at the planet and its strange hexagon. Using these images, the team was able to understand more about the layers of hexagon hazes spotted by Cassini.

"The Cassini images have enabled us to discover that, just as if a sandwich had been formed, the hexagon has a multi-layered system of at least seven mists that extend from the summit of its clouds to an altitude of more than 300 km [186 miles] above them," Agustn Snchez-Lavega, a professor at the University of Basque Country who led the study, said in a statement. "Other cold worlds, such as Saturn's satellite Titan or the dwarf planet Pluto, also have layers of hazes, but not in such numbers nor as regularly spaced out."

The researchers found that each of these haze layers is approximately between 4.3 and 11 miles (7 and 18 kilometers). The team thinks that because of the drastic freezing temperatures in Saturns atmosphere (which range from minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 292 degrees F (minus 120 degrees Celsius to minus 180 degrees C)) there are likely frozen crystalline particles made up butane, acetylene or even propane in the cloud structure.

Now, this wasn't the first time these hazes have been spotted and studied but, with this work, these researchers have not only studied these layers closer, but they also suggest that the hazes are vertically distributed based on oscillations in density and temperature in Saturn's atmosphere caused by a gravitational pull. "Gravity waves" like this happen on other planets too, even on Earth with jet streams traveling in the atmosphere.

While Saturn's hexagon is still not completely understood, by understanding phenomena like Saturn's hexagon better, researchers hope to better understand not only this strange cloud pattern on Saturn but also atmospheric phenomena that happen here on our home planet, according to the same statement.

This work is detailed here in the May 8 edition of the journal Nature Communications.

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‘What Stars Are Made Of’ tells the life story of the woman behind a stellar science – Space.com

Posted: at 5:14 pm

It was a major scientific scandal: Established astronomers insisted the sun was made of the same mix of elements as Earth's crust, only to have a female graduate student publish a meticulous dissertation arguing that they were entirely wrong, that stars are made primarily of hydrogen.

She was right, and with her 1925 dissertation, Cecilia Payne, later known as Payne-Gaposchkin, earned a place in science history. But her story is still little known, and nearly a century after her stunning research, former journalist and retired banker Donovan Moore stumbled on a painting of Payne-Gaposchkin and fell down a rabbit hole.

The result of this research is his book, "What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin" (Harvard University Press, 2020). Space.com talked with Moore about how the book came to be and why he was so invested in telling Payne-Gaposchkin's story. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Related: Read an excerpt from "What Stars Are Made Of"More: Best space and sci-fi books for 2020

Space.com: How did you decide to write this book?

Donovan Moore: [A friend] arranged to send me the materials from a course that he was auditing at Princeton that was called The Universe. So he sent it to me, and I'm leafing through it, and I get to this page, it has three photographs on the page, no names, just three photographs. I recognized the two men, Aristotle and Newton. Who's the woman, literally on the same page as these eminent scientists?

So I started to poke around as to who she was, and the more I poked, the more intrigued I became. It was this amazingly inspirational story of a woman who had to overcome unbelievable obstacles personal, professional, academic in order to make one of the most fundamental discoveries in all of science, and no one had written a book about her. I decided I would be the person who would write that book.

Space.com: What was the research for this project like?

Moore: I immediately started researching and what I did was I read her memoirs and I pored over old photographs that her daughter, Katherine Haramundanis, she was very helpful to me, she supplied me with the photographs.

I went to Cambridge, England, because that's where Cecilia went to school. And I went to the university there and I spent about a week there and I didn't rent a car, I rented a bicycle because I wanted to see what it was like for Cecilia back in the 1920s. And so I biked all over Cambridge University day and night to the Cavendish Laboratory to Trinity Hall to the Cambridge Observatory, just as she did.

I came back home, I spent a lot of time in the Harvard archives and hired a researcher to help me with that. And finally, after a good bit of that kind of research, I had enough to sit down and write the manuscript. So that's what I did, I just sat down and wrote it.

Related: Meet the unknown female mathematician whose calculations helped discover Pluto

Space.com: You don't have a strong background in astronomy why did you want to write a book about an astronomer, what drew you to Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin as a biography subject?

Moore: I was always interested in science. When I wrote this, I was not a professor and I was not a historian. All I really was was a writer looking for a good story. I wrote it because it was such a compelling story. And so it is, on one level, a very meticulously researched biography.

But on another level, it's really a narrative about the basic human need to understand, to figure out something and to explain it. Cecilia had a relentless need to know, and it's really what drove her. She was derided in class, she was paid poorly. She was denied a teaching credit, she was told she was wrong, all those things. None of that mattered, she just stepped on every obstacle, because she simply had this driving need to understand. So that really puts the book on a whole other level than just a description of someone's life.

Space.com: You cover her education and doctorate in a lot more detail than her later career. Why is that, and could you talk a bit about what she was working on later in life?

Moore: Half of the book is really her time in England and Cambridge. That was [full of] really good examples of what I'm talking about, of having to overcome obstacles. She took physics at the classroom in the Cavendish Laboratory. The head of the lab was Ernest Rutherford, who was a Nobel-winning scientist in chemistry, and he would start off each class looking right at Cecilia.

She was the only woman in the class and, as a woman, she was required to sit in the front row. So he would start every class with ladies and gentlemen looking right at her and all the boys would stamp their feet and howl with laughter. It's that kind of drama that drew me to the story. She had to put up with that. Because she needed to learn, she needed to understand.

Before she even got to Cambridge she was kicked out of school for her need to understand and it kind of flew in the face of the Catholic school that she was in. There's one really nice anecdote in the book about how she asked a London bookbinder to take the writings of Plato, bind them and put on the spine "Holy Bible," so that her teachers would think that she was studying her religion instead of reading Plato.

Related: Trailblazing astronomer Margaret Burbidge, who helped reveal what happens inside stars, dies at 100

It's that kind of anecdotal stuff that really developed her as a person. So that's why I spent a fair amount of time on that part of her life. After she wrote her thesis and was told she was wrong, when in fact she was absolutely correct. Her work after that, [Harlow] Shapley, who ran the Harvard Observatory, he kind of forced her to do more work in classifying variable stars and things like that, which was not quite as interesting, at least to me, as the work that she was doing studying stellar spectra. So I kind of went quickly through that.

After that, when she spirited her husband-to-be out of Germany, that was very interesting.

Space.com: What was your favorite thing you learned about Payne-Gaposchkin and her work while writing the book?

Moore: What I learned was: be careful making judgments. Because she was a little, 24-year-old, 25-year-old woman graduate student. And no one thought someone like that could make the kind of discovery that she made. What was really going on here is that it was a very interesting time in science because physics was just emerging as a form of study. There were these scientists who were taking physics and they were combining it with other disciplines to really make unbelievable discoveries. So, Rutherford, for example, he fused physics with chemistry to understand the nucleus of an atom and Niels Bohr fused physics with the quantum theory to understand the molecular structure and Einstein fused physics with mathematics to produce his theory of relativity.

So what she was doing was fusing physics with astronomy to understand what stars are made of. And that was really the birth of astrophysics. By looking down at these glass plates, she was able to do what centuries of astronomers tried to do by looking up through telescopes. And because she had this knowledge of physics, she was able to peer, so to speak, more deeply into the universe than the established men of science.

They did not have the same training in physics that she did. And so, when she was able to peer more deeply and did make a fundamental discovery, they could not grasp it and they could not believe it. And so they really didn't even follow up on her discovery. Had she been a man, I have no doubt that she would have triggered follow-up research.

It was obviously frustrating for her. She was very careful in her thesis, she wrote "my results are almost certainly not real." She was very careful how she worded it because she wanted it to be known right or wrong, that she was the one to make that discovery. That's very dramatic stuff for a book.

Related: Hubble telescope test inspires changes to combat gender bias in some NASA programs

Space.com: Why do you think this is an important story to tell now?

Moore: I think it's really important for women and young girls in science. The problems that you come across don't care what your gender is, they don't care. They don't care if you're a man or a woman, you're black or white, you're old or young.

What the problem cares about is can your brain wrap itself around what you're trying to figure out and understand it? And that is a very powerful thing, if you think that through. Men also have to read this book and understand that the ability to perceive, to discover, to understand is not gender-specific. I hope that's what comes through in the book.

Space.com: What do you hope people take away from reading the book?

Moore: I would like the book to be perceived, as I said before, as more than just a simple biography. It's really a slice of history that I was describing. And really that need to understand is so it's so ingrained in people and it's so important.

You can buy "What Stars Are Made Of" on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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The Hubble telescope first rocked our universe 30 years ago | The Sky Guy – Tallahassee Democrat

Posted: May 11, 2020 at 10:48 am

Ken Kopczynski, The Sky Guy Published 3:47 p.m. ET May 4, 2020

The Hubble space telescope was the first such device placed in space to orbit the Earth, a great leap forward toward our understanding of the cosmos and revolutionized astronomy.(Photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons)

Last month was the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). It is named for the pioneering astronomer Edwin Hubble who discovered that galaxies were not part of the Milky Way itself but island universes of their own.

Shortly after the HST went into operation on April 24, 1990, it was determined there was something wrong with the mirror. A defect caused the images to be blurry but that didnt stop NASA from using the telescope.

In December 1993 a servicing mission corrected the mirror defect and the blurring was eliminated. Check out this link for a press conference with Senator Mikulski and NASA administrators (www.c-span.org/video/?53735-1/hubble-space-telescope). HST was about to rock the universe.

In July 1994 Hubble captured comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 breaking up and smashing into Jupiter and in November HST scientists released images of the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Dave Granlund editorial cartoon(Photo: USA toDAY Network)

One of the most iconic images from Hubble was the Pillars of Creation showing new born stars coming out of dust cocoons taken in November 1995.

My favorite, mind-blowing image is the Ultra Deep Field released in January 1996. NASA had the Hubble focus on a part of sky devoid of many stars in an area the size of a grain of sand held out at arms length. The camera recorded over 10 straight days. When the images were processed, over 1,500 galaxies were found.

The Eagle Nebula's 'Pillars of Creation.' The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars.(Photo: NASA via AP)

Imagine how many grains of sand held out at arms length it would take the cover the whole sky?

You can view the timeline of the HST at this link: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-history-timeline.

There was at least one downside to the Hubble. The public now expects to see images like from the Hubble when they looked through a telescope. Dont I wish!

Morning sky: Three planets continue to dominate the morning sky: (west to east) Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. As the month begins, Jupiter (the brightest of the three) and Saturn are relatively close together. Both rise around 1:30 in the morning. By the end of the month they will rise before mid-night. Mars doesnt rise until 2-3 am.

Evening sky: The brilliant planet Venus is the brightest object (beside the Sun and the Moon) in the west setting over three hours after sunset as May begins but setting only half-an-hour after by the end of the month. Mercury joins Venus in the evening sky around mid-May.

Due to the coronavirus there will be no public viewings scheduled in May.

4th - 5th: Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaks. Debris from Halleys Comet produce this event. Best viewed in the early morning.

12th: Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn form a triangle in the morning sky.

14th: Moon below right of Mars in the morning sky.

15th: Moon below left of Mars in the morning sky.

18th: TAS monthly meeting is cancelled.

21st: Mercury and Venus conjunction they will be less than a full Moon apart.

23rd: Thin crescent Moon below Venus.

24th: Thin crescent Moon above left of Mercury.

Check out TASs events calendar at http://www.stargazers.org

Ken Kopczynski is president of the Tallahassee Astronomical Society, a local group of amateur astronomers.

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Alien hunters tell NASA where it should point powerful JWST to find ET – Express.co.uk

Posted: at 10:48 am

Powerful cosmos examining tools such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled for launch next year, will be used to analyse the biosignature - traces of life - of planets. NASA will use the tool to look for life in the cosmos, or at least that will be one of its purposes.

Now, research has found the best place to look for biosignatures is on rocky planets orbiting white dwarf stars.

White dwarfs are dead stars which have shrunk down - a fate which awaits our own Sun in about five billion years.

As they shrink, they pull in nearby material. Because white dwarfs are much fainter, scientists can analyse materials without the brightness of a relatively newer star.

What is more is white dwarf stars are typically older than others, logically meaning life has had a better chance to evolve over billions of years.

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A new study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters also stated planets around these stars are more likely to be rocky and Earth-like.

Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, said: "Rocky planets around white dwarfs are intriguing candidates to characterize because their hosts are not much bigger than Earth-size planets.

"We wanted to know if light from a white dwarf - a long-dead star - would allow us to spot life in a planet's atmosphere if it were there.

"If we would find signs of life on planets orbiting under the light of long-dead stars, the next intriguing question would be whether life survived the star's death or started all over again - a second genesis, if you will."

JWST still has to undergo testing before its scheduled launch in 2021, when it will replace the ageing Hubble Telescope as the premier set of eyes on the sky.

Scientists are optimistic the JWST will help unravel the mysteries of the Universe and potentially find alien life.

The infrared machine is so powerful it will reach back to the furthest realms and the earliest moments of space and time.

And the JWST, which is named after NASAs second administrator James Webb who served from 1961 to 1968 and who played a major part in the Apollo missions, has the capability of scanning thousands of planets for alien life even though those planets are thousands of light-years away.

As well as seeing further into space it will accurately measure the content of water, carbon dioxide and other components in the atmosphere of an exoplanet a planet outside of our solar system as well as tell scientists more about the size and distance these planets are from their host stars.

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Hubble telescope’s 30th anniversary was possible because it could be repaired – CBC.ca

Posted: May 4, 2020 at 3:49 am

If it were not for the fact that the Hubble Space Telescope was designed to be repaired and upgraded while in orbit, it would not have reached its 30th anniversary this month. After shaky beginnings that almost doomed the project, it was saved by astronaut servicing missions that repaired and replaced components that enabled it to run for three decades.

Hubble's successor, the much larger and more expensive James Webb Space Telescope, won't have that capacity,so it has to work right the first time.

The idea of putting a telescope into space goes back to 1946 and pioneering astronomer Lyman Spitzer.He first proposed placing a large astronomical telescope above the Earth's atmosphere where it would have a perfectly clear view of the universe, unhindered by clouds, pollution and shimmering air currents that obscure the vision of even the largest telescopes on the ground. Spitzer was instrumental in pushing for the development of the Hubble telescope and a later instrument, the Spitzer Space Telescope was named in his honour.

It was not until the 1970s that Spitzer's dream started to come to fruition. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) collaborated to build the Hubble Space Telescope, which after long delays and cost overruns was finally launched on space shuttle Discovery on April 25,1990.

But as soon as the big eye in the sky saw first light, astronomers on the ground knew something was wrong. The images were nowhere near as sharp as they expected. The telescope was suffering from a condition known as spherical aberration, indicating the 2.4 metre mirror had been ground to the wrong shape and could not focus properly.

Thistrouble with Hubble became an immediate embarrassment for NASA. It looked like a billion dollar boondoggle, a piece of expensive space junk and a scientific failure.

But engineers were able to take advantage of the fact that the telescope was designed with modular components that could be replaced by astronauts for repairs or upgrades. To fix the vision problem, a new set of corrective optics were developed, which were smaller mirrors designed to compensate for the flaw in the main mirror,analogous to the way a pair of glasses gives a nearsighted person distance vision.

In a dramatic space shuttle mission two years later, astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavourused the Canadarm to grab Hubble in space, bring it into the cargo bay and install the new optics during space walks.

It worked. And with its new, clear vision, Hubble began to send back dramatic images of objects right out to the edge of the universe.

Since then, four other servicing missions by astronauts have replaced worn out components such as gyroscopes and solar panels to keep it running, and installed new types of cameras that didn't even exist when Hubble was first designed, making it a much better telescope today than when it was launched. None of this would have been possible if the telescope had not been designed with servicing in mind.

Hubble's new successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, was not designed that way.Nor does NASA have the capacity to launch such a missionwhich might make you worry, since the JWST is a much larger and more complex machine than Hubble was.

In astronomy, size matters. Larger mirrors gather more light and therefore are able to see dimmer objects much farther away. So the new successor to Hubble has a compound mirror 6.5 metres across, giving it more than six times more light gathering power than Hubble.

The problem with a mirror that size is that it's too large to fit inside the nose cone of a rocket. So the Webb mirror is made up of 18 hexagonal segments that fold together for launch, and then laterare supposed to unfurl once in space in a complicated sequence of events like a giant flower blooming.

This is a critical operation. Not only do each of the mirror segments each have to have a perfect shape they must assemble together overall into perfect alignment to give the telescope clear vision. So must other components including a huge sun shield that must expand to the size of a tennis court to protect the telescope from the sun's heat and glare. If all these components do not unfold with microscopic precision, the whole $10 billion US project could be a failure.

And astronauts won't be able to help. The James Webb is not designed to be serviced or repaired, and in fact it will be out of reach.Hubble is in low earth orbit. The new telescope will be positioned in a special spot in space called L-2, a Lagrange Point, where the gravity of the sun, Earth and moon all balance. This parking spot in space is 1.5 million kilometresaway from Earth, beyond the orbit of the moon. That is well beyond the reach of human astronauts.

The launch date of the Webb telescope has been pushed back many times, and is currently set at March 2021. All of NASA's proverbial eggs will be placed into one ESA Ariane Rocket and launched from French Guiana. All eyes will be on that rocket as it carries the most complicated instrument ever built intospace.

If you have been impressed by the amazing discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope over the past 30 years, you ain't seen nothin' yet... if Webb actually works.

All fingers are crossed.

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The non-coronavirus stories you might have missed – World Economic Forum

Posted: at 3:49 am

As coronavirus continues to dominate the news agenda, heres a selection of other stories from around the world.

1. Study shines a light on global insect numbers

Insect populations are not what they used to be. Bugs are declining in number and some species have completely disappeared, representing an ongoing crisis for nature and everything that depends on it.

A new study has looked at data going back to 1925 to get the most comprehensive picture yet of whats happening. While land insects are in a slow decline, freshwater insects are seeing a slow uptick, with an annual increase of about 1%, or potentially 38% growth in the next 30 years.

The scientists dont know the exact reason for these trends, but point to habitat destruction as the most likely cause of declines of insects on land and effective protections in place for those in freshwater.

2. Pentagon releases videos of UFOs

The perennial quest for evidence of UFOs is back in the news, with the release by the US Department of Defense of three declassified videos showing what it describes as unexplained aerial phenomena.

The videos, which had previously been leaked, were filmed by US Navy fighter pilots and show objects hovering, spinning and flying across the Pacific Ocean. With the release, Pentagon sources confirmed the videos are genuine, but stop short of confirming stories on social media linking the UFO to alien spacecraft.

3. Hubble telescope marks 30th birthday with amazing starbirth picture

After three decades in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to capture stunning images of the universe, recently beaming back an incredible picture of a star-forming region 163,000 light years away from Earth.

The image, according to NASA nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef" because it resembles an undersea world, shows a giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbour (NGC 2020). At the centre of NGC 2014 is a group of stars each 10 to 20 times bigger than the sun.

4. Last year was Europes warmest on record

Globally, 2019 was the second warmest on record, the BBC reports, but for Europeans it was the hottest ever.

Europe has seen average temperatures over the past five-year period climb 2C over pre-industrial times, which is twice as high as the 1C global average and exceeds the limit set by the Paris climate agreement.

Agricultural losses are on an unimaginable scale.

Image: Reuters/Baz Ratner

5. Extremely alarming locust infestations in east Africa

Food supplies are under threat in east Africa as swarms of desert locusts infest the region. Gathering in countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, a single swarm can contain up to 150 million insects with a range of 150 kilometres each day, decimating enough food to feed tens of thousands of people.

Called extremely alarming by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the new generation of locusts leave many communities in their path facing an uncertain future. With some countries in the region already on the brink of starvation, looming food shortages could lead to a humanitarian disaster.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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TV tonight: celebrating the Hubble telescope – The Guardian

Posted: April 24, 2020 at 3:02 pm

Hubble: The Wonders of Space Revealed9pm, BBC Two

In orbit since April 1990 and having travelled more than 6.5bn kilometers around Earth, the Hubble telescope has done more than perhaps any other scientific experiment to reveal the extent of our universe. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this fascinating special tells the story of the telescopes launch through a series of dangerous missions, as well as showing its beautifully intricate and mostly unbelievable high-resolution images of space. Ammar Kalia

Its fossils galore in this special examining the rise of our mammalian species in the wake of the asteroid-related destruction of the dinosaurs 66m years ago. We see how the discovery of new fossils in Colorado might hold the secret to our gradual evolution alongside other plants and animals. AK

Its a dream team of celebrity complainers this week. Changing Rooms supremo Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen brings his famous flair to Joes feud with a parcel delivery company and Anneka Rice joins Joe on a search for the UKs disappearing cash machines. Together, theyre like the Avengers. Ellen E Jones

The final episode of this series sees Rob Bell follow the Waverley route from Edinburgh to Carlisle, which closed in 1969. Its closure caused an uproar from residents and now it looks on the verge of coming back as public petitions have made the government reassess. AK

This seasons switch from a glitzy studio set to being beamed from host Nish Kumars spare room has stripped the Mash Report of its Day Today-style absurdity and put a spotlight on some slightly patchy writing. But Kumar and his game cast can still be trusted to squeeze out as many laughs as possible. Graeme Virtue

Jackies in hospital but with the weekly meal in jeopardy, Tracy-Ann Obermans Aunty Val steps up. Sadly, her cooking is suboptimal and shes in a hurry thanks to a date with a sex robot she has met online. Accordingly, the family could do without any interventions from Jim. Still funny, albeit predictably. Phil Harrison

Life of Crime, 11.20pm, BBC TwoJennifer Aniston draws on the slick comic timing of all those Friends episodes to lead Daniel Schechters fun-filled adaptation of Elmore Leonards The Switch. Shes Mickey, the socialite wife of slimy crook Frank (Tim Robbins) who has no intention of paying up when she is held for ransom by bumbling kidnappers Mos Def and John Hawkes. Paul Howlett

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First Exoplanet Discovered by NASAs Hubble Space Telescope Suddenly Disappeared, Where Could It Possibly Go – Science Times

Posted: at 3:02 pm

The distant planet of Fomalhaut b located 25 light-years away from Earth was first caught insight in 2004 and 2006 as a bright, cool dot moving briskly across the sky. Ten years later, that dot suddenly disappeared.

Fomalhaut b, one of the first exoplanets discovered in visible light by NASA's Hubble Telescope disappeared from the night sky in 2014, what could have happened to this planet and where did it go?

Daily Mailhas reported that one of the first planet discovered outside of our solar system is found to be not a planet at all but a giant dust cloud that was formed from the aftermath of two 125-mile icy comets colliding into each other, according to a study.

More than a decade past when the Fomalhaut b, a Saturn-like planet found in the Fomalhaut star system 25 light-years from Earth, was discovered through NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. However, the University of Arizona claims that this was actually not a planet at all.

The image that the Hubble Space Telescope captured was an expanding cloud of fine dust particles shortly after the collision. The team said that an event like this happens once every 200,000 years, and sheds light on how the planets evolve.

Dr. Andras Gaspar of the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona, and the study lead author said that it is exceedingly rare to witness such major discovery. He believes that the observation was made at the right place and at the right time to have witnessed such an unlikely event.

The collision is thought to have happened in the constellation of Pisces Austrinus, about 11 billion miles from the Fomalhaut star which is hotter and 15 times brighter than our star. The solar system of Fomalhaut is said to be the ultimate lab test for how planets destroy each other, said George Rieke of the Steward Observatory.

Read Also: NASA's Juno Space Probe Captures New Breathtaking Images of Jupiter That Looks Like A Stunning Piece of Art

Both Gaspar and Rieke believe that the collision occurred not too long before it was first discovered in 2004 given all the available data. Now, the Hubble cannot detect the debris anymore. The dust cloud is made up of very small particles that is a 5thof the diameter of a human hair.

When Fomalhaut b was first announced in 2008, it was seen clearly and seemed to have a massive ring around it. The characteristics of Fomalhaut b seemed unusual for an exoplanet that should be too small to be seen from Earth.

Moreover, it also does not have any detectable infrared signatures that are expected from a young and bright planet that should be warm enough to shine. Gaspar said that upon analyzing all available archives on Fomalhaut, it reveals that the planet-sized object may never have existed at all.

When finally in 2014, scientists discovered that the planet discovered by the Hubble had vanished. There are some evidences also showing that the object continuously fades over time, something unlikely to happen for a planet.

"Fomalhaut b was doing things a bona fide planet should not be doing," Gaspar said.

The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More: NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Possibly Found Earth 2.0

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First Exoplanet Discovered by NASAs Hubble Space Telescope Suddenly Disappeared, Where Could It Possibly Go - Science Times

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Behold! See the Hubble telescope’s iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’ view in infrared – Space.com

Posted: April 11, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Scientists have revisited one of the most iconic images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, revealing incredible details in infrared light.

The image, dubbed the "Pillars of Creation" in the Eagle Nebula, was taken by Hubble in 1995. The elephant trunk-shaped features in this iconic Hubble image are star-forming regions made up of incredible, monolithic structures of interstellar dust and gas.

This region is located about 6,500 to 7,000 light-years from Earth and is part of the larger region known as the Eagle Nebula, which is a stellar nursery in the constellation Serpens. While the "pillars" stretch about 4 to 5 light-years long, the Eagle Nebula spans a vast 55-70 light-years.

Related: The most amazing Hubble Space Telescope discoveriesMore: Another breathtaking Hubble view of the Pillars Of Creation

The famous image of the "Pillars of Creation," which NASA originally released in 1995, shows the region as seen in visible light, which is the range on the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that the human eye can see. But, in this new view of the "pillars," researchers instead showed them through infrared light, which can pierce through thick clouds to reveal what is lurking behind dust and gas in the foreground.

This new image offers a striking new perspective of what the region looks like within those thick clouds of dust and gas. In this infrared view, you can see a smattering of bright and brilliant stars, even baby stars in this star-forming alcove in the cosmos.

As opposed to Hubble's 1995 image of the region, the "pillars" in this infrared image appear faint and ghostly and are not as prominent as they were in the visible light image. They almost look like shadows in the background, taking a backseat to the brilliant stars in the foreground.

The Eagle Nebula was discovered in 1745 by Swiss astronomer Jean-Philippe Loys de Chseaux. The nebula has an apparent magnitude of 6 (magnitude in astronomy is used as a measure of brightness) and can be observed from Earth with smaller, standard telescopes relatively easily, though larger telescopes would be required to spot the "pillars." The nebula is easiest to spot in the summertime in July.

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Behold! See the Hubble telescope's iconic 'Pillars of Creation' view in infrared - Space.com

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Hubble telescope discovers Galaxy-ripping quasar tsunamis in space – The Next Web

Posted: at 6:56 pm

Quasar tsunamis discovered by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope erupt in the most energetic outflows of material ever seen. This outpouring of energy wrecks havoc with galaxies in which these enigmatic objects reside, altering the evolution of these families of stars.

Quasars are energetic cores of galaxies, composed of supermassive black holes fed by vast quantities of gas, stars, and planets. These bodies are capable of emitting a thousand times as much energy as the entire galaxies which host the bodies.

These quasar winds push material away from the center of the galaxy, accelerating gas and dust at speeds approaching a few percent of the speed of light. The pressure pushes aside material which could otherwise collapse to form newstars, making stellar formation more difficult, reducing the number of new stars formed. This new study shows this process is more widespread than previously believed, altering star formation throughout entiregalaxies.

These outflows are crucial for the understanding of galaxies formation. They are pushing hundreds of solar masses of material each year. The amount of mechanical energy that these outflows carry is up to several hundreds of times higher than the luminosity of the entire Milky Way galaxy, Nahum Arav of Virginia Tech stated.

As the outflow blasts into interstellar material, it heats the medium to millions of degrees, setting thegalaxyalight in X-rays. Energy pours out through the galaxy, producing a fireworks show for anyone capable of seeing it.

Youll get lots of radiation first in X-rays and gamma rays, and afterwards it will percolate to visible and infrared light. Youd get a huge light show, like Christmas trees all over the galaxy, Arav explained.

I saw the whole universe laid out before me, a vast shining machine of indescribable beauty and complexity. Its design was too intricate for me to understand, and I knew I could never begin to grasp more than the smallest idea of its purpose. But I sensed that every part of it, from quark to quasar, was unique and in some mysterious way significant. R. J. Anderson

This study could explain several mysteries in astronomy and cosmology, including why the size of galaxies is related to the mass of thesupermassive black holesat their centers. It may also explain why so few massive galaxies are seen throughout the Cosmos.

Both theoreticians and observers have known for decades that there is some physical process that shuts off star formation in massive galaxies, but the nature of that process has been a mystery. Putting the observed outflows into our simulations solves these outstanding problems in galactic evolution, saidJeremiah Ostriker, a cosmologist at Columbia and Princeton universities not involved with this current study. Below is a 3D animation video ofa quasar by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Outflows from quasars were studied by astronomers using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) attached to theHubble Space Telescope, the only instrument capable of carrying out the needed observations in ultraviolet wavelengths.

A second outflow measured by researchers on this study increased its speed from 69 million kilometers (43 million miles) per hour to 74 million KPH (46 million MPH) over a period of three years. Models suggest that such outflows should have been common in the earlyUniverse. Researchers on this study believe this material will continue to accelerate for the foreseeable future.

Analysis of the data was published in the journalAstrophysical Journal Supplements.

This article was originally published onThe Cosmic Companionby James Maynard, an astronomy journalist, fan of coffee, sci-fi, movies, and creativity. Maynard has been writing about space since he was 10, but hes still not Carl Sagan. The Cosmic Companionsmailing list/podcast. You can read this original piecehere.

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Hubble telescope discovers Galaxy-ripping quasar tsunamis in space - The Next Web

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