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Category Archives: Hubble Telescope

Hubble Telescope spies stormy weather and a shrinking Great Red Spot on Jupiter (video) –

Posted: March 16, 2024 at 10:15 am

The gas giant Jupiter steals the show in these two new portraits of the planet's opposing faces, showing the swirling storms and tumultuous cloud bands blown by winds raging at hundreds of miles per hour.

The Hubble Space Telescope took these images on Jan. 5-6, 2024. Jupiter rotates once every 10 hours, Hubble was able to image one hemisphere with the famous Great Red Spot visible, and wait for the other hemisphere to come into view before imaging that.

The latest images show that Jupiter is currently experiencing some action. "The many large storms and small white clouds are a hallmark of a lot of activity going on in Jupiter's atmosphere right now," said Simon in a press statement.

Related: Mystery of Jupiter's Great Blue Spot deepens with strangely fluctuating jet

Jupiter passed through perihelion its closest point in its orbit around the sun on 21 January 2023, and it seems that a year later the extra solar heating of Jovian summer is still stirring up its atmosphere.

The gas giant's most distinctive feature is its dark and light banding, visible through even a four-inch back-garden telescope. With Hubble's vision, we see every detail of those bands. The lighter bands are called 'zones' and are areas where the atmosphere is rising. The darker bands are referred to as 'belts' and are areas where the atmosphere is sinking. The whole atmosphere is undulating as it rotates around Jupiter, but it doesn't rise or sink too much the clouds are only about 30 miles (50km) deep, which is a shallow layer compared to the rest of the atmosphere that extends tens of thousands of miles deep.

In one hemisphere we can see the famous Great Red Spot, which has been raging for at least nearly 200 years, and quite possibly for much longer if observations by English astronomer Robert Hooke and the Italian Giovanni Cassini and 16645 were of the same storm. However, there's a big question mark over the Great Red Spot's continued longevity, because it is shrinking at an alarming rate.

In the late nineteenth century the Great Red Spot was measured to be about 25,500 miles (41,000 km) across, with enough area to squeeze three Earths inside of it. However, when the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Jupiter in 1979 they measured that the Great Red Spot to be 14,500 miles (23,300 km) in diameter; by 1995, when Hubble viewed Jupiter, its diameter had decreased to 13,020 miles (20,950km).

In 2014 it was 10,250 miles (16,500 km); in 2021 just 9,165 miles (14,750 km); and in November 2023 ace amateur astrophotographer Damian Peach measured it to be 7,770 miles (12,500km). The Great Red Spot has gone from being a huge oval big enough to fit three Earths, to being circular and not even large enough to fit a single Earth (which has a diameter of 7,926 miles (12,756 km).

The cause of this shrinking remains a mystery. Is the Great Red Spot going to blow itself out, or will it find a second wind in the future? One of the purposes of OPAL is to track the Great Red Spot and monitor how it is changing to try and work out what's happening to it.

Nevertheless, its size is still impressive a huge storm the size of our planet, with roots 500km (~300 miles) deep in the Jovian atmosphere and with winds raging at between 430 and 680 kilometers per hour (267422 mph)!

The Great Red Spot isn't the only red spot on Jupiter, however. In the late 1990s three 'white ovals' smaller storms that had been observed throughout the twentieth century merged to form a new storm called Oval BA. Then, in 2006 Oval BA turned red, prompting the nickname 'Red Spot Junior'. It too has shrunk somewhat over the years, and can be seen below and to the right of the Great Red Spot in Hubble's image.

What makes the storms turn red is another unanswered mystery. Evidently it is to do with chemistry, possibly involving the dredging up of phosphorous or sulfur, or organic molecules that react with solar ultraviolet light when they rise up into the cloud deck.

At first glance the other hemisphere appears a little more bland without the two big, main red spots to spice things up, but on closer inspection there is plenty going on. In the planet's North Equatorial Belt (the first red band north of the equator) we can see two smaller storms, one deep red, another a paler red, bumping next to each other. The deep red storm is a cyclone, meaning that it is rotating counterclockwise in Jupiter's northern hemisphere, while its paler companion is an anticyclone, which is rotating in a clockwise direction. Because they are swirling in opposite directions they won't merge, but rather will bounce off each other.

And as an added bonus, on the left hand side of the image close to the limb of the South Equatorial Belt, we can see Jupiter's innermost moon, the volcanic and fiery Io.

Hubble's portraits of Jupiter, and the other gas giants, have become an annual event as part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, headed up by planetary scientist Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. With the help of both Hubble and an army of amateur astronomers all around the world, OPAL is able to keep tabs on the giant planets and monitor activity in their atmosphere.

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission Live updates –

Posted: at 10:15 am


Astronomers have used the James Webb Space Telescope to spot several of the building blocks of stars, planets, and even life in ice form swirling around two infant stars, or "protostars."

The complex organic molecules (COMs) spotted range from relatively simple molecules to complex compounds. Some of the familiar compounds spotted around the protostars IRAS 2A and IRAS23385 include ethanol, which we call alcohol on Earth, acetic acid found in vinegar, and formic acid, the compound that makes bee stings and ant bites painful.

The discovery of the compounds around IRAS 2A is particularly interesting because these protostars, a lot like the sun, would have 4.6 billion years ago in its infancy before the formation of the planets. That means the discovery of these icy compounds may help confirm that the vital ingredients for life were delivered to Earth by comet bombardments.

"This finding contributes to one of the long-standing questions in astrochemistry,"team leader and Leiden University researcher Will Rochasaid in a statement."What is the origin of COMs in space? Are they made in the gas phase or in ice? The detection of COMs in ices suggests that solid-phase chemical reactions on the surfaces of cold dust grains can build complex kinds of molecules."

Related: James Webb Space Telescope spots the icy building blocks of life swirling around infant stars

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has double-checked the Hubble Space Telescope's calculations of the expanding universe, finding its older sibling telescope was spot on the money. This possibly intensifies an existing headache for cosmologists called the "Hubble tension."

The Hubble Tension arises from the fact that measurements of the rate of the expansion of the universe made with a cosmic fossil called the cosmic microwave background (CMB) don't tally with a measurement technique referred to as the "cosmic distance ladder." One possibility for Hubble tension was that measurements made by the Hubble telescope to form the bottom rung of this ladder were inaccurate.

This distance ladder is made up of "rungs" of different techniques to measure increasingly larger cosmic distances. The JWST discovered that the bottom rung, measurements to stars that pulse in brightness called "Cepheid variables," isn't a little loose after all. Observations made with the increased resolution of the JWST revealed that a suspected error in Hubble's measurement of Cepheid variables isn't present.

"We've now spanned the whole range of what Hubble observed and we can rule out a measurement error as the cause of the Hubble tension with very high confidence," research leader and John Hopkins University scientist Adam Riess said in a statement. "With measurement errors negated, what remains is the real and exciting possibility we have misunderstood the universe."

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope complicates expanding universe paradox by checking Hubble's work

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) researchers identified a population of supermassive black hole-powered quasars that could help explain how such objects grew to sizes equivalent to millions or billions of times that of the sun.

The relatively small quasars, which were identified as tiny red dots of light, represent a transitional stage on the road to becoming truly gigantic supermassive black holes. This means that this quasar population could fill a mass gap, the existence of which has perplexed scientists.

"One issue with quasars is that some of them seem to be overly massive, too massive given the age of the universe at which the quasars are observed," Jorryt Matthee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, said in astatement. "We call them the 'problematic quasars.'"

Read more: How do some black holes get so big? The James Webb Space Telescope may have an answer

Using the James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers have observed small galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 1 billion years old, finding they were responsible for shaping the entire cosmos.

The galaxies with masses less than 1 billion times that of the sun provided most of the light that transformed neutral hydrogen to ionized hydrogen during a point in the universe's evolution called the epoch of reionization.

"We're really talking about the global transformation of the entire universe," Hakim Atek, research lead author and an astronomer at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris told "The main surprise is that these small, faint galaxies had so much power, their cumulative radiation could transform the entire universe."

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope finds dwarf galaxies packed enough punch to reshape the entire early universe

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) astronomers have discovered an extremely red supermassive black hole that existed when the universe was under 1 billion years old.

Not only is the supermassive black hole as massive as 40 million suns, it is growing by rapidly swallowing or accreting matter. Its red color comes from the shroud of gas and dust that surrounds it.

"Several other supermassive black holes in the early universe have now been found to show a similar behavior, which leads to some intriguing views of the black hole and host galaxy growth, and the interplay between them, which is not well understood," Princeton University researcher Jenny Greene said.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope finds 'extremely red' supermassive black hole growing in the early universe

Thousand-mile-per-hour winds are blowing a hail of tiny quartz crystals through the silicate-enhanced, scorching hot atmosphere of a distant gas giant planet called WASP-17b, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has found.

"We knew from Hubble [Space Telescope] observations that there must be aerosols tiny particles making up clouds or haze in WASP-17bs atmosphere, but we didnt expect them to be made of quartz," Daniel Grant of the University of Bristol in the UK and leader of a new study on the discovery, said in astatement.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope detects quartz crystals in an exoplanet's atmosphere

A star-studded cosmic neighbor 210,000 light-years away is now available to view on our computer screens in unprecedented detail, thanks to NASAs mighty James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the power of modern internet connection.

The newly releasedJames Webb Space Telescopephoto captures NGC 346, a star-forming region in a satellite galaxy of theMilky Waycalled theSmall Magellanic Cloud(SMC).

Read more and see the entire image: James Webb Space Telescope spotlights gorgeous young stars in a galaxy next door (photo)

Approximately 2,200 light-years from where you're sitting lie the Cheerio-shaped remains of a dying star remnants that form a structure famously known as the Ring Nebula. And on Monday (Aug. 21), scientists announced theJames Webb Space Telescopehas struck gold once again, earning a rather beautiful new view of this iconic cosmic halo.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope offers a mesmerizing look at the Ring Nebula (photos)

Astronomers have begun measuring the most distant star ever detected, thanks to the powerful eyes of theJames Webb Space Telescope(JWST).

That star, known as Earendel, wasdiscovered last yearby theHubble Space Telescope. It has taken 12.9 billion years for Earendel's light to reach Earth, meaning the star was shining less than a billion years after the Big Bang spurred our universe into existence.However, Earendel doesn't lie a mere 12.9 billion light-years away from us.

Read more: Earendel revealed: James Webb Space Telescope lifts veil on the most distant star known in the universe

This marks the most detailed image yet of the striking stellar pair Herbig-Haro 46/47 located about 1,470 light-years away.

Produced with the scope's powerful infrared eyes, the image showcases a striking salmon-colored smear at its center. This represents the area where the stars, collectively named Herbig-Haro 46/47, are found.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope stuns with glowing portrait of actively forming stars (photo)

Astronomers have for the first time discovered that rocky alien worlds could possess large amounts of water from the moment they form, a new study finds.

Life is found virtually wherever there is water onEarth. As such, the search for potentially habitableexoplanetshas mainly focused on hunting for the presence of water.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope spies water near center of planet-forming disk in cosmic 1st

The James Webb Space Telescope has detected the earliest-known carbon dust in a galaxy ever.

Using the powerful space telescope, a team of astronomers spotted signs of the element that forms the backbone of all life in ten different galaxies that existed as early as 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope makes 1st detection of diamond-like carbon dust in the universe's earliest stars

July 12 marks one year since the James Webb Space Telescope's first four images were released to the public.

To mark the occasion, NASA expert Taylor Hutchison spoke to about the impact the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)has had on science in its first 12 months. The astrophysicist also explained what could be forthcoming from the JWST during its second year of operations.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope's 'exquisite' 1st year has some astronomers in tears - but in a good way (exclusive video)

To mark the one-year anniversary of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) observations on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, NASA has released a stunning image that shows star birth in a way that it has never been seen before.

The new JWST image features the closest star-forming region toEarth, the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. Though a small and relatively peaceful stellar nursery, the powerful telescope's visualization represents a chaotic close-up of the region located 390light-yearsfrom Earth.

Read more and see the photo here: New James Webb Space Telescope image released to celebrate 1st year of observations is absolutely stunning (photo)

A new 3D visualization from the James Webb Space Telescope takes viewers on a journey back in time to just after the Big Bang.

In the video, over 5,000galaxiescan be seen in gorgeous full color and three dimensions. The cosmic journey begins with relatively nearby galaxies located within a few billion light-years of Earth and concludes at Maisie's Galaxy, which at 13.4 billion light-years fromEarthis one of the most distant galaxies ever observed by humanity and is seen as it was just around 390 million years afterthe Big Bang.

Read more and watch the video here: James Webb Space Telescope time travels billions of years in amazing 3D visualization (video)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected the most distant active supermassive black hole.

The galaxy that hosts the ancientblack hole, CEERS 1019, formed fairly early in the universe's history, just 570 million years afterthe Big Bang. The active supermassive black hole at the center of CEERS 1019 is unusual not only for its age and distance but also in that it weighs in at just 9 million solar masses, meaning it's 9 million times heftier thanthe sun.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope detects most distant active supermassive black hole ever seen

With the aid of theJames Webb Space Telescope(JWST), astronomers have seen starlight from two early galaxies that host feeding supermassiveblack holes, orquasars, for the first time.

The active galaxies and the feeding supermassive black hole-powered quasars are seen as they were when the universe was less than one billion years old.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope sees 1st starlight from ancient quasars in groundbreaking discovery

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured its first incredible images of the gas giant Saturn, but they aren't quite ready for the public yet.

The raw images ofSaturnwere revealed on the unofficial websiteJWST feed, which contains every piece of data collected by the powerful space telescope since itbegan operationsin mid-2023.

Read more: Saturn looks incredible in these raw James Webb Space Telescope images (photos)

New data from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows that the atmosphere of a rocky exoplanet in the TRAPPIST-1 system is either non-existent or incredibly thin, making it unfavorable for hosting life as we know it.

Astronomers usingJWSTwere able to calculate the amount of heat energy coming fromTRAPPIST-1 c, revealing that the dayside temperature of the rocky world is about 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius) the coolest rockyexoplanetever characterized. At this temperature, the exoplanet's atmosphere is likely extremely thin, if it exists at all, according to a statement from NASA.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope spies on rocky TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet, finds bad news for life

Shortly after the Big Bang, the universe was a dark and mysterious place.The gas between stars and galaxies was opaque, so no light could shine through.

Using observations from NASA'sJames Webb Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers led by Simon Lilly of ETH Zrich in Switzerland has found how the universe changed in opacity. The team looked back in time at galaxies from the end of theEra of Reionization, a dramatic period in the universe's history in which gas was heated, cooled and then reionized (given an electrical charge once again).

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope reveals how galaxies made the early universe transparent

The James Webb Telescope has unveiled hundreds of ancient galaxies that could be among the first members of the universe a leap from only a handful that were previously known to exist at the time.

93% of the newfound galaxies that Webb spotted had never been seen before.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope discovers 717 ancient galaxies that flooded the universe with 1st light

The James Webb Space Telescope has detected the faintest galaxy yet in the infant universe.

The galaxy, known as JD1, is part of the first generation of galaxies to pop up inour universe's 13.8-billion-year history. It's about 13.3 billion light-years away from us, meaning we're observing it as it looked when the universe was only a few hundred million years old a meager 4% of its current age.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope spots faintest galaxy yet in the infant universe (photo)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a stunning image of a distant barred spiral galaxy as astronomers aim to study star birth in the deeper regions of space.

JWSTobserved the galaxy NGC 5068, located 17 million light-years away in the constellationVirgo, as part of its mission to build what the European Space Agency (ESA)calls a "treasure trove"of star formation observations in relatively nearby galaxies.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope peers behind bars to reveal a cosmic 'treasure trove' (video)

The James Webb Space Telescope has spied the oldest known examples of complex organic molecules in the universe, a new study reports.

These chemicals much like ones found in smoke and soot on Earth reside within an earlygalaxythat formed whenthe universewas about 10% of its current age. The chemicals were spotted in a galaxy known as SPT0418-47 more than 12 billion light-years from Earth.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope spies earliest complex organic molecules in the universe

The James Webb Space Telescope has found traces of water vapor in the atmosphere of a super-hot gas giant exoplanet some 400 light-years away from Earth.

Theexoplanetin question,WASP-18 b, is agas giant10 times more massive than thesolar system's largest planet,Jupiter.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope finds water in super-hot exoplanet's atmosphere

The James Webb Space Telescope has spotted water around a rare comet located in the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

The observation represents another scientific breakthrough for theJames Webb Space Telescope(JWST), representing the first time that gas, in this case, water vapor, has been detected around a comet in the main asteroid belt. This is important as it shows that water in the early solar system could have been preserved as ice in themain asteroid belt.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope discovers water around a mysterious comet

A mode of the JWST's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is receiving less sensor "throughput", meaning it's receiving less than the expected amount of light at the longest wavelengths. NASA officials are currently investigating the cause.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope faces sensor glitch in deep space

A stunning new image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows a galaxy with a supernova, three times over. That phenomenon is due to light bending from the massive gravitational influence of a foreground galactic cluster, as predicted byAlbert Einstein. The lensing object is the galactic cluster RX J2129, located around 3.2 billion light-years away in theconstellation Aquarius.

Read more: James Webb Space Telescope 'sees triple' with help from Einstein (photos)

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Secret remains: James Webb measures the rate of expansion of the Universe – The Universe. Space. Tech

Posted: at 10:14 am

Astronomers used the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to measure the rate of expansion of the universe. Its data confirmed the results of observations by the Hubble telescope. This indicates the reality of the so-called Hubble Tension.

Since the Big Bang, our universe has been continuously expanding. This process is described by Hubbles Law, the key component of which is the Hubble constant, a coefficient that makes it possible to relate the distance to an object in the universe to its speed.

Astronomers have long been trying to calculate the exact value of the Hubble constant using various methods. During these attempts, they encountered an unexpected problem: the discrepancy between the values obtained. Thus, observations made using the Hubble telescope showed that the coefficient value is 74 km/s per megaparsec. At the same time, data from the Planck mission, which calculated the rate of expansion of the Universe by observing the relict cosmic microwave background, gives a completely different number: 68 km/s per megaparsec.

This discrepancy, called the Hubble Tension, is one of the main mysteries of modern cosmology. Of course, the simplest explanation is that one of the data sets contains errors, which explain the discrepancy. Therefore, astronomers have repeatedly verified the results of Hubbles observations, making more and more new observations. But each time they only confirmed the received figure.

After the launch of JWST, it was decided to use it for independent verification of Hubble. Astronomers have focused on Cepheids, variable stars whose distance measurements make up the second rung of the ladder of cosmic distances. They are usually used to determine the distance to galaxies.

Some researchers have suggested that the light of epheids may mix with the light of neighboring stars, affecting the accuracy of measurements. JWST was used to verify this assumption. Its observations covered five galaxies that are home to more than a thousand Cepheids, as well as eight Type Ia supernovae. The latter emit the same amount of energy and are therefore used by astronomers as standard candles for calibrating and calculating distances for more distant galaxies, where it is no longer possible to see Cepheids.

JWST has confirmed the reliability of Hubbles measurements. This means that the Hubble Tension is unlikely to be caused by measurement errors, and astronomers should focus on finding other explanations for its mystery.

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Secret remains: James Webb measures the rate of expansion of the Universe - The Universe. Space. Tech

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Cosmic Expansion Mystery Suggests ‘We Have Misunderstood the Universe’ – Newsweek

Posted: at 10:14 am

New findings into a cosmic puzzle suggest that scientists may have "misunderstood the universe."

Astronomers know that the universe is expanding, but the rate at which it is doing so remains a mystery. This is because data constantly does not match up.

This problem is dubbed the "Hubble tension." It refers to how the Hubble Space Telescope and others are constantly finding different numbers that do not match previous predictions on the expanding universe. Previous predictions were initially found during the European Space Agency's Planck mission.

The mission, from 2009 to 2013, was Europe's first attempt to study the relic radiation from the Big Bang in order to discover more about the origins of our universe. The differences between estimates are about 10 percent apart. If accurate, the higher rate would make the universe about 10 percent younger than originally thought.

The main questions posed by the Hubble Tension puzzle include: Does new physics need to be introduced, or have all the previous measurements been errors? And now, scientists are one step closer to resolving these questions.

The Hubble telescope has been measuring the expansion of the universe for three decades. Now, new research from a partnership between the Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope has come up with definitive measurements that prove measurement errors are not at play here.

The differing estimates are due to something else entirely. Exactly what, however, remains a mystery.

"With measurement errors negated, what remains is the real and exciting possibility we have misunderstood the universe," Adam Riess, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Nobel prize winner for the co-discovery of the universe's increased expansion, said in a statement.

"We've now spanned the whole range of what Hubble observed, and we can rule out a measurement error as the cause of the Hubble Tension with very high confidence."

Webb and Hubble began making paired observations in 2023. Right away, they showed that the Hubble telescope had been accurate in its measurements.

A team led by Riess used methods to measure the distances of Cepheid variable stars in the universe. The measurement techniques are known in astronomy as "the cosmic distance ladder."

These new observations include measurements from five host galaxies, including one named NGC 5468, which lies a distance of 130 million light-years away,

"This spans the full range where we made measurements with Hubble. So, we've gone to the end of the second rung of the cosmic distance ladder," co-author Gagandeep Anand of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates the Webb and Hubble telescopes for NASA, said in a statement.

The new data from the Hubble and Webb bring scientists one step closer to solving the mystery of the Hubble Tension.

"Combining Webb and Hubble gives us the best of both worlds. We find that the Hubble measurements remain reliable as we climb farther along the cosmic distance ladder," said Riess.

Do you have a tip on a science story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Hubble Tension? Let us know via

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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NASA releases an official tabletop adventure that’s brave enough to ask: what would Earth be like if a dragon … – PC Gamer

Posted: March 6, 2024 at 3:54 pm

I am pleased beyond belief that the sentence: "There is an official NASA D&D adventure that's just an Isekai anime with scientists" is verifiably true. Titled The Lost Universe, this system-agnostic adventure is free to download and most certainly worth a read.

Here's the central thrust: a dragon kidnapped a bunch of alien wizards and forced them to rip the Hubble Telescope out of our reality. Yes, really.

"Eirik linked to the Hubble Space Telescope after learning of its observations that have propelled understanding of black holes and dark energy (similar to the energy of the vacuum) on Earth this drew the attention of a young dragon, Isilias, who stole the spell Eirik created, as well as Eirik himself and his fellow researchers, in order to steal Hubble itself so Isilias alone would possess its knowledge."

Rather than simply confusing a bunch of NASA scientists on Earth, this actually caused the Hubble to be removed from reality entirely. The adventure depicts a group of faintly-baffled researchers at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland: "A subtle ache lives in your mind, insisting that youre forgetting something, but its always just out of reach. The more you try to remember, the worse the pain gets." Then you all black out and wake up as D&D characters.

It sounds like I'm poking fun herebut it's the exact kind of earnest silliness that makes for a good game of tabletop. It's also reminiscent of the classic D&D cartoon from the 80s, wherein a group of teenagers are magically transported to a fantasy land at the behest of a disturbing-looking dungeon master.

While the game is technically system-agnostic, the adventure itself recommends a "party of 4-7 level 7-10 characters". Though if we're going with the adventure's suggested protagonist (a young green dragon from D&D 5e) a party of level 10 characters would make mincemeat of Isilias in a few rounds. There's ultimately quite a bit of homebrew the DM will need to bring in, in order to this to make it all click with their table.

But there's some genuinely fun fantasy concepts at work here, too. Wizard Planet (Exlaris, by its proper name) is a rogue world that drifted out of orbit, protected from the ravages of space with an artificial magic atmospherewhich is a neat setting idea to run with, even if you don't want to play NASA Isekai. If you do, however, the adventure's sprinkled with educational tidbits that'll teach you plenty of scientific history.

NASA releases an official tabletop adventure that's brave enough to ask: what would Earth be like if a dragon ... - PC Gamer

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Hubble Telescope spies massive ‘bridge of stars’ connecting 2 galaxies on collision course (image) –

Posted: January 30, 2024 at 10:24 pm

A stunning new Hubble Space Telescope image shows a huge 'bridge of stars' extending from one of the galaxies in a galactic grouping to another.

The image focuses on the galaxy Arp 295a, from which the 250,000 light-year-long streamer of stars is stretching, as it is seen edge-on by Hubble and surrounded by a milky-colored envelope of gas and dust. Also visible in the full image is the nearby galaxy Arp 295c, which appears as a smaller bright blue spiral in the top left in the full Hubble telescope image.

Along with Arp 295b, which is not seen in the Hubble image, these galaxies make up the loose galactic grouping called Arp 295, which is located around 270 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Aquarius.

While a gorgeous image in its own right, the photo could also foreshadow what could eventually become of our own cosmic home, as Hubble's observations of the group may hint at what could happen when the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies collide in 4 billion years.

Related: Hubble Space Telescope sees colliding galaxies aglow with stars

The streamer of stars seen by Hubble bridging the gap between the two Arp 295 galaxies was created when two galaxies in the grouping circled each other with the gravitational interaction that ensues, drawing out gas, dust and stars.

Galaxies that come close enough to each other to gravitational disrupt their shapes are known as interacting galaxies. This galactic interplay can last for billions of years as the galaxies involved loop around each other, making multiple close passages.

Eventually, the repeated close passes between interacting galaxies can result in these galaxies colliding and merging.

This more permanent interaction changes the shape of the progenitor galaxies, wiping out features such as spiral arms and creating a more homogenous, shapeless, irregular galaxy. The merger also causes an influx of gas into the resultant galaxy, which causes a bout of intense star formation called a starburst, as collapsing clouds of gas and dust are the building blocks of new stars.

As the merger continues, the two supermassive black holes with masses millions or billions of times that of the sun at the heart of the colliding galaxies head toward the center of the newly created galaxy, where they will spiral around each other.

This causes the emission of gravitational waves that carry away angular momentum from the supermassive black hole binary, causing them to draw together and eventually merge themselves, creating a new, even more massive supermassive black hole.

Observing interacting and merging galaxies gives astronomers a hint of the fate that awaits the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxy, Andromeda.

The two spiral galaxies are approximately 2.5 million light-yearsaway and are drawing together at a rate of around 671,000 miles per hour (1,079,870 km/h), about 450 times as fast as the top speed of a Lockheed Martin F-16 jet fighter. As a result, our galaxy and Andromeda are predicted to merge in around 4.5 billion years.

In 2006, scientists simulated this clash and saw the sun and the solar system could be pushed closer to Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, as a result of the merger.

From here, our star may either be ejected from the Milky Way altogether or, if it comes close enough to the 4.5 million solar mass black hole, maybe shredded by the immense gravity of Sgr A*.

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Hubble telescope spots tiniest water-rich world in orbit – The Register

Posted: at 10:24 pm

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Hubble telescope spots tiniest water-rich world in orbit - The Register

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This Hubble Telescope photo of a spiral galaxy will take your breath away –

Posted: at 10:24 pm

Just when we think weve seen it all with astronomy photos, the Hubble Space Telescope takes our breath away yet again with a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

I dont know about you, but when images like this are released, it brings up not only a wave of emotions but also a few moments of pause in even the busiest day to marvel and take in the power of a space telescope and just how captivating our universe is. It doesnt matter what we are seeing or what galaxy or constellation is before us; the truth is, it magically transports you to a window into the great unknown, giving you a front-row seat to the beauty and mystery of what we can only see through the eyes of a telescope.

Lets come back down to Earth for a second, so I can explain exactly what we are looking at in the photo above, a newly released image from the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope. This is IC 438, a spiral galaxy thats pretty far away from Earth (130 million light-years, to be exact). It's in a constellation named Lepus, which means "the hare," surrounded by more familiar star patterns like Canis Major, Orion and Canis Minor.

Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time!

The Hubble photo was originally taken in 2021 so scientists could study the aftermath of a supernova explosion that happened in 2017 (from our perspective here on Earth). Although we cannot see the immediate aftermath or the moment the explosion occurred in this image, it still tells a very important astronomical story.

"With Hubbles exquisite angular resolution at visible wavelengths, astronomers can now study the stars in the region around the supernova, allowing them to better estimate the age and type of star that exploded," Chris Evans, ESA's Hubble project scientist, shared with me on Tuesday (Jan. 23). "This is an excellent example of where Hubbles unique capabilities at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths are continuing to give us exciting new views of the universe."

Another fun fact: Lepus is part of a family of 88 constellations highlighted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). This organization was created in 1919 with a mission to "promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects (including research, communication, education and development) through international cooperation," as its homepage states. And, as weve learned with every different and unique picture that is taken across the entire universe, theres a story to be told and a new part of history discovered and to learn from.

"Alongside the powerful infrared capabilities of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, Hubbles imaging and spectroscopy at shorter wavelengths provides us with critical information that we need to further our understanding of objects such as supernovae and other astronomical transients," Evans said.

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This Hubble Telescope photo of a spiral galaxy will take your breath away -

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Hubble telescope spots water around tiny hot and steamy exoplanet in ‘exciting discovery’ –

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Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that the atmosphere of a relatively small planet outside the solar system is rich with water vapor. Don't plan a vacation to this destination just yet, however. The planet's surface is hot enough to melt lead, meaning it's a steamy world inhospitable to life as we know it.

More specifically, the team behind this finding says the extra-solar planet, or exoplanet, named GJ9872d exhibits Venus-like temperatures of 752 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius). But that doesn't make this discovery any less exciting.

Though scientists have found water vapor in the atmospheres of many extra-solar planets before, the Hubble Telescope's observations of this hot and steamy world, designated GJ9827d, represent the smallest exoplanet around which this vital element for life has been found thus far.

"The discovery of water on GJ 9827d is exciting because its the smallest planet yet where we've detected an atmosphere," Laura Kreidberg, team member and director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy's Atmospheric Physics of Exoplanets department, told"It pushes closer than ever to characterizing truly Earth-like worlds."

Related: Newfound Earth-size exoplanet has a scorching-hot lava side

GJ 9827d is around twice as wide as Earth and orbits a star called GJ 987, which is located around 97 light-years away from us toward the constellation of Pisces. The planet is just one of three Earth-like worlds orbiting this star, which appears to be around 6 billion years old.

"This would be the first time that we can directly show through atmospheric detection, that these planets with water-rich atmospheres can actually exist around other stars," Bjrn Benneke, team member and a scientist at the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at Universit de Montral, said in a statement. "This is an important step toward determining the prevalence and diversity of atmospheres on rocky planets."

A major question remains, however: What type of planet is GJ 9872d?

"The nature of these small-ish planets, between two and three times the size of Earth, is really uncertain," Kreidberg said. "They could be true super-Earths, with a large rocky core and a light atmosphere on top, or they could be something completely different, like a water world made predominantly from water ice that has no analog in our own solar system."

Hubble observed GJ 9827d for three years and watched as the world crossed the face of its star, or "transited" it, 11 times. Because chemical elements and compounds absorb light at characteristic wavelengths, as light from a parent star passes through a planet's atmosphere, it carries fingerprints of the elements that comprise the planet itself.

Currently, the astronomers behind this discovery aren't certain whether Hubble detected a small amount of water in a puffy ,hydrogen-rich atmosphere when it examined GJ 9872d or, if the planet's atmosphere is predominantly made of water.

"Either result would be exciting, whether water vapor is dominant or just a tiny species in a hydrogen-dominant atmosphere," Pierre-Alexis Roy, research lead author and a scientist at the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at Universit de Montral, said in the statement.

If GJ 9872d has spent its 6 billion-year lifetime close to its parent star, intense radiation should have boiled away any primordial hydrogen present, leaving the tiny planet with an atmosphere dominated by water vapor. This seems to be supported by the fact that attempts to detect hydrogen around GJ 9872d have thus far failed.

Alternatively, if GJ 9872d is still clinging to a hydrogen-rich envelope laced with water, it would be classified as a mini-Neptune, a type of planet less massive than Neptune but that still resembles the solar system ice giant in possessing a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.

On the other hand, the exoplanet could resemble a larger and hotter version of Jupiter's moon Europa, which is believed to host twice as much water as Earth sealed beneath a thick icy crust."The planet GJ9827d could be half water, half rock. And there would be a lot of water vapor on top of some smaller rocky body," Benneke said.

Should GJ9827d still possess a thick atmosphere of water vapor, this would imply that it was born further out from its star where temperatures would've been lower before migrating to the position we see today.

This migration would have resulted in the exoplanet being blasted with more radiation from its host star, transforming potential ice on GJ9827d into liquid water and water vapor. Any present hydrogen would've gotten heated, eventually beginning to leak from the planet's atmosphere due to the world's relatively low gravity; this leaking could still be occurring while astronomers observe the exoplanet today.

"Until now, we had not been able to detect the atmosphere of such a small planet directly. And we're slowly getting in this regime now," added Benneke. "At some point, as we study smaller planets, there must be a transition where there's no more hydrogen on these small worlds, and they have atmospheres more like Venus, which is dominated by carbon dioxide."

The study of GJ9827d with Hubble has marked the planet as a prime target for a follow-up investigation conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This work is already underway, with the $10 billion telescope capable of delivering more details about this potential water world.

"GJ 9827d is being observed with JWST to learn more about its atmospheric composition and search for additional molecules like carbon dioxide," Kreidberg concluded. "Observations are ongoing, and well have more answers soon!

"Hopefully, we can now settle the question of water worlds once and for all."

The team's research was published last year in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Old age is the one thing the Hubble telescope and its latest photo have in common – Digital Camera World

Posted: at 10:24 pm

The poor Hubble telescope has become a bit of a geriatric since the younger, higher-res James Webb Space Telescope started its mission. In its heyday it delivered images of space in never-before-seen quality, offering scientists and researchers wisdom than ever before on how the universe came to be.

Almost 30 years after its launch, the Hubble telescope orbits much closer to Earth but its still delivering photos from Space - albeit lower res than the mighty JWST.

In the latest image, the NGC 3384 galaxy is visible and although the slightly blurred image isnt as jaw-dropping as other images from space, it still holds importance. The so-called elliptical galaxy is rounded in shape, shows few visible features and rarely shows recent start formations. These galaxies are dominated by old, aging red-hued stars unlike the Milky Way (a spiral galaxy) which is bursting with populations of young blue stars that create the spiral arms around its bright core.

Whats interesting about this image is that at its center there appears to be a disc-like structure you would normally expect to see in a spiral galaxy, such as the Milky Way. A central bar is thought to funnel material through and around a galaxys core helping to maintain and fuel activities and processes that occur.

In recent years, the Hubble Telescope has had to undergo maintenance so it's kept in a low orbit close to Earth so that it is safe and accessible for astronauts to repair and upgrade its components. To this day, the Hubble orbits the Earth at 17,000mph/27,000 kph, sees 15 sunrises every day and in its lifetime has traveled over 4 billion miles. The Hubble telescope may have been superseded by the JWST but its contribution to our understanding of space has been monumental.

As the Hubble Telescope edges closer to retirement, it will continue to photograph space, informing astronomers and researchers of the secrets of the universe.

Check out the best telescopes for astrophotography, and see our guide to all the best lenses for astrophotography

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Old age is the one thing the Hubble telescope and its latest photo have in common - Digital Camera World

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