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#31 nucklehead

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 06:04 AM

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This week, we highlight the galaxy NGC 4183, seen here with a beautiful backdrop of distant galaxies and nearby stars. Located about 55 million light-years from the sun and spanning about eighty thousand light-years, NGC 4183 is a little smaller than the Milky Way. This galaxy, which belongs to the Ursa Major Group, lies in the northern constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs).

Reads like it's out of a travel brouchure. Maybe someday.
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#32 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:26 PM

Posted Image
A high-powered camera that NOAA calls "the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created" has caught its first glimpse of some of the Universe's most far-flung galaxies — and they are an absolute wonder to behold. {C


New Dark Energy Telescope Can Photograph Galaxies up to 8 Billion Light-Years From Earth

"the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created" has caught its first glimpse of some of the Universe's most far-flung galaxies — and they are an absolute wonder to behold. {C}
The so-called "Dark Energy Camera" (a 570-megapixel astronomical-imaging behemoth) will be used in the eponymous Dark Energy Survey to scan the depths of space for signs of — you guessed it — dark energy. While this form of energy is thought to comprise upwards of 70% of the Universe and drive its ever-accelerating expansion, it remains one of the most enigmatic topics of investigation in modern Cosmology.
For the next five years, the camera — which is housed inside the Blanco telescope, high in the mountains of South America's Atacama desert — will be used to create detailed color images of one-eighth of the sky. Given that the camera is capable of detecting light from cosmic entities as much as 8 billion light years from Earth, astronomers think that the Dark Energy Camera will be used to identify and study upwards of 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae. In the process, they hope to unlock some of the secrets behind the Universe's expansion.
Hundreds of millions of galaxies. And it's just sent back its first batch. Featured below are some of the first images to be captured by the DECam, released earlier today by Fermilab (the famed accelerator lab actually built the camera).

A high-powered camera that NOAA calls "the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created" has caught its first glimpse of some of the Universe's most far-flung galaxies — and they are an absolute wonder to behold. {C}
The so-called "Dark Energy Camera" (a 570-megapixel astronomical-imaging behemoth) will be used in the eponymous Dark Energy Survey to scan the depths of space for signs of — you guessed it — dark energy. While this form of energy is thought to comprise upwards of 70% of the Universe and drive its ever-accelerating expansion, it remains one of the most enigmatic topics of investigation in modern Cosmology.
For the next five years, the camera — which is housed inside the Blanco telescope, high in the mountains of South America's Atacama desert — will be used to create detailed color images of one-eighth of the sky. Given that the camera is capable of detecting light from cosmic entities as much as 8 billion light years from Earth, astronomers think that the Dark Energy Camera will be used to identify and study upwards of 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae. In the process, they hope to unlock some of the secrets behind the Universe's expansion.
Hundreds of millions of galaxies. And it's just sent back its first batch. Featured below are some of the first images to be captured by the DECam, released earlier today by Fermilab (the famed accelerator lab actually built the camera). Enjoy the view:

Posted Image

Zoomed-in image from the Dark Energy Camera of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth

Edited by The Ratiocinator, 29 September 2012 - 03:29 PM.

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#33 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 02:37 PM

Astronomers Uncover A Surprising Trend in Galaxy Evolution


A study of 544 star-forming galaxies observed by the Keck and Hubble telescopes shows that disk galaxies like our own Milky Way unexpectedly reached their current state long after much of the universe's star formation had ceased. Over the past 8 billion years, the galaxies lose chaotic motions and spin faster as they develop into settled disk galaxies. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


A comprehensive study of hundreds of galaxies observed by the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed an unexpected pattern of change that extends back 8 billion years, or more than half the age of the universe.

"Astronomers thought disk galaxies in the nearby universe had settled into their present form by about 8 billion years ago, with little additional development since," said Susan Kassin, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the study's lead researcher. "The trend we've observed instead shows the opposite, that galaxies were steadily changing over this time period."

Today, star-forming galaxies take the form of orderly disk-shaped systems, such as the Andromeda Galaxy or the Milky Way, where rotation dominates over other internal motions. The most distant blue galaxies in the study tend to be very different, exhibiting disorganized motions in multiple directions. There is a steady shift toward greater organization to the present time as the disorganized motions dissipate and rotation speeds increase. These galaxies are gradually settling into well-behaved disks.

Posted Image
This plot shows the fractions of settled disk galaxies in four time spans, each about 3 billion years long. There is a steady shift toward higher percentages of settled galaxies closer to the present time. At any given time, the most massive galaxies are the most settled. More distant and less massive galaxies on average exhibit more disorganized internal motions, with gas moving in multiple directions, and slower rotation speeds. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
› Download hi-res image


Blue galaxies -- their color indicates stars are forming within them -- show less disorganized motions and ever-faster rotation speeds the closer they are observed to the present. This trend holds true for galaxies of all masses, but the most massive systems always show the highest level of organization.

Researchers say the distant blue galaxies they studied are gradually transforming into rotating disk galaxies like our own Milky Way.

"Previous studies removed galaxies that did not look like the well-ordered rotating disks now common in the universe today," said co-author Benjamin Weiner, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "By neglecting them, these studies examined only those rare galaxies in the distant universe that are well-behaved and concluded that galaxies didn't change."

Rather than limit their sample to certain galaxy types, the researchers instead looked at all galaxies with emission lines bright enough to be used for determining internal motions. Emission lines are the discrete wavelengths of radiation characteristically emitted by the gas within a galaxy. They are revealed when a galaxy's light is separated into its component colors. These emission lines also carry information about the galaxy's internal motions and distance.


Simulations such as this will help astronomers better understand the new findings in galaxy evolution. It tracks the development of a single disk galaxy from shortly after the Big Bang to the present day. Colors reveal old stars (red), young stars (white and bright blue) and the distribution of gas density (pale blue); the view is 300,000 light-years across. Credit: F. Governato and T. Quinn (Univ. of Washington), A. Brooks (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), and J. Wadsley (McMaster Univ.).


The team studied a sample of 544 blue galaxies from the Deep Extragalactic Evolutionary Probe 2 (DEEP2) Redshift Survey, a project that employs Hubble and the twin 10-meter telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Located between 2 billion and 8 billion light-years away, the galaxies have stellar masses ranging from about 0.3 percent to 100 percent of the mass of our home galaxy.

A paper describing these findings will be published Oct. 20 in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Milky Way galaxy must have gone through the same rough-and-tumble evolution as the galaxies in the DEEP2 sample, and gradually settled into its present state as the sun and solar system were being formed.

In the past 8 billion years, the number of mergers between galaxies large and small has decreased sharply. So has the overall rate of star formation and disruptions of supernova explosions associated with star formation. Scientists speculate these factors may play a role in creating the evolutionary trend they observe.

Now that astronomers see this pattern, they can adjust computer simulations of galaxy evolution until these models are able to replicate the observed trend. This will guide scientists to the physical processes most responsible for it
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#34 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 02:10 AM

Amazing Photo Captures 84 Million Stars in Our Milky Way Galaxy


by SPACE.com Staff
Date: 24 October 2012 Time: 06:00 AM ET


Posted Image

Astronomers have catalogued 84 million stars at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy using an enormous cosmic photo snapped by a telescope in Chile, a view that is billed as the largest survey ever of the stars in our galaxy's core.
The staggering 9-gigapixel picture was created with data gathered by the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), an instrument at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. The zoomable image is so large that it would measure 30 feet long by 23 feet tall (9 by 7 meters) if printed with the resolution of a typical book, researchers said.
The catalogue derived from the new image contains 10 times more stars than previous studies have provided. It should help astronomers better understand the structure and evolution of our home galaxy, researchers said.
"By observing in detail the myriads of stars surrounding the center of the Milky Way we can learn a lot more about the formation and evolution of not only our galaxy, but also spiral galaxies in general," study lead author Roberto Saito, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de Valparaíso and The Milky Way Millennium Nucleus, said in a statement.

The huge new picture probes the Milky Way's central bulge, a concentration of ancient stars found near the core of most spiral galaxies. Getting good looks at this region is not an easy task.
"Observations of the bulge of the Milky Way are very hard because it is obscured by dust," said co-author Dante Minniti, also of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. "To peer into the heart of the galaxy, we need to observe in infrared light, which is less affected by the dust."
VISTA was able to do just that, snapping thousands of infrared images that were combined to generate a monumental color mosaic measuring 108,200 by 81,500 pixels. It's one of the biggest astronomical images ever produced, researchers said.

Posted Image

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This very wide-field view of the Milky Way shows the extent of the 84-million-star VISTA infrared image of the center of the galaxy (delineated by red rectangle).
CREDIT: ESO/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)
View full size image
Astronomers identified 173 million different objects in the 9-billion-pixel image, of which 84 million could be confirmed as stars. The rest were distant objects such as galaxies, or they were too faint or blended to be identified conclusively.
Saito and his team then plotted the brightness of each star against its color, creating a color-magnitude diagram with 84 million data points. These diagrams are valuable tools, helping astronomers study star properties such as temperature, mass and age.
"Each star occupies a particular spot in this diagram at any moment during its lifetime," Minniti said. "Where it falls depends on how bright it is and how hot it is. Since the new data gives us a snapshot of all the stars in one go, we can now make a census of all the stars in this part of the Milky Way."
The astronomers are making their data publicly available, so other research teams can use it to make exciting finds of their own.
The team published their results in the August issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics

http://www.space.com...suns-video.html
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Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

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#35 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 07:17 AM

Although it's not as impressive as galaxies, this seems like a good place to post that for the last week or so, there have been two very bright planets in the morning sky (haven't checked this morning yet, to see if they're still visible)

The brightest of the two is low in the southern sky and is most likely Venus. Higher and more to the NW (above and left of the moon) is the other, which by my guess, is Jupiter.

Edited by RUPERTKBD, 30 October 2012 - 07:45 AM.

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Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!

#36 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 03:02 AM

Although it's not as impressive as galaxies, this seems like a good place to post that for the last week or so, there have been two very bright planets in the morning sky (haven't checked this morning yet, to see if they're still visible)

The brightest of the two is low in the southern sky and is most likely Venus. Higher and more to the NW (above and left of the moon) is the other, which by my guess, is Jupiter.


Moon and Jupiter Create Celestial Halloween Treat


by Geoff Gaherty, Starry Night Education
Date: 31 October 2012 Time: 07:01 am

Posted Image


Look eastward about three hours after sunset Thursday night to see a fine astronomical treat: Jupiter rising in close proximity to the moon, surrounded by two of the closest star clusters in the sky, the Pleiades and the Hyades.
CREDIT: Starry Night Software


View full size image
Look in the eastern sky for the next few nights and you will see a celestial treat.
Full moon was on Monday night (Oct. 29), so the waning gibbous moon will be rising a few hours past sunset. Jupiter, a month away from opposition on Dec. 2, will also be rising a few hours past sunset. The result will be what astronomers call a conjunction: a close encounter between two astronomical bodies.
The moon will be closest to Jupiter on Thursday night (Nov.1), but the two will also be close on Wednesday and Friday nights (Oct. 31 and Nov

Edited by The Ratiocinator, 01 November 2012 - 03:04 AM.

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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#37 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 03:07 AM

Posted Image

A Ghost in Cepheus

Described as a "dusty curtain" or "ghostly apparition," mysterious reflection nebula VdB 152 really is very faint. Far from your neighborhood on this Halloween Night, the cosmic phantom is nearly 1,400 light-years away. Also catalogued as Ced 201, it lies along the northern Milky Way in the royal constellation Cepheus. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, pockets of interstellar dust in the region block light from background stars or scatter light from the embedded bright star giving parts of the nebula a characteristic blue color. Ultraviolet light from the star is also thought to cause a dim reddish luminescence in the nebular dust. Though stars do form in molecular clouds, this star seems to have only accidentally wandered into the area, as its measured velocity through space is very different from the cloud's velocity. This deep telescopic image of the region spans about 7 light-years.
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#38 Offensive Threat

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:12 AM

Spiral galaxies aren't rare! We live in one! Out in the spirally arm no less!


"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun." - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
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#39 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 02:45 PM

Scientists Monitor Comet Breakup
11.02.12


Posted Image Comet 168P-Hergenrother was imaged by the NOAO/Gemini telescope on Nov. 2, 2011 at about 6 a.m. UTC. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/Gemini › Full view

The Hergenrother comet is currently traversing the inner-solar system. Amateur and professional astronomers alike have been following the icy-dirt ball over the past several weeks as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material. Now comes word that the comet's nucleus has taken the next step in its relationship with Mother Nature.
"Comet Hergenrother is splitting apart," said Rachel Stevenson, a post-doctoral fellow working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Using the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's Gemini North Telescope on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, we have resolved that the nucleus of the comet has separated into at least four distinct pieces resulting in a large increase in dust material in its coma."
With more material to reflect the sun's rays, the comet's coma has brightened considerably.
"The comet fragments are considerably fainter than the nucleus," said James Bauer, the deputy principal investigator for NASA's NEOWISE mission, from the California Institute of Technology. "This is suggestive of chunks of material being ejected from the surface."
The comet's fragmentation event was initially detected on Oct. 26 by a team of astronomers from the Remanzacco Observatory, using the Faulkes Telescope North in Haleakala, Hawaii. The initial fragment was also imaged by the WIYN telescope group at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
For those interested in viewing Hergenrother, with a larger-sized telescope and a dark sky, the comet can be seen in between the constellations of Andromeda and Lacerta.
The orbit of comet 168P/Hergenrother comet is well understood. The comet, nor any of its fragments, are a threat to Earth
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#40 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 02:34 PM

Hubble Sees an Unexpected Population of Young-Looking Stars
11.02.12

Posted Image
› Larger image

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope offers an impressive view of the center of globular cluster NGC 6362. The image of this spherical collection of stars takes a deeper look at the core of the globular cluster, which contains a high concentration of stars with different colors.

Tightly bound by gravity, globular clusters are composed of old stars, which, at around 10 billion years old, are much older than the sun. These clusters are fairly common, with more than 150 currently known in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and more which have been spotted in other galaxies.

Globular clusters are among the oldest structures in the Universe that are accessible to direct observational investigation, making them living fossils from the early years of the cosmos.

Astronomers infer important properties of globular clusters by looking at the light from their constituent stars. For many years, they were regarded as ideal laboratories for testing the standard stellar evolution theory. Among other things, this theory suggests that most of the stars within a globular cluster should be of a similar age.

Recently, however, high precision measurements performed in numerous globular clusters, primarily with the Hubble Space Telescope, have led some to question this widely accepted theory. In particular, certain stars appear younger and bluer than their companions, and they have been dubbed blue stragglers. NGC 6362 contains many of these stars.

Since they are usually found in the core regions of clusters, where the concentration of stars is large, the most likely explanation for this unexpected population of objects seems to be that they could be either the result of stellar collisions or transfer of material between stars in binary systems. This influx of new material would heat up the star and make it appear younger than its neighbors.

NGC 6362 is located about 25 000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Ara (The Altar). British astronomer James Dunlop first observed this globular cluster on 30 June 1826.

This image was created combining ultraviolet, visual and infrared images taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3. An image of NGC 6362 taken by the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope will be published by the European Southern Observatory on Wednesday.

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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#41 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 03:40 PM

NASA Great Observatories Find Candidate for Most Distant Object in the Universe to Date
11.15.12


By combining the power of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, astronomers have set a new record for finding the most distant galaxy seen in the universe.


Posted Image
The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way. The object is observed 420 million years after the big bang. The inset at left shows a close-up of the young dwarf galaxy. This image is a composite taken with Hubble's WFC 3 and ACS on Oct. 5 and Nov. 29, 2011. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Postman and D. Coe (STScI) and CLASH Team.
› Larger image


The farthest galaxy appears as a diminutive blob that is only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy. But it offers a peek back into a time when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years.The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, was observed 420 million years after the big bang, the theorized beginning of the universe. Its light has traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.

This find is the latest discovery from a program that uses natural zoom lenses to reveal distant galaxies in the early universe. The Cluster Lensing And Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH),an international group led by Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., is using massive galaxy clusters as cosmic telescopes to magnify distant galaxies behind them. This effect is called gravitational lensing.



The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way. The object is observed 420 million years after the big bang. Video Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)



Along the way, 8 billion years into its journey, light from MACS0647-JD took a detour along multiple paths around the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015. Without the cluster's magnification powers, astronomers would not have seen this remote galaxy.Because of gravitational lensing, the CLASH research team was able to observe three magnified images of MACS0647-JD with the Hubble telescope. The cluster's gravity boosted the light from the faraway galaxy, making the images appear about eight, seven, and two times brighter than they otherwise would that enabled astronomers to detect the galaxy more efficiently and with greater confidence.

"This cluster does what no manmade telescope can do," said Postman. "Without the magnification, it would require a Herculean effort to observe this galaxy."

MACS0647-JD is so small it may be in the first steps of forming a larger galaxy. An analysis shows the galaxy is less than 600 light-years wide. Based on observations of somewhat closer galaxies, astronomers estimate that a typical galaxy of a similar age should be about 2,000 light-years wide. For comparison, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion to the Milky Way, is 14,000 light-years wide. Our Milky Way is 150,000 light-years across.

"This object may be one of many building blocks of a galaxy,"saidthe study's lead author, Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute. "Over the next 13 billion years, it may have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of merging events with other galaxies and galaxy fragments."

The galaxy was observed with 17 filters,spanning near-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths, using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Coe, a CLASH team member, discovered the galaxy in February while poring over a catalogue of thousands of gravitationally lensed objects found in Hubble observations of 17 clusters in the CLASH survey.But the galaxy appeared only in the two reddest filters.

"So either MACS0647-JD is a very red object, only shining at red wavelengths, or it is extremely distant and its light has been 'redshifted' to these wavelengths, or some combination of the two," Coe said. "We considered this full range of possibilities."

The CLASH team identified multiple images of eight galaxies lensed by the galaxy cluster. Their positions allowed the team to produce a map of the cluster's mass, which is primarily composed of dark matter. Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that makes up the bulk of the universe's mass. "It's like a big puzzle," said Coe. "We have to arrange the mass in the cluster so that it deflects the light of each galaxy to the positions observed." The team's analysis revealed that the cluster's mass distribution produced three lensed images of MACS0647-JD at the positions and relative brightness observed in the Hubble image.

Coe and his collaborators spent months systematically ruling out these other alternative explanations for the object's identity, including red stars, brown dwarfs, and red (old or dusty) galaxies at intermediate distances from Earth. They concluded that a very distant galaxy was the correct explanation.

The paper will appear in the Dec. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Redshift is a consequence of the expansion of space over cosmic time. Astronomers study the distant universe in near-infrared light because the expansion of space stretches ultraviolet and visible light from galaxies into infrared wavelengths. Coe estimates MACS0647-JD has a redshift of 11, the highest yet observed.

Images of the galaxy at longer wavelengths obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope played a key role in the analysis. If the object were intrinsically red, it would appear bright in the Spitzer images. Instead, the galaxy barely was detected, if at all, indicating its great distance. The research team plans to use Spitzer to obtain deeper observations of the galaxy, which should yield confident detections as well as estimates of the object's age and dust content.

MACS0647-JD galaxy, however, may be too far away for any current telescope to confirm the distance based on spectroscopy, which spreads out an object's light into thousands of colors. Nevertheless, Coe is confident the fledgling galaxy is the new distance champion based on its unique colors and the research team's extensive analysis. "All three of the lensed galaxy images match fairly well and are in positions you would expect for a galaxy at that remote distance when you look at the predictions from our best lens models for this cluster," Coe said.

The new distance champion is the second remote galaxy uncovered in the CLASH survey, a multi-wavelength census of 25 hefty galaxy clusters with Hubble's ACS and WFC3. Earlier this year, the CLASH team announced the discovery of a galaxy that existed when the universe was 490 million years old, 70 million years later than the new record-breaking galaxy. So far, the survey has completed observations for 20 of the 25 clusters.

The team hopes to use Hubble to search for more dwarf galaxies at these early epochs. If these infant galaxies are numerous, then they could have provided the energy to burn off the fog of hydrogen that blanketed the universe, a process called re-ionization. Re-ionization ultimately made the universe transparent to light
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#42 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 01:14 AM

Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'
11.19.12


Astronomers using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii have discovered a "super-Jupiter" around the bright star Kappa Andromedae, which now holds the record for the most massive star known to host a directly imaged planet or lightweight brown dwarf companion.

Designated Kappa Andromedae b (Kappa And b, for short), the new object has a mass about 12.8 times greater than Jupiter's. This places it teetering on the dividing line that separates the most massive planets from the lowest-mass brown dwarfs. That ambiguity is one of the object's charms, say researchers, who call it a super-Jupiter to embrace both possibilities.

Posted Image
The "super-Jupiter" Kappa Andromedae b, shown here in an artist's rendering, circles its star at nearly twice the distance that Neptune orbits the sun. With a mass about 13 times Jupiter's, the object glows with a reddish color. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger
› Larger image


"According to conventional models of planetary formation, Kappa And b falls just shy of being able to generate energy by fusion, at which point it would be considered a brown dwarf rather than a planet," said Michael McElwain, a member of the discovery team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But this isn't definitive, and other considerations could nudge the object across the line into brown dwarf territory."

Massive planets slowly radiate the heat leftover from their own formation. For example, the planet Jupiter emits about twice the energy it receives from the sun. But if the object is massive enough, it's able to produce energy internally by fusing a heavy form of hydrogen called deuterium. (Stars like the sun, on the other hand, produce energy through a similar process that fuses the lighter and much more common form of hydrogen.) The theoretical mass where deuterium fusion can occur -- about 13 Jupiters -- marks the lowest possible mass for a brown dwarf.

"Kappa And b, the previously imaged planets around HR 8799 and Beta Pictoris, and the most massive planets discovered by non-imaging techniques likely all represent a class of object that formed in much the same way as lower-mass exoplanets," said lead researcher Joseph Carson, an astronomer at the College of Charleston, S.C., and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

The discovery of Kappa And b also allows astronomers to explore another theoretical limit. Astronomers have argued that large stars likely produce large planets, but experts predict that this stellar scaling can only extend so far, perhaps to stars with just a few times the sun's mass. The more massive a young star is, the brighter and hotter it becomes, resulting in powerful radiation that could disrupt the formation of planets within a circumstellar disk of gas and dust.

"This object demonstrates that stars as large as Kappa And, with 2.5 times the sun's mass, remain fully capable of producing planets," Carson adds.

Posted Image
This false-color near-infrared image has been processed to remove most of the scattered light from the star Kappa Andromedae (masked out at center). The "super-Jupiter" companion, Kappa Andromedae b (upper left), lies at a projected distance of about 55 times the average distance between Earth and the sun and about 1.8 times farther than Neptune, whose orbit is shown for comparison (dashed circle). The white region marking the companion indicates a signal present in all near-infrared wavelengths, while colored blobs represent residual noise. The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii captured the image in July. Credit: NOAJ/Subaru/J. Carson, College of Charleston
› Larger image (labeled)
› Larger image (unlabeled)


The research is part of the Strategic Explorations of Exoplanets and Disks with Subaru (SEEDS), a five-year effort to directly image extrasolar planets and protoplanetary disks around several hundred nearby stars using the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Direct imaging of exoplanets is rare because the dim objects are usually lost in the star's brilliant glare. The SEEDS project images at near-infrared wavelengths using the telescope's adaptive optics system, which compensates for the smearing effects of Earth's atmosphere, in concert with its High Contrast Instrument for the Subaru Next Generation Adaptive Optics and Infrared Camera and Spectrograph.

Young star systems are attractive targets for direct exoplanet imaging because young planets have not been around long enough to lose much of the heat from their formation, which enhances their brightness in the infrared. The team focused on the star Kappa And because of its relative youth -- estimated at the tender age of 30 million years, or just 0.7 percent the age of our solar system, based on its likely membership in a stellar group known as the Columba Association. The B9-type star is located 170 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Andromeda and is visible to the unaided eye.

Posted Image
This chart locates the star Kappa Andromedae, which is visible to the unaided eye from suburban skies. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/DSS
› Larger image (labeled)
› Larger image (unlabeled)


Kappa And b orbits its star at a projected distance of 55 times Earth's average distance from the sun and about 1.8 times as far as Neptune; the actual distance depends on how the system is oriented to our line of sight, which is not precisely known. The object has a temperature of about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,400 Celsius) and would appear bright red if seen up close by the human eye.

Carson's team detected the object in independent observations at four different infrared wavelengths in January and July of this year. Comparing the two images taken half a year apart showed that Kappa And b exhibits the same motion across the sky as its host star, which proves that the two objects are gravitationally bound and traveling together through space. Comparing the brightness of the super-Jupiter between different wavelengths revealed infrared colors similar to those observed in the handful of other gas giant planets successfully imaged around stars.

A paper describing the results has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and will appear in a future issue.

The SEEDS research team is continuing to study Kappa And b to better understand the chemistry of its atmosphere, constrain its orbit, and search for possible secondary planets.

Coincidentally, the stellar association that hosts Kappa And also includes another famous high-mass star, HR 8799, which is one of the first where astronomers directly imaged an extrasolar planet. The system hosts several gas giant planets with masses and infrared colors similar to Kappa And b
  • 1

The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#43 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:53 AM

Very cool, TR. Thanks for posting and keep 'em coming!
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Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!

#44 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:48 PM

Cassini Finds a Video Gamers' Paradise at Saturn
11.26.12


Posted Image Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted two features shaped like the 1980s video game icon "Pac-Man" on moons of Saturn. One was observed on the moon Mimas in 2010 and the latest was observed on the moon Tethys. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SWRI › Full image and caption

You could call this "Pac-Man, the Sequel." Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted a second feature shaped like the 1980s video game icon in the Saturn system, this time on the moon Tethys. (The first was found on Mimas in 2010). The pattern appears in thermal data obtained by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer, with warmer areas making up the Pac-Man shape.
"Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought," said Carly Howett, the lead author of a paper recently released online in the journal Icarus. "The Saturn system - and even the Jupiter system - could turn out to be a veritable arcade of these characters."
Scientists theorize that the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Saturnian moons occurs because of the way high-energy electrons bombard low latitudes on the side of the moon that faces forward as it orbits around Saturn. The bombardment turns that part of the fluffy surface into hard-packed ice. As a result, the altered surface does not heat as rapidly in the sunshine or cool down as quickly at night as the rest of the surface, similar to how a boardwalk at the beach feels cooler during the day but warmer at night than the nearby sand. Finding another Pac-Man on Tethys confirms that high-energy electrons can dramatically alter the surface of an icy moon. Also, because the altered region on Tethys, unlike on Mimas, is also bombarded by icy particles from Enceladus' plumes, it implies the surface alteration is occurring more quickly than its recoating by plume particles.
"Studies at infrared wavelengths give us a tremendous amount of information about the processes that shape planets and moons," said Mike Flasar, the spectrometer's principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "A result like this underscores just how powerful these observations are."
Scientists saw the new Pac-Man on Tethys in data obtained on Sept. 14, 2011, where daytime temperatures inside the mouth of Pac-Man were seen to be cooler than their surroundings by 29 degrees Fahrenheit (15 kelvins). The warmest temperature recorded was a chilly minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit (90 kelvins), which is actually slightly cooler than the warmest temperature at Mimas (about minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit, or 95 kelvins). At Tethys, unlike Mimas, the Pac-Man pattern can also be seen subtly in visible-light images of the surface, as a dark lens-shaped region. This brightness variation was first noticed by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in 1980.
"Finding a new Pac-Man demonstrates the diversity of processes at work in the Saturn system," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Future Cassini observations may reveal other new phenomena that will surprise us and help us better understand the evolution of moons in the Saturn system and beyond."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built
  • 0

The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#45 SkeeterHansen

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:51 PM

Cassini Finds a Video Gamers' Paradise at Saturn
11.26.12


Posted Image Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted two features shaped like the 1980s video game icon "Pac-Man" on moons of Saturn. One was observed on the moon Mimas in 2010 and the latest was observed on the moon Tethys. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SWRI › Full image and caption

You could call this "Pac-Man, the Sequel." Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted a second feature shaped like the 1980s video game icon in the Saturn system, this time on the moon Tethys. (The first was found on Mimas in 2010). The pattern appears in thermal data obtained by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer, with warmer areas making up the Pac-Man shape.
"Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought," said Carly Howett, the lead author of a paper recently released online in the journal Icarus. "The Saturn system - and even the Jupiter system - could turn out to be a veritable arcade of these characters."
Scientists theorize that the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Saturnian moons occurs because of the way high-energy electrons bombard low latitudes on the side of the moon that faces forward as it orbits around Saturn. The bombardment turns that part of the fluffy surface into hard-packed ice. As a result, the altered surface does not heat as rapidly in the sunshine or cool down as quickly at night as the rest of the surface, similar to how a boardwalk at the beach feels cooler during the day but warmer at night than the nearby sand. Finding another Pac-Man on Tethys confirms that high-energy electrons can dramatically alter the surface of an icy moon. Also, because the altered region on Tethys, unlike on Mimas, is also bombarded by icy particles from Enceladus' plumes, it implies the surface alteration is occurring more quickly than its recoating by plume particles.
"Studies at infrared wavelengths give us a tremendous amount of information about the processes that shape planets and moons," said Mike Flasar, the spectrometer's principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "A result like this underscores just how powerful these observations are."
Scientists saw the new Pac-Man on Tethys in data obtained on Sept. 14, 2011, where daytime temperatures inside the mouth of Pac-Man were seen to be cooler than their surroundings by 29 degrees Fahrenheit (15 kelvins). The warmest temperature recorded was a chilly minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit (90 kelvins), which is actually slightly cooler than the warmest temperature at Mimas (about minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit, or 95 kelvins). At Tethys, unlike Mimas, the Pac-Man pattern can also be seen subtly in visible-light images of the surface, as a dark lens-shaped region. This brightness variation was first noticed by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in 1980.
"Finding a new Pac-Man demonstrates the diversity of processes at work in the Saturn system," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Future Cassini observations may reveal other new phenomena that will surprise us and help us better understand the evolution of moons in the Saturn system and beyond."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built


That's pretty B.A., to be honest. B)
  • 1

/=S=/


#46 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:46 PM

MESSENGER Finds New Evidence for Water Ice at Mercury's Poles
11.29.12


Posted Image Mercury's North Polar Region Acquired By The Arecibo Observatory


Posted Image A Mosaic of MESSENGER Images of Mercury's North Polar Region

Posted Image Permanently Shadowed Polar Craters
Full Image and Caption

New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury's north pole with MESSENGER's Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury's polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury's north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury's surface measured by the MLA. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.

Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet's poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury's poles.

The idea received a boost in 1991, when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected unusually radar-bright patches at Mercury's poles, spots that reflected radio waves in the way one would expect if there were water ice. Many of these patches corresponded to the location of large impact craters mapped by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s. But because Mariner saw less than 50 percent of the planet, planetary scientists lacked a complete diagram of the poles to compare with the images.

MESSENGER's arrival at Mercury last year changed that. Images from the spacecraft's Mercury Dual Imaging System taken in 2011 and earlier this year confirmed that radar-bright features at Mercury's north and south poles are within shadowed regions on Mercury's surface, findings that are consistent with the water-ice hypothesis.

Now the newest data from MESSENGER strongly indicate that water ice is the major constituent of Mercury's north polar deposits, that ice is exposed at the surface in the coldest of those deposits, but that the ice is buried beneath an unusually dark material across most of the deposits, areas where temperatures are a bit too warm for ice to be stable at the surface itself.

MESSENGER uses neutron spectroscopy to measure average hydrogen concentrations within Mercury's radar-bright regions. Water-ice concentrations are derived from the hydrogen measurements. "The neutron data indicate that Mercury's radar-bright polar deposits contain, on average, a hydrogen-rich layer more than tens of centimeters thick beneath a surficial layer 10 to 20 centimeters thick that is less rich in hydrogen," writes David Lawrence, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist based at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the lead author of one of the papers. "The buried layer has a hydrogen content consistent with nearly pure water ice."

Data from MESSENGER's Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) — which has fired more than 10 million laser pulses at Mercury to make detailed maps of the planet's topography — corroborate the radar results and Neutron Spectrometer measurements of Mercury's polar region, writes Gregory Neumann of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In a second paper, Neumann and his colleagues report that the first MLA measurements of the shadowed north polar regions reveal irregular dark and bright deposits at near-infrared wavelength near Mercury's north pole.

"These reflectance anomalies are concentrated on poleward-facing slopes and are spatially collocated with areas of high radar backscatter postulated to be the result of near-surface water ice," Neumann writes. "Correlation of observed reflectance with modeled temperatures indicates that the optically bright regions are consistent with surface water ice."
The MLA also recorded dark patches with diminished reflectance, consistent with the theory that the ice in those areas is covered by a thermally insulating layer. Neumann suggests that impacts of comets or volatile-rich asteroids could have provided both the dark and bright deposits, a finding corroborated in a third paper led by David Paige of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Paige and his colleagues provided the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury's north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury's surface measured by the MLA. The measurements "show that the spatial distribution of regions of high radar backscatter is well matched by the predicted distribution of thermally stable water ice," he writes.

According to Paige, the dark material is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids, the same objects that likely delivered water to the innermost planet.The organic material may have been darkened further by exposure to the harsh radiation at Mercury's surface, even in permanently shadowed areas.

This dark insulating material is a new wrinkle to the story, says Sean Solomon of the Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission. "For more than 20 years the jury has been deliberating on whether the planet closest to the Sun hosts abundant water ice in its permanently shadowed polar regions. MESSENGER has now supplied a unanimous affirmative verdict."

"But the new observations have also raised new questions," adds Solomon. "Do the dark materials in the polar deposits consist mostly of organic compounds? What kind of chemical reactions has that material experienced? Are there any regions on or within Mercury that might have both liquid water and organic compounds? Only with the continued exploration of Mercury can we hope to make progress on these new questions."
  • 0

The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#47 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:37 PM

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I had no idea about Mercury's lack of tilt on it's axis and I'm completely taken by surprise at the idea that there could be ice anywhere on that planet.

Nice find once again, R.
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Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!

#48 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:42 PM

BTW: In light of these findings, I move that this thread be updated to "HOT" status....
  • 0
Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!

#49 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:48 PM

NASA Voyager 1 Encounters New Region in Deep Space
12.03.12


Posted Image This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Full image and caption › Image gallery

Posted Image This artist's concept shows how NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption
› Teleconference images
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region at the far reaches of our solar system that scientists feel is the final area the spacecraft has to cross before reaching interstellar space.
Scientists refer to this new region as a magnetic highway for charged particles because our sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines. This connection allows lower-energy charged particles that originate from inside our heliosphere -- or the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself -- to zoom out and allows higher-energy particles from outside to stream in. Before entering this region, the charged particles bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the heliosphere.
The Voyager team infers this region is still inside our solar bubble because the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed. The direction of these magnetic field lines is predicted to change when Voyager breaks through to interstellar space. The new results were described at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Monday.
"Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway," said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager."
Since December 2004, when Voyager 1 crossed a point in space called the termination shock, the spacecraft has been exploring the heliosphere's outer layer, called the heliosheath. In this region, the stream of charged particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, abruptly slowed down from supersonic speeds and became turbulent. Voyager 1's environment was consistent for about five and a half years. The spacecraft then detected that the outward speed of the solar wind slowed to zero.
The intensity of the magnetic field also began to increase at that time.
Voyager data from two onboard instruments that measure charged particles showed the spacecraft first entered this magnetic highway region on July 28, 2012. The region ebbed away and flowed toward Voyager 1 several times. The spacecraft entered the region again Aug. 25 and the environment has been stable since.
"If we were judging by the charged particle data alone, I would have thought we were outside the heliosphere," said Stamatios Krimigis, principal investigator of the low-energy charged particle instrument, based at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. "But we need to look at what all the instruments are telling us and only time will tell whether our interpretations about this frontier are correct."
Spacecraft data revealed the magnetic field became stronger each time Voyager entered the highway region; however, the direction of the magnetic field lines did not change.
"We are in a magnetic region unlike any we've been in before -- about 10 times more intense than before the termination shock -- but the magnetic field data show no indication we're in interstellar space," said Leonard Burlaga, a Voyager magnetometer team member based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The magnetic field data turned out to be the key to pinpointing when we crossed the termination shock. And we expect these data will tell us when we first reach interstellar space."
Voyager 1 and 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977. At least one of the spacecraft has visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object, about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away from the sun. The signal from Voyager 1 takes approximately 17 hours to travel to Earth. Voyager 2, the longest continuously operated spacecraft, is about 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from our sun. While Voyager 2 has seen changes similar to those seen by Voyager 1, the changes are much more gradual. Scientists do not think Voyager 2 has reached the magnetic highway.
The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The Voyager missions are a part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Something that humans built is leaving our galaxy.
  • 0

The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#50 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 04:16 PM

NASA-NOAA Satellite Reveals New Views of Earth at Night
12.05.12



This new global view and animation of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth's land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
› High-resolution download and more information


Scientists unveiled today an unprecedented new look at our planet at night. A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.

Posted Image
This image of the continental United States at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The image was made possible by the satellite's "day-night band" of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires and reflected moonlight.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
› High-resolution download and more information


Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth's atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.



More Content

The night is nowhere near as dark as most of us think. In fact, Earth is never really dark; it twinkles with lights from humans and nature.
› More views of Earth at night

Away from human settlements, light still shines. Wildfires and volcanoes rage. Oil and gas wells burn like candles. Auroras dance across the polar skies. Moonlight and starlight reflect off the water, snow, clouds, and deserts. Even the air and ocean sometimes glow.


The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth's night lights.

The new, higher resolution composite image of Earth at night was released at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. This and other VIIRS day-night band images are providing researchers with valuable data for a wide variety of previously unseen or poorly seen events.

"For all the reasons that we need to see Earth during the day, we also need to see Earth at night," said Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA's Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. "Unlike humans, the Earth never sleeps."

The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm. With its night view, VIIRS is able to detect a more complete view of storms and other weather conditions, such as fog, that are difficult to discern with infrared, or thermal, sensors. Night is also when many types of clouds begin to form.

Posted Image
On Oct. 13, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of the Nile River Valley and Delta.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Suomi NPP
› High-resolution download and more information


"NOAA's National Weather Service is continuing to explore the use of the day-night band," said Mitch Goldberg, program scientist for NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System. "The very high resolution from VIIRS data will take forecasting weather events at night to a much higher level."

Unlike a camera that captures a picture in one exposure, the day-night band produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of individual pixels. Then, the day-night band reviews the amount of light in each pixel. If it is very bright, a low-gain mode prevents the pixel from oversaturating. If the pixel is very dark, the signal is amplified.

Posted Image
Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
› High-resolution download and more information


"It's like having three simultaneous low-light cameras operating at once and we pick the best of various cameras, depending on where we're looking in the scene," Miller said. The instrument can capture images on nights with or without moonlight, producing crisp views of Earth's atmosphere, land and ocean surfaces.



Flickr slideshow of more Suomi NPP "Earth at Night" imagery.


"The night is nowhere as dark as we might think," Miller said. And with the VIIRS day-night band helping scientists to tease out information from human and natural sources of nighttime light, "we don't have to be in the dark anymore, either."

"The remarkable day-night band images from Suomi NPP have impressed the scientific community and exceeded our pre-launch expectations," said James Gleason, Suomi NPP project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.



In daylight, our big, blue marble is all land, oceans and clouds. The night, on the other hand, is electric. This video provides a narrated tour of some highlights of the new Suomi NPP Earth at night imagery.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
› High-resolution download


  • 1

The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#51 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

I guess that's why they call Africa the "dark" continent. A bright spot up by Cairo, one down by Jo-Burg...and a whole lotta black...

...nothing racist intended... ;)
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Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!

#52 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 03:31 PM

I guess that's why they call Africa the "dark" continent. A bright spot up by Cairo, one down by Jo-Burg...and a whole lotta black...

...nothing racist intended... ;)


I think that was a great double entendre Rupert :lol:
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#53 hudson bay rules

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 03:43 PM

You must have been taught that a long time ago. It has been fairly widely accepted for a long time that the universe is over 13 billion years old. Really though this number of ~13billion years is just dating back to the big bang. There are new theories which suggest that the big bang may not be the "start" of the universe but rather a major event that took place. If these theories are correct the universe may in fact be way way older than 13billion years.


I wonder if there have been, in fact, multiple big bang type events.
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I love rock and roll, just put another dime in the juice box baby.

#54 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:10 PM

I wonder if there have been, in fact, multiple big bang type events.


One Big Bang, or were there many?

· New theory tries to solve problem Einstein raised
· Universe may be much older, say cosmologists


  • James Randerson, science correspondent
  • The Guardian, Friday 5 May 2006


The universe is at least 986 billion years older than physicists thought and is probably much older still, according to a radical new theory.
The revolutionary study suggests that time did not begin with the big bang 14 billion years ago. This mammoth explosion which created all the matter we see around us, was just the most recent of many.
The standard big bang theory says the universe began with a massive explosion, but the new theory suggests it is a cyclic event that consists of repeating big bangs.
"People have inferred that time began then, but there really wasn't any reason for that inference," said Neil Turok, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge, "What we are proposing is very radical. It's saying there was time before the big bang."
Under his theory, published today in the journal Science with Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University in New Jersey, the universe must be at least a trillion years old with many big bangs happening before our own. With each bang, the theory predicts that matter keeps on expanding and dissipating into infinite space before another horrendous blast of radiation and matter replenishes it. "I think it is much more likely to be far older than a trillion years though," said Prof Turok. "There doesn't have to be a beginning of time. According to our theory, the universe may be infinitely old and infinitely large."
Today most cosmologists believe the universe will carry on expanding until all the stars burn out, leaving nothing but their cold dead remains. But there is an inherent problem with this picture. The Cosmological Constant - a mysterious force first postulated by Albert Einstein that appears to be driving the galaxies apart - is much too small to fit the theory. Einstein later renounced it as his "biggest blunder".
The Cosmological Constant is a mathematical representation of the energy of empty space, also known as "dark energy", which exerts a kind of anti-gravity force pushing galaxies apart at an accelerating rate.
It happens to be a googol (1 followed by 100 zeroes) times smaller than would be expected if the universe was created in a single Big Bang. But its value could be explained if the universe was much, much older than most experts believe.
Mechanisms exist that would allow the Constant to decrease incrementally through time. But these processes would take so long that, according to the standard theory, all matter in the universe would totally dissipate in the meantime.
Turok and Steinhardt's theory is an alternative to another explanation called the "anthropic principle", which argues that the constant can have a range of values in different parts of the universe but that we happen to live in a region conducive to life.
"The anthropic explanations are very controversial and many people do not like them," said Alexander Vilenkin a professor of theoretical physics at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Rather than making precise predictions for features of the universe the anthropic principle gives a vague range of values so it is difficult for physicists to test, he added.
"It's absolutely terrible, it really is giving up," said Prof Turok, "It's saying that we are never going to understand the state of the universe. It just has to be that way for us to exist." His explanation by contrast is built up from first principles.
But if he's right, how long have we got until the next big bang? "We can't predict when it will happen with any precision - all we can say is it won't be within the next 10 billion years." Good job, because if we were around we would instantly disintegrate into massless particles of light

I saw this a while back , do not know how seriously it is being taken by the scientific establishment.
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#55 GodzillaDeuce

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:15 PM

Something that humans built is leaving our galaxy.


*solar system

cool articles, keep em coming
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well I'm sorry that gd is soo perfect


#56 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:30 PM

*solar system

cool articles, keep em coming


Thanks for the correction mate :)
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.


#57 GodzillaDeuce

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for the correction mate :)


no problem homey

edit: that big bang article just posted is out of this world. a trillion years old??? crazy

Edited by GodzillaDeuce, 06 December 2012 - 04:39 PM.

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well I'm sorry that gd is soo perfect


#58 hudson bay rules

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:54 PM

no problem homey

edit: that big bang article just posted is out of this world. a trillion years old??? crazy


every time I turn around the universe gets older and the subatomic world gets smaller.

Edited by hudson bay rules, 06 December 2012 - 04:56 PM.

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I love rock and roll, just put another dime in the juice box baby.

#59 GodzillaDeuce

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 05:05 PM

every time I turn around the universe gets older


well, yeah...

: P
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well I'm sorry that gd is soo perfect


#60 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:56 PM

NASA'S Hubble Provides First Census of Galaxies Near Cosmic Dawn
12.12.12



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This new image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) 2012 campaign reveals a previously unseen population of seven faraway galaxies, which are observed as they appeared in a period 350 million to 600 million years after the big bang. Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Ellis (Caltech), and the UDF 2012 Team


WASHINGTON -- Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have uncovered a previously unseen population of seven primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 4 percent of its present age. The deepest images to date from Hubble yield the first statistically robust sample of galaxies that tells how abundant they were close to the era when galaxies first formed.

The results are from an ambitious Hubble survey of an intensively studied patch of sky known as the Ultra Deep Field (UDF). In the 2012 campaign, called UDF12, a team of astronomers led by Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC 3) to peer deeper into space in near-infrared light than any previous Hubble observation.

The observations were made during six weeks in August and September, and the first scientific results now are appearing in a series of scientific papers. The UDF12 team is releasing these unique data to the public after preparing them for other research groups to use.

The results show a smooth decline in the number of galaxies looking back in time to about 450 million years after the big bang. The observations support the idea galaxies assembled continuously over time and also may have provided enough radiation to reheat, or re-ionize, the universe a few hundred million years after the theorized big bang.

Looking deeper into the universe also means peering further back in time. The universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old. The newly discovered galaxies are seen as they looked 350 to 600 million years after the big bang. Their light is just arriving at Earth now.

Astronomers study the distant universe in near-infrared light because the expansion of space stretches ultraviolet and visible light from galaxies into infrared wavelengths, a phenomenon called "redshift." The more distant a galaxy, the higher its redshift.

The greater depth of the new Hubble images, together with a carefully designed survey strategy, allows this work to go further than previous studies, thereby providing what researchers say is the first reliable census of this epoch. Notably, one of the galaxies may be a distance record breaker, observed 380 million years after the birth of our universe in the big bang, corresponding to a redshift of 11.9.

A major goal of the new program was to determine how rapidly the number of galaxies increases over time in the early universe. This measure is the key evidence for how quickly galaxies build up their constituent stars.

"Our study has taken the subject forward in two ways," Ellis explained. "First, we have used Hubble to make longer exposures. The added depth is essential to reliably probe the early period of cosmic history. Second, we have used Hubble's available color filters very effectively to more precisely measure galaxy distances."

The team estimated the galaxy distances by studying their colors through a carefully chosen set of four filters at specific near-infrared wavelengths. "We added one filter, and undertook much deeper exposures in some filters than in earlier work, in order to convincingly reject the possibility that some of our galaxies might be foreground objects," said team member James Dunlop of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Astronomers have long debated whether hot stars in such early galaxies could have provided enough radiation to warm the cold hydrogen that formed soon after the big bang. This process, called "re-ionization," is thought to have occurred 200 million to 1 billion years after the birth of the universe. This process made the universe transparent to light, allowing astronomers to look far back into time. The galaxies in the new study are seen in this early epoch.

"Our data confirm re-ionization was a gradual process, occurring over several hundred million years, with galaxies slowly building up their stars and chemical elements," said Brant Robertson of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "There wasn’t a single dramatic moment when galaxies formed. It was a gradual process."

The team's finding on the distant galaxy census has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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The Real war is not between the east and the west. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.

Marjane Satrapi

tony-abbott-and-stephen-harper-custom-da

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley.





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