Space Hubble Telescope News

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How to Weigh a Black Hole Using NASA's Webb Space Telescope



Galaxies and their central, supermassive black holes are inextricably linked. Both grow in lockstep for reasons that aren’t yet understood. To gain new insights, Webb will turn its infrared gaze to the center of a nearby galaxy called NGC 4151, whose supermassive black hole is actively feeding and glowing brightly. By measuring the motions of stars clustered around the black hole and comparing them to computer models, astronomers can determine the black hole’s mass. This challenging measurement will test the capabilities of Webb’s innovative instrument called an integral field unit.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Captures the Ghost of Cassiopeia



The brightest stars embedded in nebulae throughout our galaxy pour out a torrent of radiation that eats into vast clouds of hydrogen gas – the raw material for building new stars. This etching process sculpts a fantasy landscape where human imagination can see all kinds of shapes and figures. A nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia has flowing veils of gas and dust that have earned it the nickname "Ghost Nebula." The nebula is being blasted by a torrent of radiation from a nearby, blue-giant star called Gamma Cassiopeiae, which can be easily seen with the unaided eye at the center of the distinctive "W" asterism that forms the constellation. This Hubble Space Telescope view zooms in on the creepy-looking top of the nebula, material is swept away from it, forming a fantail shape. IC 63 is located 550 light-years away.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Photo Release: The ghost of Cassiopeia


About 550 light-years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia lies IC 63, a stunning and slightly eerie nebula. Also known as the ghost of Cassiopeia, IC 63 is being shaped by radiation from a nearby unpredictably variable star, Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is slowly eroding away the ghostly cloud of dust and gas. This celestial ghost makes the perfect backdrop for the upcoming feast of All Hallow's Eve — better known as Halloween.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Returns to Science Operations



On Saturday, Oct. 27 at 2:10 a.m. EDT, Hubble completed its first science operations since entering safe mode on Oct. 5. The return to conducting science comes after successfully recovering a backup gyroscope, or gyro, that had replaced a failed gyro three weeks earlier. Hubble is now back in its normal science operations mode with three fully functional gyros. Originally required to last 15 years, Hubble has now been at the forefront of scientific discovery for more than 28 years. The team expects the telescope will continue to yield amazing discoveries well into the next decade.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Reveals a Giant Cosmic "Bat Shadow"



Like a fly that wanders into a flashlight’s beam, a young star’s planet-forming disk is casting a giant shadow, nicknamed the “Bat Shadow.” Hubble’s near-infrared vision captured the shadow of the disk of this fledgling star, which resides nearly 1,300 light-years away in a stellar nursery called the Serpens Nebula. In this Hubble image, the shadow spans approximately 200 times the length of our solar system. It is visible in the upper right portion of the picture. The young star and its disk likely resemble what the solar system looked like when it was only 1 or 2 million years old.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Photo Release: Hubble reveals cosmic Bat Shadow in the Serpent’s Tail


The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured part of the wondrous Serpens Nebula, lit up by the star HBC 672. This young star casts a striking shadow — nicknamed the Bat Shadow — on the nebula behind it, revealing telltale signs of its otherwise invisible protoplanetary disc.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Kepler Science Will Continue Using STScI Archive



The Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009 with the goal of finding exoplanets orbiting distant stars. In the years since, astronomers have used Kepler observations to discover 2,818 exoplanets as well as another 2,679 exoplanet candidates which need further confirmation. On October 30, 2018 NASA announced that Kepler had run out of fuel and would be decommissioned. While spacecraft operations have ceased, its data will continue to be publicly available through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute. These data will enable new scientific discoveries for years to come.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Kepler Science Will Continue Using STScI Archive



The Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009 with the goal of finding exoplanets orbiting distant stars. In the years since, astronomers have used Kepler observations to discover 2,818 exoplanets as well as another 2,679 exoplanet candidates which need further confirmation. On October 30, 2018 NASA announced that Kepler had run out of fuel and would be decommissioned. While spacecraft operations have ceased, its data will continue to be publicly available through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute. These data will enable new scientific discoveries for years to come.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomers Unveil Growing Black Holes in Colliding Galaxies



Some of the Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning images reveal galaxies in distress. Many of them are in the throes of a gravitational encounter with another galaxy. The photos show perfect pinwheel patterns stretched and pulled into irregular shapes. Streamers of gas and dust flow from galaxies into space. And in this chaos, batches of young, blue stars glow like tree lights, fueled by the dust and gas kicked up by the galactic encounter. For some galaxies, the powerful meeting with a passing galaxy will eventually end in mergers.

But hidden from view deep inside the dusty cores of these merging galaxies is the slow dance of their supermassive black holes toward an eventual union. Visible light cannot penetrate these shrouded central regions. X-ray data, however, have detected the black-hole courtship. And now astronomers analyzing near-infrared images from the sharp-eyed Hubble Space Telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii are offering the best view yet of close pairs of black holes as they move slowly toward each other.

The study is the largest survey of the cores of nearby galaxies in near-infrared light. The Hubble observations represent over 20 years' worth of snapshots from its vast archive. The survey targeted galaxies residing an average distance of 330 million light-years from Earth.

The census helps astronomers confirm computer simulations showing that black holes grow faster during the last 10 million to 20 million years of the galactic merger. The Hubble and Keck Observatory images captured close-up views of this final stage, when the bulked-up black holes are only about 3,000 light-years apart — a near-embrace in cosmic terms. The study shows that galaxy encounters are important for astronomers' understanding of how black holes became so monstrously big.

These monster black holes also unleash powerful energy in the form of gravitational waves, the kind of ripples in space-time that were just recently detected by ground-breaking experiments. The images also provide a close-up preview of a phenomenon that must have been more common in the early universe, when galaxy mergers were more frequent.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Superflares From Young Red Dwarf Stars Imperil Planets



The term "HAZMAT" connotes danger. In this case, it's on a cosmic scale, where violent flares of seething gas from small, young stars may make entire planets uninhabitable. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is observing such stars through a large program called HAZMAT — HAbitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time. This is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs — referred to as "M dwarfs" in astronomical circles — at three different ages: young, intermediate, and old.

Approximately three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy's "habitable-zone" planets orbit these small stars. But young red dwarfs are active stars, producing ultraviolet flares that blast out million-degree plasma with an intensity that could influence atmospheric chemistry and possibly strip off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. The HAZMAT team found that flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — around 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older. This is the age when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars. Scientists also detected one of the most intense stellar flares ever observed in ultraviolet light. Dubbed the "Hazflare," this event was more energetic than the most powerful flare from our Sun ever recorded.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Webb Telescope Will Investigate Cosmic Jets from Young Stars



Young stars, like young children, are messy eaters, swallowing most of the material falling onto them but spitting the rest out. The gas a newborn star fails to eat gets ejected outward at supersonic speeds, creating shock waves that heat the interstellar medium and cause it to glow in infrared light. NASA’s Webb telescope will examine stellar outflows and shocks to learn more about how stars like our sun form.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomers Find Possible Elusive Star Behind Supernova



The explosive end to a massive star's life is one of the most powerful blasts in the universe. The material expelled by the violent stellar death enriches our galaxy with heavier elements, the building blocks of new stars and even planetary systems. Astronomers have diligently searched for the doomed progenitor stars in pre-explosion images. Studying these stars could help them in their quest to better understand stellar evolution.

Their quest has turned up a few pre-supernova stars. But the doomed stars for one class of supernova have eluded discovery: the hefty stars that explode as Type Ic supernovas. These stars, weighing more than 30 times our Sun's mass, lose their hydrogen and helium layers before their cataclysmic death. Researchers thought they should be easy to find because they are big and bright. However, they have come up empty. Finally, in 2017, astronomers got lucky. A nearby star ended its life as a Type Ic supernova. Two teams of researchers pored through the archive of Hubble images to uncover the putative precursor star in pre-explosion photos taken in 2007. The supernova, catalogued as SN 2017ein, appeared near the center of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 3938, located roughly 65 million light-years away.

An analysis of the candidate star's colors shows that it is blue and extremely hot. Based on that assessment, both teams suggest two possibilities for the source's identity. The progenitor could be a single star between 45 and 55 times more massive than our Sun. Another idea is that it could have been a binary-star system in which one of the stars weighs between 60 and 80 times our Sun's mass and the other roughly 48 solar masses. In this latter scenario, the stars are orbiting closely and interact with each other. The more massive star is stripped of its hydrogen and helium layers by the close companion, and eventually explodes as a supernova.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Joined
Jul 28, 2004
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Astronomers Find Possible Elusive Star Behind Supernova



The explosive end to a massive star's life is one of the most powerful blasts in the universe. The material expelled by the violent stellar death enriches our galaxy with heavier elements, the building blocks of new stars and even planetary systems. Astronomers have diligently searched for the doomed progenitor stars in pre-explosion images. Studying these stars could help them in their quest to better understand stellar evolution.

Their quest has turned up a few pre-supernova stars. But the doomed stars for one class of supernova have eluded discovery: the hefty stars that explode as Type Ic supernovas. These stars, weighing more than 30 times our Sun's mass, lose their hydrogen and helium layers before their cataclysmic death. Researchers thought they should be easy to find because they are big and bright. However, they have come up empty. Finally, in 2017, astronomers got lucky. A nearby star ended its life as a Type Ic supernova. Two teams of researchers pored through the archive of Hubble images to uncover the putative precursor star in pre-explosion photos taken in 2007. The supernova, catalogued as SN 2017ein, appeared near the center of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 3938, located roughly 65 million light-years away.

An analysis of the candidate star's colors shows that it is blue and extremely hot. Based on that assessment, both teams suggest two possibilities for the source's identity. The progenitor could be a single star between 45 and 55 times more massive than our Sun. Another idea is that it could have been a binary-star system in which one of the stars weighs between 60 and 80 times our Sun's mass and the other roughly 48 solar masses. In this latter scenario, the stars are orbiting closely and interact with each other. The more massive star is stripped of its hydrogen and helium layers by the close companion, and eventually explodes as a supernova.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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STScI Visualizations of the Universe Form Heart of New "Deep Field" Film



November 16 marks the premiere of a unique film and musical experience inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope’s famous Deep Field image. It represents a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Grammy award-winning American composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, producers Music Productions, multi award-winning artists 59 Productions, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Deep Field: The Impossible Magnitude of our Universe features a variety of Hubble’s stunning imagery and includes 11 computer-generated visualizations of far-flung galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters developed by STScI. The film is available on YouTube and will be shared with the world through screenings and live performances around the globe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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