Space Hubble Telescope News

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Hubble Opens Doorway to Systematic Search for Black Holes

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Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing black hole hunt has bagged yet another supermassive black hole in the universe. The compact object - equal to the mass of two billion suns - lies at the heart of the edge-on galaxy NGC 3115, located 30 million light-years away in the constellation Sextans.

This result promises to open the way to systematic demographic studies of very massive black holes that might once have powered quasars - objects that are incredibly small, yet release a gusher of light and other radiation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomers Find Jupiter-like Cloud Bands on Closest Brown Dwarf

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Brown dwarfs, often called “failed stars,” weigh up to 80 times as much as Jupiter, yet their gravity compacts them to about the size of Jupiter in diameter. And like Jupiter, brown dwarfs can have clouds and weather. Astronomers have found evidence that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16A, has Jupiter-like cloud bands. In contrast its companion brown dwarf, Luhman 16B, shows signs of patchy clouds.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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No Blue Skies for Super-Hot Planet WASP-79b

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The 1927 song, "Blue Skies,' by celebrated American composer Irving Berlin, was an instant hit, and even featured in the very first Hollywood "talking picture," the Jazz Singer.

But if Berlin lived on the planet WASP-79b, he would only have had yellow skies for inspiration. This has piqued the curiosity of astronomers because it is so peculiar. The gas giant planet was expected to show evidence for Rayleigh scattering, a phenomena where certain colors of light are dispersed by very fine dust particles in the upper atmosphere. Rayleigh scattering is what makes Earth's skies blue by dispersing the shorter (bluer) wavelengths of sunlight.

This is a moot point regarding lyricist Berlin, because WASP-79b is a hellish class of planet that is unlike anything found in our solar system, or frankly, ever imagined by most astronomers. For want of a better word, astronomers simply call these planets "hot Jupiters." They are the size of Jupiter, or larger, but are so close to their star they complete one full orbit in a matter of days – or even hours. (At a distance of about 500 million miles from the Sun, Jupiter, by comparison, takes 12 years to complete an orbit.)

The term "hot" is an understatement. The planet WASP-79b has an atmospheric temperature of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of molten glass. By combing observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and the ground-based Magellan observatory, astronomers found that the seething atmosphere is quirky. It is so hot that its scattered manganese sulfide or silicate clouds might rain molten iron. That is not the big surprise. But rather, the lack of Rayleigh scattering is just "weird," say researchers. It could be indicative of unknown atmospheric processes that aren't currently understood, and may yield clues to the planet's atmospheric evolution.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Telescopes and Spacecraft Join Forces to Probe Deep into Jupiter's Atmosphere

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With thunderheads that tower forty miles high and stretch half the width of a continent, hurricane-force winds in enormous storms that rage for centuries, and lightning three times as powerful as Earth's strongest superbolts, Jupiter—king of the planets—has proven itself a more-than-worthy namesake to the supreme Roman god of sky and thunder.

In spite of more than 400 years of scientific observations, many details of the gas giant's turbulent and ever-changing atmosphere have remained elusive. Now, thanks to the teamwork of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gemini Observatory, and the Juno spacecraft, scientists are able to probe deep into storm systems, investigating sources of lightning outbursts, mapping cyclonic vortices, and unravelling the nature of enigmatic features within the Great Red Spot.

This unique collaboration is allowing researchers to monitor Jupiter's weather and estimate the amount of water in the atmosphere, providing insight into how Jupiter operates today as well as how it and the other planets in our solar system formed more than four-and-a-half billion years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Telescopes and Spacecraft Join Forces to Probe Deep into Jupiter's Atmosphere

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With thunderheads that tower forty miles high and stretch half the width of a continent, hurricane-force winds in enormous storms that rage for centuries, and lightning three times as powerful as Earth's strongest superbolts, Jupiter—king of the planets—has proven itself a more-than-worthy namesake to the supreme Roman god of sky and thunder.

In spite of more than 400 years of scientific observations, many details of the gas giant's turbulent and ever-changing atmosphere have remained elusive. Now, thanks to the teamwork of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gemini Observatory, and the Juno spacecraft, scientists are able to probe deep into storm systems, investigating sources of lightning outbursts, mapping cyclonic vortices, and unravelling the nature of enigmatic features within the Great Red Spot.

This unique collaboration is allowing researchers to monitor Jupiter's weather and estimate the amount of water in the atmosphere, providing insight into how Jupiter operates today as well as how it and the other planets in our solar system formed more than four-and-a-half billion years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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STScI Astronomers Kathryn Flanagan and Colin Norman Elected AAAS Fellows

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Council has elected Kathryn Flanagan of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Colin Norman of STScI and Johns Hopkins University, and 441 other AAAS members as Fellows of the AAAS.

Dr. Flanagan is cited by the AAAS for her lead role calibrating grating spectrometers for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory mission; X-ray observations of astrophysical plasmas; and leadership in the James Webb Space Telescope project.

Dr. Norman is cited by the AAAS for distinguished contributions to an array of subjects in theoretical astrophysics, especially in the areas of the interstellar medium, galaxy dynamics, star formation, and galaxy clusters.

For more information about this announcement, visit the AAAS website.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Telescopes and Spacecraft Join Forces to Probe Deep into Jupiter's Atmosphere

low_STSCI-H-p2021a-k-1340x520.png


With thunderheads that tower forty miles high and stretch half the width of a continent, hurricane-force winds in enormous storms that rage for centuries, and lightning three times as powerful as Earth's strongest superbolts, Jupiter—king of the planets—has proven itself a more-than-worthy namesake to the supreme Roman god of sky and thunder.

In spite of more than 400 years of scientific observations, many details of the gas giant's turbulent and ever-changing atmosphere have remained elusive. Now, thanks to the teamwork of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gemini Observatory, and the Juno spacecraft, scientists are able to probe deep into storm systems, investigating sources of lightning outbursts, mapping cyclonic vortices, and unravelling the nature of enigmatic features within the Great Red Spot.

This unique collaboration is allowing researchers to monitor Jupiter's weather and estimate the amount of water in the atmosphere, providing insight into how Jupiter operates today as well as how it and the other planets in our solar system formed more than four-and-a-half billion years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision with Andromeda Galaxy

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NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, Sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the Sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest Ever View of the Universe

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Like photographers assembling a portfolio of best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the universe. Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small area of space in the constellation Fornax, created using Hubble Space Telescope data from 2003 and 2004. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time. The new full-color XDF image reaches much fainter galaxies and includes very deep exposures in red light from Hubble's new infrared camera, enabling new studies of the earliest galaxies in the universe. The XDF contains about 5,500 galaxies even within its smaller field of view. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

Astronomers continue studying this area of sky with Hubble. Extensive ongoing observing programs, led by Harry Teplitz and Richard Ellis at the California Institute of Technology, will allow astronomers to study the deep-field galaxies with Hubble to even greater depths in ultraviolet and infrared light prior to the launch of JWST. These new results will provide even more extraordinary views of this region of the sky and will be shared with the public in the coming months.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Asteroid Belts of Just the Right Size are Friendly to Life

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Solar systems with life-bearing planets may be rare if they are dependent on the presence of asteroid belts of just the right mass, according to a study by Rebecca Martin, a NASA Sagan Fellow from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and astronomer Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, shaped by the evolution of the Sun's protoplanetary disk and by the gravitational influence of a nearby giant Jupiter-like planet, may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like planet. The findings will appear today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (published by Oxford University Press).

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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STScI Astronomers Help Develop and Operate World's Most Powerful Planet Finder

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Space Telescope Science Institute astronomers have been involved in nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing of the world's most advanced instrument for directly photographing and analyzing planets around other stars. Called the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), the instrument will be used to photograph faint planets next to bright stars and probe their atmospheres, and to study dusty disks around young stars. GPI was used to image Beta Pictoris b, a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. The bright star Beta Pictoris is hidden behind a mask in the center of the image that blocks out the glare of the central star.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Marks 30 Years in Space with Tapestry of Blazing Starbirth

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A colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope's 30 years of viewing the wonders of space.

In the Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef," because NGC 2014 resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars.

Some of the stars in NGC 2014 are monsters. The nebula's sparkling centerpiece is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Marks 30 Years in Space with Tapestry of Blazing Starbirth

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A colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope's 30 years of viewing the wonders of space.

In the Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef," because NGC 2014 resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars.

Some of the stars in NGC 2014 are monsters. The nebula's sparkling centerpiece is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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WFIRST Telescope Named For ‘Mother of Hubble’ Nancy Grace Roman

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Today, NASA announced that it is naming its next-generation space telescope, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), in honor of Dr. Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first Chief Astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe. The newly named Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope, for short), is set to launch in the mid-2020s. The Space Telescope Science Institute will serve as the science operations center for the Roman Space Telescope. In that role, the Institute will plan, schedule, and carry out observations, process and archive mission datasets, and engage and inform the astronomical community and the public.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Dr. Roeland van der Marel Appointed as STScI Lead on Proposed "Wide View" Space Telescope

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The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, has appointed Dr. Roeland van der Marel to lead its work on a proposed NASA space telescope that will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but over a hundred times larger area. The space observatory, called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA), is being studied for launch in the mid-2020s, pending program approval by NASA. The telescope will be used to probe the distribution of dark matter and the characteristics of dark energy, measure the abundance and characteristics of planets orbiting other stars, and will provide observations and surveys to study many other astrophysical subjects. STScI is presently the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope and the science and mission operations center for the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018. Van der Marel joined the STScI staff in 1997. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He is an expert on black holes and the structure of galaxies.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Introduces New, Wider Set of Eyes on the Universe: Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute to Partner on New NASA 'Wide-View' Space Telescope

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After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). WFIRST will image large regions of the sky in near-infrared light to answer fundamental questions about dark energy and the structure and evolution of the universe. It will also find and characterize planets beyond our solar system, and as a general-purpose observatory, revolutionize many other astrophysical topics. WFIRST will have a mirror the same size as Hubble's, but it will have a 100 times wider view of space. Slated for launch in the mid-2020s, it will complement the capabilities of NASA's other major astrophysical observatories.

WFIRST is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California; the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland; the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), also in Pasadena; and a science team comprised of members from U.S. research institutions across the country. STScI will be a partner on the WFIRST science operations and will focus during the mission formulation phase on the observation scheduling system, wide-field imaging data processing system, and the data archive.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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STScI to Design Science Operations for New Panoramic Space Telescope

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NASA has awarded a contract to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Science Operations Center (SOC) of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. WFIRST is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in a wide-range of science areas, including dark energy and dark matter, and planets outside our solar system.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Simulated Image Demonstrates the Power of NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope

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NASA's upcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s, will have the power to survey the sky 1,000 times faster than the Hubble Space Telescope, with Hubble-quality detail, in the near-infrared.

A simulated image of a 34,000-light-year swath across our neighboring galaxy Andromeda showcases WFIRST’s unique detector configuration, expansive field of view and high resolution. The image was generated using data collected by Hubble, and shows the red and infrared light of more than 50 million individual stars in Andromeda, as they would appear with WFIRST.

WFIRST is designed to address key questions across a wide range of topics, including dark energy, exoplanets, and general astrophysics spanning from our solar system to the most distant galaxies in the observable universe. WFIRST is expected to amass more than 4 petabytes of information per year, all of which will be non-proprietary and immediately accessible to the public.

The simulated image, which represents the staggering amount of data that could be captured in a single pointing over just 90 minutes, demonstrates the power of WFIRST for examining large-scale structures that are otherwise too time-consuming to image. Astronomers are currently using simulations like this to plan future observations.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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