Space Hubble Telescope News

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NASA's Hubble Looks to the Final Frontier

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the TV series "Star Trek" has captured the public's imagination with the signature phrase, "To boldly go where no one has gone before." The Hubble Space Telescope simply orbits Earth and doesn't "boldly go" deep into space. But it looks deeper into the universe than ever before possible to explore the fabric of time and space and find the farthest objects ever seen. This is epitomized in this Hubble image that is part of its Frontier Fields program to probe the far universe. This view of a massive cluster of galaxies unveils a very cluttered-looking universe filled with galaxies near and far. Some are distorted like a funhouse mirror through a warping-of-space phenomenon first predicted by Einstein a century ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Observations Suggest a Missing Ingredient in Dark Matter Theories

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While studying the Coma galaxy cluster in 1933, astronomer Fritz Zwicky uncovered a problem. The mass of all the stars in the cluster added up to only a few percent of the heft needed to keep member galaxies from escaping the cluster's gravitational grip. He predicted that the "missing mass," now known as dark matter, was the glue that was holding the cluster together.

Dark matter, as its name implies, is matter that cannot be seen. It does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, nor does it interact with any known particles. The presence of these elusive particles is only known through their gravitational pull on visible matter in space. This mysterious substance is the invisible scaffolding of our universe forming long filamentary structures—the cosmic web—along which galaxies form.

Even more confounding is that dark matter makes up the vast bulk of the universe's overall mass content. The stuff that stars, planets, and humans are made of accounts for just a few percent of the universe's contents.

Astronomers have been chasing this ghostly substance for decades but still don't have many answers. They have devised ingenious methods to infer dark matter's presence by tracing the signs of its gravitational effects.

One technique involves measuring how dark matter's gravity in a massive galaxy cluster magnifies and warps light from a distant background galaxy. This phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, produces smeared images of remote galaxies and occasionally multiple copies of a single image.

A recent study of 11 hefty galaxy clusters found that some small-scale clumps of dark matter are so concentrated that the lensing effects they produce are 10 times stronger than expected. These concentrations are associated with individual cluster galaxies.

Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile discovered with unprecedented detail smaller-scale distorted images of remote galaxies nested like Matryoshka dolls within the larger-scale lens distortions in each cluster's core, where the most massive galaxies reside.

This unexpected discovery means there is a discrepancy between these observations and theoretical models of how dark matter should be distributed in galaxy clusters. It could signal a gap in astronomers' current understanding of the nature of dark matter.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Science Release: New Hubble Data Suggests There is an Ingredient Missing from Current Dark Matter Theories

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Observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have found that something may be missing from the theories of how dark matter behaves. This missing ingredient may explain why researchers have uncovered an unexpected discrepancy between observations of the dark matter concentrations in a sample of massive galaxy clusters and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed in clusters. The new findings indicate that some small-scale concentrations of dark matter produce lensing effects that are 10 times stronger than expected.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Joined
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Hubble Observations Suggest a Missing Ingredient in Dark Matter Theories

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1376/low_STScI-H-p2029a-k-1340x520.png

While studying the Coma galaxy cluster in 1933, astronomer Fritz Zwicky uncovered a problem. The mass of all the stars in the cluster added up to only a few percent of the heft needed to keep member galaxies from escaping the cluster's gravitational grip. He predicted that the "missing mass," now known as dark matter, was the glue that was holding the cluster together.

Dark matter, as its name implies, is matter that cannot be seen. It does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, nor does it interact with any known particles. The presence of these elusive particles is only known through their gravitational pull on visible matter in space. This mysterious substance is the invisible scaffolding of our universe forming long filamentary structures—the cosmic web—along which galaxies form.

Even more confounding is that dark matter makes up the vast bulk of the universe's overall mass content. The stuff that stars, planets, and humans are made of accounts for just a few percent of the universe's contents.

Astronomers have been chasing this ghostly substance for decades but still don't have many answers. They have devised ingenious methods to infer dark matter's presence by tracing the signs of its gravitational effects.

One technique involves measuring how dark matter's gravity in a massive galaxy cluster magnifies and warps light from a distant background galaxy. This phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, produces smeared images of remote galaxies and occasionally multiple copies of a single image.

A recent study of 11 hefty galaxy clusters found that some small-scale clumps of dark matter are so concentrated that the lensing effects they produce are 10 times stronger than expected. These concentrations are associated with individual cluster galaxies.

Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile discovered with unprecedented detail smaller-scale distorted images of remote galaxies nested like Matryoshka dolls within the larger-scale lens distortions in each cluster's core, where the most massive galaxies reside.

This unexpected discovery means there is a discrepancy between these observations and theoretical models of how dark matter should be distributed in galaxy clusters. It could signal a gap in astronomers' current understanding of the nature of dark matter.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Probes Atmospheres of Exoplanets in TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Zone

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Only 40 light-years away — a stone’s throw on the scale of our galaxy — several Earth-sized planets orbit the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. Four of the planets lie in the star’s habitable zone, a region at a distance from the star where liquid water, the key to life as we know it, could exist on the planets’ surfaces.

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first spectroscopic survey of these worlds. Hubble reveals that at least three of the exoplanets do not seem to contain puffy, hydrogen-rich atmospheres similar to gaseous planets such as Neptune. This means the atmospheres may be more shallow and rich in heavier gases like those found in Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen.

Astronomers plan to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2019, to probe deeper into the planetary atmospheres to search for the presence of such elements that could offer hints of whether these far-flung worlds are habitable.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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In Planet Formation, It's Location, Location, Location

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One of the top priorities for new home buyers is location. Finding a home in the right neighborhood is a key ingredient for a happy, prosperous family.

Like families hunting for a house, fledgling planets also need the proper location to grow and thrive. Astronomers using Hubble to probe the giant, young star cluster Westerlund 2 are finding that stars residing in the system's crowded central city face a rough-and-tumble neighborhood that suppresses planet formation. The Hubble observations show that lower-mass stars near the cluster's core do not have the large, dense clouds of dust that eventually could become planets in just a few million years.

But life is a lot easier for stars and would-be planets in the cluster suburbs, farther away from the dense center. Hubble detected those planet-forming clouds embedded in disks encircling stars in these neighborhoods.

The absence of planet-forming clouds around stars near the center is mainly due to their bully neighbors: bright, giant stars, some of which weigh up to 80 times the Sun's mass. Their blistering ultraviolet light and hurricane-like stellar winds of charged particles blowtorch disks around neighboring lower-mass stars, dispersing the giant dust clouds.

Understanding the importance of location and environment in nurturing planet formation is crucial for building models of planet formation and stellar evolution. Located 20,000 light-years away, Westerlund 2 is a unique laboratory to study stellar evolutionary processes because it's relatively nearby, quite young, and contains a large stellar population.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Captures Crisp New Portrait of Jupiter's Storms

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More massive than all the other planets combined, Jupiter truly is the king of our solar system. The swirling clouds, arranged in colorful, banded structures, change from year to year. The rich colors are produced by trace compounds in Jupiter’s predominantly hydrogen/helium atmosphere. Hurricane-force winds propel these clouds, and upwelling currents are ablaze with lightning bolts far more powerful than those seen on Earth.

The Hubble Space Telescope serves as a “weather satellite” for monitoring Jupiter’s stormy weather. The iconic Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to swallow Earth, shows that it’s shrinking a little in the Hubble images, but it still dominates the entire southern atmosphere, plowing through the clouds like a cargo ship.

Hubble astronomers patiently wait to get close-up snapshots as Earth make its nearest annual approach to Jupiter – an astronomical alignment called an opposition, when Jupiter is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. “Closest approach” between the worlds is still on the order of nearly a half billion miles!

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Photo Release: Hubble Captures Crisp New Image of Jupiter and Europa

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This latest image of Jupiter, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on 25 August 2020, was captured when the planet was 653 million kilometres from Earth. Hubble’s sharp view is giving researchers an updated weather report on the monster planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including a remarkable new storm brewing, and a cousin of the Great Red Spot changing colour — again. The new image also features Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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