Space Hubble Telescope News

Robby

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Researchers Rewind the Clock to Calculate Age and Site of Supernova Blast

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Sometime during the third century, a brilliant burst of light from the explosion of a massive star was visible from Earth.

If the supernova blast had flashed over the northern hemisphere, it might have been considered an evil omen. At that time, Western Civilization was in upheaval. The Roman Empire was beginning to crumble. An emperor was assassinated, followed by political upheavals, civil wars, and barbarian attacks.

But the violent supernova death could only be seen in the southern skies. The blast occurred in the nearby satellite galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud. No record exists of the titanic event. However, like the smoke and ash drifting across the sky after an aerial fireworks blast, the supernova left behind a cloud of debris that is still rapidly expanding today. This cloud provides forensic evidence for astronomical detectives to retrace the explosion.

Astronomers sifting through Hubble observations of the supernova remnant, taken 10 years apart, have calculated the cloud's expansion rate. Analyzing the data was like rewinding a movie. The researchers traced the path of all the debris flung from the explosion back to the point in space where the doomed star blew apart. Their analysis reveals that the light from the exploded star reached Earth 1,700 years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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Robby

The News Robot
Photo Release: Hubble Pinpoints Supernova Blast

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed the supernova remnant named 1E 0102.2-7219. Researchers are using Hubble’s imagery of the remnant object to wind back the clock on the expanding remains of this exploded star in the hope of understanding the supernova event that caused it 1700 years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Researchers Rewind the Clock to Calculate Age and Site of Supernova Blast

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1392/low_STScI-H-p2102a-k-1340x520.png

Sometime during the third century, a brilliant burst of light from the explosion of a massive star was visible from Earth.

If the supernova blast had flashed over the northern hemisphere, it might have been considered an evil omen. At that time, Western Civilization was in upheaval. The Roman Empire was beginning to crumble. An emperor was assassinated, followed by political upheavals, civil wars, and barbarian attacks.

But the violent supernova death could only be seen in the southern skies. The blast occurred in the nearby satellite galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud. No record exists of the titanic event. However, like the smoke and ash drifting across the sky after an aerial fireworks blast, the supernova left behind a cloud of debris that is still rapidly expanding today. This cloud provides forensic evidence for astronomical detectives to retrace the explosion.

Astronomers sifting through Hubble observations of the supernova remnant, taken 10 years apart, have calculated the cloud's expansion rate. Analyzing the data was like rewinding a movie. The researchers traced the path of all the debris flung from the explosion back to the point in space where the doomed star blew apart. Their analysis reveals that the light from the exploded star reached Earth 1,700 years ago.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
New Horizons Spacecraft Answers Question: How Dark Is Space?

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How dark is the sky, and what does that tell us about the number of galaxies in the visible universe? Astronomers can estimate the total number of galaxies by counting everything visible in a Hubble deep field and then multiplying them by the total area of the sky. But other galaxies are too faint and distant to directly detect. Yet while we can’t count them, their light suffuses space with a feeble glow.

To measure that glow, astronomers have to escape the inner solar system and its light pollution, caused by sunlight reflecting off dust. A team of scientists has used observations by NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt to determine the brightness of this cosmic optical background. Their result sets an upper limit to the starlight emitted by faint, unresolved galaxies, showing that there is about twice as much optical light permeating space as can be accounted for by all known galaxies.

(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)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Hubble Uncovers Concentration of Small Black Holes

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The idea that black holes come in different sizes may sound a little odd at first. After all, a black hole by definition is an object that has collapsed under gravity to an infinite density, making it smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. But the amount of mass a black hole can pack away varies widely from less than twice the mass of our Sun to over a billion times our Sun's mass. Midway between are intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) weighing roughly hundreds to tens of thousands of solar masses. So, black holes come small, medium, and large.

However, the IMBHs have been elusive. They are predicted to hide out in the centers of globular star clusters, beehive-shaped swarms of as many as a million stars. Hubble researchers went hunting for an IMBH in the nearby globular cluster NGC 6397 and came up with a surprise. Because a black hole cannot be seen, they carefully studied the motion of stars inside the cluster, that would be gravitationally affected by the black hole's gravitational tug. The amplitudes and shapes of the stellar orbits led to the conclusion that there is not just one hefty black hole, but a swarm of smaller black holes – a mini-cluster in the core of the globular.

Why are the black holes hanging out together? A gravitational pinball game takes place inside globular clusters where more massive objects sink to the center by exchanging momentum with smaller stars, that then migrate to the cluster's periphery. The central black holes may eventually merge, sending ripples across space as gravitational waves.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Science Release: Hubble Uncovers Concentration of Small Black Holes

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Scientists were expecting to find an intermediate-mass black hole at the heart of the globular cluster NGC 6397, but instead they found evidence of a concentration of smaller black holes lurking there. New data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have led to the first measurement of the extent of a collection of black holes in a core-collapsed globular cluster.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Giant Radio Jet Coming from Wrong Kind of Galaxy

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These are composite images of the galaxy 0313-192, the first spiral galaxy known to be producing a giant radio-emitting jet. The image at left represents two views of the galaxy that astronomers have combined into one photograph. The view of the galaxy and its surrounding environment was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The red material in the image represents the radio-emitting jet, which was taken by the Very Large Array. The galaxy is seen edge-on. At right is a close-up of the Hubble telescope image. Another red overlay from a higher-resolution Very Large Array picture shows the inner portion of the jet.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Comet Makes a Pit Stop Near Jupiter's Asteroids

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Long road trips can be tedious and boring. That's why many road travelers break up their arduous journey by making rest stops along the way.

Astronomers found that at least one roaming comet is doing the same thing. The wayward object made a temporary stop near giant Jupiter. The icy visitor has plenty of company: It has settled near the family of captured asteroids known as Trojans that are co-orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter.

This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan asteroid population. Hubble Space Telescope observations reveal the vagabond is showing signs of transitioning from a frigid asteroid-like body to an active comet, sprouting a long tail, outgassing jets of material, and enshrouding itself in a coma of dust and gas.

The interloper came from the frigid outskirts of our solar system, a comet nesting-ground called the Kuiper Belt. This nomad was likely snatched by Jupiter's powerful gravity after it had a brush with the giant planet.

Jupiter's uninvited guest probably will not hang around the planet for very long. As the "bouncer" of the solar system, the monster planet's gravitational tug will eventually boot the comet back onto its road trip toward our Sun.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Solves Mystery of Monster Star's Dimming

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Stars come in an extraordinary range of sizes. One of the most colossal is VY Canis Majoris. If placed in the middle of our solar system it would engulf all the planets out to Saturn's orbit. This monster, appropriately called a red hypergiant, is as bright as 300,000 Suns. Yet it is so far away that, 200 years ago, it could be seen only as a faint star in the winter constellation of the Great Dog. Since then, it has faded and is no longer visible to the naked eye. Astronomers used Hubble to get a close-up look at the star and discovered the reason for the dimming. The star is expelling huge clouds of dust in the final stages of its life. Eventually, the bloated star may explode as a supernova, or may simply collapse and form a black hole.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Distant Planet May Be On Its Second Atmosphere, NASA's Hubble Finds

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Orbiting a red dwarf star 41 light-years away is an Earth-sized, rocky exoplanet called GJ 1132 b. In some ways, GJ 1132 b has intriguing parallels to Earth, but in other ways it is very different. One of the differences is that its smoggy, hazy atmosphere contains a toxic mix of hydrogen, methane and hydrogen cyanide. Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence this is not the planet's original atmosphere, and that the first one was blasted away by blistering radiation from GJ 1132 b's nearby parent star. The so-called "secondary atmosphere" is thought to be formed as molten lava beneath the planet's surface continually oozes up through volcanic fissures. Gases seeping through these cracks seem to be constantly replenishing the atmosphere, which would otherwise also be stripped away by the star. This is the first time a secondary atmosphere has been detected on a world outside our solar system.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Science Release: Hubble Sees New Atmosphere Forming on a Rocky Exoplanet

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For the first time, scientists using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence of volcanic activity reforming the atmosphere on a rocky planet around a distant star. The planet, GJ 1132 b, has a similar density, size, and age to those of Earth.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Set to Resume Science Operations

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NASA is working to return the Hubble Space Telescope to science operations after resolving a problem with a safeguard aboard. Hubble entered safe mode on Sunday, March 7, shortly after 4 a.m. EST, following detection of a software error within the spacecraft’s main computer. The spacecraft has been moved out of safe mode into a pre-science state with the plan of returning to normal operations by Thursday night.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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NASA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 Restored

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The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was brought back online on Saturday, March 13th at approximately 7:00 p.m. EST. The instrument was shut down as part of the normal observatory safe mode activities that occurred on Sunday, March 7, in response to a software error on the main flight computer. After starting its recovery on Thursday, March 11, WFC3 suspended the process due to a slightly lower-than-normal voltage reading for a power supply, which triggered an internal instrument safeguard.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Opens New Eyes on the Universe

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, ready to uncover new worlds, peer ever deeper into space, and even map the invisible backbone of the universe. The first snapshots from the refurbished Hubble showcase the 19-year-old telescope's new vision. Topping the list of exciting new views are colorful multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie "pillar of creation," and a "butterfly" nebula. With its new imaging camera, Hubble can view galaxies, star clusters, and other objects across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. A new spectrograph slices across billions of light-years to map the filamentary structure of the universe and trace the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life. The telescope's new instruments also are more sensitive to light and can observe in ways that are significantly more efficient and require less observing time than previous generations of Hubble instruments. NASA astronauts installed the new instruments during the space shuttle servicing mission in May 2009. Besides adding the instruments, the astronauts also completed a dizzying list of other chores that included performing unprecedented repairs on two other science instruments.

Now that Hubble has reopened for business, it will tackle a whole range of observations. Looking closer to Earth, such observations will include taking a census of the population of Kuiper Belt objects residing at the fringe of our solar system, witnessing the birth of planets around other stars, and probing the composition and structure of the atmospheres of other worlds. Peering much farther away, astronomers have ambitious plans to use Hubble to make the deepest-ever portrait of the universe in near-infrared light. The resulting picture may reveal never-before-seen infant galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 500 million years old. Hubble also is now significantly more well-equipped to probe and further characterize the behavior of dark energy, a mysterious and little-understood repulsive force that is pushing the universe apart at an ever-faster rate.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Shows Torrential Outflows from Infant Stars May Not Stop Them from Growing

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Stars aren't shy about announcing their births. As they are born from the collapse of giant clouds of hydrogen gas and begin to grow, they launch hurricane-like winds and spinning, lawn-sprinkler-style jets shooting off in opposite directions.

This action carves out huge cavities in the giant gas clouds. Astronomers thought these stellar temper tantrums would eventually clear out the surrounding gas cloud, halting the star's growth. But in a comprehensive analysis of 304 fledgling stars in the Orion Complex, the nearest major star-forming region to Earth, researchers discovered that gas-clearing by a star's outflow may not be as important in determining its final mass as conventional theories suggest. Their study was based on previously collected data from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope.

The study leaves astronomers still wondering why star formation is so inefficient. Only 30% of a hydrogen gas cloud's initial mass winds up as a newborn star.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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NASA Awards Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2021

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The NHFP is one of the highlights of NASA's pursuit of excellence in astrophysics. The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Over 400 applicants vied for the fellowships. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Spots Double Quasars in Merging Galaxies

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Inhabitants of our Milky Way galaxy living several billion years from now will have a markedly different-looking sky overhead. Two brilliant objects, each as bright as the full Moon or brighter, will drown out the stars with their radiance. These giant blazing light bulbs are a pair of quasars, brought to life by the collision of our Milky Way with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

Quasars are ignited by monster black holes voraciously feeding on infalling matter, unleashing a torrent of radiation. The Milky Way and Andromeda have such black holes at their hearts, which are now sleeping giants. That is, until the big bang-up. The duo will be as deadly then as it is dazzling. Blistering radiation from the quasar pair might sterilize the surfaces of planets, wiping out innumerable extraterrestrial civilizations.

This tale of "death star" dueling quasars looming in the sky might seem like a scene out of a science fiction movie. But the real universe is stranger than fiction. This is actually a story that played out between two pairs of galaxies that existed long ago and far away. The four galaxies, each containing a central, bright quasar, are in the process of merging. As the two galaxies in each quasar pair move closer together, so do their quasars. Hubble caught the action, photographing two quasar pairs that existed 10 billion years ago, during the peak epoch of galaxy close encounters. The discovery offers a unique way to probe collisions among galaxies in the early universe that might otherwise have gone undetected. Ancient quasars are scattered all across the heavens, so finding these dynamic duos is fortuitous. Astronomers estimate only one in a thousand quasars are really double quasars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

The News Robot
Hubble Spots Double Quasars in Merging Galaxies

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1401/low_STScI-H-p2114a-k-1340x520.png

Inhabitants of our Milky Way galaxy living several billion years from now will have a markedly different-looking sky overhead. Two brilliant objects, each as bright as the full Moon or brighter, will drown out the stars with their radiance. These giant blazing light bulbs are a pair of quasars, brought to life by the collision of our Milky Way with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

Quasars are ignited by monster black holes voraciously feeding on infalling matter, unleashing a torrent of radiation. The Milky Way and Andromeda have such black holes at their hearts, which are now sleeping giants. That is, until the big bang-up. The duo will be as deadly then as it is dazzling. Blistering radiation from the quasar pair might sterilize the surfaces of planets, wiping out innumerable extraterrestrial civilizations.

This tale of "death star" dueling quasars looming in the sky might seem like a scene out of a science fiction movie. But the real universe is stranger than fiction. This is actually a story that played out between two pairs of galaxies that existed long ago and far away. The four galaxies, each containing a central, bright quasar, are in the process of merging. As the two galaxies in each quasar pair move closer together, so do their quasars. Hubble caught the action, photographing two quasar pairs that existed 10 billion years ago, during the peak epoch of galaxy close encounters. The discovery offers a unique way to probe collisions among galaxies in the early universe that might otherwise have gone undetected. Ancient quasars are scattered all across the heavens, so finding these dynamic duos is fortuitous. Astronomers estimate only one in a thousand quasars are really double quasars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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