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First Published: September 24: 2015
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The Universe  Arkive Year Alpha and Year Beta

On Hubble’s 25th Anniversary

Hubble did not go speechless on its twenty fifth
Year being in space looking out without wonder
Yet suppose you were there with a mind and a
Pair of human eyes that formulate another eye

That sees unlike Hubble all around and what is
It that you would do just looking at one nursery
Of stellar nativity where countless baby stars are
Rising out and about spreading on to find their

Own space and place to call home an endless flow
Of births and becoming rising and spreading out
What would you do but give in the highest of us

In the silence playing a symphony that no one can
Do and wonder how our entire future is coming off
The depth of the past say nothing stay speechless

Hubble in Space 24.04.90-24.04.15

:Munayem Mayenin : October 22.10.15


And Here is the Jewel of the Universe The Milky Way

Local Galactic Group: Image by Andrew Z Colvin

The Dance Taking Place in the World of Arp 299

Image: X-ray: NASA:CXC:University of Crete:K. Anastasopoulou et al, NASA:NuSTAR:GSFC:A. Ptak et al:Optical: NASA:STScI

|| July 02: 2017 || ά. What would happen if you took two galaxies and mixed them together over millions of years? A new image including data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals the cosmic culinary outcome. Arp 299 is a system located about 140 million light years from Earth. It contains two galaxies that are merging, creating a partially blended mix of stars from each galaxy in the process.

However, this stellar mix is not the only ingredient. New data from Chandra reveals 25 bright X-ray sources sprinkled throughout the Arp 299 concoction. Fourteen of these sources are such strong emitters of X-rays that astronomers categorise them as 'ultra-luminous X-ray sources' or ULXs. These ULXs are found embedded in regions where stars are currently forming at a rapid rate. Most likely, the ULXs are binary systems where a neutron star or black hole is pulling matter away from a companion star, that is much more massive than the Sun.

These double star systems are called high-mass X-ray binaries. Such a loaded buffet of high-mass X-ray binaries is rare, but Arp 299 is one of the most powerful star-forming galaxies in the nearby Universe. This is due at least in part to the merger of the two galaxies, which has triggered waves of star formation. The formation of high-mass X-ray binaries is a natural consequence of such blossoming star birth as some of the young massive stars, which often form in pairs, evolve into these systems.

This new composite image of Arp 299 contains X-ray data from Chandra, pink, higher-energy X-ray data from NuSTAR, purple and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope, white and faint brown. Arp 299, also, emits copious amounts of infrared light that has been detected by observatories such as NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, but those data are not included in this composite.

The infrared and X-ray emission of the galaxy is remarkably similar to that of galaxies found in the very distant Universe, offering an opportunity to study a relatively nearby analog of these distant objects. A higher rate of galaxy collisions occurred when the universe was young, but these objects are difficult to study directly because they are located at colossal distances.

The Chandra data also reveal diffuse X-ray emission from hot gas distributed throughout Arp 299. Scientists think the high rate of supernovas, another common trait of star-forming galaxies, has expelled much of this hot gas out of the center of the system.

A paper describing these results appeared in the August 21 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online. The Lead Author of the paper is Konstantina Anastasopoulou from the University of Crete in Greece. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra programme for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

: Editor: Lee Mohon: NASA: ω.

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Giant Wave Rolling Through the Perseus Galaxy Cluster: Perseus Spans 200,000 Light Years and This Wave is Twice the Size of Milky Way Galaxy

This X-ray image of the hot gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster was made from 16 days of Chandra observations. Researchers then filtered the data in
a way that brightened the contrast of edges in order to make subtle details more obvious. An oval highlights the location of an
enormous wave found to be rolling through the gas. Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre:Stephen Walker et al

|| May 04: 2017: Francis Reddy Writing || ά. Combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations and computer simulations, an international team of scientists has discovered a vast wave of hot gas in the nearby Perseus galaxy cluster. Spanning some 200,000 light-years, the wave is about twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy. The researchers say that the wave formed billions of years ago, after a small galaxy cluster grazed Perseus and caused its vast supply of gas to slosh around an enormous volume of space.

"Perseus is one of the most massive nearby clusters and the brightest one in X-rays, so Chandra data provide us with unparalleled detail." said the Lead Scientist Mr Stephen Walker at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The wave we've identified is associated with the flyby of a smaller cluster, which shows that the merger activity, that produced these giant structures is still ongoing." A paper, describing the findings appears in the June 2017 issue of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online.

Galaxy clusters are the largest structures bound by gravity in the universe today. Some 11 million light-years across and located about 240 million light-years away, the Perseus galaxy cluster is named for its host constellation. Like all galaxy clusters, most of its observable matter takes the form of a pervasive gas averaging tens of millions of degrees, so hot it only glows in X-rays.

Chandra observations have revealed a variety of structures in this gas, from vast bubbles blown by the supermassive black hole in the cluster's central galaxy, NGC 1275, to an enigmatic concave feature, known as the 'bay'.

The bay's concave shape couldn't have formed through bubbles launched by the black hole. Radio observations using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in central New Mexico show that the bay structure produces no emission, the opposite of what scientists would expect for features associated with black hole activity. In addition, standard models of sloshing gas, typically produced structures, that arc in the wrong direction.

Mr Walker and his colleagues turned to existing Chandra observations of the Perseus cluster to further investigate the bay. They combined a total of 10.4 days of high-resolution data with 05.8 days of wide-field observations at energies between 700 and 7,000 electron volts. For comparison, visible light has energies between about two and three electron volts. The scientists then filtered the Chandra data to highlight the edges of structures and show subtle details.

Next, they compared the edge-enhanced Perseus image to computer simulations of merging galaxy clusters, developed by Mr John ZuHone, an Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The simulations were run on the Pleiades supercomputer, operated by the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley, California. Although, he was not involved in this study, Mr ZuHone collected his simulations into an online catalogue to aid astronomers studying galaxy clusters.

"Galaxy cluster mergers represent the latest stage of structure formation in the cosmos." Mr ZuHone said. "Hydrodynamic simulations of merging clusters allow us to produce features in the hot gas and tune physical parameters, such as the magnetic field. Then we can attempt to match the detailed characteristics of the structures we observe in X-rays."

One simulation seemed to explain the formation of the bay. In it, gas in a large cluster similar to Perseus, has settled into two components, a 'cold' central region with temperatures around 54 million degrees Fahrenheit, 30 million Celsius and a surrounding zone, where the gas is three times hotter. Then a small galaxy cluster containing about a thousand times the mass of the Milky Way, skirts the larger cluster, missing its centre by around 650,000 light-years.

The flyby creates a gravitational disturbance, that churns up the gas like cream stirred into coffee, creating an expanding spiral of cold gas. After about 02.5 billion years, when the gas has risen nearly 500,000 light-years from the centre, vast waves form and roll at its periphery for hundreds of millions of years before dissipating.

These waves are giant versions of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, which show up wherever there's a velocity difference across the interface of two fluids, such as wind blowing over water. They can be found in the ocean, in cloud formations on Earth and other planets, in plasma near Earth and even on the sun.

"We think the bay feature we see in Perseus is part of a Kelvin-Helmholtz wave, perhaps the largest one yet identified, that formed in much the same way as the simulation shows." Mr Walker said. "We have, also, identified similar features in two other galaxy clusters, Centaurus and Abell 1795."

The researchers, also, found that the size of the waves corresponds to the strength of the cluster's magnetic field. If it's too weak, the waves reach much larger sizes than those observed. If too strong, they don't form at all. This study allowed astronomers to probe the average magnetic field throughout the entire volume of these clusters, a measurement, that is impossible to make by any other means.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

: Editor: Rob Garner: NASA: ω.

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The Arrhythmic Beating of a Black Hole Heart

Image: NASA

|| April 20: 2017|| ά. At the centre of the Centaurus galaxy cluster, there is a large elliptical galaxy, called, NGC 4696. Deeper still, there is a supermassive black hole, buried within the core of this galaxy. New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes has showed details about this giant black hole, located some 145 million light years from Earth. Although, the black hole itself is undetected, astronomers are learning about the impact it has on the galaxy it inhabits and the larger cluster around it.

In some ways, this black hole resembles a beating heart, that pumps blood outward into the body via the arteries. Likewise, a black hole can inject material and energy into its host galaxy and beyond. By examining the details of the X-ray data from Chandra, scientists have found evidence for repeated bursts of energetic particles in jets generated by the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 4696. These bursts create vast cavities in the hot gas that fills the space between the galaxies in the cluster. The bursts also create shock waves, akin to sonic booms produced by high-speed airplanes, which travel tens of thousands of light years across the cluster.

This composite image contains X-ray data from Chandra, red, that reveals the hot gas in the cluster and radio data from the NSF's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, blue, that shows high-energy particles produced by the black hole-powered jets. Visible light data from the Hubble Space Telescope, green, show galaxies in the cluster as well as galaxies and stars outside the cluster.

Astronomers employed special processing to the X-ray data to emphasize nine cavities visible in the hot gas. These cavities are labeled A through I in an additional image, and the location of the black hole is labelled with a cross. The cavities that formed most recently are located nearest to the black hole, in particular the ones labeled A and B. The researchers estimate that these black hole bursts or 'beats', have occurred every five to ten million years. Besides the vastly differing time scales, these beats, also, differ from typical human heartbeats in not occurring at particularly regular intervals.

A different type of processing of the X-ray data reveals a sequence of curved and approximately equally spaced features in the hot gas. These may be caused by sound waves generated by the black hole’s repeated bursts. In a galaxy cluster, the hot gas that fills the cluster enables sound waves, albeit at frequencies far too low for the human hear to detect, to propagate.

The features in the Centaurus Cluster are similar to the ripples seen in the Perseus cluster of galaxies. The pitch of the sound in Centaurus is extremely deep, corresponding to a discordant sound about 56 octaves below the notes near middle C. This corresponds to a slightly higher (by about one octave) pitch than the sound in Perseus. Alternative explanations for these curved features include the effects of turbulence or magnetic fields.

The black hole bursts also appear to have lifted up gas that has been enriched in elements generated in supernova explosions. The authors of the study of the Centaurus cluster created a map showing the density of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. The brighter colors in the map show regions with the highest density of heavy elements and the darker colours show regions with a lower density of heavy elements.

Therefore, regions with the highest density of heavy elements are located to the right of the black hole. A lower density of heavy elements near the black hole is consistent with the idea that enriched gas has been lifted out of the cluster’s centre by bursting activity associated with the black hole. The energy produced by the black hole is also able to prevent the huge reservoir of hot gas from cooling. This has prevented large numbers of stars from forming in the gas.

A paper describing these results was published in the March 21 2016 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online. The first author is Jeremy Sanders from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

: Editor: Lee Mohon: NASA: ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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The Epic of the Lifelleniverse: Where Water Oceans Out Life's Laurels

 This graphic illustrates how Cassini scientists think water interacts with rock at
the bottom of the ocean of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, producing
hydrogen gas. Image: NASA:JPL-Caltech

|| April 13: 2017|| ά. Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other ocean worlds in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published on Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope. In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy, that life can feed on, appears to exist on Saturn's moon Enceladus and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter's moon Europa.

“This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment.” said Mr homas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. ”These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions, that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.” The paper from researchers with the Cassini mission, published in the journal Science, indicates hydrogen gas, which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life, is pouring into the subsurface ocean of Enceladus from hydrothermal activity on the seafloor.

The presence of ample hydrogen in the moon's ocean means that microbes, if any exists there, could use it to obtain energy by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water. This chemical reaction, known as 'methanogenesis' because it produces methane as a byproduct, is at the root of the tree of life on Earth and could even have been critical to the origin of life on our planet.

Life as we know it requires three primary ingredients: liquid water; a source of energy for metabolism and the right chemical ingredients, primarily carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. With this finding, Cassini has shown that Enceladus, a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the sun than Earth, has nearly all of these ingredients for habitability. Cassini has not yet shown phosphorus and sulfur are present in the ocean but scientists suspect them to be, since the rocky core of Enceladus is thought to be chemically similar to meteorites, that contain the two elements.

"Confirmation that the chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon of Saturn is an important milestone in our search for habitable worlds beyond Earth." said Ms Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:JPL in Pasadena, California.

The Cassini spacecraft detected the hydrogen in the plume of gas and icy material spraying from Enceladus during its last, and deepest, dive through the plume on October 28, 2015. Cassini, also, sampled the plume's composition during flybys earlier in the mission. From these observations scientists have determined that nearly 98 percent of the gas in the plume is water, about one percent is hydrogen and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.

The measurement was made using Cassini's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer:INMS instrument, which sniffs gases to determine their composition. INMS was designed to sample the upper atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. After Cassini's surprising discovery of a towering plume of icy spray in 2005, emanating from hot cracks near the south pole, scientists turned its detectors toward the small moon.

Cassini wasn't designed to detect signs of life in the Enceladus plume, indeed, scientists didn't know the plume existed until after the spacecraft arrived at Saturn. "Although we can't detect life, we've found that there's a food source there for it. It would be like a candy store for microbes," said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study.

The new findings are an independent line of evidence that hydrothermal activity is taking place in the Enceladus ocean. Previous results, published in March 2015, suggested hot water is interacting with rock beneath the sea; the new findings support that conclusion and add that the rock appears to be reacting chemically to produce the hydrogen.

The paper detailing new Hubble Space Telescope findings, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, reports on observations of Europa from 2016 in which a probable plume of material was seen erupting from the moon’s surface at the same location where Hubble saw evidence of a plume in 2014. These images bolster evidence that the Europa plumes could be a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the moon's surface.

The newly imaged plume rises about 62 miles, 100 kilometres, above Europa’s surface, while the one observed in 2014 was estimated to be about 30 miles, 50 kilometres, high. Both correspond to the location of an unusually warm region that contains features that appear to be cracks in the moon’s icy crust, seen in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Researchers speculate that, like Enceladus, this could be evidence of water erupting from the moon’s interior.

“The plumes on Enceladus are associated with hotter regions, so after Hubble imaged this new plume-like feature on Europa, we looked at that location on the Galileo thermal map. We discovered that Europa’s plume candidate is sitting right on the thermal anomaly." said Mr William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Sparks led the Hubble plume studies in both 2014 and 2016.

The researchers say if the plumes and the warm spot are linked, it could mean water being vented from beneath the moon's icy crust is warming the surrounding surface. Another idea is that water ejected by the plume falls onto the surface as a fine mist, changing the structure of the surface grains and allowing them to retain heat longer than the surrounding landscape.

For both the 2014 and 2016 observations, the team used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph:STIS to spot the plumes in ultraviolet light. As Europa passes in front of Jupiter, any atmospheric features around the edge of the moon block some of Jupiter’s light, allowing STIS to see the features in silhouette. Sparks and his team are continuing to use Hubble to monitor Europa for additional examples of plume candidates and hope to determine the frequency with which they appear.

NASA's future exploration of ocean worlds is enabled by Hubble's monitoring of Europa's putative plume activity and Cassini's long-term investigation of the Enceladus plume. In particular, both investigations are laying the groundwork for NASA's Europa Clipper mission, which is planned for launch in the 2020s. “If there are plumes on Europa, as we now strongly suspect, with the Europa Clipper we will be ready for them.” said Mr Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science, at NASA Headquarters.

Hubble's identification of a site which appears to have persistent, intermittent plume activity provides a tempting target for the Europa mission to investigate with its powerful suite of science instruments. In addition, some of Sparks' co-authors on the Hubble Europa studies are preparing a powerful ultraviolet camera to fly on Europa Clipper that will make similar measurements to Hubble's, but from thousands of times closer. And several members of the Cassini INMS team are developing an exquisitely sensitive, next-generation version of their instrument for flight on Europa Clipper.

For more information on ocean worlds in our solar system and beyond, visit.

Felicia Chou: Headquarters, Washington: 202-358-0257: felicia.chou at
Preston Dyches: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif: 818-354-7013: preston.dyches at
Donna Weaver:Ray Villard: Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore: 410-338-4493:410-338-4514: dweaver at at

: Editor: Karen Northon: NASA: ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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The International Day of Human Space Flight: Reaching for the One Universe to Find Home on One Earth for One Humanity for All We Venture Out to is at Home in the One Humanity-Soul That We Must Seek, Find and Be


|| April 12: 2017|| ά. The United Nations today commemorated the International Day of Human Space Flight to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the first human space flight, which ushered in the beginning of the space era for the humanion. “The International Day is an opportunity for us to recognize how much humanity has achieved thanks to international cooperation in space and the benefits space technology and applications has brought us for making the world a better place.” said the UN Champion for Space, Mr Scott Kelly in a message on the occasion.

The International Day commemorates the historic space flight that Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen, took on April 12, 1961 and which opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all of Earth’s inhabitants. During his year in space astronaut Mr Kelly and NASA partnered with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs on the Why Space Matters campaign to draw attention to the importance of space-based science technology and their applications for sustainable development.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly declared April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight 'to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purpose'.

The Assembly expressed its deep conviction of the common interest of humankind in promoting and expanding the exploration and use of outer space, as the province of all mankind, for peaceful purposes and in continuing efforts to extend to all States the benefits derived there from. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Astronomers Show the Role of the Cosmic Web Across the Cosmic Time: The Humanion Invites Each Single Human Being  on This Earth to Look for, Find and Show Her:His Country  in This Microcosm of an Image of 40,000 Galaxies: You Cannot Even Locate the Milky Way Galaxy Here, Let Alone Finding the Earth and Where are Our Countries in This Image That We All Want to Put Up All the Possible and Impossible Walls

Simulations of the cosmic web showing the filaments connecting structures. Credit: Illustris Simulation

|| March 15: 2017: Lancaster University News || ά.  Astronomers have sampled 40,000 distant galaxies to better understand how galaxies like our own Milky Way have formed and evolved across cosmic time. Dr David Sobral, from Lancaster University, is a member of an international team, led by a joint collaboration between the California Institute of Technology:Caltech and the University of California, Riverside.

The team looked at the COSMOS field, where CR7 was also discovered, a large patch of sky with deep enough data to look at galaxies very far away and with accurate distance measurements to individual galaxies. Dr Sobral said, "We have studied over 40 thousand galaxies and catalogued the cosmic web in large scales into its main components within the COSMOS field: clusters, filaments and sparse regions devoid of any object.

It’s remarkable how state-of-the-art data and methods now allow us to extend our analysis into a much younger universe and probe such structures up to eight billion years back in time.”

The galaxies were then divided into those, that are central to their local environment, the centre of gravity and those, that roam around in their host environments, satellites.

The scaffolding, that holds the large-scale structure of the universe, constitutes galaxies, dark matter and gas, from which stars are forming, organised in complex networks, known as, the cosmic web.

This network comprises dense regions, known as, galaxy clusters and groups, that are woven together through thread-like structures, known as filaments. These filaments, form the backbone of the cosmic web and host a large fraction of the mass in the universe, as well as sites of star formation activity.

While there is ample evidence that environments shape and direct the evolution of galaxies, it is not clear how galaxies behave in the larger, global cosmic web and in particular, in the more extended environment of filaments.

Behnam Darvish a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech, who is the Lead Author on the paper, said, “What makes this study unique is the observation of thousands of galaxies in different filaments, spanning a significant fraction of the age of the Universe”.

Other authors include Nick Scoville and Shoubaneh Hemmati of Caltech, Andra Stroe of the European Southern Observatory, and Jeyhan Kartaltepe of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The research in the Astrophysical Journal was funded by NASA. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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And the Way to Dusty Death: The Colourful Demise of a Sun-Like Star

Image: NASA, ESA, and K. Noll:STScI, Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team:STScI:AURA

|| September 24: 2016: Year Beta: Day One || ά. This image, taken by the NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colourful "last hurrah" of a star like our sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the centre. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another five billion years.

Our Milky Way Galaxy is littered with these stellar relics, called planetary nebulae. The objects have nothing to do with planets. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century astronomers called them the name because through small telescopes they resembled the disks of the distant planets Uranus and Neptune. The planetary nebula in this image is called NGC 2440. The white dwarf at the centre of NGC 2440 is one of the hottest known, with a surface temperature of more than 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 200,000 degrees Celsius.

The nebula's chaotic structure suggests that the star shed its mass episodically. During each outburst, the star expelled material in a different direction. This can be seen in the two bowtie-shaped lobes. The nebula also is rich in clouds of dust, some of which form long, dark streaks pointing away from the star. NGC 2440 lies about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Puppis.

The material expelled by the star glows with different colours depending on its composition, its density and how close it is to the hot central star. Blue samples helium; blue-green oxygen, and red nitrogen and hydrogen.

:Editor: Karl Hille:NASA:

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The Universe-Pearl Off the Oyster Nebula in NGC 1501

Image: ESA:Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: M. Canale

|| September 07: 2016|| ά. The world is your oyster, as the expression goes, and the NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope, with its advanced instruments and favourable location in orbit above Earth’s atmosphere, has far more of the Universe to explore than most.

This image was captured using Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera Two, the camera responsible for many of the telescope’s most beautiful images. It shows the appropriately nicknamed Oyster Nebula, more formally known as NGC 1501, a candescent cloud some 5000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

The Oyster Nebula is a type of cosmic object that is essentially a giant cloud of dust and electrically charged gases. Nebulas are often made to glow, as seen here, by the radiation from a nearby star. In the case of the Oyster Nebula, that star can be seen as a yellow–orange dot at the centre of the turquoise cloud, resembling the oyster’s precious pearl.

This is a planetary nebula, meaning that it was created when its progenitor star, the ‘pearl’, threw its outer layers of gas into space. This star is just as notable as the beautiful structure surrounding it. It is a pulsating star, meaning that its brightness varies regularly and periodically. In the case of NGC 1501’s progenitor star, this is incredibly fast, with the star’s brightness changing significantly in just half an hour.

The complexity of the Oyster Nebula’s internal structure is clearly evident in this detailed image, appearing almost webbed or bubbly. Astronomers have modelled this object in 3D and found it to be an irregularly shaped cloud filled with lumpy and bumpy structures, such as knots and bubbles of gas and clumps of dust, all knitted together.

These visible-light observations capture the glow of gases including hydrogen and nitrogen. The bright colours shown here are arbitrary. A version of this image was entered into the 2012 Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Marc Canale.

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The First Generation of Stars of the Universe Formed Even Later Than Previously Thought

Image: ESA:C. Carreau

|| September 01: 2016|| ά. ESA's Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the Universe started forming later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated. This new analysis also shows that these stars were the only sources needed to account for reionising atoms in the cosmos, having completed half of this process when the Universe had reached an age of 700 million years.

With the multitude of stars and galaxies that populate the present Universe, it's hard to imagine how different our 13.8 billion year cosmos was when it was only a few seconds old. At that early phase, it was a hot, dense primordial soup of particles, mostly electrons, protons, neutrinos, and photons, the particles of light.

In such a dense environment the Universe appeared like an 'opaque' fog, as light particles could not travel any significant distance before colliding with electrons. As the cosmos expanded, the Universe grew cooler and more rarefied and, after about 380, 000 years, finally became 'transparent'. By then, particle collisions were extremely sporadic and photons could travel freely across the cosmos.

Today, telescopes like Planck can observe this fossil light across the entire sky as the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. Its distribution on the sky reveals tiny fluctuations that contain a wealth of information about the history, composition and geometry of the Universe. The release of the CMB happened at the time when electrons and protons joined to form hydrogen atoms. This is the first moment in the history of the cosmos when matter was in an electrically neutral state.

After that, a few hundred million years passed before these atoms could assemble and eventually give rise to the Universe's first generation of stars. As these first stars came to life, they filled their surroundings with light, which subsequently split neutral atoms apart, turning them back into their constituent particles: electrons and protons. Scientists refer to this as the 'epoch of reionisation'. It did not take long for most material in the Universe to become completely ionised, and – except in a very few, isolated places – it has been like that ever since.

Observations of very distant galaxies hosting supermassive black holes indicate that the Universe had been completely reionised by the time it was about 900 million years old. The starting point of this process, however, is much harder to determine and has been a hotly debated topic in recent years. "The CMB can tell us when the epoch of reionisation started and, in turn, when the first stars formed in the Universe," explains Jan Tauber, Planck project scientist at ESA.

To make this measurement, scientists exploit the fact that a fraction of the CMB is polarised: part of the light vibrates in a preferred direction. This results from CMB photons bouncing off electrons – something that happened very frequently in the primordial soup, before the CMB was released, and then again later, after reionisation, when light from the first stars brought free electrons back onto the cosmic stage.

"It is in the tiny fluctuations of the CMB polarisation that we can see the influence of the reionisation process and deduce when it began," adds Tauber. A first estimate of the epoch of reionisation came in 2003 from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), suggesting that this process might have started early in cosmic history, when the Universe was only a couple of hundred million years old. This result was problematic, because there is no evidence that any stars had formed by then, which would mean postulating the existence of other, exotic sources that could have caused the reionisation at that time.

This first estimate was soon to be corrected, as subsequent data from WMAP pushed the starting time to later epochs, indicating that the Universe had not been significantly reionised until at least some 450 million years into its history. This eased, but did not completely solve the puzzle: although the earliest of the first stars have been observed to be present already when the Universe was 300 to 400 million years old, it remained unclear whether these stars were the main culprits for reionising fully the cosmos or whether additional, more exotic sources must have played a role too.

In 2015, the Planck Collaboration provided new data to tackle the problem, moving the reionisation epoch even later in cosmic history and revealing that this process was about half-way through when the Universe was around 550 million years old. The result was based on Planck's first all-sky maps of the CMB polarisation, obtained with its Low-Frequency Instrument:LFI.

Now, a new analysis of data from Planck's other detector, the High-Frequency Instrument:HFI, which is more sensitive to this phenomenon than any other so far, shows that reionisation started even later – much later than any previous data have suggested. "The highly sensitive measurements from HFI have clearly demonstrated that reionisation was a very quick process, starting fairly late in cosmic history and having half-reionised the Universe by the time it was about 700 million years old," says Jean-Loup Puget from Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, principal investigator of Planck's HFI.

"These results are now helping us to model the beginning of the reionisation phase. We have also confirmed that no other agents are needed, besides the first stars, to reionise the Universe," adds Matthieu Tristram, a Planck Collaboration scientist at Laboratoire de l'Accélérateur Linéaire in Orsay, France. The new study locates the formation of the first stars much later than previously thought on the cosmic timeline, suggesting that the first generation of galaxies are well within the observational reach of future astronomical facilities, and possibly even some current ones.

In fact, it is likely that some of the very first galaxies have already been detected with long exposures, such as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field observed with the NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be easier than expected to catch many more with future observatories such as the NASA:ESA:CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

'Planck intermediate results. XLVII. Planck constraints on reionization history' and 'Planck intermediate results. XLVI. Reduction of large-scale systematic effects in HFI polarization maps and estimation of the reionization optical depth' by the Planck Collaboration are published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

About Planck: Launched in 2009, Planck was designed to map the sky in nine frequencies using two state-of-the-art instruments: the Low Frequency Instrument:LFI, which includes three frequency bands in the range 30-70 GHz, and the High Frequency Instrument:HFI, which includes six frequency bands in the range 100-857 GHz. HFI completed its survey in January 2012, while LFI continued to make science observations until October 03, 2013, before being switched off on October 19, 2013. Seven of Planck's nine frequency channels were equipped with polarisation-sensitive detectors.

The Planck Scientific Collaboration consists of all the scientists who have contributed to the development of the mission, and who participate in the scientific exploitation of the data during the proprietary period. These scientists are members of one or more of four consortia: the LFI Consortium, the HFI Consortium, the DK-Planck Consortium, and ESA's Planck Science Office. The two European-led Planck Data Processing Centres are located in Paris, France and Trieste, Italy.

The LFI consortium is led by N. Mandolesi, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy, deputy PI: M. Bersanelli, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy, and was responsible for the development and operation of LFI. The HFI consortium is led by J.L. Puget, Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay:CNRS:Université Paris-Sud, France:deputy PI: F. Bouchet, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris:CNRS:UPMC, France, and was responsible for the development and operation of HFI. ω.

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I Burn at 25 000ºC: You Should Be Glad That I'm 15,000 Light Years' Away: Hen 02--247

Image: ESA:Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt:

|| August 21: 2016|| ά. This dramatic burst of colour shows a cosmic object with an equally dramatic history. Enveloped within striking, billowing clouds of gas and dust that form a nebula known as M01-67, sits a bright star named Hen 02-427, otherwise known as WR 124.

This star is just as intense as the scene unfolding around it. It is a Wolf-Rayet star, a rare type of star known to have very high surface temperatures, well over 25 000ºC, next to the Sun’s comparatively cool 5500ºC, and enormous mass, which ranges over 05–20 times our Sun’s. Such stars are constantly losing vast amounts of mass via thick winds that continuously pour from their surfaces out into space.

Hen 02-427 is responsible for creating the entire scene shown here, which has been captured in beautiful detail by the NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The star, thought to be a massive one in the later stages of its evolution, blasted the material comprising M1-67 out into space some 10 millennia ago, perhaps in multiple outbursts, to form an expanding ring of ejecta.

Since then, the star has continued to flood the nebula with massive clumps of gas and intense ionising radiation via its fierce stellar winds, shaping and sculpting its evolution. M01-67 is roughly ring-shaped but lacks a clear structure, it is essentially a collection of large, massive, superheated knots of gas all clustered around a central star.

Hen 02-427 and M1-67 lie 15,000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagitta, The Arrow. This image uses visible-light data gathered by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 02, and was released in 2015, the same data were previously processed and released in 1998. ω.

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Behold: The Crab Nebula



|| July 07: 2016|| ά. This new NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the beating heart of one of the most visually appealing, and most studied, supernova remnants known, the Crab Nebula. At the centre of this nebula the spinning core of a deceased star breathes life into the gas that surrounds it. The Crab Nebula, which lies 6500 light-years away in the constellation of Taurus or The Bull, is the result of a supernova, a colossal explosion that was the dying act of a massive star. During this explosion most of the material that made up the star was blown into space at immense speeds, forming an expanding cloud of gas known as a supernova remnant.

This extraordinary view of the nebula is one that has never been seen before. Unlike many popular images of this well-known object, which highlight the spectacular filaments in the outer regions, this image shows just the inner part of the nebula and combines three separate high-resolution images, each represented in a different colour, taken around ten years apart. At the very centre of the Crab Nebula lies what remains of the innermost core of the original star, now a strange and exotic object known as a neutron star. Made entirely of subatomic particles called neutrons, a neutron star has about the same mass as the Sun, but compressed into a sphere only a few tens of kilometres across.

A typical neutron star spins incredibly fast and the one at the centre of the Crab Nebula is no exception, rotating approximately 30 times per second.

The region around a neutron star is a showcase for extreme physical processes and considerable violence. The rapid motion of the material nearest to the star is revealed by the subtle rainbow of colours in this time-lapse image, the rainbow effect being due to the movement of material over the time between one image and another.

Hubble’s sharp eye also captures the intricate details of the ionised gas, shown in red in this image, that forms a swirling medley of cavities and filaments. Inside this shell of ionised gas a ghostly blue glow surrounds the spinning neutron star. This glow is radiation given off by electrons spiralling in the powerful magnetic field around the star at nearly the speed of light:1:.

The supernova explosion from which the Crab Nebula was born was one of the first to be recorded in human history:2:. This has made the Crab Nebula an invaluable object for the study of supernova remnants and has enabled astronomers to probe the lives and deaths of stars as never before.


:1: The star’s intense magnetic field is channelling infalling gas and dust to the star’s poles where it is ejected at immense speeds. Two symmetric jets of material are beamed out from the poles, sweeping out into space as the star rotates. Rather like a lighthouse beam, the jets periodically point towards Earth and present astronomers with a blinking — or pulsing — source of light in the sky. Accordingly, these objects are known as pulsars.

:2: The story began in the year 1054 CE, when a new star became visible in the night sky. The new star was the brightest object in the night sky, second only to the Moon. At the time, Chinese and Japanese astronomers recorded the event, and monitored the new star as it gradually faded in brightness until, after several years, it became invisible to the naked eye.


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Trace of Itokawa's Four Billion Years of History Found on Particles

Image: JAXA

|| June 27: 2016|| ά. A research team led by Aerospace Project Research Associate Toru Matsumoto of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency:JAXA: found that traces of more than four billion years of history up until now of the Asteroid "Itokawa" were recoded on the surface of particles that were recovered from Itokawa by the Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa" to bring back to the Earth, and their surface patterns and marks were analysed by the research team.

The particles analysed this time were just over 10 micrometers in size, and their surface patterns and marks were merely in nanometers:one millionth of one micrometer. The research team observed the faint structure of the particle surface in details through X-ray microtomography:X-ray CT: and by scanning electron microscopes. As a result, the surface pattern that had been believed to be just one type was found to be at least four variations.

One of them was found to stem from Itokawa's parent body. Asteroid Itokawa was not in its current shape from the beginning. When it was born over four billion years ago, it was a parent body about 40 times bigger than current Itokawawa. The parent body was destroyed in fragments once, and it is believed that those fragments were assembled again to form Itokawa because some particles analyzed this time retain the pattern that was thought to be made over four billion years ago.

In addition to the above, we also found some patterns that were formed due to long-time exposure to solar wind or caused by friction between particles. Those patterns are shaped in a time scale of one million to thousand years. In other words, we can track the asteroid history by observing the particle surface.

The research method this time can acquire a lot of information without hurting the precious particles. Therefore, this method will become an imperative first-step analysis skill when studying extraterrestrial objects.


Publication: Magazine: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta:dated August 15, 2016:
Thesis title: Nanomorphology of Itokawa regolith particles: Application to space-weathering processes affecting the Itokawa asteroid
Authors: Toru Matsumoto, Akira Tsuchiyama, Kentaro Uesugi, Tsukasa Nakano, Masayuki Uesugi, Junya Matsuno, Takashi Nagano, Akira Shimada, Akihisa Takeuchi, Yoshio Suzuki, Tomoki Nakamura, Michihiko Nakamura, Arnold Gucsik, Keita Nagaki, Tatsuhiro Sakaiya, Tadashi Kondo: DOI No.: 10.1016/j.gca.2016.05.011:


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There's a Spider in the Loop

Released 20.06.2016 1:36 pm: Image: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

|| June 25: 2016|| ά.  This multicoloured swirl of yellow and blue shows a prominent ring of gas near the North Celestial Pole. The pole appears to be fixed in place, while the rest of the night sky slowly circles around it because of Earth’s rotation. This image comes courtesy of ESA’s Planck satellite, which spent years mapping the entire sky in exquisite detail between 2009 and 2013.

The North Celestial Loop lies over 325 light-years away from us towards the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). It is composed of dust and neutral hydrogen blown and sculpted into an expanding shell. This can happen in a number of ways: when a dying star explodes as a supernova, by the strong winds streaming into space from nearby stars, or even when fast-moving clouds near the edges of the Milky Way fall inwards and shunt material towards the centre of our Galaxy.

Rather than being a neat, distinct loop, this disorderly feature comprises numerous filaments that knit together, forming small clouds that are connected via coarse arches of material. One such cloud – dubbed a cirrus cloud because it reminds us of the thin, wispy cirrus clouds familiar on Earth – can be seen sitting at the centre of the frame, with tendrils extending from a central point. This feature has been nicknamed ‘the Spider’.

The Loop is expanding and pushing through its surroundings at 15–20 km/s. It contains a mass of neutral hydrogen roughly equivalent to the mass of 1500 Suns. Recent studies of its expansion have puzzled astronomers. They expect neutral hydrogen loops to expand in a spherical manner, but this loop appears instead to be expanding in a cylindrical manner, with the cylinder pointing almost directly towards us, hence its ring-like appearance.

This image is not a traditional view of the Loop; it has a pattern reminiscent of the relief lines of a map spread across the frame, resembling small eddies of swirling water in a stream. These lines represent the orientation of the Milky Way’s magnetic field, while the colours indicate the strength of emission from cosmic dust at each location. Dust grains in and around the Milky Way align themselves along the field lines emanating from our Galaxy into space, and thus their emission is also aligned. This polarised dust emission was detected by the Planck satellite.

The emission from dust is computed from a combination of Planck observations at 353, 545 and 857 GHz, whereas the direction of the magnetic field is based on Planck polarisation data at 353 GHz.v. ω.


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How About a New Born Star?

Released 30/05/2016 3:34 pm: Copyright ESA:Hubble & NASA Acknowledgements: R. Sahai:Jet Propulsion Laboratory, S. Meunier

|| May 30: 2016|| ά.  This young star is breaking out. Like a hatchling pecking through its shell, this particular stellar newborn is forcing its way out into the surrounding Universe.

The golden veil of light cloaks a young stellar object known only as IRAS 14568-6304. It is ejecting gas at supersonic speeds and eventually will have cleared a hole in the cloud, allowing it to be easily visible to the outside Universe.

Stars are born deep in dense clouds of dust and gas. This particular cloud is known as the Circinus molecular cloud complex. It is 2280 light-years away and stretches across 180 light-years of space. If our eyes could register the faint infrared glow of the gas in the cloud, it would stretch across our sky more than 70 times the size of the full Moon. It contains enough gas to make 250 000 stars like the Sun.

IRAS 14568-6304 was discovered with the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, launched in 1983 as a joint project of the US, the UK and the Netherlands to make the first all-sky infrared survey from space.

This particular image was taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It is a combination of just two wavelengths: optical light (blue) and infrared (golden orange). The dark swath running across the image is the Circinus molecular cloud, which is so dense that it obscures the stars beyond.

At longer infrared wavelengths, this darkness is filled with point-like stars, all deeply embedded and which will one day break out like IRAS 14568-6304 is doing.

Indeed, IRAS 14568-6304 is just one member of a nest of young stellar objects in this part of Circinus, each of which is producing jets. Put together, they make up one of the brightest, most massive and most energetic outflows that astronomers have yet observed. In years to come, they will be a beautiful, brightly visible star cloud. ω.


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And the Magnetic Reconnection

|| May 15: 2016|| ά.  ''Like sending sensors up into a hurricane, NASA has flown four spacecraft through an invisible maelstrom in space, called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is one of the prime drivers of space radiation and so it is a key factor in the quest to learn more about our space environment and protect our spacecraft and astronauts as we explore farther and farther from our home planet.

Space is a better vacuum than any we can create on Earth, but it does contain some particles — and it's bustling with activity. It overflows with energy and a complex system of magnetic fields. Sometimes, when two sets of magnetic fields connect, an explosive reaction occurs: As the magnetic fields re-align and snap into a new formation they send particles zooming off in jets.''  Magnetic Reconnection

And here are some images from an inforgraphics on Magnetic Reconnection.

The Auroras

Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections

At the Heliopause

And, please, study more, read more, ask more, think more, wonder more and find more. ω.


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The Earth and the Moon on the Window of the Universe 

 Image: NASA


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Universana, Let's Make Some New Words: Thearth for the Other Earth, Maarth: Mearth for the Earth That Awaits Humanity on Mars and Universana When Referring the Universe as the World/Earth as Home

Whitney Clavin Writing

This illustration shows the prototype starshade, a giant structure designed to block the glare of stars so that future space telescopes can take pictures of planets.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

|| April 29: 2016 ||  Scientists are getting closer to finding worlds that resemble our own "blue marble" of a planet. NASA's Kepler mission alone has confirmed more than 1,000 planets outside our solar system -- a handful of which are a bit bigger than Earth and orbit in the habitable zones of their stars, where liquid water might exist. Some astronomers think the discovery of Earth's true analogs may be around the corner. What are the next steps to search for life on these potentially habitable worlds?

Scientists and engineers are actively working on two technologies to help with this challenge: the starshade, a giant flower-shaped spacecraft; and coronagraphs, single instruments that fit inside telescopes. Both a starshade and a coronagraph block the light of a star, making it easier for telescopes to pick up the dim light that reflects off planets. This would enable astronomers to take pictures of Earth-like worlds -- and then use other instruments called spectrometers to search the planets' atmospheres for chemical clues about whether life might exist there.

A new JPL "Crazy Engineering" video visits both technologies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:

"Coronagraphs are like visors in your car -- you use them to block the light of the sun so you can see the road," said Nick Siegler, the program chief technologist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Office at JPL. "Starshades, on the other hand, are separate spacecraft that fly in front of other telescopes, so they are more like driving behind a big truck in front of you to block the light of the sun." Siegler is featured in the Crazy Engineering video.

The starshade would be a large structure about the size of a baseball diamond that deploys in space and flies in front of a space telescope. To view an animation of the starshade unfurling in space, and footage of a prototype at Northrop Grumman's Astro Aerospace in Carpinteria, California, visit:

Coronagraphs, which use tiny masks to block the light of stars from within a telescope, are also currently in development at JPL, as part of NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST, mission, led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. A feature story describing how these structures might help glean signs of life on other planets is online at

Whitney Clavin: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California: 818-354-4673:

( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)


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The Bubble Nebula's Spectacular Exposition as If the Universe Has Concentrated on This Spot of the Wilderness of Space
















Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team


|| April 22: 2016 || 26 years ago, on April 24 Hubble was launched and today Hubble has delivered a magnanimous exposition of a nano-dot of space in the Universe, in celebration of its 'birth', the Bubble Nebula and yet we publish this image on Mother Earth Day so that we can see the Mother Earth who is an incy-bincy-weensy-super-nano-dot in the infinity of the Universe and yet how magnanimous this Universe is and on it how spectacular this Mother Earth is. The Humanion wishes and invites all of us to look at this and decide that each and every single soul of us that together constitute this astonishing humanion of us that lives on this Mother Earth will follow the promise that we have made in Paris at COP21: we shall seek to live sustainably. Let us live as beautifully as the Mother Earth, as the Universe and there is no other more beautiful way of being and living than living green and sustainably; creating and investing in infrastructures that are green that offer us wings to take sustainable living further. The Humanion on Mother Earth Day 2016: April 22

|| April 22: 2016 || This new NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to celebrate Hubble’s 26th year in orbit, captures in stunning clarity what looks like a gigantic cosmic soap bubble. The object, known as the Bubble Nebula, is in fact a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the brilliant star within it. The vivid new portrait of this dramatic scene wins the Bubble Nebula a place in the exclusive Hubble hall of fame, following an impressive lineage of Hubble anniversary images.

Twenty six years ago, on 24 April 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery as the first space telescope of its kind. Every year, to commemorate this momentous day in space history, Hubble spends a modest portion of its observing time capturing a spectacular view of a specially chosen astronomical object.

This year’s anniversary object is the Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, which lies 8 000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. This object was first discovered by William Herschel in 1787 and this is not the first time it has caught Hubble’s eye. However, due to its very large size on the sky, previous Hubble images have only shown small sections of the nebula, providing a much less spectacular overall effect. Now, a mosaic of four images from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) allows us to see the whole object in one picture for the first time.

This complete view of the Bubble Nebula allows us to fully appreciate the almost perfectly symmetrical shell which gives the nebula its name. This shell is the result of a powerful flow of gas — known as a stellar wind — from the bright star visible just to the left of centre in this image. The star, SAO 20575, is between ten and twenty times the mass of the Sun and the pressure created by its stellar wind forces the surrounding interstellar material outwards into this bubble-like form.

The giant molecular cloud that surrounds the star — glowing in the star’s intense ultraviolet radiation — tries to stop the expansion of the bubble. However, although the sphere already measures around ten light-years in diameter, it is still growing, owing to the constant pressure of the stellar wind — currently at more than 100 000 kilometres per hour!

Aside from the symmetry of the bubble itself, one of the more striking features is that the star is not located at the centre. Astronomers are still discussing why this is the case and how the perfectly round bubble is created nonetheless.

The star causing the spectacular colourful bubble is also notable for something less obvious. It is surrounded by a complex system of cometary knots, which can be seen most clearly in this image just to the right of the star. The individual knots, which are generally larger in size than the Solar System and have masses comparable to Earth’s, consist of crescent shaped globules of dust with large trailing tails illuminated and ionised by the star. Observations of these knots, and of the nebula as a whole, help astronomers to better understand the geometry and dynamics of these very complicated systems.

As always, and twenty six years on, Hubble gives us much more than a pretty picture.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between ESA and NASA.


Mathias Jäger: ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer: Garching bei München, Germany: Tel: +49 176 62397500: Email:


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IC, I See the IC 417: The Spider Nebula, and the Fly, 10,000 Light Years Away from Earth in the Constellation of Auriga

Elizabeth Landau Writing












The Spider Nebula lies about 10,000 light-years away from Earth and is a site of active star formation. Image:NASA:JPL-Caltech:2MASS

||April 14, 2016 || A nebula known as "the Spider" glows fluorescent green in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). The Spider, officially named IC 417, lies near a much smaller object called NGC 1931, not pictured in the image. Together, the two are called "The Spider and the Fly" nebulae. Nebulae are clouds of interstellar gas and dust where stars can form.

The Spider, located about 10,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Auriga, is clearly a site of star formation. It resides in the outer part of the Milky Way, almost exactly in the opposite direction from the galactic center. A group of students, teachers and scientists focused their attention on this region as part of the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP) in 2015. They worked on identifying new stars in this area.

One of the largest clusters of young stars in the Spider can be seen easily in the image. Toward the right of center, against the black background of space, you can see a bright group of stars called "Stock 8." The light from this cluster carves out a bowl in the nearby dust clouds, seen in the imageas green fluff. Along the sinuous tail in the center, and to the left, the groupings of red point sources clumped in the green are also young stars.

In the image, infrared wavelengths, which are invisible to the unaided eye, have been assigned visible colors. Light with a wavelength of 1.2 microns, detected by 2MASS, is shown in blue. The Spitzer wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns are green and red, respectively.

Spitzer data used to create the image were obtained during the space telescope's "warm mission" phase, following its depletion of coolant in mid-2009. Due to its design, Spitzer remains cold enough to operate efficiently at two channels of infrared light. It is now in its 12th year of operation since launch.

The 2MASS mission was a joint effort between the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data from 2MASS and Spitzer are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information on Spitzer can be found at its website

Elizabeth Landau: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA: 818-354-6425:


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NASA Mission Suggests Sun and Planets Constructed Differently
















Artist Rendering of the Genesis Spacecraft During Collection Phase of Mission: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

||April 11, 2016: Pasadena: Calif ||  Researchers analyzing samples returned by NASA's 2004 Genesis mission have discovered that our sun and its inner planets may have formed differently than previously thought.

Data revealed differences between the sun and planets in oxygen and nitrogen, which are two of the most abundant elements in our solar system. Although the difference is slight, the implications could help determine how our solar system evolved.

"We found that Earth, the moon, as well as Martian and other meteorites which are samples of asteroids, have a lower concentration of the O-16 than does the sun," said Kevin McKeegan, a Genesis co-investigator from UCLA, and the lead author of one of two Science papers published this week. "The implication is that we did not form out of the same solar nebula materials that created the sun -- just how and why remains to be discovered."

The air on Earth contains three different kinds of oxygen atoms which are differentiated by the number of neutrons they contain. Nearly 100 percent of oxygen atoms in the solar system are composed of O-16, but there are also tiny amounts of more exotic oxygen isotopes called O-17 and O-18. Researchers studying the oxygen of Genesis samples found that the percentage of O-16 in the sun is slightly higher than on Earth or on other terrestrial planets. The other isotopes' percentages were slightly lower.

Another paper detailed differences between the sun and planets in the element nitrogen. Like oxygen, nitrogen has one isotope, N-14, that makes up nearly 100 percent of the atoms in the solar system, but there is also a tiny amount of N-15. Researchers studying the same samples saw that when compared to Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen in the sun and Jupiter has slightly more N-14, but 40 percent less N-15. Both the sun and Jupiter appear to have the same nitrogen composition. As is the case for oxygen, Earth and the rest of the inner solar system are very different in nitrogen.

"These findings show that all solar system objects including the terrestrial planets, meteorites and comets are anomalous compared to the initial composition of the nebula from which the solar system formed," said Bernard Marty, a Genesis co-investigator from Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques and the lead author of the other new Science paper. "Understanding the cause of such a heterogeneity will impact our view on the formation of the solar system."

Data were obtained from analysis of samples Genesis collected from the solar wind, or material ejected from the outer portion of the sun. This material can be thought of as a fossil of our nebula because the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that the outer layer of our sun has not changed measurably for billions of years.

"The sun houses more than 99 percent of the material currently in our solar system, so it's a good idea to get to know it better," said Genesis Principal Investigator Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "While it was more challenging than expected, we have answered some important questions, and like all successful missions, generated plenty more."

Genesis launched in August 2000. The spacecraft traveled to Earth's L1 Lagrange Point about 1 million miles from Earth, where it remained for 886 days between 2001 and 2004, passively collecting solar-wind samples.

On Sept. 8, 2004, the spacecraft released a sample return capsule, which entered Earth's atmosphere. Although the capsule made a hard landing as a result of a failed parachute in the Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, Utah, it marked NASA's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the moon. NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston curates the samples and supports analysis and sample allocation.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., managed the Genesis mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Genesis mission was part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft. Analysis at the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, Nancy, France, was supported by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, Paris, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France.

For more information on the Genesis Mission

DC Agle 818-393-9011: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726: NASA Headquarters, Washington:


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O Celestial Butterfly: The Planetary Nebula NGC 6302



















This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene: Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

||April 09, 2016 || What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to nearly 20 000 degrees Celsius. The gas is tearing across space at more than 950 000 kilometres per hour — fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes! A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing a stream of ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow.

This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope. The Wide Field Camera Three:WFC3, a new camera aboard the NASA:ESA Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. WFC3 was installed by NASA astronauts in May 2009, during the Servicing Mission to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble.

NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3800 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius. The glowing gas is the star's outer layers, expelled over about 2200 years. The "butterfly" stretches for more than two light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.

The central star itself cannot be seen, because it is hidden within a doughnut-shaped ring of dust, which appears as a dark band pinching the nebula in the centre. The thick dust belt constricts the star's outflow, creating the classic "bipolar" or hourglass shape displayed by some planetary nebulae.

The star's surface temperature is estimated to be over 220 000 degrees Celsius, making it one of the hottest known stars in our galaxy. Spectroscopic observations made with ground-based telescopes show that the gas is roughly 20 000 degrees Celsius, which is unusually hot compared to a typical planetary nebula.

The WFC3 image reveals a complex history of ejections from the star. The star first evolved into a huge red giant, with a diameter of about 1000 times that of our Sun. It then lost its extended outer layers. Some of this gas was cast off from its equator at a relatively slow speed, perhaps as low as 32 000 kilometres per hour, creating the doughnut-shaped ring. Other gas was ejected perpendicular to the ring at higher speeds, producing the elongated "wings" of the butterfly-shaped structure. Later, as the central star heated up, a much faster stellar wind, a stream of charged particles travelling at more than 3.2 million kilometres per hour, ploughed through the existing wing-shaped structure, further modifying its shape.

The image also shows numerous finger-like projections pointing back to the star, which may mark denser blobs in the outflow that have resisted the pressure from the stellar wind.

The nebula's reddish outer edges are largely due to light emitted by nitrogen, which marks the coolest gas visible in the picture. WFC3 is equipped with a wide variety of filters that isolate light emitted by various chemical elements, allowing astronomers to infer properties of the nebular gas, such as its temperature, density and composition.

The white-coloured regions are areas where light is emitted by sulphur. These are regions where fast-moving gas overtakes and collides with slow-moving gas that left the star at an earlier time, producing shock waves in the gas (the bright white edges on the sides facing the central star). The white blob with the crisp edge at upper right is an example of one of those shock waves.

NGC 6302 was imaged on 27 July 2009 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 in ultraviolet and visible light. Filters that isolate emissions from oxygen, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur from the planetary nebula were used to create this composite image.

These Hubble observations of the planetary nebula NGC 6302 are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations.


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Smile and See How the Universe Resonates

Jane Platt Writing

Galaxy Cluster SDSS J1038+4849 -
















NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

April 06, 2016: An upbeat-looking galaxy cluster appears to smile at us in a newly released image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The cluster - designated as SDSS J1038+4849 - appears to have two eyes and a nose as part of a happy face.

Those eyes are actually very bright galaxies, and the smile lines are, in reality, arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

Galaxy clusters are the most massive structures in the universe. Their gravitational pull is so strong, they warp the surrounding spacetime and act as cosmic lenses that can magnify, distort and bend light. The phenomenon can be explained by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

In this special case of gravitational lensing, an "Einstein Ring" is produced from this bending of light, a result of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer. That's why we see the ring-like structure.

Hubble has provided astronomers with tools to study these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects. Because of this, scientists can peer further into the early universe than ever before.

This object was studied by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), developed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of a survey of strong lenses. WFC3 was developed jointly by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland; and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colorado.

News Media Contact: Jane Platt: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif: 818-354-0880: 2015-057


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A Beautiful Cosmic Illusion?
















This Photo Taken in 2007 and Published Originally in 2008 and Released Again Today: A cosmic trick of the eye: Released 04/04/2016 10:38 am: Copyright NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team:STScI:AURA

April 04, 2016: Stars of different masses end their lives in different ways. While truly massive stars go out in a blaze of glory, intermediate-mass stars — those between roughly one and eight times the mass of the Sun — are somewhat quieter, forming cosmic objects known as planetary nebulas.

Named because of their vague resemblance to planets when seen through early, low-resolution telescopes, planetary nebulas are created when a dying star flings off its outer layers of gas into space. This cloud forms an expanding shell around the central star, while the star itself slowly cools to become a white dwarf. This is what has happened in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, taken in 2007, which shows a planetary nebula known as NGC 2371.

NGC 2371 resides 4300 light-years away from us, in the constellation of Gemini. It is one of the largest planetary nebulas known, measuring roughly three light-years across. Its progenitor star can be seen here as a pinprick of orange–-red light, surrounded by a green, blue and aqua-tinged puff of gas. This shell appears to have a regular, elliptical shape that is sliced in half by a dark lane running through the nebula, which also encompasses the central star.

This dark feature misled astronomers when NGC 2371 was initially catalogued because the two lobes visually resembled two objects, not one. As a result of this confusion, the nebula has two names in William Herschel’s New General Catalogue: NGC 2371 and 2372 (often combined as NGC 2371/2 or NGC 2371-2).

Two prominent pink patches are also visible on either side of the central star. These features are thought to be knots of gas, most likely jets, thrown off by the star at some point in the past. Their pink colour indicates that they are cooler and denser than their surroundings.

The nebula’s central star was once similar to the Sun, but is now only a shadow of its former self. It is slowly cooling after energetically shedding most of its gas, but has a long way to go yet. It currently boasts a scorching surface temperature of over 130 000ºC – some 25 times hotter than the surface of the Sun – and glows with the luminosity of at least 700 Suns.

The hot ultraviolet radiation streaming outwards into the nebula energises the gas it touches, causing NGC 2371 to glow in the beautiful aquamarine colours seen in this image.

This picture was taken in November 2007 by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. It is a false-colour image created with a combination of filters to detect light coming from sulphur and nitrogen (shown in red), hydrogen (green) and oxygen (blue). The observations were gathered as part of the Hubble Heritage project.

This image was originally published on the Hubble Space Telescope website on 4 March 2008.


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How Do You Say Goodbye, If You are a Star?

















Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Serge Meunier

April 02, 2016: This planetary nebula is called PK 329-02.2 and is located in the constellation of Norma in the southern sky. It is also sometimes referred to as Menzel 2, or Mz 2, named after the astronomer Donald Menzel who discovered the nebula in 1922.

When stars that are around the mass of the sun reach their final stages of life, they shed their outer layers into space, which appear as glowing clouds of gas called planetary nebulae. The ejection of mass in stellar burnout is irregular and not symmetrical, so that planetary nebulae can have very complex shapes. In the case of Menzel 2 the nebula forms a winding blue cloud that perfectly aligns with two stars at its center. In 1999 astronomers discovered that the star at the upper right is in fact the central star of the nebula, and the star to the lower left is probably a true physical companion of the central star.

For tens of thousands of years the stellar core will be cocooned in spectacular clouds of gas and then, over a period of a few thousand years, the gas will fade away into the depths of the universe. The curving structure of Menzel 2 resembles a last goodbye before the star reaches its final stage of retirement as a white dwarf.

Text credit: European Space Agency

:Editor: Ashley Morrow: NASA:


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Out of This Universe: Martian Rocks in Nili Fossae
Beautiful Rocks in Nili Fossae, Mars















Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

March 27, 2016: This enhanced-color image from March 2012 of a region of Mars near Nili Fossae shows part of the ejecta from an impact crater and contains some of the best exposures of ancient bedrock on Mars.

The impact broke up already diverse rocks types and mixed them together to create this wild jumble of colors, each representing a different type of rock.

This image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera.

( Editor: NASA Administrator)


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Spanning 260,000 Light-Years and 2.5 Million Light-Years Away from the Milky Way Andromeda Galaxy Roams

Andromeda Galaxy














Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

March 23, 2016: The Galaxy Next Door is the Andromeda Galaxy where hot stars burn brightly in this new image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, showing the ultraviolet side of a familiar face.

At approximately 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda galaxy, or M31, is our Milky Way's largest galactic neighbor. The entire galaxy spans 260,000 light-years across - a distance so large, it took 11 different image segments stitched together to produce this view of the galaxy next door.

The bands of blue-white making up the galaxy's striking rings are neighborhoods that harbor hot, young, massive stars. Dark blue-grey lanes of cooler dust show up starkly against these bright rings, tracing the regions where star formation is currently taking place in dense cloudy cocoons. Eventually, these dusty lanes will be blown away by strong stellar winds, as the forming stars ignite nuclear fusion in their cores. Meanwhile, the central orange-white ball reveals a congregation of cooler, old stars that formed long ago.

When observed in visible light, Andromeda's rings look more like spiral arms. The ultraviolet view shows that these arms more closely resemble the ring-like structure previously observed in infrared wavelengths with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers using Spitzer interpreted these rings as evidence that the galaxy was involved in a direct collision with its neighbor, M32, more than 200 million years ago.

Andromeda is so bright and close to us that it is one of only ten galaxies that can be spotted from Earth with the naked eye. This view is two-color composite, where blue represents far-ultraviolet light, and orange is near-ultraviolet light.

Read about the 'galactic collision' ( a paper, titled, 'The Collision Between The Milky Way And Andromeda' by T.J. Cox, Abraham Loeb (Harvard/CfA)


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The Asteroid Expositions Among the Stars in the Heavens

The Asteroid Expositions Among the Stars in the Heavens















Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

March 21, 2016: More than 100 asteroids were captured in this view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, during its primary all-sky survey. In August of this year, the mission was revived to hunt more asteroids, and renamed NEOWISE.

Not all of the asteroids are easy to see, but some stand out as a series of dots. Each dot in a track shows one asteroid, captured at different times as it marched across the sky. The asteroid at center left is called (2415) Ganesa.

Clusters of stars can also be seen; for example, NGC 2158 glitters like a jeweled brooch at center right. There are about 2,500 stars in this view, which is about 30 light-years across.

Clouds of gas and dust surround the region, visible only in infrared light.

These data were acquired in March 2010, before WISE was put into hibernation in 2011.

JPL manages NEOWISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. The Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, built the science instrument. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., built the spacecraft. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information is online at  and  and


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How About a Galaxy-Rose?

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

March 18, 2016: This image of a pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273 was released to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The distorted shape of the larger of the two galaxies shows signs of tidal interactions with the smaller of the two. It is thought that the smaller galaxy has actually passed through the larger one.


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She Is Big, She Is Bright and She Is Definitely, Absolutely and Spirally Beautiful: The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy Or Rather M83

Image Credit: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Space Telescope,
European Southern Observatory - Processing & Copyright: Robert Gendler

Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, spiral galaxy M83 lies a mere twelve million light-years away, near the southeastern tip of the very long constellation Hydra.

Prominent spiral arms traced by dark dust lanes and blue star clusters lend this galaxy its popular name, The Southern Pinwheel. But reddish star forming regions that dot the sweeping arms highlighted in this sparkling color composite also suggest another nickname, The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy. About 40,000 light-years across, M83 is a member of a group of galaxies that includes active galaxy Centaurus A.

In fact, the core of M83 itself is bright at x-ray energies, showing a high concentration of neutron stars and black holes left from an intense burst of star formation. This sharp composite color image also features spiky foreground Milky Way stars and distant background galaxies. The image data was taken from the Subaru Telescope, the European Southern Observatory's Wide Field Imager camera, and the Hubble Legacy Archive.


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Telescopes Combine to Push Frontier on Galaxy Clusters

Frontier Fields galaxy cluster MACS J0717
Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/van Weeren et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA


Galaxy clusters are enormous collections of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies and vast reservoirs of hot gas embedded in massive clouds of dark matter, invisible material that does not emit or absorb light but can be detected through its gravitational effects. These cosmic giants are not merely novelties of size or girth – rather they represent pathways to understanding how our entire universe evolved in the past and where it may be heading in the future.

To learn more about clusters, including how they grow via collisions, astronomers have used some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, looking at different types of light. They have focused long observations with these telescopes on a half dozen galaxy clusters. The name for this galaxy cluster project is the “Frontier Fields”.

Two of these Frontier Fields galaxy clusters, MACS J0416.1-2403 (abbreviated MACS J0416) and MACS J0717.5+3745 (MACS J0717 for short) are featured here in a pair of multi-wavelength images.

Located about 4.3 billion light years from Earth, MACS J0416 is a pair of colliding galaxy clusters that will eventually combine to form an even bigger cluster. MACS J0717, one of the most complex and distorted galaxy clusters known, is the site of a collision between four clusters. It is located about 5.4 billion light years away from Earth.

These new images of MACS J0416 and MACS J0717 contain data from three different telescopes: NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (diffuse emission in blue), Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, and blue), and the NSF’s Jansky Very Large Array (diffuse emission in pink). Where the X-ray and radio emission overlap the image appears purple. Astronomers also used data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India in studying the properties of MACS J0416.

The Chandra data shows gas in the merging clusters with temperatures of millions of degrees. The optical data shows galaxies in the clusters and other, more distant, galaxies lying behind the clusters. Some of these background galaxies are highly distorted because of gravitational lensing, the bending of light by massive objects. This effect can also magnify the light from these objects, enabling astronomers to study background galaxies that would otherwise be too faint to detect. Finally, the structures in the radio data trace enormous shock waves and turbulence. The shocks are similar to sonic booms, generated by the mergers of the clusters.

New results from multi-wavelength studies of MACS J0416 and MACS J0717, described in two separate papers, are included below.

MACS J0416

An open question for astronomers about MACS J0416 has been: are we seeing a collision in these clusters that is about to happen or one that has already taken place? Until recently, scientists have been unable to distinguish between these two explanations. Now, the combined data from these various telescopes is providing new answers.

In MACS J0416 the dark matter (which leaves its gravitational imprint in the optical data) and the hot gas (detected by Chandra) line up well with each other. This suggests that the clusters have been caught before colliding. If the clusters were being observed after colliding the dark matter and hot gas should separate from each other, as seen in the famous colliding cluster system known as the Bullet Cluster.

The cluster in the upper left contains a compact core of hot gas, most easily seen in a specially processed image, and also shows evidence of a nearby cavity, or hole in the X-ray emitting gas. The presence of these structures also suggests that a major collision has not occurred recently, otherwise these features would likely have been disrupted. Finally, the lack of sharp structures in the radio image provides more evidence that a collision has not yet occurred.

In the cluster located in the lower right, the observers have noted a sharp change in density on the southern edge of the cluster. This change in density is most likely caused by a collision between this cluster and a less massive structure located further to the lower right.

MACS J0717

In Jansky Very Large Array images of this cluster, seven gravitationally-lensed sources are observed, all point sources or sources that are barely larger than points. This makes MACS J0717 the cluster with the highest number of known lensed radio sources. Two of these lensed sources are also detected in the Chandra image.

All of the lensed radio sources are galaxies located between 7.8 and 10.4 billion light years away from Earth. The brightness of the galaxies at radio wavelengths shows that they contain stars forming at high rates. Without the amplification by lensing, some of these radio sources would be too faint to detect with typical radio observations. The two lensed X-ray sources detected in the Chandra images are likely active galactic nuclei (AGN) at the center of galaxies. AGN are compact, luminous sources powered by gas heated to millions of degrees as it falls toward supermassive black holes. These two X-ray sources would have been detected without lensing but would have been two or three times fainter.

The large arcs of radio emission in MACS J0717 are very different from those in MACS J0416 because of shock waves arising from the multiple collisions occurring in the former object. The X-ray emission in MACS J0717 has more clumps because there are four clusters violently colliding.

Georgiana Ogrean, who was at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics while leading the work on MACS J0416 research, is currently at Stanford University. The paper describing these results was published in the October 20th, 2015 issue of the Astrophysical Journal and is available online. The research on MACS J0717 was led by Reinout van Weeren from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and was published in the February 1st, 2016 issue of the Astrophysical Journal and is available online.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

Read More from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

Molly Porter: Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala: 256-544-0034

Megan Watzke: Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass: 617-496-7998 Last Updated: March 10, 2016

( Editor: Lee Mohon:NASA)


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A Dying Star: A Finality That Nothing Can Escape on This Universe But All Can Celebrate What All This Signifies: Life

Dying star offers glimpse of our Sun’s future: This image was first published on the Hubble Space Telescope website on 10 May 2009: Released 07/03/2016 10:27 am: Copyright NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: R. Sahai and J. Trauger (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

This is a final act of celestial beauty before the long fade into cosmic history. Invisibly buried in the centre of this colourful swirl of gas is a dying star, roughly the same mass as the Sun.

As a star ages, the nuclear reactions that keep it shining begin to falter. This uncertain energy generation causes the stars to pulsate in an irregular way, casting off its outer layers into space.

As the star sheds these outer gases, the super-hot core is revealed. It gives off huge quantities of ultraviolet light, and this radiation causes the gas shells to glow, creating the fragile beauty of the nebula.

This example is known as Kohoutek 4-55. Named after its discoverer, the Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutec, it is located 4600 light years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Cygnus.

This image was the final ‘pretty picture’ taken by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The camera was installed in 1993 and worked until 2009, offering a 16-year stretch of unparalleled observations.

WFPC2 took many of Hubble’s iconic images. They helped to make the space telescope a household name across the world.

This particular shot is a composite of three images, each taken at a specific wavelength to isolate the light coming from particular atoms of gas. The different wavelengths have been colour-coded to aid recognition.

Red signifies nitrogen gas, green shows hydrogen and blue represents oxygen. The whole sequence was captured in 2 hours on 4 May 2009.

The intricate swirls of gas offer us a glimpse of our Sun’s distant future. In 5 billion years’ time, our star will be dying. It is expected to behave in the same way as see here, shedding its outer layers to reveal the burning core, which then becomes a slowly cooling ember known as a white dwarf.

By that time, Earth will be long gone, burnt to a crisp as the Sun dies. But the beauty of our star’s passing will shine across the Universe.


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ESA's LISA Pathfinder's Work Now Begins in Earnest: ESA Celebrates the Detection of Gravitational Waves

LISA Pathfinder in space: Artist’s impression of LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s mission to test technology for future gravitational-wave observatories in space. LISA Pathfinder will operate from a vantage point in space about 1.5 million km from Earth towards the Sun, orbiting the first Sun–Earth Lagrangian point, L1. Released 25/11/2015 3:00 pm: Copyright ESA–C.Carreau

Einstein's Gravitational Waves Detected


11 February 2016: ESA is thrilled to learn that gravitational waves have been detected, and is looking forward to starting its mission to test technologies that could extend the study of these exotic waves to space.

Gravitational waves are elusive no more: an exciting breakthrough that has been 100 years in the making.

In November 1915, Albert Einstein presented his general theory of relativity, introducing a dramatic change of perspective in the physical understanding of one of the four fundamental interactions of nature: gravity.

This theory describes gravity as the way matter interacts with the flexible ‘spacetime’ it is embedded in. Massive bodies deform spacetime, changing its curvature as they move.

When accelerated, massive bodies produce tiny fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – which were first predicted in a further study published by Einstein in 1918. These minuscule cosmic perturbations have finally been revealed, after almost a century of theoretical investigations and experimental searches.

The discovery was announced today by scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration.

LIGO comprises two gravitational wave detectors in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington, USA, and involves over a thousand scientists from across the world. The experiment uses laser beams to monitor two perpendicular arms, each extending 4 km, to look for tiny changes in their length that might be caused by passing gravitational waves.

Recently upgraded to become Advanced LIGO, the experiment obtained this historic result during the first observation run in the new configuration, which collected data between September 2015 and January 2016.

“This is tremendous news for everyone studying gravity and general relativity, and we send our warmest congratulations to colleagues in the LIGO collaboration for their outstanding result,” says Paul McNamara, LISA Pathfinder project scientist at ESA.

LISA Pathfinder is ESA’s technology demonstration mission for possible future missions to observe gravitational waves from space. Launched on 3 December 2015, the spacecraft reached its operational orbit in January and is undergoing final checks before starting its science mission on 1 March.

“With LISA Pathfinder, we will be testing the underlying technology to observe gravitational waves from space, and it is even more encouraging to know that these long-mysterious fluctuations have now been directly detected,” adds Paul.


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NASA's James Webb the Most Powerful Space Telescope Ever Built Getting Assembled with All the Mirrors It will Ever Need

Inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team used a robotic am to install the last of the telescope's 18 mirrors onto the telescope structure. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

The 18th and final primary mirror segment is installed on what will be the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever launched. The final mirror installation Wednesday at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland marks an important milestone in the assembly of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope.

“Scientists and engineers have been working tirelessly to install these incredible, nearly perfect mirrors that will focus light from previously hidden realms of planetary atmospheres, star forming regions and the very beginnings of the Universe,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the mirrors finally complete, we are one step closer to the audacious observations that will unravel the mysteries of the Universe.”

Using a robotic arm reminiscent of a claw machine, the team meticulously installed all of Webb's primary mirror segments onto the telescope structure. Each of the hexagonal-shaped mirror segments measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across -- about the size of a coffee table -- and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). Once in space and fully deployed, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3-foot diameter (6.5-meter) mirror.

"Completing the assembly of the primary mirror is a very significant milestone and the culmination of over a decade of design, manufacturing, testing and now assembly of the primary mirror system," said Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager at Goddard. "There is a huge team across the country who contributed to this achievement."

While the primary mirror installation may be finished on the tennis court-sized infrared observatory, there still is much work to be done.

"Now that the mirror is complete, we look forward to installing the other optics and conducting tests on all the components to make sure the telescope can withstand a rocket launch," said Bill Ochs, James Webb Space Telescope project manager. "This is a great way to start 2016!"

The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and optical system design. The installation of the mirrors onto the telescope structure is performed by Harris Corporation, a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman. Harris Corporation leads integration and testing for the telescope.

“The Harris team will be installing the aft optics assembly and the secondary mirror in order to finish the actual telescope,” said Gary Matthews, director of Universe Exploration at Harris Corporation. “The heart of the telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module, will then be integrated into the telescope. After acoustic, vibration, and other tests at Goddard, we will ship the system down to Johnson Space Center in Houston for an intensive cryogenic optical test to ensure everything is working properly.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will study many phases in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. It’s targeted to launch from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

To watch the Webb telescope being built at Goddard, visit the "Webb-cam"

Felicia Chou: Headquarters, Washington: 202-358-0257

Rob Gutro: Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Md.
( Editor: Sarah Ramsey: NASA)


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The Sunflower Galaxy in M51 Group of Galaxies

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Text credit: European Space Agency

The arrangement of the spiral arms in the galaxy Messier 63, seen here in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, recall the pattern at the center of a sunflower. So the nickname for this cosmic object — the Sunflower Galaxy — is no coincidence.

Discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1779, the galaxy later made it as the 63rd entry into fellow French astronomer Charles Messier’s famous catalogue, published in 1781. The two astronomers spotted the Sunflower Galaxy’s glow in the small, northern constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs). We now know this galaxy is about 27 million light-years away and belongs to the M51 Group — a group of galaxies, named after its brightest member, Messier 51, another spiral-shaped galaxy dubbed the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Galactic arms, sunflowers and whirlpools are only a few examples of nature’s apparent preference for spirals. For galaxies like Messier 63 the winding arms shine bright because of the presence of recently formed, blue–white giant stars and clusters, readily seen in this Hubble image.

( Editor: Ashley Morrow: NASA)

Readmore NASA

Readmore ESA

Posted: December 19, 2015






Times: Whose Times? How Many Times? Where Do They Come From?

From NASA's Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses [Espenak and Meeus]

Greenwich Mean Time

For thousands of years, time has been measured using the length of the solar day. This is the interval between two successive returns of the Sun to an observer's local meridian. Unfortunately, the length of the apparent solar day can vary by tens of seconds over the course of a year. Earth's elliptical orbit around the Sun and the 23.5° inclination of Earth's axis of rotation are responsible for these variations. Apparent solar time was eventually replaced by mean solar time because it provides for a uniform time scale. The key to mean solar time is the mean solar day, which has a constant length of 24 hours throughout the year.

Mean solar time on the 0° longitude meridian in Greenwich, England is known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). At the International Meridian Conference of 1884, GMT[1] was adopted as the reference time for all clocks around the world. It was also agreed that all longitudes would be measured east or west with respect to the Greenwich meridian. In 1972, GMT was replaced by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) as the international time reference. Nevertheless, UTC is colloquially referred to as GMT although this is technically not correct.

Ephemeris Time

During the 20th century, it was found that the rotational period of Earth (length of the day) was gradually slowing down. For the purposes of orbital calculations, time using Earth's rotation was abandoned for a more uniform time scale based on Earth's orbit about the Sun. In 1952, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) introduced Ephemeris Time (ET) to address this problem. The ephemeris second was defined as a fraction of the tropical year for 1900 Jan 01, as calculated from Newcomb's tables of the Sun (1895). Ephemeris Time was used for Solar System ephemeris calculations until it was replaced by TD in 1979.

Terrestrial Dynamical Time

TD was introduced by the IAU in 1979 as the coordinate time scale for an observer on the surface of Earth. It takes into account relativistic effects and is based on International Atomic Time (TAI), which is a high-precision standard using several hundred atomic clocks worldwide. As such, TD is the atomic time equivalent to its predecessor ET and is used in the theories of motion for bodies in the solar system. To ensure continuity with ET, TD was defined to match ET for the date 1977 Jan 01. In 1991, the IAU refined the definition of TD to make it more precise. It was also renamed Terrestrial Time (TT), although on this Web site, the older name Terrestrial Dynamical Time is preferred and used.

Universal Time

For many centuries, the fundamental unit of time was the rotational period of Earth with respect to the Sun. GMT was the standard time reference based on the mean solar time on the 0° longitude meridian in Greenwich, England. Universal Time (UT) is the modern counterpart to GMT and is determined from Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations of the diurnal motion of quasars. Unfortunately, UT is not a uniform time scale because Earth's rotational period is (on average) gradually increasing.

The change is primarily due to tidal friction between Earth's oceans and its rocky mantle through the gravitational attraction of the Moon and, to a lesser extent, the Sun. This secular acceleration gradually transfers angular momentum from Earth to the Moon. As Earth loses energy and slows down, the Moon gains this energy and its orbital period and distance from Earth increase. Shorter period fluctuations in terrestrial rotation also exist, which can produce an accumulated clock error of ±20 s in one or more decades. These decade variations are attributed to several geophysical mechanisms including fluid interactions between the core and mantle of Earth. Climatological changes and variations in sea-level may also play significant roles because they alter Earth's moment of inertia.

The secular acceleration of the Moon implies an increase in the length of day (LOD) of about 2.3 milliseconds per century. Such a small amount may seem insignificant, but it has very measurable cumulative effects. At this rate, time as measured through Earth's rotation is losing about 84 seconds per century squared when compared to atomic time.

Coordinated Universal Time

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the present day basis of all civilian time throughout the world. Derived from TAI, the length of the UTC second is defined in terms of an atomic transition of the element cesium and is accurate to approximately 1 ns (billionth of a second) per day. Because most daily life is still organized around the solar day, UTC was defined to closely parallel Universal Time. The two time systems are intrinsically incompatible, however, because UTC is uniform while UT is based on Earth's rotation, which is gradually slowing. In order to keep the two times within 0.9 s of each other, a leap second is added to UTC about once every 12 to 18 months.

Delta T (ΔT)

The orbital positions of the Sun and Moon required by eclipse predictions, are calculated using TD because it is a uniform time scale. World time zones and daily life, however, are based on UT[2]. In order to convert eclipse predictions from TD to UT, the difference between these two time scales must be known. The parameter delta-T (ΔT) is the arithmetic difference, in seconds, between the two as:

ΔT = TD - UT                        

Past values of ΔT can be deduced from the historical records. In particular, hundreds of eclipse observations (both solar and lunar) were recorded in early European, Middle Eastern, and Chinese annals, manuscripts, and canons. In spite of their relatively low precision, these data represent the only evidence for the value of ΔT prior to 1600 CE. In the centuries following the introduction of the telescope (circa 1609 CE), thousands of high quality observations have been made of lunar occultations of stars. The number and accuracy of these timings increase from the 17th through the 20th century, affording valuable data in the determination of ΔT.

For more information, visit the ΔT page.

A series of polynomial expressions have been derived to simplify the evaluation of ΔT for any time during the interval -1999 to +3000. The uncertainty in ΔT over this period can be estimated from scatter in the measurements.


Posted: December 17, 2015






Judy Schmidt's Little Gem Nebula

Little Gem Nebula: Released 07/08/2015 12:39 pm
Copyright ESA/Hubble & NASA

This colourful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), roughly 6000 light-years away from us. The rich glow of the cloud is just over half a light-year across — humongous compared to its tiny central star — but still a little gem on a cosmic scale.

When stars like the Sun enter retirement, they shed their outer layers into space to create glowing clouds of gas called planetary nebulae. This ejection of mass is uneven, and planetary nebulae can have very complex shapes. NGC 6818 shows knotty filament-like structures and distinct layers of material, with a bright and enclosed central bubble surrounded by a larger, more diffuse cloud.

Scientists believe that the stellar wind from the central star propels the outflowing material, sculpting the elongated shape of NGC 6818. As this fast wind smashes through the slower-moving cloud it creates particularly bright blowouts at the bubble’s outer layers.

Hubble previously imaged this nebula back in 1997 with its Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, using a mix of filters that highlighted emission from ionised oxygen and hydrogen (opo9811h). This image, while from the same camera, uses different filters to reveal a different view of the nebula. A version of the image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.


Posted: December 7, 2015





The Black Hole in Galaxy CID-947

Illustration Credit: M. Helfenbein, Yale University / OPAC

In July 2015, researchers announced the discovery of a black hole, shown in the above illustration, that grew much more quickly than its host galaxy. The discovery calls into question previous assumptions on the development of galaxies. The black hole was originally discovered using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and was then detected in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and by ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Benny Trakhtenbrot, from ETH Zurich's Institute for Astronomy, and an international team of astrophysicists, performed a follow-up observation of this black hole using the 10 meter Keck telescope in Hawaii and were surprised by the results. The data, collected with a new instrument, revealed a giant black hole in an otherwise normal, distant galaxy, called CID-947.

News release: Chandra X-Ray Observatory

( Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)

Posted on : November 30, 2015







NASA-WISE Captures The Gravitational Tango of Black-Hole-Duo

Two black holes are entwined in a gravitational tango in this artist's conception. Supermassive black holes at the hearts of galaxies are thought to form through the merging of smaller, yet still massive black holes, such as the ones depicted here.

Credits: NASA

Astronomers have spotted what appear to be two supermassive black holes at the heart of a remote galaxy, circling each other like dance partners. The incredibly rare sighting was made with the help of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

Follow-up observations with the Australian Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, Australia, and the Gemini South telescope in Chile, revealed unusual features in the galaxy, including a lumpy jet thought to be the result of one black hole causing the jet of the other to sway.

"We think the jet of one black hole is being wiggled by the other, like a dance with ribbons," said Chao-Wei Tsai of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is lead author of a paper on the findings appearing in the Dec. 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal. "If so, it is likely the two black holes are fairly close and gravitationally entwined."

The findings could teach astronomers more about how supermassive black holes grow by merging with each other.

The WISE satellite scanned the entire sky twice in infrared wavelengths before being put into hibernation in 2011. NASA recently gave the spacecraft a second lease on life, waking it up to search for asteroids, in a project called NEOWISE.

The new study took advantage of previously released all-sky WISE data. Astronomers sifted through images of millions of actively feeding supermassive black holes spread throughout our sky before an oddball, also known as WISE J233237.05-505643.5, jumped out.

"At first we thought this galaxy's unusual properties seen by WISE might mean it was forming new stars at a furious rate," said Peter Eisenhardt, WISE project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and a co-author of the study. "But on closer inspection, it looks more like the death spiral of merging giant black holes."

Almost every large galaxy is thought to harbor a supermassive black hole filled with the equivalent in mass of up to billions of suns. How did the black holes grow so large? One way is by swallowing ambient materials. Another way is through galactic cannibalism. When galaxies collide, their massive black holes sink to the center of the new structure, becoming locked in a gravitational tango. Eventually, they merge into one even-more-massive black hole.

The dance of these black hole duos starts out slowly, with the objects circling each other at a distance of about a few thousand light-years. So far, only a few handfuls of supermassive black holes have been conclusively identified in this early phase of merging. As the black holes continue to spiral in toward each other, they get closer, separated by just a few light-years.

It is these close-knit black holes, also called black hole binaries, that have been the hardest to find. The objects are usually too small to be resolved even by powerful telescopes. Only a few strong candidates have been identified to date, all relatively nearby. The new WISE J233237.05-505643.5 is a new candidate, and located much farther away, at 3.8 billion light-years from Earth.

Radio images with the Australian Telescope Compact Array were key to identifying the dual nature of WISE J233237.05-505643.5. Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies typically shoot out pencil-straight jets, but, in this case, the jet showed a zigzag pattern. According to the scientists, a second massive black hole could, in essence, be pushing its weight around to change the shape of the other black hole's jet.

Visible-light spectral data from the Gemini South telescope in Chile showed similar signs of abnormalities, thought to be the result of one black hole causing disk material surrounding the other black hole to clump. Together, these and other signs point to what is probably a fairly close-knit set of circling black holes, though the scientists can't say for sure how much distance separates them.

"We note some caution in interpreting this mysterious system," said Daniel Stern of JPL, a co-author of the study.  "There are several extremely unusual properties to this system, from the multiple radio jets to the Gemini data, which indicate a highly perturbed disk of accreting material around the black hole, or holes. Two merging black holes, which should be a common event in the universe, would appear to be the simplest explanation to explain all the current observations."

The final stage of merging black holes is predicted to send gravitational waves rippling through space and time. Researchers are actively searching for these waves using arrays of dead stars called pulsars in hopes of learning more about the veiled black hole dancers (see

The technical paper is online at .

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages and operates the WISE mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The WISE mission was selected competitively under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah. The spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information is online at and and .

( Whitney Clavin : 818-354-4673: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. )

( Editor: Tony Greicius : NASA)


Posted on : November 27, 2015







Euclid Ready to Take on Its Role to Explore the Dark Universe

Euclid: Copyright ESA/C. Carreau : Artist's impression of Euclid

17 December 2015 : Euclid, ESA’s dark Universe mission, has passed its preliminary design review, providing confidence that the spacecraft and its payload can be built. It’s time to start ‘cutting metal’.

“This is really a big step for the mission,” says Giuseppe Racca, Euclid’s project manager. “All the elements have been put together and evaluated. We now know that the mission is feasible and we can do the science.”

First proposed to ESA in 2007, Euclid was selected as the second medium-class mission in the Cosmic Vision programme in October 2011. Italy’s Thales Alenia Space was chosen as the prime contractor in 2013.

Since then, the mission’s design has been studied and refined. This has involved a wide range of detailed technical designs, in addition to building and testing key components.

The outcome of Euclid’s recent review was positive, opening the door to the industrial contractors and external instrument teams building the spacecraft and payload for real. Airbus Defence & Space in France will deliver the complete payload module incorporating a 1.2 m-diameter telescope feeding the two science instruments being developed by the Euclid Consortium.

“This is a major milestone for us. Everyone is now ready to start cutting metal,” says René Laureijs, Euclid’s project scientist.

On the scientific side, this review checked that the mission can indeed deliver the required data. The combined performance of the spacecraft, telescope and instruments shows that the data returned over the six-year mission will achieve the objectives.

Euclid is designed to give us important new insights into the ‘dark side’ of the Universe, namely ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, both key components of the current model for the formation and evolution of the Universe.

Observations made over recent decades reveal that less than 5% of the matter in the Universe is in the form of normal atoms, while a much larger amount of dark matter is inferred from measurements including the rotation speeds of galaxies. This matter acts through gravity, but is invisible.

Dark energy, on the other hand, is invoked to explain the finding that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

Although they are thought to make up the majority of the matter and energy in the Universe, dark matter and dark energy cannot be seen. Instead, their presence is inferred by the movement of galaxies, the shape of galaxies, their distribution in space, and the rate of the Universe’s expansion as traced by the galaxies.

By mapping the shapes, positions and movements of two billion galaxies across more than a third of the sky, Euclid will provide astronomers with an unprecedented wealth of data to analyse.

The unrivalled accuracy of its measurements will allow them to close in on the properties and behaviour of dark matter and dark energy. This, in turn, will put constraints on the theoretical properties of what these two unseen components of the Universe may be.

With Euclid’s preliminary design review now safely passed, the next major milestone comes in two years at the critical design review.

At this point, the major hardware components will have been built and tested. If all goes well, Euclid will then be assembled.

After this, Euclid will be ready for launch in December 2020 on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.


Posted: December 18, 2015





NASA Unveils Celestial Fireworks as Official Image for Hubble 25th Anniversary

A little piece of the Universe :  Westerlund 2 Giant Cluster: Hubble 24042015





























The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the solar system and beyond since its launch on April 24, 1990.

“Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science.”

The sparkling centerpiece of Hubble’s anniversary fireworks is a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, named for Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund who discovered the grouping in the 1960s. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.
Westerlund 2 Hubble image

To capture this image, Hubble’s near-infrared Wide Field Camera 3 pierced through the dusty veil shrouding the stellar nursery, giving astronomers a clear view of the nebula and the dense concentration of stars in the central cluster. The cluster measures between 6 and 13 light-years across.

The giant star cluster is about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest and most massive stars. Some of its heftiest stars unleash torrents of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles etching into the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud.

The nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges and valleys. The pillars, composed of dense gas and thought to be incubators for new stars, are a few light-years tall and point to the central star cluster. Other dense regions surround the pillars, including reddish-brown filaments of gas and dust.

The brilliant stars sculpt the gaseous terrain of the nebula and help create a successive generation of baby stars. When the stellar winds hit dense walls of gas, the shockwaves may spark a new torrent of star birth along the wall of the cavity. The red dots scattered throughout the landscape are a rich population of newly-forming stars still wrapped in their gas-and-dust cocoons. These tiny, faint stars are between 1 million and 2 million years old -- relatively young stars -- that have not yet ignited the hydrogen in their cores. The brilliant blue stars seen throughout the image are mostly foreground stars.

Credits: NASA/ESA

Because the cluster is very young -- in astronomical terms -- it has not had time to disperse its stars deep into interstellar space, providing astronomers with an opportunity to gather information on how the cluster formed by studying it within its star-birthing environment.

The image’s central region, which contains the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys with near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3. The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Shades of red represent hydrogen and bluish-green hues are predominantly oxygen.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington.

For more information on the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

For image files and more information about Westerlund 2, visit:

:Editor: Sarah Ramsey : NASA:

And our Milky Way
















Posted on: October 23, 2015



This Tiny Human Endeavour to Gaze at the Heavens So to Light up Candles of Understanding by Finding Answers to Questions in the Infinite Darkness of this Universe













ESA’s 35 m-diameter dish antenna at New Norcia, Western Australia, glows with reflected laser light in this photo, taken by Dylan O’Donnell, a photographer based in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Photo Courtesy of ESA. Readmore  P: 050216

She Is Big, She Is Bright and She Is Definitely, Absolutely and Spirally Beautiful: The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy Or Rather M83














P: March 16: 2016

Image Credit: Subaru Telescope:NAOJ: Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory - Processing & Copyright: Robert Gendler: Readmore