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Posts Tagged ‘Spitzer Space Telescope’

Gallery: The Splendor of the Orion Nebula

Posted by Admin on December 24, 2011

SPACE.com Staff
Date: 22 December 2011 Time: 09:27 PM ET

The Splendor of Orion: A Star Factory UnveiledCredit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project TeamThis new Hubble image of the Orion Nebula shows dense pillars of gas and dust that may be the homes of fledgling stars, and hot, young, massive stars that have emerged from their cocoons and are shaping the nebula with powerful ultraviolet light.

The Splendor of Orion: A Star Factory Unveiled

Cosmic Bullets Pierce Space CloudCredit: Gemini ObservatoryThis composite image at infrared wavelengths shows the Orion nebula “bullets” as blue features and represents the light emitted by hot iron gas. The light from the wakes, shown in orange, is from excited hydrogen gas.

Each bullet is about ten times the size of Pluto’s orbit around the Sun and travels through the clouds at up to 250 miles (400 kilometers) per second-or about a thousand times faster than the speed of sound.

Cosmic Bullets Pierce Space Cloud

Famous Orion Nebula Closer Than Thought Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSFTrigonometric Parallax method determines distance to star by measuring its slight shift in apparent position as seen from opposite ends of Earth’s orbit.

Famous Orion Nebula Closer Than Thought

Twin Stars Born 500,000 Years ApartCredit: NASA-JPL-STScI/David James.The two identical twin stars (inset) called Par 1802 appear as a single point of light, because they are so close to each other in the Orion Nebula (background).

Twin Stars Born 500,000 Years Apart

New Close-up Shows Binary Stars in Orion’s HeartCredit: nullLeft: Zooming into the center of the Orion star-forming region with the four bright Trapezium stars (Theta1 Orionis A-D). The dominant star is Theta1 Orionis C, which was imaged with unprecedented resolution with the VLT interferometer (lower right). Right: The orbit of the binary system (grey line). The size of the orbit of Jupiter around our sun is shown for comparison. Collage: MPIfR (Stefan Kraus), ESO, NASA,HST.

New Close-up Shows Binary Stars in Orion’s Heart

 ‘Space Jellyfish’ and Cosmic Blobs Seen by Hubble TelescopeCredit: NASA/ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)This new atlas features 30 proplyds, or protoplanetary discs, that were recently discovered in the majestic Orion Nebula using the Hubble Space Telescope.

'Space Jellyfish' and Cosmic Blobs Seen by Hubble Telescope

New Image Penetrates Heart of Orion NebulaCredit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey UnitThis wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The new telescope’s huge field of view allows the whole nebula and its surroundings to be imaged in a single picture and its infrared vision also means that it can peer deep into the normally hidden dusty regions and reveal the curious antics of the very active young stars buried there.

New Image Penetrates Heart of Orion Nebula

Hot New Stars Take Center Stage in Cosmic PhotoCredit: NASA/JPL-CaltechA colony of hot, young stars is stirring up the cosmic scene in this new picture from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope released on April 1, 2010. Full story.

 Hot New Stars Take Center Stage in Cosmic Photo

Star-Formation Details Seen in New ImagesCredit: ESA/LFI & HFI ConsortiaAn active star-formation region in the Orion nebula, as seen by Planck. This image covers a region of 13×13 degrees. It is a three-color combination constructed from three of Planck’s nine frequency channels: 30, 353 and 857 GHz.

Star-Formation Details Seen in New Images

Young Stars Blamed for Space Cloud RipplesCredit: NASA-JPL & Caltech, ESO-VISTA [Full Story]Top: near-infrared image of the Orion nebula. The massive stars are in the bright region. Bottom: Zoom on the region of the waves shown at mid-infrared (green), and radio wavelengths (red). The mid-infrared component shows the emission of warm small dust particles, while the radio emission comes from the cold gas. Each inset corresponds to a different velocity of the gas, observed with the IRAM 30m radio-telescope.

Young Stars Blamed for Space Cloud Ripples

Orion NebulaCredit: ESO and Igor ChekalinThis new image of the Orion Nebula was captured using the Wide Field Imager camera on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Orion Nebula

Orion Knows How to Turn on the FIreworks!Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASAThis NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Orion Nebula shows the spectacular region around an object known as Herbig-Haro 502, a very small part of the vast stellar nursery. The glow of the nebula fills the image and, just left of center, a star embedded in a pinkish glow can be also seen. This object, Herbig-Haro 502, is an example of a very young star surrounded by the cloud of gas from which it formed.

Orion Knows How to Turn on the FIreworks!

Orion, Brightest Winter ConstellationCredit: Starry Night SoftwareOrion is the brightest and most beautiful of the winter constellations, full of fascinating objects for the curious skygazer.

Orion, Brightest Winter Constellation

SOFIA Image of Orion NebulaCredit: SOFIA image: James De Buizer/NASA/DLR/USRA/DSI/FORCAST; Spitzer image: NASA/JPLThis image compares two infrared pictures of the heart of the Orion nebula captured by the FORCAST camera on the SOFIA airborne observatory’s telescope with a wider image of the same area from NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.

SOFIA Image of Orion Nebula

Orion from Viking ViewCredit: P-M Hedén/TWANSkywatcher Per-Magnus Heden wondered if the Vikings gazed at the same starry sky when he took this photo in Feb. 2011.

Orion from Viking View

Orion Unveiled: Spitzer Telescope Spies Nebula’s Infrared SecretsCredit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S.T. Megeaty (Univ. of Toledo,OH).This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion nebula, the closest massive star-making factory to Earth.

Orion Unveiled: Spitzer Telescope Spies Nebula’s Infrared Secrets

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Solar System Surprise: A New View of What’s Out There

Posted by Admin on August 12, 2011

http://www.space.com/544-solar-system-surprise-view.html

by Robert Roy Britt, Senior Science Writer
Date: 22 November 2004 Time: 06:24 AM ET
Size comparison between Sedna and other bodies in the Solar System. Image
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

A fabled tenth planet out beyond Neptune, often referred to as Planet X, hasn’t been found despite years of searching. But astronomers involved in the hunt are beginning to speculate that something like Planet X will be discovered, along with Y and Z.

In fact, the entire alphabet may not suffice to denote the many worlds circling the Sun.

In an emerging new theoretical view of our corner of the galaxy, several worlds larger than Pluto — a few perhaps as big as Mars — lurk in the outskirts of the solar system. Some are so far away that it would take more than a year, traveling at the speed of light, to reach them.

Wrapping up one search

For years, astronomers have been scouring the Kuiper Belt, a region past Neptune that’s loaded with comet-like objects. The Kuiper Belt extends out to some 5 billion miles (8 billion kilometers) from the Sun. That’s a little more than 50 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, or 50 astronomical units (AU).

Since 1992, more than 800 Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) have been found. A handful look to be roughly half the size of Pluto. Until recently, the larger KBOs had fueled speculation that one or more Pluto-sized bodies would eventually be found.

“Given that our survey has covered almost the entire region of the Kuiper Belt, I’m willing to bet these days that nothing larger than Pluto will be found in the Kuiper Belt,” says Caltech astronomer Mike Brown.

As hope fades, a study released earlier this month shows that some KBOs are smaller than had been assumed.

The size of a distant object is often based on an estimate of its reflectivity, a measure called albedo. For years astronomers had assumed KBOs were pretty dark, reflecting just 4 percent of the sunlight that hit them.

University of Arizona astronomer John Stansberry used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to obtain actual albedos for some of these icy objects.

“Our results have albedos ranging from 6 percent to 18 percent for the eight objects I’ve analyzed,” Stansberry said. If a KBO is brighter than thought, then less surface area is required to reflect the amount of sunlight that was measured — so the object’s size must be revised downward.

One object, catalogued as 2002 AW197, was thought to be two-thirds the diameter of Pluto. Stansberry has now shrunk that estimate to about one-third.

Looking into a new realm

Some of the larger objects out there have not shrunk, however, because their actual albedos were already fairly well known. One of these is way, way out there, and it is seen as a missing link to the space beyond the Kuiper Belt.

Last November, Mike Brown’s team found a world at least half as large as Pluto. They named it Sedna, after the Inuit sea goddess. Sedna’s elongated orbit is outside the Kuiper Belt, ranging from 76 to 1,000 AU.

Sedna was found only because it is currently near the innermost stretch of its travels.

Well past Sedna is another reservoir of material left over from the formation of the solar system, theorists believe. The Oort Cloud is a hypothesized sphere of frozen objects thought to start at about 10,000 AU and extend to 100,000 AU, or 1.5 light-years from the Sun.

Nobody expected to find an object like Sedna in the largely empty space between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. Theorists are now scrambling to explain Sedna’s presence and what it means to the composition of the outer solar system.

“Sedna could be a member of a substantial population of bodies trapped between the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud,” says the University of Hawaii’s David Jewitt, who made the first accurate estimate of a KBO albedo in 2001.

Brown, who now bets against finding Planet X in the Kuiper Belt, thinks his group’s discovery of Sedna portends an even more compelling scenario.

“I’d also be willing to bet that there are many objects larger than Pluto out in the region of space where Sedna lives,” Brown said last week. Out to about 1,000 AU, he speculates that there could be 10 or 20 Pluto-sized objects, “and a handful of larger things, too.” Some of these suspected worlds could be as big as Mercury or even Mars, he said.

I asked Brown if there might be worlds larger than Pluto clear out at the edge of the Oort Cloud, 1.5 light-years away and nearly half the distance to the Alpha Centauri star system.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Probably even likely.”

Waiting on technology

New telescopes will be needed to connect the dots of the outer solar system.

“Pluto-sized planets in distant near-circular orbits are beyond the reach of current searches,” said Lowell Observatory astronomer Bob Millis, who leads a team that has found more than 400 KBOs. “Future searches tuned to more distant objects and using large telescopes … can begin to probe this region.”

And while Mike Brown has his mental sights set beyond Sedna, Millis thinks there could still be a surprise lurking in the Kuiper Belt.

“It is certainly possible that one or more objects as large as Pluto remain to be found inside about 70 AU,” Millis told me. “No searches performed to date are complete in this region,” although he added that the survey by Brown and his colleagues, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz, “has substantially reduced the likelihood” that such objects exist.

“Beyond about 70 AU,” Millis said, “it is anybody’s guess.”

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NASA Envisions Alien Worlds

Posted by Admin on July 2, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/nasa-envisions-alien-worlds.html

NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)
Out of the Dust, a Planet is Born
In this artist’s conception, a possible newfound planet spins through a clearing, detected around the star CoKu Tau 4 by the Spitzer Space Telescope, in a nearby star’s dusty, planet-forming disc. The possible planet is theorized to be at least as massive as Jupiter, and may have a similar appearance to what the giant planets in our own solar system looked like billions of years ago.


NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)
Hubble Spots Possible New Moons Around Pluto
The artist’s concept above shows the Pluto system from the surface of one of the candidate moons. The other members of the Pluto system are just above the moon’s surface. Pluto is the large disk at center, right. Charon, the system’s only confirmed moon, is the smaller disk to the right of Pluto. The other candidate moon is the bright dot on Pluto’s far left. Click image for full resolution.


ESA/C.CarreauESA/C.Carreau
Steaming Hot Planet
This artist’s impression shows a gas-giant exoplanet transiting across the face of its star. Infrared analysis by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of this type of system provided the breakthrough.The planet, HD 189733b, lies 63 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula. It was discovered in 2005 as it transited its parent star, dimming the star’s light by some three percent.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
Fantastic Four Galaxies with Planet
This artist’s concept shows what the night sky might look like from a hypothetical planet around a star tossed out of an ongoing four-way collision between big galaxies (yellow blobs). NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spotted this “quadruple merger” of galaxies within a larger cluster of galaxies located nearly 5 billion light-years away.Though the galaxies appear intact, gravitational disturbances have caused them to stretch and twist, flinging billions of stars into space, nearly three times as many stars as are in our Milky Way galaxy. The tossed stars are visible in the large plume emanating from the central, largest galaxy. If any of these stars have planets, their night skies would be filled with the monstrous merger, along with other galaxies in the cluster (smaller, bluish blobs).This cosmic smash-up is the largest known merger between galaxies of a similar size. While three of the galaxies are about the size of our Milky Way galaxy, the fourth (center of image) is three times as big. All four of the galaxies, as well as most other galaxies in the huge cluster, are blob-shaped ellipticals instead of spirals like the Milky Way.Ultimately, in about one hundred million years or so, the four galaxies will unite into one. About half of the stars kicked out during the merger will fall back and join the new galaxy, making it one of the biggest galaxies in the universe.


NASA/ESA/G. Bacon(STScI)NASA/ESA/G.Bacon(STScI)
Exoplanet HR 8799b
This is an artistic illustration of the giant planet HR 8799b.The planet was first discovered in 2007 at the Gemini North observatory. It was identified in the NICMOS archival data in a follow-up search of NICMOS archival data to see if Hubble had also serendipitously imaged it.The planet is young and hot, at a temperature of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. It is slightly larger than Jupiter and may be at least seven times more massive. Analysis of the NICMOS data suggests the planet has water vapor in its atmosphere and is only partially cloud covered. It is not known if the planet has rings or moons, but circumplanetary debris is common among the outer planets of our solar system.


NASA/JPLNASA/JPL
Chemical Soups Around Cool Stars
This artist’s conception shows a young, hypothetical planet around a cool star. A soupy mix of potentially life-forming chemicals can be seen pooling around the base of the jagged rocks. Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope hint that planets around cool stars – the so-called M-dwarfs and brown dwarfs that are widespread throughout our galaxy – might possess a different mix of life-forming, or prebiotic, chemicals than our young Earth.


ESAESA
Huygens on Titan
In 2005 the robotic Huygens probe landed on Titan, Saturn’s enigmatic moon, and sent back the first ever images from beneath Titan’s thick cloud layers. This artist’s impression is based on those images. In the foreground, sits the car-sized lander that sent back images for more than 90 minutes before running out of battery power. The parachute that slowed Huygen’s re-entry is seen in the background, still attached to the lander. Smooth stones, possibly containing water-ice, are strewn about the landscape. Analyses of Huygen’s images and data show that Titan’s surface today has intriguing similarities to the surface of the early Earth.


NASA/ESA/G. Bacon(STScI)NASA/ESA/G. Bacon(STScI)
Flaring Red Dwarf Star
This is an artist’s concept of a red dwarf star undergoing a powerful eruption, called a stellar flare. A hypothetical planet is in the foreground. Flares are sudden eruptions of heated plasma that occur when the field lines of powerful magnetic fields in a star’s atmosphere “reconnect,” snapping like a rubber band and releasing vast amounts of energy equivalent to the power of 100 million atomic bombs exploding simultaneously.Studying the light from 215,000 older red dwarfs collected in observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers found 100 stellar flares popping off over the course of a week.


NASA/ESA/G. Bacon(STScI)NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)
Super-Hot Planet with Unique Comet-Like Tail
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the existence of a baked object that could be called a “cometary planet.” The gas giant planet, named HD 209458b, is orbiting so close to its star that its heated atmosphere is escaping into space.Observations taken with Hubble’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) suggest powerful stellar winds are sweeping the cast-off atmospheric material behind the scorched planet and shaping it into a comet-like tail.


NASA/JPL-CaltechNASA/JPL-Caltech
This Planet Smells Funny
Giant planet GJ 436b in the constellation Leo is missing something–and that something is swamp gas. To the surprise of astronomers who have been studying the Neptune-sized planet using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, GJ 436b has very little methane–an ingredient common to many planets in our own solar system. This artist’s concept shows the unusual, methane-free world partially eclipsed by its star.Models of planetary atmospheres indicate that any world with the common mix of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and a temperature up to 1,000 Kelvin (1,340 degrees Fahrenheit) should have a large amount of methane and a small amount of carbon monoxide. But at about 800 Kelvin (or 980 degrees Fahrenheit), GJ 436b it does not. The finding demonstrates the diversity of exoplanets and the need for further study.


NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana BerryNASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry
An Imagined Canyon on Planet Kepler 10-B
The daytime temperature is expected to be more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than lava flows here on Earth, hot enough to melt iron! Many years ago, before Kepler launched, members of what became the Kepler team built a robotic telescope at Lick Observatory to learn to do transit photometry– detecting drops in brightness of stars when planets pass in front of them. We called it the Vulcan Telescope, named after the hypothetical planet that scientists in the 1800’s thought might exist between the Sun and Mercury. A planet that might explain the small deviations in Mercury’s orbit that were later explained with Einsteins theory of general relativity.Vulcan is the god of fire in Roman mythology, a name befitting of a world so close to the Sun. The artists rendering of Kepler-10b is reminiscent of that hypothetical planet Vulcan. The Kepler team came full circle in its quest. We know that we’ve only begun to imagine the possibilities.


NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana BerryNASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry
Imagined View from Planet Kepler 10-B
Kepler-10b orbits one of the 150,000 stars that the Kepler spacecraft is monitoring, a star that is very similar to our own Sun in temperature, mass and size, but older with an age of over 8 billion years, compared to the 4-and-1/2 billion years of our own Sun. It is one of the brighter stars that Kepler is monitoring and about 560 light years from our solar system, which means when the light from this star began its journey toward Earth, European navigators were crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in search of new horizons. Today, we are still exploring and our crow’s nest is a space telescope called Kepler. One day, the oceans we cross will be the galaxy itself, but for now, we imagine the worlds we discover by putting all that we have learned from our observations and analyses into the fingers of artists.Kepler-10b must be a scorched world, orbiting at a distance that is more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our own Sun, with a daytime temperature expected to be more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.The Kepler team has determined that Kepler-10b is a rocky planet, with a surface you could stand on, a mass 4.6 times that of Earth, anda diameter 1.4 times that of Earth.


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