Astronomers have combined two decades of Hubble observations to make unprecedented movies revealing never-before-seen details of the birth pangs of new stars. This sheds new light on how stars like the Sun form.(read more)
Source:ESO Science Release eso1132
A team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down a star in the Milky Way that many thought was impossible. They discovered that this star is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with only remarkably small amounts of other chemical elements in it. This intriguing composition places it in the “forbidden zone” of a widely accepted theory of star formation, meaning that it should never have come into existence in the first place. The results will appear in the 1 September 2011 issue of the journal Nature. (read more)
Source: Palomar Transient Factory
On August 24th, new supernova was found in M101 by Palomar Transient Factory, a fully-automated, wide-field survey aimed at a systematic exploration of the optical transient sky. This supernova, categorized as PTF11kly, is located 58″.6 west and 270″.7 south of the center of M101.(learn more)
NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), mission to study the Moon is in final launch preparations for a scheduled September 8 launch onboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
GRAIL's twin spacecraft are tasked for a nine-month mission to explore Earth's nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail. They will determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and advance our understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon. (go to NASA/GRAIL)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, publishers of Science Magazine, Honours Deirdre Kelleghan for her ‘Deadly Moons’ Drawing Workshop with the Prestigious SPORE Award.
Deadly Moons an interactive drawing workshop for children created by by EAAE's Irish National Representative Deirdre Kelleghan has been recognised for its educational value by Science Magazine, the publication of The American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Deadly Moons is an interactive drawing workshop. It teaches children aged 6 – 12 about our moon and some of the other exotic moons in our solar system. Deirdre Kelleghan created ‘Deadly Moons’ in March 2008, she found that children had a very positive reaction to it. The title of the workshop was inspired from the local dialect children use in Ireland, they have said to her ‘that’s deadly’ when they looked at the moon through her telescope. ‘To children the word ‘Deadly’ means ‘Totally Amazing’, therefore it was an already welcoming positive word and that’s the appeal of the title’ - says Deirdre.
It is Deirdre’s belief ‘that awareness of our moon and the Universe in general should be fundamental to the education of young children. When I found that UNAWE were looking for downloadable resources, I was delighted to offer the Deadly Moons workshop to them as they could reach more children than I could ever do’.
Deirdre Kelleghan’s Deadly Moons workshop has been welcomed in Schools and Observatories in Ireland. The Irish Girl Guide movement has also embraced the workshop in their Centenary Year. So too have many County Libraries in various locations in Ireland. The Draiocht Arts Centre heralded the Deadly Moons workshop as a very successful community exhibition. Deirdre was also invited to give her Deadly Moon workshop by the Astronomical League and the Observers Society of New York at Hofstra University,USA.
The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) has been established to encourage innovation and excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of high-quality on-line resources by students, teachers, and the public.
Deirdre’s Deadly Moon workshop shares the SPORE award with UNAWE i.e. Universe Awareness for Young Children
Deirdre goes on to say that she ‘ is very honoured indeed to receive this recognition and she offers special thanks to The Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Blackrock Castle Observatory and Dublin City Libraries for their nominations.’ Several schools have used Deirdre’s workshops to enhance their applications for Discover Science and Engineering’s - Primary Science Award.
Carolina Ödman-Govender, international project manager for UNAWE between 2005 and 2010. “We are delighted to share this prize with Deadly Moons, which is also one of the most popular activities contributed to the UNAWE website”
UNAWE and Deirdre Kelleghan’s ‘Deadly Moons’ have been working together since 2008. According to the present UNAWE International Project Manager, Pedro Russo, “Deadly Moons and other educational materials are uploaded regularly to the UNAWE web site, so that they can be distributed, adapted and translated for use in other countries.”
Previous laureates of the SPORE Award have been: MIT Open Courseware and The Periodic Table of Videos.
You can find out more about UNAWE and Deadly Moons in the SPORE essay published on August 26th online and in Science Magazine - One of the World’s Leading Scientific Journals.
- Universe Awareness website: www.unawe.org
- Deadly Moons on the Universe Awareness website: http://unawe.org/resources/education/deadly_moons_guide_158/
- Deirdre Kelleghan’s website: www.deirdrekelleghan.net
- Read the Science essay, “Crowd-sourced education and astronomical perspectives for young children around the world” by Carolina J. Ödman-Govender and Deirdre Kelleghan. http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/spore/
Source: NASA Science News
Based on the data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the movie shows
a sunspot emerging from depth in February 2011 (click on image above).
Source credit: Thomas Hartlep and Scott Winegarden, Stanford University.
A new breakthrough in sunspot detection could provide days of extra early warning for strong solar storms.(read more)
Source: NASA News/SWIFT
Two studies appearing in the August 25 issue of th journal Nature provide new insights into a cosmic accident that has been streaming X-rays toward Earth since late March. NASA's Swift satellite first alerted astronomers to intense and unusual high-energy flares from the new source in the constellation Draco. (read more)
Source: NASA News
Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body.
Astronomers hunted these dark orbs, termed Y dwarfs, for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of six Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years. (read more)
Source: ESO Photo Release eso1131
ESO’s Very Large Telescope has taken a striking image of a beautiful yet peculiar pair of galaxies nicknamed The Eyes. The larger of these, NGC 4438, was once a spiral galaxy but has become badly deformed by collisions with other galaxies in the last few hundred million years. This picture is the first to come out of ESO’s Cosmic Gems programme, an initiative in which ESO has granted dedicated observing time for outreach purposes.(read more)
Source: ESO Photo Release eso1129
This new picture from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows NGC 3521, a spiral galaxy located about 35 million light years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). Spanning about 50 000 light-years, this spectacular object has a bright and compact nucleus, surrounded by richly detailed spiral structure.(Read more)
Source: NASA Science News
A wide-angle movie recorded by NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft shows a
solar storm traveling all the way from the sun to Earth and engulfing our planet.
A 17 MB Quicktime zoom adds perspective to the main 40 MB Quicktime movie.
For the first time, a spacecraft far from Earth has turned and watched a solar storm engulf our planet. The movie, released today during a NASA press conference, has galvanized solar physicists, who say it could lead to important advances in space weather forecasting.(Read more)
Source: New Scientist
Making a black hole let go of anything is a tall order. But their grip may slowly weaken if the universe has extra dimensions, something that pulsars could help us to test.
String theory, which attempts to unify all the known forces, calls for extra spatial dimensions beyond the three we experience. Testing the theory has proved difficult, however.
Now John Simonetti of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and colleagues say black holes orbited by neutron stars called pulsars could do just that - if cosmic surveys can locate such pairings. "The universe contains 'experimental' setups we cannot produce on Earth," he says.
Black holes are predicted to fritter away their mass over time by emitting particles, a phenomenon called Hawking radiation. Without extra dimensions, this process is predicted to be agonisingly slow for run-of-the-mill black holes weighing a few times as much as the sun, making it impossible to measure.
Extra dimensions would give the particles more ways to escape, speeding up the process. This rapid weight loss would loosen a black hole's gravitational grip on any orbiting objects, causing them to spiral outwards by a few metres per year, the team calculates (The Astrophysical Journal, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/737/2/l28).
A pulsar orbiting a black hole could reveal this distancing. That's because the lighthouse-like pulses of radiation they emit would vary slightly depending on the size of the star's orbit. (read source)
Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope have shed light on the power source of a rare vast cloud of glowing gas in the early Universe. The observations show for the first time that this giant “Lyman-alpha blob” — one of the largest single objects known — must be powered by galaxies embedded within it. The results appear in the 18 August issue of the journal Nature.(read more)
Source: NASA-Mars Exploration Rovers
After a journey of almost three years, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the Red Planet's Endeavour crater to study rocks never seen before.
On Aug. 9, the golf cart-sized rover relayed its arrival at a location named Spirit Point on the crater's rim. Opportunity drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) since climbing out of the Victoria crater.
"NASA is continuing to write remarkable chapters in our nation's story of exploration with discoveries on Mars and trips to an array of challenging new destinations," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Opportunity's findings and data from the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory will play a key role in making possible future human missions to Mars and other places where humans have not yet been."
Endeavour crater, which is more than 25 times wider than Victoria crater, is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. At Endeavour, scientists expect to see much older rocks and terrains than those examined by Opportunity during its first seven years on Mars. Endeavour became a tantalizing destination after NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected clay minerals that may have formed in an early warmer and wetter period.
"We're soon going to get the opportunity to sample a rock type the rovers haven't seen yet," said Matthew Golombek, Mars Exploration Rover science team member, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "Clay minerals form in wet conditions so we may learn about a potentially habitable environment that appears to have been very different from those responsible for the rocks comprising the plains."
The name Spirit Point informally commemorates Opportunity's twin rover, which stopped communicating in March 2010. Spirit's mission officially concluded in May.
"Our arrival at this destination is a reminder that these rovers have continued far beyond the original three-month mission," said John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover project manager at JPL.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched Aug. 12, 2005, is searching for evidence that water persisted on the Martian surface for a long period of time. Other Mars missions have shown water flowed across the surface in the planet's history, but scientists have not determined if water remained long enough to provide a habitat for life.
NASA launched the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity in the summer of 2003. Both completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004 and continued years of extended operations. They made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. (read source)
Video credit: Meteorwatch Trailer 2011
This year, the Perseid meteor shower, that usually peaks on August 12-13, will be hard for skywatchers' observation, becuase the full Moon will coincide with these dates. Since the Perseids are normally bright and active for some days you will be able to see Perseids in the two or three days before the peak if your skies are dark.
A newly released image from ESA’s Mars Express shows the north pole of Mars during the red planet’s summer solstice. All the carbon dioxide ice has gone, leaving just a bright cap of water ice.
This image was captured by the orbiter’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera on 17 May 2010 and shows part of the northern polar region of Mars during the summer solstice. The solstice is the longest day and the beginning of the summer for the planet’s northern hemisphere.(read more)