Sunday, October 30, 2016

Expedition 49 Soyuz Spacecraft Landing

The Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 49 crew members NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 (Kazakh time).

The Tulip in the Swan

Framing a bright emission region this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellationCygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of the composite image. Red, green, and blue hues map emission from ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ultraviolet radiation from young, energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018, ionizes the atoms and powers the visible light emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star very near the blue arc at the center of the cosmic tulip.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Haunting the Cepheus flare

Spooky shapes seem to haunt this jeweled expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk along the plane of the Milky Way at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across and brighter than the other ghostly apparitions, vdB 141 or Sh2-136 is also known as the Ghost Nebula, seen at the right of the starry field of view. Within the nebula are the telltale signs of dense cores collapsing in the early stages of star formation.

Image Credit &Copyright:Thomas Lelu

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Propeller Shadow on Saturn's Ring

What created these unusually long shadows on Saturn's rings? The dark shadows -- visible near the middle of the image -- extend opposite the Sun and, given their length, stem from objects having heights up to a few kilometers. The long shadows were unexpected given that the usual thickness of Saturn's A and B rings is only about 10 meters. After considering the choppy but elongated shapes apparent near the B-ring edge, however, aleading theory has emerged that some kilometer-sized moonlets exist there that have enough gravity to create even larger vertical deflections of nearby small ring particles. The resulting ring waves are called propellers, named forhow they appear individually. It is these coherent groups of smaller ring particles that are hypothesized to be casting the long shadows. The featured image was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn. The image was captured in 2009, near Saturn's equinox, when sunlight streamed directly over the ring plane and caused the longest shadows to be cast.

Image Credit: NASAJPL-CaltechSpace Science Institute


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

HI4PI: The Hydrogen Sky

Where are the Milky Way's gas clouds and where are they going? To help answer this question, a new highest-resolution map of the sky in the universe's most abundant gas -- hydrogen -- has been completed and recently released, along with its underlying data. Featured above, the all-sky map of hydrogen's 21-cm emission shows abundance with brightness and speed with color. Low radial speeds toward us artificially colored blue and low radial speeds away colored green. The band across the middle is the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, while the bright spots on the lower right are the neighboring Magellanic Clouds. The HI4PI map collects data from over one million observations with the northern Eiffelsberg 100-Meter Radio Telescopein Germany and the southern Parkes 64-Meter Radio Telescope in Australia, also known as "The Dish". The details of the map not only better inform humanity about star formation and interstellar gas in our Milky Way galaxy, but also how much light this local gas is likely to absorb when observing the outside universe. Many details on the map are not yet well understood.

Image Credit: Benjamin Winkel & the HI4PI Collaboration

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Eagle Aurora Over Norway

What's that in the sky? An aurora. A large coronal mass ejection occurred on our Sun five days before this 2012 image was taken, throwing a cloud of fast moving electrons, protons, and ions toward the Earth. Although most of this cloud passed above the Earth, some of it impacted our Earth'smagnetosphere and resulted in spectacular auroras being seen at high northern latitudes. Featured here is a particularly photogenic auroral coronacaptured above GrotfjordNorway. To some, this shimmering green glow of recombining atmospheric oxygen might appear as a large eagle, but feel free to share what it looks like to you. Although now past Solar Maximum, our Sun continues to show occasional activity creating impressive auroras on Earthvisible only last week.

Image Credit & Copyright: Bjørn Jørgensen

Thursday, October 20, 2016

First U.S. Microgravity Payload-1 Mission Launches -- Oct. 22, 1992

This week in 1992, space shuttle Columbia launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. STS-52 was the first flight of the U.S. Microgravity Payload-1, a complement of three experiments mounted on two connected Spacelab Multipurpose Experiment Support Structures in the cargo bay of Columbia. Science teams on Earth remotely commanded and monitored instruments and analyzed data from workstations at the Spacelab Mission Operation Control Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Today the Payload Operations Integration Center at Marshall serves as "science central" for the International Space Station, working 24/7, 365 days a year in support of scientific experiments on the orbiting laboratory. The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating and preserving NASA's remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological and scientific aspects of NASA's activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA's history, visit the History Program'swebpage.

Image credit: NASA

Space Shuttle

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Expedition 49 Launch to the International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at 4:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday (2:05 p.m. Baikonur time). The Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the Poisk module of the space station at 5:59 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21.

The arrival of Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko returns the station's crew complement to six. The three join Expedition 49 Commander Anatoli Ivanishin of Roscosmos, Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Expedition 49 crew members will spend a little over four months conducting more than 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

International Space Station

M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster

Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Even if you have, you probably have never seen it as dusty as this. Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the bright stars of the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars even from the heart of a light-polluted city. With a long exposure from a dark location, though, the dust cloud surrounding the Pleiades star clusterbecomes very evident. The featured image was a long duration exposure taken last month from Namibia and covers a sky area many times the size of the full moon. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45the Pleiades lies about 400 light years away toward the constellation of the Bull (Taurus). Acommon legend with a modern twist is that one of the brighter stars faded since the cluster was named, leaving only six stars visible to the unaided eye. The actual number of visible Pleiades stars, however, may be more or less than seven, depending on the darkness of the surrounding sky and the clarityof the observer's eyesight.

Image Credit & Copyright: Hermann von Eiff

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out for Today's Launch (Oct 19th 2016)

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft is rolled out by train to the launch pad by train on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. andnbsp; Expedition 49 flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 19.

(Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

International Space Station

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cylindrical Mountains on Venus

What could cause a huge cylindrical mountain to rise from the surface of Venus? Such features that occur on Venus are known as coronas. Pictured here in the foreground is 500-kilometer wide Atete Corona found in a region of Venus known as the Galindo. The featured image was created by combining multiple radar maps of the region to form a computer-generated three-dimensional perspective. The series of dark rectangles that cross the image from top to bottom were created by the imaging procedure and are not real. The origin of massive coronas remains a topic of research althoughspeculation holds they result from volcanism. Studying Venusian coronas help scientists better understand the inner structure of both Venus and Earth.

Image Credit: Magellan Spacecraft TeamUSGSNASA

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hubble sees Cassiopeia's Unusual Resident

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, shows a spiral galaxy named NGC 278. This cosmic beauty lies some 38 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia (The Seated Queen).

While NGC 278 may look serene, it is anything but. The galaxy is currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation. This flurry of activity is shown by the unmistakable blue-hued knots speckling the galaxy's spiral arms, each of which marks a clump of hot newborn stars.

However, NGC 278's star formation is somewhat unusual; it does not extend to the galaxy's outer edges, but is only taking place within an inner ring some 6500 light-years across. This two-tiered structure is visible in this image '” while the galaxy's center is bright, its extremities are much darker. This odd configuration is thought to have been caused by a merger with a smaller, gas-rich galaxy '” while the turbulent event ignited the center of NGC 278, the dusty remains of the small snack then dispersed into the galaxy's outer regions. Whatever the cause, such a ring of star formation, called a nuclear ring, is extremely unusual in galaxies without a bar at their center, making NGC 278 a very intriguing sight.

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

Hubble Space Telescope

Herschel's Orion

This dramatic image peers within M42, the Orion Nebula, the closest large star-forming region. Using data at infrared wavelengths from the Herschel Space Observatory, the false-color composite explores the natal cosmic cloud a mere 1,500 light-years distant. Cold, dense filaments of dust that would otherwise be dark at visible wavelengths are shown in reddish hues. Light-years long, the filaments weave together bright spots that correspond to regions of collapsing protostars. The brightest bluish area near the top of the frame is warmer dust heated by the hot Trapezium cluster stars that also power the nebula's visible glow. Herschel data has recently indicated ultraviolet starlight from the hot newborn stars likely contributes to the creation of carbon-hydrogen molecules, basic building blocks of life. This Herschel image spans about 3 degrees on the sky. That's about 80 light-years at the distance of the Orion Nebula.

Image Credit & CopyrightESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE


Galaxies from the Altiplano

The central bulge of our Milky Way Galaxy rises over the northern Chilean Atacama altiplano in this postcard from planet Earth. At an altitude of 4500 meters, the strange beauty of the desolate landscape could almost belong to another world though. Brownish red and yellow tinted sulfuric patches lie along the whitish salt flat beaches of the Salar de Aguas Calientes region. In the distance along the Argentina border is thestratovolcano Lastarria, its peak at 5700 meters (19,000 feet). In the clear, dark sky above, stars, nebulae, and cosmic dust clouds in the Milky Way echo the colors of the altiplano at night. Extending the view across extragalactic space, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, shine near the horizon through a faint greenish airglow.
Image Credit & CopyrightStéphane Guisard(Los Cielos de AmericaTWAN)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Inspecting the Space Station's Expandable Habitat

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins inspected the Bigelow Aerospace Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) attached to the International Space Station on Sept. 5, 2016Expandable habitatsare designed to take up less room on a spacecraft while providing greater volume forliving and working in space once expanded. It was the first checkup of BEAM since the initial inspection of the space station's expanded node after it was deployed May 28. Rubins collected radiation monitors and sampled surfaces inside BEAM to assess the microbe environment. Her inspection revealed the module appeared in good condition, and the samples and radiation detectors were packed for return to Earth for analysis. On Sept. 29, Rubins opened up and entered the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module again, and temporarily installed gear for a test to measure the loads and vibrations the module experiences. For the next two years, crew members will inspect the module every three months to check for stability.

Image Credit: NASA

International Space Station

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In day light on the night side

NASA's Cassini spacecraft looks down at the rings of Saturn from above the planet's nightside. The darkened globe of Saturn is seen here at lower right, along with the shadow it casts across the rings.

The image shows that even on the planet's night side, the rings remain in sunlight, apart from the portion that lies within Saturn's shadow. The rings also reflect sunlight back onto the night side of the planet, making it appear brighter than it would otherwise appear.

Saturn's small moon Prometheus (53 miles or 86 kilometers across) is faintly visible as a speck near upper left. The shadow of Saturn was once long enough to stretch to the orbit of Prometheus. But as northern summer solstice approaches, Saturn's shadow no longer reaches that far (seePIA20498). So Prometheus will not move into the darkness of the planet's shadow until the march of the seasons again causes the shadow to lengthen.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 41 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 14, 2016.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 87 degrees. Image scale is 53 miles (86 kilometers) per pixel. Prometheus has been brightened by a factor of two to enhance its visibility.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


The Cygnus wall of star formation

Sometimes, stars form in walls -- bright walls of interstellar gas. In this vivid skyscape, stars are forming in the W-shaped ridge of emission known as the Cygnus Wall. Part of a larger emission nebula with a distinctive outline popularly called The North America Nebula, the cosmic ridge spans about 20 light-years. Constructed using narrowband data to highlight the telltale reddish glow from ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with electrons, the image mosaic follows an ionization front with fine details of dark, dusty forms in silhouette. Sculpted by energetic radiation from the region's young, hot, massive stars, the dark shapes inhabiting the view are clouds of cool gas and dust with stars likely forming within. The North America Nebula itself, NGC 7000, is about 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit & Copyright: Sara Wager

Monday, October 10, 2016

Moon, Mercury and twilight radio

Sharing dawn's twilight with the Moon on September 29, Mercury was about as far from the Sun as it can wander, the innermost planet close to its maximum elongation in planet Earth's skies. In this colorful scene fleeting Mercury is joined by a waning sunlit lunar crescent and earthlit lunar nightside, the New Moon in the Old Moon's arms. Below is the ItalianMedicina Radio Astronomical Station near Bologna with a low row of antennae that is part of Italy's first radio telescope array dubbed the "Northern Cross", and a 32-meter-diameter parabolic dish. Of course, moonwatchers won't have to rise in early morning hours on October 8. After sunset the Moon will be high and bright in evening skies, at its first quarter phase for International Observe the Moon Night.

Image Credit & CopyrightPierluigi Giacobazzi

Moon, Mercury and twilight radio

Sharing dawn's twilight with the Moon on September 29, Mercury was about as far from the Sun as it can wander, the innermost planet close to its maximum elongation in planet Earth's skies. In this colorful scene fleeting Mercury is joined by a waning sunlit lunar crescent and earthlit lunar nightside, the New Moon in the Old Moon's arms. Below is the ItalianMedicina Radio Astronomical Station near Bologna with a low row of antennae that is part of Italy's first radio telescope array dubbed the "Northern Cross", and a 32-meter-diameter parabolic dish. Of course, moonwatchers won't have to rise in early morning hours on October 8. After sunset the Moon will be high and bright in evening skies, at its first quarter phase for International Observe the Moon Night.

Image Credit & CopyrightPierluigi Giacobazzi

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Wandering Black Hole

Image was Published. (6/10/2016)4 days ago.

Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory to discover an extremely luminous, variable X-ray source located outside the center of its parent galaxy. This peculiar object could be a wandering black hole that came from a small galaxy falling into a larger one.

Astronomers think that supermassive black holes, with some 100,000 to 10 billion times the sun's mass, are in the centers of most galaxies. There is also evidence for the existence of so-called intermediate mass black holes, which have lower masses ranging between about 100 and 100,000 times that of the sun.

Both of these types of objects may be found away from the center of a galaxy following a collision and merger with another galaxy containing a massive black hole. As the stars, gas and dust from the second galaxy move through the first one, its black hole would move with it.

A new study reports the discovery of one of these 'wandering'� black holes toward the edge of the lenticular galaxy SDSS J141711.07+522540.8 (or, GJ1417+52 for short), which is located about 4.5 billion light years from Earth. This object, referred to as XJ1417+52, was discovered during long observations of a special region, the so-called Extended Groth Strip, with XMM-Newton and Chandra data obtained between 2000 and 2002. Its extreme brightness makes it likely that it is a black hole with a mass estimated to be about 100,000 times that of the sun, assuming that the radiation force on surrounding matter equals the gravitational force.

The main panel of this graphic has a wide-field, optical light image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The black hole and its host galaxy are located within the box in the upper left. The inset on the left contains Hubble's close-up view of GJ1417+52. Within this inset the circle shows a point-like source on the northern outskirts of the galaxy that may be associated with XJ1417+52. andnbsp;andnbsp;

The inset on the right is Chandra's X-ray image of XJ1417+52 in purple, covering the same region as the Hubble close-up. This is a point source, with no evidence seen for extended X-ray emission.

The Chandra and XMM-Newton observations show the X-ray output of XJ1417+52 is so high that astronomers classify this object as a 'hyper-luminous X-ray source'� (HLX). These are objects that are 10,000 to 100,000 times more luminous in X-rays than stellar black holes, and 10 to 100 times more powerful than ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs. ;

At its peak XJ1417+52 is about ten times more luminous than the brightest X-ray source ever seen for a wandering black hole. It is also about 10 times more distant than the previous record holder for a wandering black hole.

The bright X-ray emission from this type of black hole comes from material falling toward it. The X-rays from XJ1417+52 reached peak brightness in X-rays between 2000 and 2002. The source was not detected in later Chandra and XMM observations obtained in 2005, 2014 and 2015. Overall, the X-ray brightness of the source has declined by at least a factor of 14 between 2000 and 2015. andnbsp;

The authors theorize that the X-ray outburst seen in 2000 and 2002 occurred when a star passed too close to the black hole and was torn apart by tidal forces. Some of the gaseous debris would have been heated and become bright in X-rays as it fell towards the black hole, causing the spike in emission.

The location and brightness of the optical source in the Hubble image that may be associated with XJ1417+52 suggest that the black hole could have originally belonged to a small galaxy that plowed into the larger GJ1417+52 galaxy, stripping away most of the galaxy's stars but leaving behind the black hole and its surrounding stars at the center of the small galaxy. If this idea is correct the surrounding stars are what is seen in the Hubble image.

A paper by Dacheng Lin (University of New Hampshire) and colleagues describing this result appears in The Astrophysical Journal and is availableonline. 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.

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UNH/D.Lin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Chandra X-ray Observatory

Hydrogen clouds on M33 (Triangulum Galaxy)

2 days Ago NASA Publish this image (7/10/2016)

Image Credits : NASA App ; Danilo Pivato, Gimmi Ratto


Gorgeous spiral galaxy M33 seems to have more than its fair share of glowing hydrogen gas. A prominent member of the local group of galaxies, M33 is also known as the Triangulum Galaxy and lies about 3 million light-years distant. The galaxy's inner 30,000 light-years or so are shown in thistelescopic portrait that enhances its reddish ionized hydrogen clouds or HII regions. Sprawling along loose spiral arms that wind toward the core, M33's giant HII regions are some of the largest known stellar nurseries, sites of the formation of short-lived but very massive stars. Intense ultraviolet radiation from the luminous, massive stars ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas and ultimately produces the characteristic red glow. To enhance this image, broadband data was used to produce a color view of the galaxy and combined with narrowband data recorded through a hydrogen-alpha filter. That filter transmits the light of the strongest visible hydrogen emission line.
Image Credit & CopyrightDanilo Pivato, Gimmi Ratto

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lynds Dark Nebula 1251

Image Credits: NASA App, Lynn Hilborn

Stars are forming in Lynds Dark Nebula (LDN) 1251. About 1,000 light-years away, the dusty molecular cloud is part of a complex of dark nebulae mapped toward the Cepheus flare region, drifting above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Across the spectrum, astronomical explorations of the obscuring interstellar clouds reveal energetic shocks and outflows associated with newborn stars, including the telltale reddish glow from scattered Herbig-Haro objects seen in this sharp image. Distant background galaxies also lurk on the scene, visually buried behind the dusty expanse. The deep telescopic field of view spans about two full moons on the sky, or 17 light-years at the estimated distance of LDN 1251.

Image Credit & Copyright: Lynn Hilborn