Sunday, November 18, 2018

Exploding Stars Make Key Ingredient in Sand, Glass

This image of supernova remnant G54.1+0.3 includes radio, infrared and X-ray light. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/ESA/NRAO/J. Rho (SETI Institute)

We are all, quite literally, made of star dust. Many of the chemicals that compose our planet and our bodies were formed directly by stars. Now, a new study using observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reports for the first time that silica - one of the most common minerals found on Earth - is formed when massive stars explode.

Overflowing Crater Lakes Carved Canyons Across Mars

Jezero crater is a paleolake and potential landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission to look for past life. The outlet canyon carved by overflow flooding is visible in the upper right side of the crater. Ancient rivers carved the inlets on the left side of the crater. NASA/Tim Goudge.

Today, most of the water on Mars is locked away in frozen ice caps. But billions of years ago it flowed freely across the surface, forming rushing rivers that emptied into craters, forming lakes and seas. New research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found evidence that sometimes the lakes would take on so much water that they overflowed and burst from the sides of their basins, creating catastrophic floods that carved canyons very rapidly, perhaps in a matter of weeks.

Film Inspired and Written by Grammy Award-Winning Composer Eric Whitacre Celebrates Hubble

In the “Deep Field” film, this visualization provides a new perspective on the galaxy group known as Stephan’s Quintet. The three-dimensional flight through the grouping makes clear that the bright blue and red galaxy (NGC 7320) is well in the foreground compared to the other four galaxies (NGC 7317, NGC 7318A, NGC 7318B, and NGC 7319). These galaxies were observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. The sequence also includes a ground-based view of NGC 7320C (left side of this image), which is traditionally not considered part of Stephan’s Quintet, but which astronomers have shown is at a similar distance and is part of the physical grouping. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, J. DePasquale, F. Summers, and Z. Levay (STScI)  Acknowledgement: CFHT/Coelum, J. Cuillandre, and G. Anselmi

On Friday, November 16, a unique film and musical experience, inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope’s iconic Deep Field image, premieres at the Kennedy Space Center. The film, titled Deep Field: The Impossible Magnitude of our Universe, features a variety of Hubble’s stunning imagery and includes 11 computer-generated visualizations of far-flung galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), in Baltimore, Maryland. Those visualizations not only depict the awesome beauty of the universe, but also express the three-dimensional nature of celestial objects.

Kepler Space Telescope Bid ‘Goodnight’ With Final Set of Commands

Artist's impression of Kepler spacecraft

On Thursday evening, NASA’s Kepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands finalize the spacecraft’s transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA’s announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Soyuz-FG Rocket Back in Action with Successful Launch of Progress MS-10

Progress MS-10 is launched via a Soyuz-FG rocket. Credit: Roscosmos

A Soyuz-FG rocket took to the skies to send the Progress MS-10 spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch marks the booster variant’s return to flight after it failed to orbit a two-person ISS crew five weeks ago.

SwRI Scientists Map Magnetic Reconnection in Earth’s Magnetotail

The latest findings of the SwRI-led Magnetospheric Multiscale mission detailed the magnetic reconnection processes taking place in the Earth’s magnetotail. Scientists discovered that the tail regions where magnetic fields meet, break apart and reconnect are surprisingly nonturbulent, but create hypersonic jets of electrons. Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

Analyzing data from NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, a team led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has found that the small regions in the Earth’s magnetosphere that energize the polar aurora are remarkably calm and nonturbulent. The new observations, which also revealed intense electron jets associated with the regions where magnetic reconnection occurs, were outlined in a paper published in Science Nov. 15.

Trans-galactic Streamers Feeding Most Luminous Galaxy in the Universe

Composite image of W2246-0526 and its three companion galaxies shown in the ALMA portion of the image (orange). The blue background is an optical image of the same region from Hubble. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO);T. Díaz-Santos et al.; N. Lira

The most luminous galaxy in the universe has been caught in the act of stripping away nearly half the mass from at least three of its smaller neighbors, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The light from this galaxy, known as W2246-0526, took 12.4 billion years to reach us, so we are seeing it as it was when our universe was only about a tenth of its present age.