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Astronomy & Space

Juno orbiter captures extra gorgeous views of Jupiter – Astronomy Now

June 24, 2019 • By

Throughout its 20th move by Jupiter, NASA’s Juno orbiter captured 4 gorgeous pictures of the large planet that have been compiled right into a close to face-on view, exhibiting its turbulent northern hemisphere in exceptional element. The pictures have been captured on 29 Could at altitudes starting from 18,600 kilometres (11,600 miles) to eight,600 kilometres (5,400 miles) at northern latitudes spanning 59 to 34 levels. Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this picture from knowledge offered by the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager.

Jupiter as imaged by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2011, the solar-powered Juno braked into polar orbit round Jupiter in July 2016. Since then, it has been finding out Jupiter’s ambiance, its magnetic discipline and inside construction in nice element, sending again a gentle stream of knowledge that features pictures captured by the JunoCam instrument. Supposed primarily for public outreach, JunoCam pictures can be found to the general public for processing.

Astronomy & Space

Mars 2020 rover able to rock (hunt) and roll – Astronomy Now

June 22, 2019 • By

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover now has the six wheels it must rove concerning the purple planet. On 13 June, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., put in the rover’s port and starboard “mobility suspension,” the wheels and rocker bogies that may enable the robotic to trundle throughout the floor and drive over small rocks and obstructions. Mentioned David Gruel, the Mars 2020 meeting, check and launch operations supervisor at JPL: “Now that’s a Mars rover. With the suspension on, not only does it look like a rover, but we have almost all our big-ticket items for integration in our rearview mirror. If our rover had one.” Over the subsequent few weeks engineers plan to put in the rover’s robotic arm, the SuperCam instrument and a 17-motor mechanism for caching rock and soil samples.

The rover’s wheels, every powered by its personal motor, are fabricated from aluminium and measure 52.5 centimetres (20.7 inches) in diameter. Each options 48 cleats to enhance traction on rock or sand. The entrance and rear wheels are also outfitted with steering motors that may enable the rover to show a full 360 levels in place. Launch is focused for July 2020 with touchdown in Jezero Crater on Mars on 18 February 2021.

The rover’s starboard, or right-side, wheels and suspension are moved into place for set up.The rover is seen to the proper. Picture: NASA

Astronomy & Space

Japanese spacecraft to hold European rover to martian moon – Astronomy Now

June 20, 2019 • By
A notional rendering of a small rover exploring one in all Mars’ two moons after supply by a Japanese spacecraft. Picture: CNES

The Japanese Martian Moons eXploration mission, or MMX, will carry a German-French rover to one of many crimson planet’s two moons in 2024. The spacecraft will slip into orbit round Mars in 2025 and deploy a lander that can goal both Phobos or Deimos, exploring the floor in unprecedented element to be taught extra concerning the formation and evolution of the photo voltaic system.

An settlement to incorporate the rover within the MMX mission was introduced on the Paris Air Present in Le Bourget by officers representing the Japanese Area Company (JAXA), the French Area Company (CNES) and the German Aerospace Middle (DLR).

“The world-first exploration of the Martian moons with a rover is a major technical challenge that we are tackling within the framework of our strong and proven partnership with Japan and France,” stated Pascale Ehrenfreund, chairman of the DLR Govt Board. “Together, we want to push the boundaries of what is technically feasible in robotic exploration and expand our knowledge about the origin of the solar system.”

DLR is chargeable for growing the rover’s physique and its robotic locomotion system, together with a spectrometer and a radiometer that can assist decide the composition of the martian moon’s floor materials. The French house company is growing cameras and the rover’s service module. The robotic might be operated collectively by DLR and CNES.

The MMX mission will comply with Japan’s profitable Hyabusa2, which has been finishing up close-range observations of the asteroid Ryugu for the previous 12 months, deploying a sequence of small landers and transferring in to gather samples for return to Earth in 2020. The MMX spacecraft will try to gather floor samples from Phobos by deploying a small lander that can use pressurised fuel to fire up and seize floor materials.

Astronomy & Space

ALMA spots merging galaxies in toddler universe – Astronomy Now

June 18, 2019 • By
An artist’s impression of merging galaxies often known as B14-65666 some 13 billion mild years away. Picture: Nationwide Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The Atacama Massive Millimeter/submillimeter Array has noticed what seems to be two galaxies crashing collectively some 13 billion years in the past, the earliest instance of a galactic merger but detected.

ALMA detected radio indicators indicating the presence of oxygen, carbon and mud within the object, often known as B14-65666 within the constellation Sextens, the earliest galactic detection of such indicators. Information evaluation signifies the radio missions had been divided into two blob-like areas the place the Hubble Area Telescope earlier revealed two star clusters.

The ALMA indicators point out the blobs are literally two galaxies shifting at totally different speeds which might be within the means of merging. The researchers estimate the whole mass of the system at lower than 10 % of the Milky Means’s, reflecting the intense youth of the parts. Even so, B14-65666 is producing stars 100 occasions extra actively than the Milky Means, yet one more indicator that two galaxies are merging.

This composite picture of B14-65666 reveals the distribution of mud (pink), oxygen (inexperienced) and carbon (blue) as detected by ALMA, together with stars (white) that had been imaged by the Hubble Area Telescope. Picture: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Area Telescope, Hashimoto et al.

“With rich data from ALMA and HST, combined with advanced data analysis, we could put the pieces together to show that B14-65666 is a pair of merging galaxies in the earliest era of the universe,” mentioned Takuya Hashimoto, a postdoctoral researcher on the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Waseda College.

“Detection of radio waves from three components in such a distant object clearly demonstrates ALMA’s high capability to investigate the distant universe.”


Astronomy & Space

Perfecting the know-how wanted for ‘starshades’ – Astronomy Now

June 16, 2019 • By
An artist’s (to not scale) impression of a 26-metre (85-foot) starshade positioned some 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) in entrance of a future area telescope. The starshade could be maneuvered to dam out the sunshine from a goal star, eliminating the glare that in any other case would drown out gentle mirrored from smaller exoplanets. A significant problem could be sustaining the separation distance to inside 1 metre (three toes). Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA engineers are finding out the feasibility of an enormous starshade that could possibly be remotely positioned to dam out a focused solar, permitting a exactly positioned area telescope tens of 1000’s of kilometres away to immediately picture Earth-size exoplanets that in any other case could be drowned out within the star’s glare.

Within the system presently being modelled, the starshade would unfold in area like a flower blossom, increasing to a diameter of 26 metres (85 toes) or so. The exoplanet-hunting telescope could be positioned as much as 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) away. For the system to work, the 2 spacecraft must keep their separation to inside 1 metre (three toes).

“The distances we’re talking about for the starshade technology are kind of hard to imagine,” mentioned Michael Backside, an engineer engaged on the undertaking at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “If the starshade have been scaled all the way down to the dimensions of a drink coaster, the telescope could be the dimensions of a pencil eraser they usually’d be separated by about 60 miles [100 kilometres].

“Now imagine those two objects are free-floating in space. They’re both experiencing these little tugs and nudges from gravity and other forces, and over that distance we’re trying to keep them both precisely aligned to within about 2 millimetres.”

Hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered by finding out slight adjustments in a star’s gentle as it’s tugged ever so barely backward and forward by the gravity of an orbiting planet or by monitoring how a star’s gentle periodically dims when a planet passes in entrance of it as considered from the neighborhood of Earth.

However blocking out most of a star’s gentle would allow extra direct observations like imaging and spectroscopic evaluation of the constituents in an exoplanet’s environment. An area-based starshade affords a possible answer that would result in profound discoveries.

Backside and JPL engineer Thibault Flinois are assessing know-how gaps that should be resolved earlier than a starshade mission could possibly be launched. A kind of is ensuring the separation distance, and the starshade’s orientation, may be exactly managed.

The specifics of starshade missions rely on the dimensions of the telescope. For the present examine, the JPL engineers envisioned utilizing a telescope the dimensions of NASA’s proposed Broad Discipline Infrared Survey Telescope – WFIRST – with a 2.4-metre main mirror.

Backside wrote a pc program that may permit sensors to detect interference patterns attributable to gentle leaking across the edges of a slightly-out-of-alignment starshade. Flinois and his colleagues then developed algorithms incorporating the alignment knowledge to autonomously generate thruster firing instructions to maintain the starshade exactly aligned.

“We can sense a change in the position of the starshade down to an inch, even over these huge distances,” Backside mentioned.

Stated Phil Willems, supervisor of NASA’s Starshade Expertise Growth work: “We use formation flying in space every time a capsule docks at the International Space Station. But Michael and Thibault have gone far beyond that, and shown a way to maintain formation over scales larger than Earth itself.”

Astronomy & Space

Cassini mosaic captures moon sculpting Saturn’s rings – Astronomy Now

June 14, 2019 • By
A mosaic made up of photographs in the course of the Cassini spacecraft’s last orbits of Saturn reveals new insights into how the small moon Daphnis gravitationally sculpts close by ring materials into rippling waves. Click on on the picture for a zoomed-in view. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Area Science Institute

NASA’s Cassini mission resulted in 2017 with a deliberate plunge into Saturn’s environment. However information and pictures captured in the course of the spacecraft’s last, closest-ever passes by the planet’s rings proceed to disclose new particulars in regards to the composition of the system and the way small moons gravitationally sculpt ring particles into delicate textures and patterns.

“It’s like turning the power up one more notch on what we could see in the rings,” stated Cassini Challenge Scientist Linda Spilker. “Everyone just got a clearer view of what’s going on. Getting that extra resolution answered many questions, but so many tantalising ones remain.”

The analysis, showing within the journal Science, applies not simply to the dynamics of Saturn’s rings. It additionally sheds gentle on how astrophysical disc type an evolve, together with the protoplanetary discs that give rise to total photo voltaic programs.

“These new details of how the moons are sculpting the rings in various ways provide a window into solar system formation, where you also have disks evolving under the influence of masses embedded within them,” stated lead writer and Cassini scientist Matt Tiscareno of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

In a spectacular mosaic, Saturn’s tiny moon Daphnis could be seen embedded within the rings, its gravity clearing out a area generally known as the Keeler hole, trailing three waves within the hole’s periphery. The crests of the waves diminish in measurement the farther they’re from the moon as ring particles work together and collide.

A closeup displaying how probably the most distant crest within the waves trailing Daphnis breaks down as ring particles jostle about within the moon’s gravitational wake. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Area Science Institute

The sculpting generated by Daphnis already was effectively documented, however the brand new evaluation reveals a number of beforehand unseen options, together with skinny strands of ring materials spreading out because the extra distant crests diminish and break up. The pictures making up the mosaic have been captured at a distance of about 28,000 kilometres (17,000 miles) from Daphnis.

“This tells us the way the rings look is not just a function of how much material there is,” Tiscareno stated. “There has to be something different about the characteristics of the particles, perhaps affecting what happens when two ring particles collide and bounce off each other. And we don’t yet know what it is.”

Cassini’s Seen and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer revealed one more thriller, discovering a surprisingly weak sign for water ice in Saturn’s outermost A hoop, a extremely reflective area thought to include comparatively uncontaminated ice bands. As well as, no natural compounds have been detected and no detectable quantities of ammonia ice or methane ice.

“If organics were there in large amounts, at least in the main A, B and C rings, we’d see them,” stated Phil Nicholson, Cassini VIMS scientist of Cornell College. “I’m not convinced yet that they are a major component of the main rings.”

Astronomy & Space

Hubble screens galactic host of a number of supernova blasts – Astronomy Now

June 12, 2019 • By

Some 45 gentle years from Earth, the galaxy NGC 4051 was found within the constellation Ursa Main by John Herschel in 1788. It’s a part of a spiral-rich subset of the Virgo supercluster of galaxies that features the Milky Means. Categorised as a Seyfert galaxy, NGC 4051 hosts a supermassive black gap in its core with 1.7 million instances the mass of the Solar. A number of supernovae blasts have been noticed within the galaxy over the previous a number of a long time, the primary in 1983 and the latest in 2010 when the core of an enormous star that had already misplaced its outer layers of hydrogen and helium exploded in a sort 1c supernova. Such explosions are generally known as stripped core-collapse supernovae. This fantastically rendered view of NGC 4051 was captured by the Hubble House Telescope.

NGC 4051. Picture: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Crenshaw and O. Fox

Astronomy & Space

Simulations deal with black hole-accretion disc alignment – Astronomy Now

June 10, 2019 • By

Essentially the most-detailed laptop simulations of a black gap to this point have lastly confirmed the innermost areas of a gap’s accretion disc – the encircling fuel and mud that orbit the singularity and finally fall in – is aligned with the outlet’s equator. Whereas that may appear obvious, it took greater than 4 a long time to convincingly resolve.

Computational astrophysicists from Northwestern College, the College of Amsterdam and the College of Oxford completed the feat utilizing graphical processing unites, or GPUs, to extra effectively course of big quantities of information.

The staff discovered that whereas the outer areas of an accretion disc can stay tilted, the innermost area aligns with the black gap’s equator with a clean “warp” connecting the 2 areas. In 1975, Jim Bardeen and Jacobus Petterson argued {that a} spinning black gap would consequence within the interior area aligned with the equatorial airplane, precisely what the pc simulations revealed.

“This groundbreaking discovery of Bardeen-Petterson alignment brings closure to a problem that has haunted the astrophysics community for more than four decades,” stated Northwestern’s Alexander Tchekhovskoy, a co-leader of the brand new analysis. “These details around the black hole may seem small, but they enormously impact what happens in the (host) galaxy as a whole. They control how fast the black holes spin and, as a result, what effect black holes have on their entire galaxies.”

Matthew Liska, a researcher on the College of Amsterdam and first creator of a paper outlining the outcomes, stated the simulations “not solely remedy a 40-year-old drawback, however they’ve demonstrated that, opposite to typical considering, it’s potential to simulate essentially the most luminous accretion disks in full basic relativity.

“This paves the way for a next generation of simulations, which I hope will solve even more important problems surrounding luminous accretion disks.”

A picture of a simulated black gap an a tilted accretion disc with a facet ration of 0.03, the thinnest ever simulation. The picture exhibits the interior areas of the disc are aligned with the spinning black gap’s equator as predicted greater than 40 years in the past. Picture: Liska/Tchekhovskoy et al

Black holes can’t be instantly noticed as a result of their concentrated gravity stop radiation from escaping. However fuel in an accretion disc will get heated to monumental temperatures because it spirals round a black gap, radiating throughout the electromagnetic spectrum and giving astronauts a direct have a look at the consequences of the outlet’s gravity.

Accretion discs management how briskly a black gap grows and how briskly it spins.

“Alignment affects how accretion disks torque their black holes,” Tchekhovskoy stated. “So it affects how a black hole’s spin evolves over time and launches outflows that impact the evolution of their host galaxies.”

Till now, simulations have been too simplified to pin down the Bardeen-Petterson alignment for 2 major causes. Near a black gap, materials within the accretion disc is shifting at greater and better relativistic velocities in an setting the place the outlet’s rotation is warping the material of space-time. As well as, magnetic results play a task.

Liska and Tchekhovskoy developed new computational methods that allowed them to mannequin a particularly skinny accretion disc, one with a height-to-radius ratio of 0.03. They instantly noticed the expected alignment subsequent to the black gap.

“The thinnest disks simulated before had a height-to-radius ratio of 0.05, and it turns out that all of the interesting things happen at 0.03,” Tchekhovskoy stated. “Nobody expected jets to be produced by these disks at such slight thicknesses. People expected that the magnetic fields that produce these jets would just rip through these really thin disks. But there they are. And that actually helps us resolve observational mysteries.”

The simulations have been carried out utilizing the Blue Waters supercomputers on the U.S. Nationwide Middle for Supercomputing Functions on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.