Astronomy picture of the day
We find new planets by looking at how the brightness of a star changes over time As the planet passes in front of the star we see a dip in the light from it. Depending on how far the planet is from the star, you may see one or many dips in the lightcurve Can you spot the transits?
Planet Hunters Blog | We are looking for planets around other stars This Thursday, the Solar System put on a celestial performance, and we had a front row seat to the spectacle. Long period Comet ISON made its closest approach to the Sun entering the Sun’s atmosphere. This sun-grazing comet was making its first entry into the inner Solar System after spending most of its lifetime in the outer reaches of the Solar System in the Oort Cloud (a spherical shell of icy bodies residing at ~10,000-20,000 AU and the repository of long period comets). For most of the Solar System’s history ISON has resided out in the Oort Cloud, but the gravitational tug from a chance passing star or the gravitational pull from the gravitational tides with the center of the Milky Way nudged ISON onto an orbit straight for the Sun.
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Few have witnessed what you're about to see Experience a privileged glimpse of the distant universe as observed by the SDSS, the Hubble Space Telescope, and UKIRT Roughly one hundred billion galaxies are scattered throughout our observable Universe, each a glorious system that might contain billions of stars. Many are remarkably beautiful, and the aim of Galaxy Zoo is to study them, assisting astronomers in attempting to understand how the galaxies we see around us formed, and what their stories can tell us about the past, present and future of our Universe as a whole. more The launch of this new version of Galaxy Zoo, the 4th, comes just a few weeks after the site’s 5th birthday.
SCIENCES & TECHNOLOGIES
'Zombie' stars key to measuring dark energy "Zombie" stars that explode like bombs as they die, only to revive by sucking matter out of other stars. According to an astrophysicist at UC Santa Barbara, this isn't the plot for the latest 3D blockbuster movie. Instead, it's something that happens every day in the universe - something that can be used to measure dark energy. This special category of stars, known as Type Ia supernovae, help to probe the mystery of dark energy, which scientists believe is related to the expansion of the universe. Andy Howell, adjunct professor of physics at UCSB and staff scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT), wrote a review article about this topic, published recently in Nature Communications.
Integral challenges physics beyond Einstein ESA's Integral gamma-ray observatory has provided results that will dramatically affect the search for physics beyond Einstein. It has shown that any underlying quantum 'graininess' of space must be at much smaller scales than previously predicted. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity describes the properties of gravity and assumes that space is a smooth, continuous fabric. Yet quantum theory suggests that space should be grainy at the smallest scales, like sand on a beach. One of the great concerns of modern physics is to marry these two concepts into a single theory of quantum gravity.
Brilliant, but Distant: Most Far-Flung Known Quasar Offers Glimpse into Early Universe Space::News::June 29, 2011:: ::Email::Print A gargantuan black hole has been spotted voraciously devouring material just 770 million years after the big bang By John Matson GLOWING GOBBLER: An artist's conception of a quasar ionizing the hydrogen gas surrounding it.Image: Gemini Observatory
The question of electricity cost is tricky. Most of us know oil prices go up and down – and are currently at record highs – which in turn affects the power price. And we know that not only to the costs of importing such fuels change constantly, they also – unlike renewables – produce carbon, which has to be paid for. But while more and more people are saying onshore wind energy is at “competitive” price levels, others still insist that renewables are expensive and impractical. Blog » Clarity on the true cost of electricity
NASA's Genesis mission crash-landed back on Earth in 2004. The spacecraft spent more than two years in orbit around the sun collecting solar wind, which consists of charged particles, on various ultra-pure collector materials. Fortunately, the collector with the greatest scientific value survived the crash almost intact. Studying solar wind
NASA's Spitzer Finds Distant Galaxies Grazed on Gas Galaxies once thought of as voracious tigers are more like grazing cows, according to a new study using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have discovered that galaxies in the distant, early universe continuously ingested their star-making fuel over long periods of time. This goes against previous theories that the galaxies devoured their fuel in quick bursts after run-ins with other galaxies. "Our study shows the merging of massive galaxies was not the dominant method of galaxy growth in the distant universe," said Ranga-Ram Chary of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "We're finding this type of galactic cannibalism was rare.
In December 2010, a pair of mismatched stars in the southern constellation Crux whisked past each other at a distance closer than Venus orbits the sun. The system possesses a so-far unique blend of a hot and massive star with a compact fast-spinning pulsar. The pair's closest encounters occur every 3.4 years and each is marked by a sharp increase in gamma rays, the most extreme form of light. 'Odd Couple' Binary Makes Dual Gamma-ray Flares
Calling all amateur star gazers: Scientists need your help. A team from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville has developed the website IceHunters, which challenges the public to discover potential destinations for a NASA mission at the very edge of the solar system set to happen around 2015. "I think it's a great idea," said Yanga Fernandez, a University of Central Florida physics assistant professor and comet expert. "Actually that's kind of how I started. When I was 10, I used to search the sky for interesting objects with my dad. And in high school I worked hard to find Halley's Comet, which wasn't easy in suburban Florida. Volunteer Star Gazers Needed for NASA Mission
Bright galaxy sheds light on early Universe Astronomers said on Wednesday they had snared light from a bright, ancient galaxy with a super-massive black hole at its core, a finding that would help explain aspects of the young Universe. The phenomenon is called a quasar, which are very bright but very distant galaxies with a mighty black hole at their heart. Until now, the most distant quasar ever seen sent light 870 million years after the Big Bang, which is believed to have occurred nearly 13.7 billion years ago. This record has now been beaten by European astronomers, who after a five-year probe found a quasar whose light was emitted just 770 million years after the cosmic birth. ULAS J1120+0641 has a "redshift" -- a signature of red light that is a telltale of distance -- of 8.6, meaning that the light took 12.9 billion years to reach us.
Most Distant Quasar Found A team of European astronomers has used ESO's Very Large Telescope and a host of other telescopes to discover and study the most distant quasar found to date. This brilliant beacon, powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe. The results will appear in the 30 June 2011 issue of the journal Nature. "This quasar is a vital probe of the early Universe. It is a very rare object that will help us to understand how supermassive black holes grew a few hundred million years after the Big Bang," says Stephen Warren, the study's team leader. Quasars are very bright, distant galaxies that are believed to be powered by supermassive black holes at their centres.
Long-lasting goodshielding at the equatorial ionosphere
Solar wind samples give insight into birth of solar system Two papers in this week's issue of Science report the first oxygen and nitrogen isotopic measurements of the Sun, demonstrating that they are very different from the same elements on Earth. These results were the top two priorities of NASA's Genesis mission, which was the first spacecraft to return from beyond the Moon, crashing in the Utah desert in 2004 after its parachute failed to deploy during re-entry. Most of the Genesis payload consisted of fragile solar-wind collectors, which had been exposed to the solar particles over a period of two years.
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