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Millisecond Pulsar Discovered In Rare Triple Star System

Thu, 2014-01-09 19:16

 Thomas Tauris

An illustration of the triple millisecond pulsar with its two white dwarf companions. According to the new model, this remarkable system has survived three phases of mass transfer and a supernova explosion, and yet it remained dynamically stable. Credit: Thomas Tauris

If you’re looking for something truly unique, then check out the cosmic menage aux trois ferreted out by a team of international astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This unusual group located in the constellation of Taurus includes a pulsar which is orbited by a pair of white dwarf stars. It’s the first time researchers have identified a triple star system containing a pulsar and the team has already employed the clock-like precision of the pulsar’s beat to observe the effects of gravitational interactions. (...)
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Millisecond Pulsar Discovered In Rare Triple Star System

Thu, 2014-01-09 19:16

 Thomas Tauris

An illustration of the triple millisecond pulsar with its two white dwarf companions. According to the new model, this remarkable system has survived three phases of mass transfer and a supernova explosion, and yet it remained dynamically stable. Credit: Thomas Tauris

If you’re looking for something truly unique, then check out the cosmic menage aux trois ferreted out by a team of international astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This unusual group located in the constellation of Taurus includes a pulsar which is orbited by a pair of white dwarf stars. It’s the first time researchers have identified a triple star system containing a pulsar and the team has already employed the clock-like precision of the pulsar’s beat to observe the effects of gravitational interactions. (...)
Read the rest of Millisecond Pulsar Discovered In Rare Triple Star System (709 words)

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Stunning Astrophotos: Kilimanjaro at Night

Thu, 2014-01-09 18:02

  Babak A. Tafreshi.

At the break of dawn the southern Milky Way is photographed over Mount Kilimanjaro, as seen from Amboseli National Park, Kenya. The Great Carina Nebula is the red cloud at top. Constellation Crux or the Southern Cross appear on the left. On the Earth is the second peak of Mount Kilimanjaro reaching 5149 m high, known as Mawenzi (meaning the moon in Swahili). Credit and copyright: Babak A. Tafreshi.

You might find yourself humming Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies” after seeing these stunning images! The World At Night photographer Babak Tafreshi has just returned from a trip to Kenya and has amassed a gorgeous collection of astrophotography showing Mt. Kilimanjaro by night (and some in the day, as well). Below you can see a panoramic view of Kilimanjaro in the moonlight, flanked by giraffes (can you spot the zebra, too?) and starry skies.

“His path was marked by the stars in the southern hemisphere
and he walked his days under African skies…”

(...)
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Stunning Astrophotos: Kilimanjaro at Night

Thu, 2014-01-09 18:02

  Babak A. Tafreshi.

At the break of dawn the southern Milky Way is photographed over Mount Kilimanjaro, as seen from Amboseli National Park, Kenya. The Great Carina Nebula is the red cloud at top. Constellation Crux or the Southern Cross appear on the left. On the Earth is the second peak of Mount Kilimanjaro reaching 5149 m high, known as Mawenzi (meaning the moon in Swahili). Credit and copyright: Babak A. Tafreshi.

You might find yourself humming Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies” after seeing these stunning images! The World At Night photographer Babak Tafreshi has just returned from a trip to Kenya and has amassed a gorgeous collection of astrophotography showing Mt. Kilimanjaro by night (and some in the day, as well). Below you can see a panoramic view of Kilimanjaro in the moonlight, flanked by giraffes (can you spot the zebra, too?) and starry skies.

“His path was marked by the stars in the southern hemisphere
and he walked his days under African skies…”

(...)
Read the rest of Stunning Astrophotos: Kilimanjaro at Night (126 words)

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Chandra’s Verdict on the Demise of a Star: “Death by Black Hole”

Thu, 2014-01-09 16:09

A composite x-ray and optical image of a dwarf galaxy showing the x-ray transcient in the inset. Credit-CFHT (Optical), NASA/CXC/University of Alabama/GSCF/UMD/W.P. Maksym, D.Donato et al.

A composite x-ray and optical image of a dwarf galaxy showing the x-ray transcient in the inset. Credit-CFHT (Optical), NASA/CXC/University of Alabama/GSCF/UMD/W.P. Maksym, D.Donato et al.

This week, astronomers announced the detection of a rare event, a star being torn to shreds by a massive black hole in the heart of a distant dwarf galaxy. The evidence was presented Wednesday January 8th at the ongoing 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held this week in Washington D.C.(...)
Read the rest of Chandra’s Verdict on the Demise of a Star: “Death by Black Hole” (845 words)

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Chandra’s Verdict on the Demise of a Star: “Death by Black Hole”

Thu, 2014-01-09 16:09

A composite x-ray and optical image of a dwarf galaxy showing the x-ray transcient in the inset. Credit-CFHT (Optical), NASA/CXC/University of Alabama/GSCF/UMD/W.P. Maksym, D.Donato et al.

A composite x-ray and optical image of a dwarf galaxy showing the x-ray transcient in the inset. Credit-CFHT (Optical), NASA/CXC/University of Alabama/GSCF/UMD/W.P. Maksym, D.Donato et al.

This week, astronomers announced the detection of a rare event, a star being torn to shreds by a massive black hole in the heart of a distant dwarf galaxy. The evidence was presented Wednesday January 8th at the ongoing 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held this week in Washington D.C.(...)
Read the rest of Chandra’s Verdict on the Demise of a Star: “Death by Black Hole” (845 words)

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Dark Sky Regulations Bring Zodiacal Light to Rhode Island Observatory

Thu, 2014-01-09 00:06

Zodiacal light over Charleston, RI (Scott MacNeill, Frosty Drew Observatory)

Zodiacal light over Charlestown, RI (Scott MacNeill, Frosty Drew Observatory)

The result of sunlight reflected off fine particles of dust aligned along the plane of the Solar System, zodiacal light appears as a diffuse, hazy band of light stretching upwards from the horizon after sunset or before sunrise. Most people have never seen zodiacal light because it’s very dim, and thus an extremely dark sky is required. But thanks to recent dark sky regulations that were passed in the coastal Rhode Island town of Charlestown, this elusive astronomical phenomenon has become visible — to the particular delight of one local observatory.

(...)
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© Jason Major for Universe Today, 2014. | Permalink | One comment |
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NASA: International Space Station Operations Extended to 2024

Wed, 2014-01-08 20:02

 NASA

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio works outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk on Dec. 24, 2013. Credit: NASA

NASA announced today that the Obama administration has approved NASA’s request for an extension of operations for the International Space Station for an additional four years to 2024. This means work on board the orbiting laboratory will continue at least for another decade.

“I think this is a tremendous announcement for us here in the space station world,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, speaking during a press briefing today, “ and also for all of human spaceflight and for our international partnership.”
(...)
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Gravitational Lens Seen for the First Time in Gamma Rays

Wed, 2014-01-08 18:18

 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.

An artist’s concept of an active galactic nuclei hosting an energetic blazar. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.

An exciting new discovery was unveiled early this week at the 223rd  meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held in Washington D.C., when astronomers announced that a gravitational lens was detected for the first time at gamma-ray wavelengths.(...)
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Gravitational Lens Seen for the First Time in Gamma Rays

Wed, 2014-01-08 18:18

 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.

An artist’s concept of an active galactic nuclei hosting an energetic blazar. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.

An exciting new discovery was unveiled early this week at the 223rd  meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held in Washington D.C., when astronomers announced that a gravitational lens was detected for the first time at gamma-ray wavelengths.(...)
Read the rest of Gravitational Lens Seen for the First Time in Gamma Rays (813 words)

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Is NASA Dead? Not Even Close.

Wed, 2014-01-08 17:25

If you’re a frequent reader of Universe Today you know that, despite the end of the Shuttle program and the constant battle for a piece of the federal budget, NASA has a lot on their plate for future space exploration missions. But there are still a lot of people among the general public who think that the U.S. space administration is “dead,” or, at the very least, in the process of dying. Which is unfortunate because there’s actually a lot going on, both in space and in development on the ground.

The video above, released Monday by Johnson Space Center, shows highlights from 2013 as well as some of the many things NASA has in progress. As anyone can see, rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated! (By whom I’m still not quite sure.)

Visit the Johnson Space Center site for more information and updates on current and future missions.

(Tip of the visor to astronaut Clayton Anderson for the video!)

© Jason Major for Universe Today, 2014. | Permalink | 3 comments |
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Is NASA Dead? Not Even Close.

Wed, 2014-01-08 17:25

If you’re a frequent reader of Universe Today you know that, despite the end of the Shuttle program and the constant battle for a piece of the federal budget, NASA has a lot on their plate for future space exploration missions. But there are still a lot of people among the general public who think that the U.S. space administration is “dead,” or, at the very least, in the process of dying. Which is unfortunate because there’s actually a lot going on, both in space and in development on the ground.

The video above, released Monday by Johnson Space Center, shows highlights from 2013 as well as some of the many things NASA has in progress. As anyone can see, rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated! (By whom I’m still not quite sure.)

Visit the Johnson Space Center site for more information and updates on current and future missions.

(Tip of the visor to astronaut Clayton Anderson for the video!)

© Jason Major for Universe Today, 2014. | Permalink | 3 comments |
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Space Telescopes Look Back 13.2 Billion Years and See Surprisingly Luminous Galaxies

Wed, 2014-01-08 16:45

 NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz; Yale University), R. Bouwens and I. Labbé (Leiden University), and the Science Team.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope joined forces to discover and characterize four unusually bright galaxies as they appeared more than 13 billion years ago, just 500 million years after the big bang. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz; Yale University), R. Bouwens and I. Labbé (Leiden University), and the Science Team.

What was the Universe like more than 13 billion years ago, just 500 million years after the big bang? New data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes reveal some surprisingly bright galaxies that are about 10 to 20 times more luminous than anything seen previously in that epoch.

Garth Illingworth from the University of California, Santa Cruz said the discovery of these four bright galaxies came from combining the power of both telescopes, but these galaxies lie right at the limit of the telescopes’ capabilities.
(...)
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Space Telescopes Look Back 13.2 Billion Years and See Surprisingly Luminous Galaxies

Wed, 2014-01-08 16:45

 NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz; Yale University), R. Bouwens and I. Labbé (Leiden University), and the Science Team.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope joined forces to discover and characterize four unusually bright galaxies as they appeared more than 13 billion years ago, just 500 million years after the big bang. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz; Yale University), R. Bouwens and I. Labbé (Leiden University), and the Science Team.

What was the Universe like more than 13 billion years ago, just 500 million years after the big bang? New data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes reveal some surprisingly bright galaxies that are about 10 to 20 times more luminous than anything seen previously in that epoch.

Garth Illingworth from the University of California, Santa Cruz said the discovery of these four bright galaxies came from combining the power of both telescopes, but these galaxies lie right at the limit of the telescopes’ capabilities.
(...)
Read the rest of Space Telescopes Look Back 13.2 Billion Years and See Surprisingly Luminous Galaxies (524 words)

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Private Antares/Cygnus rocket Glistens and Go for Launch as Polar Vortex Sweeps in Brutal Bone Chilling Cold

Wed, 2014-01-08 08:34

 Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Antares commercial rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp. glistens at dusk on Jan. 7 amidst bone chilling cold ahead of blastoff scheduled for Jan. 8, 2014 from NASA Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

UPDATE: Orbital announced the Antares launch today (Jan. 8) has been scrubbed because of solar activity. More info on the issue and a new launch date will be forthcoming.

Update: NASA and Orbital have set Thursday, Jan. 9 as the new Antares launch date. Liftoff is targeted for 1:07 p.m. (EST) Watch the launch live, below.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – Launch managers gave the “GO” for launch of the private Antares/Cygnus rocket to the space station on Wednesday, Jan. 8, even as the polar vortex swept in bone chilling cold to the launch site on the Virginia shore and across much of the United States.

At a launch readiness review today (Jan. 7), managers for spacecraft builder Orbital Sciences approved the launch, pending completion of a few remaining items, said Mike Pinkston, Antares program director for Orbital, at a media briefing today.

The commercial Antares rocket is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on its first operational mission bound for the International Space Station (ISS) with a huge bounty of science experiments.(...)
Read the rest of Private Antares/Cygnus rocket Glistens and Go for Launch as Polar Vortex Sweeps in Brutal Bone Chilling Cold (852 words)

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Private Antares/Cygnus rocket Glistens and Go for Launch as Polar Vortex Sweeps in Brutal Bone Chilling Cold

Wed, 2014-01-08 08:34

 Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Antares commercial rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp. glistens at dusk on Jan. 7 amidst bone chilling cold ahead of blastoff scheduled for Jan. 8, 2014 from NASA Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

UPDATE: Orbital announced the Antares launch today (Jan. 8) has been scrubbed because of solar activity. More info on the issue and a new launch date will be forthcoming.

Update: NASA and Orbital have set Thursday, Jan. 9 as the new Antares launch date. Liftoff is targeted for 1:07 p.m. (EST) Watch the launch live, below.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – Launch managers gave the “GO” for launch of the private Antares/Cygnus rocket to the space station on Wednesday, Jan. 8, even as the polar vortex swept in bone chilling cold to the launch site on the Virginia shore and across much of the United States.

At a launch readiness review today (Jan. 7), managers for spacecraft builder Orbital Sciences approved the launch, pending completion of a few remaining items, said Mike Pinkston, Antares program director for Orbital, at a media briefing today.

The commercial Antares rocket is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on its first operational mission bound for the International Space Station (ISS) with a huge bounty of science experiments.(...)
Read the rest of Private Antares/Cygnus rocket Glistens and Go for Launch as Polar Vortex Sweeps in Brutal Bone Chilling Cold (852 words)

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Monster Sunspot Erupts with an X-Class Flare

Wed, 2014-01-08 02:57

Image of the X1.2 class solar flare from the Sun on January 7, 2014, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Image of the X1.2 class solar flare from the Sun on January 7, 2014, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Solar astronomers have been keeping an eye on giant sunspot AR1944, and as it turned towards Earth today, the sunspot erupted with a powerful X1.2-class flare. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said the flare sparked a “strong radio blackout” today, and they have issued a 24 hour “moderate” magnetic storm watch indicating a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the flare may be heading towards Earth. A CME is a fast moving cloud of charged particles which can interact with Earth’s atmosphere to cause aurora, so observers in northern and southern latitudes should be on the lookout for aurora, possibly through January 10.

Here’s a video of the flare from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:
(...)
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Monster Sunspot Erupts with an X-Class Flare

Wed, 2014-01-08 02:57

Image of the X1.2 class solar flare from the Sun on January 7, 2014, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Image of the X1.2 class solar flare from the Sun on January 7, 2014, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Solar astronomers have been keeping an eye on giant sunspot AR1944, and as it turned towards Earth today, the sunspot erupted with a powerful X1.2-class flare. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said the flare sparked a “strong radio blackout” today, and they have issued a 24 hour “moderate” magnetic storm watch indicating a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the flare may be heading towards Earth. A CME is a fast moving cloud of charged particles which can interact with Earth’s atmosphere to cause aurora, so observers in northern and southern latitudes should be on the lookout for aurora, possibly through January 10.

Here’s a video of the flare from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:
(...)
Read the rest of Monster Sunspot Erupts with an X-Class Flare (173 words)

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