Science is the poetry of Nature.







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Posts tagged "astronomy"

Full Moon over the Basilica of Don Bosco by Stefano De Rosa

kenobi-wan-obi:

First Earth-Size Planet That Could Support Life

For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-size alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an “Earth cousin” that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life.

Image 1: This artist illustration shows what it might be like to stand on the surface of the planet Kepler-186f, the first-ever Earth-size planet to be found in the habitable zone of its star. Credit: Danielle Futselaa

Image 2: This artist illustration shows the planet Kepler-186f, the first Earth-size alien planet discovered in the habitable zone of its star. Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. While the host star is dimmer than Earth’s sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say. You can learn more about the amazing alien planet find in a video produced by Space.com.

"One of the things we’ve been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com. "This [Kepler-186f] is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a cooler star. So, while it’s not an Earth twin, it is perhaps an Earth cousin. It has similar characteristics, but a different parent."

Scientists think that Kepler-186f — the outermost of five planets found to be orbiting the star Kepler-186 — orbits at a distance of 32.5 million miles (52.4 million kilometers), theoretically within the habitable zone for a red dwarf.

Earth orbits the sun from an average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km), but the sun is larger and brighter than the Kepler-186 star, meaning that the sun’s habitable zone begins farther out from the star by comparison to Kepler-186.

"This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star," Elisa Quintana, of the SETI Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center and the lead author of a new study detailing the findings, said in a statement.

Other planets of various sizes have been found in the habitable zones of their stars. However, Kepler-186f is the first alien planet this close to Earth in size found orbiting in that potentially life-supporting area of an extrasolar system, according to exoplanet scientists.

pennyfornasa:

Astronomers Find First Earth-Sized Planet That Could Support Life!

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star. The habitable zone is the region around a star in which planets are capable of supporting liquid water at their surface. This region is sometimes referred to as the Goldilocks zone because it defines the area where the conditions are not too hot or too cold, but “just right” for planets to support water on the surface. The discovery Kepler-186f confirms that planets of Earth’s size exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our Sun. It also marks a significant step forward in finding other planets similar to our own.

Read more about the exciting discovery of Kepler-186f here: http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star/index.html#.U1BDx6ZLtFt

kenobi-wan-obi:

Gum 41: A Study in Scarlet

This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41.

In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen to glow with a characteristic red hue.

kenobi-wan-obi:

LIGO Lasers Could Help Reveal Aftermath of Black Hole Crashes

A powerful scientific tool set to come online in 2015 could help scientists spot gravitational waves: ripples in space-time born from violent cosmic crashes light-years from Earth.

Image: A still frame from a computer animation shows two binary neutron stars coalescing into a black hole. Taken from the video, “LIGO, A Passion for Understanding,” Credit: Kai Staats

The instrument, called LIGO (short for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories), uses lasers to hunt for the gravitational aftermath created by two massive objects — like a neutron star and a black hole — colliding. Scientists theorize that, like a rock dropping into a pool of water, the fabric of space and time can ripple, sending out these gravitational waves across the universe at the speed of light. Understanding those waves could help scientists learn more about black holes.

The $205 million LIGO can potentially detect these gravitational waves from Earth. The interconnected LIGO observatories in Washington State and Louisiana make use of two 2.5-mile (4 kilometers) arms. A laser beam is split down the arms that are equipped with specifically placed mirrors. In theory, if a gravitational wave comes into contact with the instrument, it would change the length of one beam in relation to the other.

kenobi-wan-obi:

Under a Blood Moon: 1st Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014 Wows Stargazers

The moon took on an eerie blood-red hue early Tuesday during the first total lunar eclipse of 2014, a celestial sight that wowed potentially millions of stargazers across North and South America.

The total lunar eclipse of April 15 lasted about 3.5 hours between late Monday and early Tuesday, with the Earth’s shadow slowing darkening the face of the so-called “Blood Moon” in a jaw-dropping sight for stargazers willing to stay up extra late or rise super-early for the event.

kenobi-wan-obi:

Capturing the 2000 Lunar Eclipse from ‘Hell on Ice’

A composite of images form the January 2000 lunar eclipse captured by Victor Rogus.

spaceplasma:

Ganymede and Callisto are similar in size and are made of a similar mixture of ice and rock, but data from the Galileo and Voyager spacecraft show that they look different at the surface and on the inside. Just like Earth and Venus, Ganymede and Callisto are twins, and understanding how they were born the same and grew up to be so different is of tremendous interest to planetary scientists.

Ganymede and Callisto’s evolutionary paths diverged about 3.8 billion years ago during the Late Heavy Bombardment, the phase in lunar history dominated by large impact events. Impacts during this period melted Ganymede so thoroughly and deeply that the heat could not be quickly removed. All of Ganymede’s rock sank to its center the same way that all the chocolate chips sink to the bottom of a melted carton of ice cream. Callisto received fewer impacts at lower velocities and avoided complete melting. Ganymede is closer to Jupiter and therefore is hit by twice as many icy impactors as Callisto, and the impactors hitting Ganymede have a higher average velocity.

Image Credit: NOAA/GSD

(via diversityofmatter)

If you’re like me and slammed by cloud cover and light pollution, here’s a livestream of the Moon!

-D

kenobi-wan-obi:

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula PN A66 33 — usually known as Abell 33.

Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky.

A Cosmic Engagement Ring

kenobi-wan-obi:

Beauty From Chaos

Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.

Osuga Valles is an outflow channel that emanates from a region of chaotic terrain at the edge of Eos Chaos to the west (top in the main images). Such landscape is dominated by randomly oriented and heavily eroded blocks of terrain. Another example is seen at the bottom of this scene, filling the 2.5 km-deep depression into which Osuga Valles empties.

kenobi-wan-obi:

Ghostly Zodiacal Light Glows Over Death Valley

The zodiacal light appears roughly triangular in shape in this view. It is caused by sunlight scattering from dust particles lying in the ecliptic, the imaginary plane that contains the planets orbiting the sun. Zodiacal light sometimes goes by the name of “false dawn.”

kenobi-wan-obi:

First ‘Exomoon’ Around Alien Planet Possibly Found

For the first time ever, astronomers may have spotted a moon circling an alien planet — though they’ll probably never know for sure exactly what they’ve found.

A team of scientists detected a pair of faraway objects that could be a giant Jupiter-like alien planet and a rocky exomoon flying freely through space, or a small dim star hosting a planet about 18 times more massive than Earth.

The astronomers used a technique called gravitational microlensing, watching what happens a big foreground object passes in front of a star from our perspective on Earth. The nearby body’s gravitational field bends and magnifies the light from the distant star, acting like a lens.

Analyzing lensing events can reveal a great deal about the foreground object — for example, in the case of a star, whether it hosts a planet and, if so, how massive that world is compared to the star.

In the new study, the team observed one intriguing lensing event using telescopes in New Zealand and the Australian state of Tasmania. They determined that the foreground object has an orbiting companion about 0.05 percent as massive as itself.

"One possibility is for the lensing system to be a planet and its moon, which if true, would be a spectacular discovery of a totally new type of system," Wes Traub, chief scientist for NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement.

"The researchers’ models point to the moon solution, but if you simply look at what scenario is more likely in nature, the star solution wins," added Traub, who was not involved in the study.

kenobi-wan-obi:

Northern Hemisphere Milky Way by P-M Heden

Starry night of Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic Sea. This northern hemisphere view of the Milky Way passes through constellations Sagittarius, Aquila, and Cygnus.

Note the prominent red North America Nebula near the bright star Deneb. The photographer has used a modified digital SLR camera to better capture near the Infra Red and such H-alpha emission nebulae in the sky.