Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hubble spotlights a celestial sidekick

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Technically, this picture is merely a sidekick of the actual object of interest -- but space is bursting with activity, and this field of bright celestial bodies offers plenty of interest on its own.
via Science Daily
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SpaceX Scrubs Rocket Launch

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The company may try again as soon as Sunday to launch the rocket, which carries materials for the space station.
via New York Times

Penumbral Eclipse Rising

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As seen from Cocoa Beach Pier, Florida, planet Earth, the Moon rose at sunset on February 10 while gliding through Earth's faint outer shadow. In progress was the first eclipse of 2017, a penumbral lunar eclipse followed in this digital stack of seaside exposures. Of course, the penumbral shadow is lighter than the planet's umbral shadow. That central, dark, shadow is easily seen on the lunar disk during a total or partial lunar eclipse. Still, in this penumbral eclipse the limb of the Moon grows just perceptibly darker as it rises above the western horizon. The second eclipse of 2017 could be more dramatic though. With viewing from a path across planet Earth's southern hemisphere, on February 26 there will be an annular eclipse of the Sun.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Planeterrella recreates earth's vivid lightshows in miniature

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A new device has been built to recreate Earth's auroras and other space phenomena in miniature. The planeterrella is one of just a handful in the United States.
via Science Daily
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Turning up the heat for perfect (nano)diamonds

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For use in quantum sensing, the bulk nanodiamond crystal surrounding the point defect must be highly perfect. Any deviation from perfection will adversely affect the quantum behavior of the material. Highly perfect nanodiamonds are also quite expensive and difficult to make. A cheaper alternative, say researchers, is to take defect-ridden, low-quality, commercially manufactured diamonds, and then 'heal' them.
via Science Daily

Star Shower - outer space shower curtain collection

From Hubble, Nasa et al, these fabulous outer space shower curtains are brilliant for anyone working anywhere on a space or astronomy programme.

Minor planet named Bernard

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A minor planet in the Solar System will officially be known as Bernardbowen from today after Australian citizen science project theSkyNet won a competition to name the celestial body.
via Science Daily
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Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 660

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NGC 660 is featured in this cosmic snapshot. Over 40 million light-years away and swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces, NGC 660's peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy. A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings strongly tilted from the plane of the galactic disk. The bizarre-looking configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by a disk galaxy, with the captured debris eventually strung out in a rotating ring. The violent gravitational interaction would account for the myriad pinkish star forming regions scattered along NGC 660's ring. The polar ring component can also be used to explore the shape of the galaxy's otherwise unseen dark matter halo by calculating the dark matter's gravitational influence on the rotation of the ring and disk. Broader than the disk, NGC 660's ring spans over 50,000 light-years.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Tulip and Cygnus X-1

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Framing a bright emission region, this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the reddish glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of this composite image. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018, ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star near the center of the nebula. Also framed in the field of view is microquasar Cygnus X-1, one of the strongest X-ray sources in planet Earth's sky. Driven by powerful jets from a black hole accretion disk, its fainter visible curved shock front lies above and right, just beyond the cosmic Tulip's petals

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

NASA Looks to Speed Timetable for Putting Astronauts in Deep Space

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The agency’s acting administrator offered the first hints of a notable mission that could lead to a return to the moon in the Trump era.
via New York Times