Astronomy, News

The Rosetta spacecraft is about to orbit a comet and send a lander on its surface

med6

A spacecraft from Earth is about to do something no other spacecraft has done before: take off, orbit a comet, and send a lander to it. The European Space Agency (ESA), NASA’s European counterpart has developed the Rosetta probe to hurl towards Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The mission is simple in principle, but the work behind it is gargantuan: study the comet at close-range, as it changes from being a fireball when it’s close to the sun, to a cold ball of ice when it strays from our star. This is its amazing road: “Comet 67P is coming alive,” says Claudia Alexander, project scientist for the U.S. Rosetta Project at JPL. “And it is…

Astronomy, News

Hubble captures most comprehensive picture ever of the Universe

Hubble-wavelengths

Astronomers operating the Hubble telescope have captured the most comprehensive (and most colorful) picture ever assembled of the evolving Universe. This was part of a study called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF) project. Prior to this study, there was a significant lack of data for astronomers. They knew a lot about the galaxies which are close to us, and they also studied the most distant galaxies. But between 5 and 10 billion light-years away from us (when most stars were born) there was a big information gap – and the gap needed to be filled. The hottest, most massive and youngest stars, which emit light in ultraviolet wavelengths were…

Astronomy, Astrophysics

Amazing high energy, relativistic plasma jets coming out of the Hercules A Galaxy

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… at about 2 billion light years away from Earth lies radio-galaxy Hercules A, also known as 3C 348. At a first glance it looks just like another massive galaxy out there – at least when looking in the visible spectrum. In the radio wavelengths however, the story is completely different. The galaxy has been known for a long time among the brightest extragalactic radio source in the entire sky. Astronomers using the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico, revealed huge jets of material – 1.5 million light-years wide – that literally dwarf…

Astronomy, Space, Space flight

The Endeavour’s final excursion through Los Angeles

The Endeavour

This past weekend, the last American space shuttle, the Endeavour, made its final trip through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center. The trip lasted from midnight Friday morning until midday Sunday as the shuttle traveled at the high speeds of two miles per hour.  There were many delays and the shuttle reached its destination 17 hours after expected.  Trees were cut down, street lights were removed, and power was temporarily shut down to make way for the Endeavour.  This voyage was estimated at about $10 million spent.  As expensive and annoying as this parade through Los Angeles was, it still remains as a once in a…

Astronomy, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Science, Space

Top Astrophysicists Throng Goa (India) to Share Experiences on “Gravity and Cosmology” in VII International Conclave

higgs update

Panaji (Goa-India), Dec 12, 2011: Hunt for finding the hypothetical massive elementary particle, the Higgs boson, popularly known as ‘The God Particle’. Exploring the pulls and pressures among the planets and the dark matter above. Building capacities to explore hitherto lesser known Universe to benefit humanity using science and technology tools through global collaborative efforts. This is what eminent astrophysicists from across the world discuss and share their experiences in the VII International Conference on “Gravity and Cosmology” (ICGC -2011) beginning on December 14 for a week in this Western India’s most sought after international tourist destination. The two most significant threads running through this conference are to understand the…

Astronomy, Science

Spectacular Aurora Borealis light show in North America [PHOTOS]

Stunning Northern Lights ... or more like North-ish Lights in Marquette, Michigan Northern Lights. (c) Shawn Malone

The northern hemisphere is accustomed enough to the dazzling Aurora Borealis phenomena, an event which occurs when charged particles collide with atoms from the extreme latitude atmosphere. However, yesterday almost the whole North American continent was bewildered by an incredible spectacle of lights, as Aurora Borealis  apparitions were reported as far south as Kansas, Arkansas or New Mexico. This extremely rare event occured as a result of a freakish giant solar flare, which errupted from the sun yesterday, causing the fantastic display to stretch much farther than usual.  The mass of charged particles compressed Earth’s magnetic field and sparked a  geomagnetic storm, something scientists still don’t know too many things about….

Astronomy, Research, Space

Uranus orbit tipped on its side by a series of Earth-sized impacts

Near-infrared views of Uranus and its faint ring system, shown here to highlight the extent to which it is tilted. (c) Lawrence Sromovsky, (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), Keck Observatory.

Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, is a definite oddball of the solar system. It has its axis titled by a whopping 98 degrees, which makes it orbit on its side. The general accepted theory is that a big impact with an object several times the size that of the Earth nodged its axis massively, however a new study presented recently at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting in Nantes rewrites our theories of how Uranus became so tilted and gives new valuable insight as to how giant planets form. As a comparisson Jupiter’s spin axis is only tilted by 3 degrees; Earth’s, 23 degrees; Saturn and Neptune, 29 degrees. Seeing…

Astronomy, Space

Bus-sized Asteroid barely misses Earth

The trajectory of asteroid 2011 MD on June 27, 2011 projected onto the Earth's orbital plane. (c) NASA

This Monday (June 27), an asteroid the size of a bus just buzzed our planet after a flyby which brought it closer to Earth than most satellites. Dubbed asteroid 2011 MD, it was first spotted by MIT’s Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program just last week on June 22, but there never was any risk of it impacting Earth, NASA scientists claim. The asteroid buzzed by at a distance of 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) from our planet’s surface, or roughly 30 times closer than the moon. Although decently sized, between 20 feet (6.3 meters) and 46 feet (14 meters) wide, and topping a speed of around 63,000 miles (101,000…

Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space

A salty ocean under Saturn’s moon surface

Enceladus on Saturn's E-ring

Launched in 1997 on a mission to study Saturn and its satellites, the Casisni spacecraft reached the system in 2004. Since then it has provided numerous invaluable scientific findings regarding the second largest planet in our solar system, and other important scientific findings alike. One such finding was detailed in a recently published study, which speculate with strong backed up scientific evidence that there may actually be a subterranean liquid saltwater ocean under Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Just one of Saturn’s 19 known moons, Enceladus has always been an impressive sight for both eyes and science. The potentially remarkable lead came after icy spray ejected from “tiger stripe” surface fractures at…

Astronomy, Space

Astronomers unveil densest rocky planet: ‘super rocky exotic Earth’

super rocky planet

The planet in case is 55 Cancri e, and it’s 60 per cent larger in diameter than Earth but eight times as massive, which makes it twice as dense as Earth, and almost as dense as lead. Earth like rocky planets   Generally speaking, planets come in two flavours: rocky earth-like planets, or gas giants (take Jupiter as an example). Our planet is also denser than you’d think at a first glance (5.51 grams per cubic centimeter), due to the immense pressure in the mantle and in the corse. Rocky planets are made mostly out of silicate rocks and/or metals, and their density can vary greatly. If we take the…