New Hubble Telescope Photos Capture One of the Universe’s Most Stunning Formations


In 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope captured what would become one of history’s most enduring images of the universe: The Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. Now, 20 years later, Hubble has released a collection of brand new, high-definition shots of the iconic formation. 

If you thought the universe was hauntingly beautiful before, wait until you see these.

Behold:

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible

Eagle Nebula Captured by Hubble Space Telescope (Click Image to Download)

Comprised of three towers of gas, dust and space matter, structures like this are not altogether uncommon in star-forming regions. But as the Hubble website notes, the Pillars of Creation are some of the most photogenic and mesmerizing examples ever seen.

“The Hubble image of the pillars taken in 1995 is so popular that it has appeared in film and television, on tee-shirts and pillows, and even on postage stamps,” HubbleSite writes.

The telescope used the Wide Field Camera 3 to capture the stunning new images. It sees near-infrared light, visible like and near-ultraviolet radiation, and also has higher resolution and a bigger field of view than the camera that came before it.

This time, Hubble also captured an image taken in infra-red light, which “penetrates much of the obscuring dust and gas and unveils a more unfamiliar view of the pillars,” according to the website. “Here newborn stars, hidden in the visible-light view, can be seen forming within the pillars themselves.”

New view of the Pillars of Creation — infrared

Not everything is happy-go-lucky in Pillars of Creation-land, however. Despite their name, the new shots indicate that the pillars are also being worn down by the very stars they are helping to incubate. “The dust and gas in these pillars is seared by intense radiation from the young stars forming within them, and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars,” HubbleSite explains.

Arizona State University’s Paul Scowen, who helped lead Hubble’s first deep dive into the Eagle Nebula, stressed just how incredible our sightings of the Pillars are. “I’m impressed by how transitory these structures are,” he said in a press release. “We have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution.”

Interestingly, environments like the Eagle Nebula and other star-forming regions were instrumental in our own solar system’s development. “What that means is when you look at the environment of the Eagle Nebula or other star-forming regions, you’re looking at exactly the kind of nascent environment that our Sun formed in,” Scowen said.

The Pillars of Creation — 1995 and 2015 comparison

Source : mic.com

From the Hubble, a new image of a glittering cosmic wonderland with stars as old as the universe itself


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(Click Image to Download)

It kind of looks like a snow globe — or maybe like the glittering ornament atop a massive Christmas tree.

Or like your neighbor’s house during December, if you’re lucky enough to live next to an aggressive seasonal decorator.

But this image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows Messier 92. Messier 92 is a globular cluster, or a spherical group of old stars bound tightly together by gravity. Their density can make globular clusters appear quite bright, and this is one of the brightest in our whole galaxy.

You may even have seen this cosmic bauble before. It’s over 25,000 light years away from Earth, but with 330,000 stars packed tightly into it, it’s often visible with the naked eye. You can catch its occasional appearances in the constellation Hercules.

Astronomers know from Messier 92’s molecular composition that it isn’t just bright — it’s also very old. About as old as the universe itself, in fact.

Like this image? You could have been the one to create it. A version of this photo was submitted by Gilles Chapdelaine as part of the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image competition. The Hubble has beamed back so much data that not all of it has been translated into visible images, but the public is welcome to sift through archives to try to find stellar shots worth sharing.Find out more at the Hubble Web site.

Source : Washington post

Ripples in Space-Time Could Reveal ‘Strange Stars’


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BinaryStars

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By looking for ripples in the fabric of space-time, scientists could soon detect “strange stars” — objects made of stuff radically different from the particles that make up ordinary matter, researchers say.

The protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms are made of more basic particles known as quarks. There are six types, or “flavors,” of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange. Each proton or neutron is made of three quarks: Each proton is composed of two up quarks and one down quark, and each neutron is made of two down quarks and one up quark.

In theory, matter can be made with other flavors of quarks as well. Since the 1970s, scientists have suggested that particles of “strange matter” known as strangelets — made of equal numbers of up, down and strange quarks — could exist. In principle, strange matter should be heavier and more stable than normal matter, and might even be capable of converting ordinary matter it comes in contact with into strange matter. However, lab experiments have not yet created any strange matter, so its existence remains uncertain.

Why Are Quark Stars So Strange?

One place strange matter could naturally be created is inside neutron stars, the remnants of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. Neutron stars are typically small, with diameters of about 12 miles (19 kilometers) or so, but are so dense that they weigh as much as the sun. A chunk of a neutron star the size of a sugar cube can weigh as much as 100 million tons.

Under the extraordinary force of this extreme weight, some of the up and down quarks that make up neutron stars could get converted into strange quarks, leading to strange stars made of strange matter, researchers say.

A strange star that occasionally spurts out strange matter could quickly convert a neutron star orbiting it in a binary system into a strange star as well. Prior research suggests that a neutron star that receives a seed of strange matter from a companion strange star could transition to a strange star in just 1 millisecond to 1 second.

Continue reading Ripples in Space-Time Could Reveal ‘Strange Stars’

Watch a glorious timelapse supercut of Earth from the ISS


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Using high-definition NASA footage, a filmmaker has compiled a film made from timelapsed snippets of Earth as seen from the ISS.

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As the ISS hurtles in orbit around the Earth, an eternal freefall at 17,100 mph, its cameras, and the astronauts on board, are capturing images and footage of our planet below — much of which is from NASA, and therefore public domain.

It is this NASA footage — taken from ISS expeditions 28, 29, 30, 31 and 34, shot from 2011 to 2014 — that has become the subject of a new project by France-based filmmaker Guillaume Juin. Taking a series of stunning shots, he has created a supercut of time lapses, edited together into a short film he has called Astronaut.

Continue reading Watch a glorious timelapse supercut of Earth from the ISS

Rosetta spacecraft set to land on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko


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An artist’s impression of the Philae probe setting down on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

If you have an interest in space exploration, you could not have picked a better time in history to be alive than right now. Data and images stream back to Earth daily at an unprecedented rate from robotic spacecraft active at far-flung destinations all over the solar system. To use an old political quote – we’ve never had it so good.

In the past 50 years we’ve exploded out of our “little blue dot” to leave boot prints on the moon, land on Venus, Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan, and to orbit Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, asteroids and comets, giving us incredible visual vistas of all.

What’s missing is a detailed view of dwarf planet Pluto, but we’ll have that when the New Horizons spacecraft gets there next year.

There’s also another missing first about to be achieved next week – we’re going to make a soft landing on the surface of a comet.

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko had to wait around patiently for billions of years for humans to discover it in 1967. However, it’s been a much shorter wait for an opportunity to get up close and personal with it – we’re landing a probe on the frozen dumbbell-shaped comet next Wednesday, November 12.

The Rosetta spacecraft, carrying the Philae probe, was launched  from French Guiana in February 2004 by the European Space Agency. It arrived in August this year and has already given us great views of the comet.

It was named for the Rosetta Stone found in Egypt that was crucial in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Similarly the “lander” is named for the Nile River island Philae, where an obelisk also assisted in solving the puzzle of these symbols.

Czech Republic prepares own space program


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The Czech Republic will have its own space program, according to the National Space Plan for 2014-2019 that the government approved at the beginning of the week, the daily Hospodárske noviny (HN) writes today.
The plan recommends that the National Space Agency, “a considerably smaller variant of NASA,” be established to integrate the currently fragmented competences in this field, HN says.
So far the Czech Republic has participated in the European Space Agency (ESA) programs, the second most significant player in space exploration after NASA, which they joined in 2008. Czechs annually give some 14 million euros to the ESA.
The national space exploration program should have an annual budget of three to five million euros and last for five years at least.
It should complement the research carried out within the ESA. Consequently, the National Space Agency could fund the projects that cannot be paid by the ESA, HN says.
Jan Kolář, head of the Czech Space Office NGO, welcomes the idea of the national space program.
“However, it should focus on the preparation of research and development activities in technical sciences,” such as the development of materials and various types of detectors and the aerodynamics area, Kolář said.
HN writes that one of the rare successes that Czech science and industry has recently scored in this filed is a micro-accelerometer used in the SWARM satellites that were sent into space last November. The device, developed by 15 Czech firms, measures slight and slow accelerations that influence the satellite’s movement, which removes possible distortions in the magnetic field measurements, HN notes.
However, the successful Czech micro-accelerometer was rather an exceptional case, Kolář told HN.
He said Czech participation in the ESA is limited by finances on the one hand, and by skills on the other hand. “In addition, our participation in each program is confronted with other European countries,” he added.
Under the approved national space plan, the Czech Republic’s contribution to the ESA’s optional programs must be doubled at least, HN writes.
The transitory six-year period, in which the Czech Republic as a new ESA member could use a special incentive program, ends this year. Almost a half of the Czech obligatory payments to the agency went to it.
After the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania entered the ESA, while Estonia and Hungary plan to do so, and now they can use the advantages of newcomers, HN adds.
Source : prague post