The central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while usually a common sight, appears here to hover surreally above the ground. Next, a fortuitous streak of a meteor was captured on the image right. Perhaps the most unusual component is the bright spot just to the left of the meteor. That spot is the plume of a rising Ariane 5 rocket, launched a few minutes before from Kourou, French Guiana.
The scene was recorded with a long exposure using a digital camera over Yunnan Province in southwest China. At best faintly visible to the eye, the lingering airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light through chemical excitation. Originating at an altitude similar to aurora, it can found around the globe. The chemical energy is initially provided by the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet radiation. On this night, despite the luminous atmosphere, the band of the Milky Way clearly stretches above the horizon with bright star Sirius near the top of the frame.
If you visit HH 24, don’t go near the particle beam jet. This potential future travel advisory might be issued because the powerful jet likely contains electrons and protons moving hundreds of kilometers per second.
The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in infrared light in order to better understand turbulent star forming regions known as Young Stellar Objects (YSOs). Frequently when a star forms, a disk of dust and gas circles the YSO causing a powerful central jets to appear. In this case, the energetic jets are creating, at each end, Herbig-Haro object 24 (HH 24), as they slam into the surrounding interstellar gas. The entire star forming region lies about 1,500 light years distant in the Orion B molecular cloud complex. Due to their rarity, jets like that forming HH 24 are estimated to last only a few thousand years.
A cosmic explosion caused by the death of a massive star has been analysed by scientists.
Researchers believe the distant star was about 20-30 times the mass off the Sun. The core of the star would have collapsed into a black hole, while liberating a powerful jet of energy - the gamma-ray burst. A blast wave would have also caused the rest of the star to expand outwards, creating another dazzling event called a supernova. The explosion would have lasted for less than a minute, but hurled radiation across the cosmos. The researchers say it took the light from this event about four billion years to reach us.
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has found that surface soil on the Red Planet contains about 2 percent water by weight. That means astronaut pioneers could extract roughly 2 pints (1 liter) of water out of every cubic foot (0.03 cubic meters) of Martian dirt they dig up.
NASA’s Plutonium Problem Could End Deep-Space Exploration
In 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft left Earth on a five-year mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Thirty-six years later, the car-size probe has now put more than 19 billion kilometers between itself and the sun. Last week NASA announced that Voyager 1 had become the first man-made object to reach interstellar space.
The distance this craft has covered is almost incomprehensible. It’s so far away that it takes more than 17 hours for its signals to reach Earth. Along the way, Voyager 1 gave scientists their first close-up looks at Saturn, took the first images of Jupiter’s rings, discovered many of the moons circling those planets and revealed that Jupiter’s moon Io has active volcanoes. Now the spacecraft is discovering what the edge of the solar system is like, piercing the heliosheath where the last vestiges of the sun’s influence are felt and traversing the heliopause where cosmic currents overcome the solar wind. Voyager 1 is expected to keep working until 2025 when it will finally run out of power.
“We’ve got enough to last to the end of this decade. That’s it,” said Steve Johnson, a nuclear chemist at Idaho National Laboratory. And it’s not just the U.S. reserves that are in jeopardy. The entire planet’s stores are nearly depleted.
The country’s scientific stockpile has dwindled to around 36 pounds. To put that in perspective, the battery that powers NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is currently studying the surface of Mars, contains roughly 10 pounds of plutonium, and what’s left has already been spoken for and then some. read more
The Crab Nebula isnow known to be a supernova remnant, an expanding cloud of debris from the explosion of a massive star. The violent birth of the Crab waswitnessed by astronomersin the year 1054. Roughly 10 light-years across today, the nebula is still expanding at a rate of over 1,000 kilometers per second.
Pictured aboveare the orbits of the over 1,000 knownPotentially HazardousAsteroids (PHAs). These documented tumblingbouldersof rock and ice are over 140 meters across and will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth — about 20 times the distance to the Moon. Although none of them willstrike the Earthin the next 100 years —not all PHAs have been discovered, and past 100 years, many orbits become hard to predict. Were an asteroid of this size toimpact the Earth, it could raisedangerous tsunamis, for example. Of course rocks and ice bits of much smaller sizestrike the Earthevery day, usually pose no danger, and sometimes creatingmemorable fireballandmeteor displays.
New Exoplanet Circles Star in Less Than 9 Hours (and Is Covered by Molten Lava)
Kepler 78b zips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours — making this one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected.
Researchers at MIT are reporting that Kepler 78b sits about 700 light years away from Earth, and orbits about 40 times closer to its parent star than Mercury does. This scorched planet orbits so close that it sports temperatures reaching up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. read more
Scientists have identified three new planets around a star they already suspected hosted a trio of worlds.
It means this relatively nearby star, Gliese 667C (22 light-years away), now has three so-called super-Earths orbiting in its “habitable zone”. This is the region where temperatures ought to allow for the possibility of liquid water, although no-one can say for sure what conditions are really like on these planets. read more