This spring, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will host the new TV series called Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey. It’s an update of the influential 1980 PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Journey, hosted by Carl Sagan

The thrilling new 13-part series premieres Sunday, March 9 at 9/8c on FOX. Watch the trailer: 1, 2.


This animation shows a 3D visualisation of part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter), showing the infrared Hubble observations of the Horsehead Nebula (otherwise known as Barnard 33).

Credit: NASA, ESA, (STScI/AURA); G. Bacon, T. Davis, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D team, STScI); ESO.

This animation shows a 3D visualisation of part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter), showing the infrared Hubble observations of the Horsehead Nebula (otherwise known as Barnard 33).

Credit: NASAESA, (STScI/AURA); G. Bacon, T. Davis, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D team, STScI); ESO.


Tour of Cat’s Eye Nebula

This composite of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope is another look for NGC 6543, better known as the Cat’s Eye nebula. This famous object is a so-called planetary nebula that represents a phase of stellar evolution that the Sun should experience several billion years from now. When a star like the Sun begins to run out of fuel, it becomes what is known as a red giant. In this phase, a star sheds some of its outer layers. A fast wind streaming away from the hot core rams into the ejected atmosphere, pushing it outward, and creating the graceful filamentary structures seen with optical telescopes. In the case of the Cat’s Eye, material shed by the star is flying away at a speed of about 4 million miles per hour. The hot core left behind will eventually collapse to form a dense white dwarf star.

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI

Merging NGC 2623  

NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer.
The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within the nuclear region.
The star formation and its active galactic nucleus make NGC 2623 bright across the spectrum. This sharp cosmic snapshot of NGC 2623 (aka Arp 243) is based on Hubble Legacy Archive image data that also reveals even more distant background galaxies scattered through the field of view.

Image Credit:  Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing  - Martin Pugh

Merging NGC 2623 

NGC 2623 is really two galaxies that are becoming one. Seen to be in the final stages of a titanic galaxy merger, the pair lies some 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Cancer.

The violent encounter between two galaxies that may have been similar to the Milky Way has produced widespread star formation near a luminous core and along eye-catching tidal tails. Filled with dust, gas, and young blue star clusters, the opposing tidal tails extend well over 50,000 light-years from the merged nucleus. Likely triggered by the merger, accretion by a supermassive black hole drives activity within the nuclear region.

The star formation and its active galactic nucleus make NGC 2623 bright across the spectrum. This sharp cosmic snapshot of NGC 2623 (aka Arp 243) is based on Hubble Legacy Archive image data that also reveals even more distant background galaxies scattered through the field of view.

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Martin Pugh

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe."  
- Carl Sagan

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe." 

- Carl Sagan

The Crab Pulsar

Look carefully at this animated image. What you see is the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star at the heart of the Crab Nebula, propelling matter and antimatter outward at near the speed of light, seen in 24 sequential images acquired over several months by the Hubble Space Telescope. 
The Crab pulsar is a tiny, dense remnant of a star that exploded in a supernova, observed here on Earth in the year 1054. It is very small - only about 25 km (15 miles) across, has a mass about 1.5 times our own Sun, and rotates at an amazing rate of 30 times per second. Bright wisps of energetic particles can be seen moving outward from the pulsar at half the speed of light to form an expanding ring. These wisps appear to originate from a shock wave that shows up as an inner X-ray ring. Also, a turbulent jet appears to be spewing material to the left, looking much like steam from a high-pressure boiler - except it’s a stream of matter and anti-matter electrons moving at half the speed of light. 
This little neutron star, some 6,500 light-years away, has been doing this energetic pirouette for the past thousand years, and, undisturbed, will likely continue to do so for billions of years more. 


Image credit: NASA/HST/ASU/J. Hester

The Crab Pulsar

Look carefully at this animated image. What you see is the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star at the heart of the Crab Nebula, propelling matter and antimatter outward at near the speed of light, seen in 24 sequential images acquired over several months by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Crab pulsar is a tiny, dense remnant of a star that exploded in a supernova, observed here on Earth in the year 1054. It is very small - only about 25 km (15 miles) across, has a mass about 1.5 times our own Sun, and rotates at an amazing rate of 30 times per second. Bright wisps of energetic particles can be seen moving outward from the pulsar at half the speed of light to form an expanding ring. These wisps appear to originate from a shock wave that shows up as an inner X-ray ring. Also, a turbulent jet appears to be spewing material to the left, looking much like steam from a high-pressure boiler - except it’s a stream of matter and anti-matter electrons moving at half the speed of light.

This little neutron star, some 6,500 light-years away, has been doing this energetic pirouette for the past thousand years, and, undisturbed, will likely continue to do so for billions of years more.

Image credit: NASA/HST/ASU/J. Hester

New Sky Survey Captures Key Details of Two Spectacular Cosmic Explosions

Sky surveys can capture quite a bit of information about our Universe. Now, a recent survey has captured key details about two cosmic explosions. It’s gathered information about the progenitor of a rare type of supernova in a nearby galaxy and has also spotted the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst. This composite image shows the supernova iPTF13bvn and its possible progenitor star.
Supernovae are massive exploding stars at the end of their lifespans. They make up one very important type of transient. In this case, the astronomers detected a so-called Type Ib supernova. Type Ib supernovae are rare explosions where the progenitor star lacks an outer layer of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, hence the “stripped envelope” moniker. Until now, though, scientists have been unsure about which kinds of stars give rise to Type Ib supernovae.
This sky survey, though, may have answered that question. The supernova that the astronomers discovered, named iPTF13bvn, occurred at a location formerly occupied by a likely Wolf-Rayet star. These stars are 10 times more massive and thousands of times brighter than the sun and have lost their hydrogen envelope by means of very strong stellar winds.
Full Article


Image Credit: I. Arcav

New Sky Survey Captures Key Details of Two Spectacular Cosmic Explosions

Sky surveys can capture quite a bit of information about our Universe. Now, a recent survey has captured key details about two cosmic explosions. It’s gathered information about the progenitor of a rare type of supernova in a nearby galaxy and has also spotted the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst. This composite image shows the supernova iPTF13bvn and its possible progenitor star.

Supernovae are massive exploding stars at the end of their lifespans. They make up one very important type of transient. In this case, the astronomers detected a so-called Type Ib supernova. Type Ib supernovae are rare explosions where the progenitor star lacks an outer layer of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, hence the “stripped envelope” moniker. Until now, though, scientists have been unsure about which kinds of stars give rise to Type Ib supernovae.

This sky survey, though, may have answered that question. The supernova that the astronomers discovered, named iPTF13bvn, occurred at a location formerly occupied by a likely Wolf-Rayet star. These stars are 10 times more massive and thousands of times brighter than the sun and have lost their hydrogen envelope by means of very strong stellar winds.

Full Article

Image Credit: I. Arcav

ESA and NASA stumped by cosmic mystery

A mystery that has stumped scientists for decades might be one step closer to solution after ESA tracking stations carefully record signals from NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swings by Earth today. 

NASA’s deep-space probe will zip past to within 561 km at 19:21 GMT as it picks up a gravitational speed boost to help it reach Jupiter in 2016.

During the high-speed event, radio signals from the 3225 kg Juno will be carefully recorded by ESA tracking stations in Argentina and Australia.

Engineers hope that the new measurements will unravel the decades-old ‘flyby anomaly’ – an unexplained variation in spacecraft speeds detected during some swingbys.

On 9 October, engineers and the flight dynamics teams at ESOC will watch closely as the Agency’s new 35 m-diameter deep-space dish in Malargüe, Argentina, and a smaller 15 m dish in Perth, Australia, track Juno starting at about 16:00 GMT.

The stations will record highly precise radio-signal information that will indicate whether Juno speeds up or slows down more or less than predicted by current theories.

The results will be studied closely by ESA and NASA as well as scientists worldwide, who are hoping to see whether the anomaly is again detected.

Full Article

Credit: ESA/S. Marti


Enceladus nightshine & plumes




Narrow-angle false color composite taken on 2006-03-22 using infrared (IR3), green and ultraviolet (UV3) filters. Because the far infrared filter was used, at wavelengths in which Saturn is less bright than in the green filter, the saturnlit portion of Enceladus looks greenish here.
The rings present their unlit side with the F ring showing a brilliant white color while the main rings are darker and more brownish. A hint of the G ring can be seen beyond the F ring.





Credit: Gordan Ugarkovic

Narrow-angle false color composite taken on 2006-03-22 using infrared (IR3), green and ultraviolet (UV3) filters. Because the far infrared filter was used, at wavelengths in which Saturn is less bright than in the green filter, the saturnlit portion of Enceladus looks greenish here.

The rings present their unlit side with the F ring showing a brilliant white color while the main rings are darker and more brownish. A hint of the G ring can be seen beyond the F ring.

Fomalhaut: Actually Triple Star, Astronomers Say

In a new study accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal (arXiv.org), astronomers show that a previously known red dwarf star called LP 876-10 is part of the Fomalhaut system.

Fomalhaut, the 18th brightest star visible in night sky, is located in the constellation Piscis Austrinus about 25 light-years from Earth. The star is twice as massive as the Sun and 20 times brighter.

The name Fomalhaut derives from the Arabic name for this star – Fum al Hut, meaning ‘the Fish’s Mouth.’

Fomalhaut has been featured in science fiction novels by writers Isaac Asimov, Stanislaw Lem, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert.

Despite being a well-studied system, it was only recently confirmed that Fomalhaut was a binary star – two stars (Fomalhaut A and B) that orbit each other – although it had been first suggested in the 1890s.

In the new study, lead author Dr Eric Mamajek of the University of Rochester and his colleagues have found the triple nature of Fomalhaut through a bit of detective work.

“I noticed this third star a couple of years ago when I was plotting the motions of stars in the vicinity of Fomalhaut for another study,” Dr Mamajek said.

“However I needed to collect more data and gather a team of co-authors with different observations to test whether the star’s properties are consistent with being a third member of the Fomalhaut system.”

By carefully analyzing astrometric and spectroscopic measurements, the astronomers were able to measure the distance and speed of the third star. They concluded that a star known as LP 876-10 is part of the Fomalhaut system, making it Fomalhaut C.

Full Article

Image Credit: Eric E. Mamajek et al/David Hardy

Intense Colors on Rhea

These intense false-color views highlight and enhance color variations across the intensely cratered and cracked surface of Rhea.

To create the false-color view, ultraviolet, green and infrared images were combined into a single black and white picture that isolates and maps regional color differences. This “color map” was then superposed over a clear-filter image. The origin of the color differences is not yet understood, but may be caused by subtle differences in the surface composition or the sizes of grains making up the icy soil.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Get ready! Comet ISON to sweep closely past Mars on October 1

On Tuesday (October 1, 2013), this year’s most anticipated comet – Comet ISON – will sweep closely past the Red Planet Mars. It’ll be on its way to a Thanksgiving Day (November 28) encounter with the sun, and hopefully to a good showing in Earth’s night sky.
Right now, amateur astronomers with telescopes and photographic equipment are the main ones capturing images of Comet ISON. And they are sure to be trying already to captured Mars and the comet in the same photo in the predawn sky. But NASA and ESA are also readying a flotilla of spacecraft in Mars orbit or on Mars’ surface, which will attempt to record the comet’s passage near Earth’s neighboring planet.
And we do mean near. On October 1, Comet ISON will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars. That’s about six times closer than the comet will ever come to Earth. NASA says an “unprecedented” number of NASA spacecraft – 16 – plus astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be observing the comet.
Full Article


Credit: Deborah Byrd

Get ready! Comet ISON to sweep closely past Mars on October 1

On Tuesday (October 1, 2013), this year’s most anticipated comet – Comet ISON – will sweep closely past the Red Planet Mars. It’ll be on its way to a Thanksgiving Day (November 28) encounter with the sun, and hopefully to a good showing in Earth’s night sky.

Right now, amateur astronomers with telescopes and photographic equipment are the main ones capturing images of Comet ISON. And they are sure to be trying already to captured Mars and the comet in the same photo in the predawn sky. But NASA and ESA are also readying a flotilla of spacecraft in Mars orbit or on Mars’ surface, which will attempt to record the comet’s passage near Earth’s neighboring planet.

And we do mean near. On October 1, Comet ISON will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars. That’s about six times closer than the comet will ever come to Earth. NASA says an “unprecedented” number of NASA spacecraft – 16 – plus astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be observing the comet.

Full Article

Credit:

Russian Scientists Report Asteroid Near-Miss

A 15-meter (approximately 50 feet) asteroid, similar to the one that exploded above Russia in February, was detected hours before it narrowly missed the Earth over the weekend, Russian scientists said.

Vladimir Lipunov of the Moscow State University and the Sternberg Astronomical Institute said on Sunday a network of telescopes operated by his team recorded a celestial body approaching the planet.

The asteroid was discovered on Friday night by our station near Lake Baikal and nine hours later it flew within 11,300 kilometers of the Earth surface, below the orbit of geostationary satellites. It was about 15 meters in size.

The scientists originally thought that it could be a man-made object, such as a spent rocket booster, but rejected the idea when they couldn’t find a match in the space junk catalogue.

Full Article

Credit: Moscow State University/MASTER/Vladimir Lipunov

A hidden treasure in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Nearly 200 000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. As the Milky Way’s gravity gently tugs on its neighbour’s gas clouds, they collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a kaleidoscope of colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.


Credit: NASA, ESA.

A hidden treasure in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Nearly 200 000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. As the Milky Way’s gravity gently tugs on its neighbour’s gas clouds, they collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a kaleidoscope of colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: NASA, ESA.

A Sight to Behold

Kandinsky-esque view of the brightened outline of Titan seen just beyond the limb of Saturn, both split by the thin, nearly edge-on rings. This view was taken from above the ringplane and looks toward the unlit side of the rings.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

A Sight to Behold

Kandinsky-esque view of the brightened outline of Titan seen just beyond the limb of Saturn, both split by the thin, nearly edge-on rings. This view was taken from above the ringplane and looks toward the unlit side of the rings.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute