The movements of a newly discovered dwarf planet beyond Pluto’s orbit, dubbed 2012 VP113, suggest that a mysterious frontier of the solar system may include a planet much larger than Earth.
Experts say the discovery could lead scientists to rewrite our understanding of the fringes of our solar system.
Top images: The motion of 2012 VP113 clearly stands out compared with the steady state background stars and galaxies in these images, which were taken about two hours apart. Credit: Scott S. Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science. Bottom image: The three images combined into one to show the positions of 2012 VP113. Credit: Scott S. Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science.
Astronomers using NASA’s NuSTAR X-ray telescope have mapped out the radioactive elements in a supernova for the first time.
Video: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
What you’re looking at right now are some of the earliest galaxies ever observed by human eyes, dated to just 500 million years after the big bang.
Science reporter Amina Khan has the full story on these crazy astronomical spirals here.
Solar flare marathon may continue
Over the last week, 28 solar flares have exploded on the sun, a quick turn of events from the star, which has been relatively quiet during this period of the sun’s activity cycle.
But there’s little cause for concern, as reporter Deborah Netburn assures:
The good news is that none of the rapid-fire solar flares of the last week have had much effect on life on Earth. Our atmosphere protects us from the sun’s occasional powerful bursts of light and radiation, but solar flares do occasionally interact with our communications systems. The radiation can mess with an upper layer in our atmosphere called the ionosphere and cause radio signals to act funky.
But that doesn’t stop the flares from looking pretty awesome, as you can see above.
Meet a lonely, drifting planet
An enigmatic planet has been discovered wandering the vast cosmos by University of Hawaii scientists, notable not just for its free-floating nature, but for being the first planet not in orbit of a star.
"This thing is floating in space like our sun floats in space," said Eugene Magnier of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, coauthor of a study about the lonely planet. "It is drifting around through the galaxy."
Astronomers are not yet sure how this rogue planet came to be out there in space, all by itself. One theory is that it formed from a clump of hydrogen gas that condensed. Another, less likely thought is that it started its life in the vicinity of a star and got bumped out of its orbit.
Just a few days after Voyager 1 left Earth in 1977, L.A. Times columnist Jack Smith wrote:
A new spacecraft called Voyager, we are told, is on its way to the stars with a two-hour phonograph of earth sounds and a video machine with 115 photographs.
Someday, if there are any…
test reblogged from latimespast
Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system
It may have taken 36 years of coasting through space, but the Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered interstellar space, becoming the first man-made probe to reach that far-off realm.
The scientific community has been debating whether Voyager had already left for some time now, but it wasn’t until today that NASA was confident enough to made the estimate official.
Lead author Don Gurnett, an Iowa State plasma physicist and a Voyager project scientist, said the data showed conclusively that Voyager 1 had exited the heliopause — the bubble of hot, energetic particles that surrounds our sun and planets — and entered into a region of cold, dark space called the interstellar medium.
If you thought previous space photos were awesome, just wait.
Researchers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory and the Carnegie Observatory have finished 20 years of work on a camera able to take photos at a preposterous resolution.
Said UA astronomy professor Laird Close:
"We can, for the first time, make long-exposure images that resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across – the equivalent of a dime viewed from more than a hundred miles away. At that resolution, you could see a baseball diamond on the moon."
This effectively means that the new camera technology allows for photographs that double the quality of the Hubble Space Telescope, as you can see above.
Read on for more info on the camera.
July 29, 1958: NASA is Created
On this day in 1958, the United States Congress passed legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since its creation, NASA has played a vital role in coordinating all of the US’ activity in space. The agency spearheads and sponsors space exhibitions and has launched numerous orbiting satellites that have produced information about the solar system and universe.
In recent years, many feel that NASA has experienced numerous setbacks. The most significant being the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
Celebrate NASA’s birthday with PBS NewsHour’s video of the agency’s newest vehicle “Curiosity.”
photo:Astronaut Edward H. White II’s Space Walk on Gemini IV ca.1965, (NASA)
test reblogged from pbsthisdayinhistory
See that little dot in the distance? That’s Earth.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took some incredible photos of our home planet Friday, which the agency finally released yesterday.
The craft is current orbiting Saturn, as seen above, and is often unable to sneak a peek at Earth due to its relative closeness to the sun. So how did we get a hold of these stunning photos?
…on Friday, Saturn moved between Cassini and the sun, casting the spacecraft in shadow and allowing it to look back toward the inner solar system without the risk of ruining the detectors on its cameras.
Thanks to this orbital geometry, Saturn’s rings were also backlit by the sun, giving Cassini the rare opportunity to snap images of the powdery dust in Saturn’s rings in hyper-sharp detail.
Read more, and maybe let your mind be boggled by the scale of the universe, over at Science Now.
Photos: NASA / AFP/Getty Images
Behold! The supermoon!
Thanks to its close proximity to Earth over the weekend, the moon appeared up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than its everyday self, providing photographers a perfect opportunity to take some stunning photos - a selection of which can be seen above.
Photos: Aris Messinis, Menahem Kahana, Monte Fortefilippo / AFP/Getty Images, Kay Neitfeld / EPA, Scott Eisen / Associated Press, David Roark / Getty Images