NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has captured video of a coronal mass ejection — solar material shooting out of the sun — in unprecedented detail.
With IRIS, scientists are trying to get to the bottom of what is known as “the solar corona mystery” (a phrase that a cursory Google search suggests is not yet a band name, if you were wondering).
Sometime between 11 p.m. tonight and 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the Earth is expected to pass through a trail of dust shed by the comet 209P/LINEAR hundreds of years ago. That could — emphasis on could — mean the peak of a never-before-seen meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. The astronomy website Slooh.com has partnered with NASA to provide this live feed from cameras in Alabama.
Here, science reporter Deborah Netburn explains what may happen when we pass through that debris field — and why we may see nothing at all.
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.