Brace yourself for another asteroid flyby
To quote science reporter Deborah Netburn:
It’s 1.7 miles long. Its surface is covered in a sticky black substance similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it impacted Earth it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just making a flyby.
At approximately 1:59 p.m. PDT May 31, Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make a close (by galactic standards) pass by our home planet. Coming within just 3.6 million miles of Earth, the asteroid will be so close that many of its features will be visible on radar.
For more details on the asteroid, including its possible origin, at Science Now.
Photo: NASA / JPL / Caltech
Solar flares galore!
Last night, the fourth major solar flare of the week burst onto the scene in a flash of ultraviolet radiation. And there may be even more just around the corner:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters say there’s a good chance that more solar flares are on their way. The agency says there is a 50% chance of X-class solar flares and an 80% chance of less powerful M-class solar flares, in the next 24 hours.
You can read more on the flares over at Science Now, but for the time being, we’ll step back and let you look at the crazy photos above a bit longer.
Photos: NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory / Associated Press
The photo above, showing Boston the night after the tragic marathon bombing, was tweeted yesterday by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station in a sigh of solidarity:
Our crew just heard about the horrible events at the Boston Marathon. We all pass our condolences and thoughts to everyone affected.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield)
This Year’s Largest Solar Flare
On April 11, 2013, at 3:16 a.m. EDT, the sun emitted an M6.5 flare, allowing NASA to capture this vibrant image. It’s not a particularly powerful solar flare, but it is the strongest of 2013 so far, and we’ll have plenty more opportunities to observe solar activity this year.
One of the craziest photos of the year.
test reblogged from odditiesoflife
Covering the Space Program
NASA doesn’t need much help selling the idea that space is super-awesome, but these covers for manuals and press conference notes from the golden age of spaceflight sure don’t hurt. They are going up for auction later this month. I wouldn’t mind having one or two of those hanging in my house, eh?
Meanwhile, in awesome space-related news.
test reblogged from jtotheizzoe
It turns out the ancient universe is even more ancient
New findings from the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope suggest that the universe is an estimated 13.8 billion years old, 100 million years older than previous thought.
Take a look at the picture above - that’s the radiation imprinted on the sky by the Big Bang itself, an observation from Planck that proved pivotal to the new age estimate.
From Science Now:
The map represents the first 15.5 months of observation by the Planck space telescope, which looked at the universe’s cosmic microwave background — that extremely cold, barely noticeable glow left after the Big Bang when the universe was just a cosmic baby — about 380,000 years old.
But don’t worry universe, you don’t look a day over 12 billion.
Photo: ESA, Planck Collaboration, NASA / Associated Press
So…did Voyager 1 leave the solar system or not?
A report from the Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, claimed earlier today that the long-traveling Voyager 1 spacecraft had departed the solar system:
“It appears that V1 has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing Hydrogen and Helium spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium.”
But NASA disagrees, according to a statement from Edward Stone, a Voyager project scientist based at Caltech:
“It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space.
In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called ‘the magnetic highway,’ where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space, and that change of direction has not yet been observed.”
Our money’s on the folks over at NASA. Read more on the debate over at Science Now.
Life on Mars…Maybe
A sample pulled from Mars just last month has been thoroughly examined by the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, and earlier today scientists declared that they have finally found solid evidence that Mars could have once sustained life.
From mission lead scientist John Grotzinger of Caltech:
“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and is so supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.”
Read more via Science Now.
Black hole spun: It’s been far too long since we shared some awesome space news. See that artist’s rendition above? That’s a black hole spinning near the speed of light. Even if it’s an interpretation, it’s still pretty darn incredible.
The image was sparked by the joint efforts of NASA’s X-ray telescope NuSTAR and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope, which examined the black hole anchoring NGC 1365 to determine how quickly it was spinning.
Just how does that work?
To solve the mystery, the XMM-Newton telescope — which studies low-energy X-rays, up to about 10 kiloelectron volts — teamed up with NuSTAR — which looks at very high-energy X-rays. NuSTAR, with a range from 3 to 79 kiloelectron volts, would fill in the rough sketch scientists had of this black hole.
Help - we just discovered NASA Gifs and now can’t stop clicking through them!
test reblogged from nasagifs
It’s raining rubles: Last week’s shocking meteorite strike in the Russian region of Chelyabinsk stunned the world both with the striking images of the meteorite streaking across the sky, and the substantial damages left in its wake.
But while some saw destruction, others saw dollar signs. A patchwork industry has since popped up, built around selling pieces of the now-famous meteorite.
“For sale: a piece of meteorite. Cures cancer, AIDS and prostate. Improves academic performance at school, “ reads one ad, which was posted under the name Yevgeny and is perhaps overreaching a bit. He is asking $10,000 for his space rock, without specifying its size.
Photo: The Urals Federal University Press Service / Associated Press
Remembering the Tunguska event: Today’s meteorite strike in Russia recalls the famous ‘“Tunguska event,” of 1908, in which a powerful explosion rocked the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia. The cause of the explosion, estimated to be between 5 to 30 megatons ofTNT, has been speculated to be a meteor exploding in the atmosphere and crashing into the Earth.
For a frame of reference, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima possessed the strength of just 16 kilotons.
Though nowhere near as damaging as the Tunguska explosion, which lit up skies from Europe to Asia for days afterward, today’s disastrous meteorite strike casts a tragic pall over the excitement over the asteroid D14, which is projected to narrowly miss Earth.
Photo: Trees strewn across the Siberian countryside in 1953 — 45 years after the Tunguska event. Credit: Associated Press
From supernova to black hole: Pictured above are the remnants of a supernova - which scientists believe may house the youngest black hole yet discovered.
Described by NASA’s Laura Lopez as being just “in our galactic backyard,” the supernova explosion intrigued astronomers because of a strange series of events following the burst.
There was no neutron star. The collapse of some massive stars leaves this dense, spinning core. But not this time. Megan Watzke, press officer at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that, indeed, it’s that lack of evidence that points to the existence of a black hole.
The bright star cluster NGC 6520 and its neighbour, the strangely shaped dark cloud Barnard 86 can be seen amongst countless other stars which make up the Milky Way. The image was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2m telescope at the ESO’s La Silla Observatory in ChilePhotograph: European Southern Observatory/ AFP/Getty Images
We’ve said it before, and we’ll certainly say it again, but space is awesome.
test reblogged from guardian