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Frontier Worlds April 26, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Cassini, Saturn, Space Fotos, Uncategorized.
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Frontier Worlds
Target Name: S Rings
Original Caption Released with Image:
The three very different moons seen here provide targets of great interest for planetary scientists studying the Saturn system. Captured here by Cassini, along with the rings, are Tethys at upper right, Enceladus below center and Janus at lower left.Researchers study the orbital dance of Janus (181 kilometers, or 113 miles across) with Epimetheus, tectonics and cratering on Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across) and geyser activity on Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across). And these are only a few of the wonders that await exploration in the realm of the ringed planet.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 16, 2006, at a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Tethys, 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Enceladus and 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Janus. The image scale is 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Tethys, 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel on Enceladus and 13 kilometers (8 miles) per pixel on Epimetheus.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

NGC 4696 in the Centaurus Galaxy Cluster: April 25, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Uncategorized.
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NGC 4696
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.Allen et al; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G.Taylor; Infrared: NASA/ESA/McMaster Univ./W.Harris
JPEG (151.3 kb) Tiff (20.4 MB) PS (2.8 MB)

By studying the inner regions of nine elliptical galaxies with Chandra, scientists can now estimate the rate at which gas is falling toward the galaxies’ supermassive black holes. These images also allowed them to estimate the power required to produce radio emitting bubbles in the hot X-ray gas.

The composite image of NGC 4696 shows a vast cloud of hot gas (red),

Illustration of Fuel for a Black Hole Engine
Illustration of Fuel for a Black Hole Engine

surrounding high-energy bubbles 10,000 light years across (blue) on either side of the bright white area around the supermassive black hole. Images of the other galaxies in the study show a similar structure. (The green dots in the image show infrared radiation from star clusters on the outer edges of the galaxy).

Surprisingly, the results indicate that most of the energy released by the infalling gas goes, not into an outpouring of light as is observed in many active galactic nuclei,

Animation of Black Hole in Elliptical Galaxy
Animation of Black Hole in Elliptical Galaxy

but into jets of high-energy particles. Such jets can be launched from a magnetized gaseous disk around the central black hole, and blast away at near the speed of light to create huge bubbles.

An important implication of this work is that the conversion of energy by matter falling toward a black hole is much more efficient than nuclear or fossil fuels. For example, it is estimated that if a car was as fuel-efficient as these black holes, it could theoretically travel more than a billion miles on a gallon of gas!


Fast Facts for NGC 4696:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.Allen et al; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G.Taylor; Infrared: NASA/ESA/McMaster Univ./W.Harris
Scale  Image is 2.3 by 1.6 arcmin
Category  Black Holes, Normal Galaxies & Starburst Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 12h 48m 48.90s | Dec -41ยบ 18′ 44.40
Constellation  Centaurus
Observation Dates  April 1, 2004
Observation Time  24 hours
Obs. ID  4954
Color Code  X-ray: Red, Radio: Blue, Infrared: Green
Instrument  ACIS
References  S. Allen et al. 2006, Monthly Notices Roy. Astr. Soc. (See also stro-ph/0602549)
Distance Estimate  About 150 million light years
Release Date  April 24, 2006

Great Observatories Present Rainbow of a Galaxy April 25, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, JPL, NASA, Space Fotos, University of Arizona.
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NASA's Spitzer, Hubble and Chandra space observatories teamed up to create  this multi-wavelength, false-colored view of the M82 galaxy. The lively  portrait celebrates Hubble's

Target Name: M82 Galaxy
Mission: Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Instrument: Chandra X-ray Telescope
Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)
Visible Light
Product Size: 640 samples x 480 lines
Produced By: California Institute of Technology
Full-Res TIFF: PIA08093.tif (45.01 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA08093.jpg (799.8 kB)

Original Caption Released with Image:

NASA’s Spitzer, Hubble and Chandra space observatories teamed up to create this multi-wavelength, false-colored view of the M82 galaxy. The lively portrait celebrates Hubble’s “sweet sixteen” birthday.

X-ray data recorded by Chandra appears in blue; infrared light recorded by Spitzer appears in red; Hubble’s observations of hydrogen emission appear in orange, and the bluest visible light appears in yellow-green.

About the Movie
M82 is shown in all its wavelength glory. Dissolving from Chandra X-ray Observatory images of three X-ray energy bands to images in three bands of the infrared spectrum taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, and ending with the Hubble Space Telescope’s visible- and near-infrared-light image. The three observatories’ images were composited to reveal the galaxy’s stars, as well as gas and dust features.

Note: The size of the Full-Res TIFF for the still image is 4299 samples x 3490 lines.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/UofA/ESA/AURA/JHU

Spirit Scans Winter Haven April 25, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in JPL, Mars, Mars Rovers, NASA, Space Fotos.
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This approximately true-color image shows paper-thin layers of light-toned, jagged-edged rocks; a light gray rock with smooth, rounded edges atop and drifts; and several dark gray to black, angular rocks with vesicles typical of hardened lava
Target Name: Mars
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: Mars Exploration Rover (MER)
Spacecraft: Spirit
Instrument: Panoramic Camera
Product Size: 1021 samples x 1024 lines
Produced By: Cornell University
Full-Res TIFF: PIA08095.tif (3.141 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA08095.jpg (143.4 kB)

Original Caption Released with Image:

At least three different kinds of rocks await scientific analysis at the place where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will likely spend several months of Martian winter. They are visible in this picture, which the panoramic camera on Spirit acquired during the rover’s 809th sol, or Martian day, of exploring Mars (April 12, 2006). Paper-thin layers of light-toned, jagged-edged rocks protrude horizontally from beneath small sand drifts; a light gray rock with smooth, rounded edges sits atop the sand drifts; and several dark gray to black, angular rocks with vesicles (small holes) typical of hardened lava lie scattered across the sand.

This view is an approximately true-color rendering that combines images taken through the panoramic camera’s 753-nanometer, 535-nanometer, and 432-nanometer filters.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Restless Augustine Island April 20, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in Earth, NASA, Space Fotos, Volcanoes.
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Restless Augustine Island Click here to view full image (2646 kb)

Alaska’s Augustine Volcano started 2006 with a bang, producing explosive eruptions in mid-January. The volcano had quieted by March 2006, although the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) warned that explosive eruptions could still occur at any time. The volcano continued a fairly similar behavior pattern in April.

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA ’s Terra satellite captured this image on April 18, 2006. According to the AVO, Augustine’s seismic activity jumped that day. The volcano continued its customary steam plume, and light winds allowed the plume to rise directly above the summit about 300 to 600 meters (1,000 to 2,000 feet). This image shows the steam plume flowing from the summit in the south. The cloudy form to the north could be cloud, or a steam plume from the volcano’s pyroclastic flow deposits—hot rock fragments and ash.

Augustine Volcano is considered the most active volcano in the eastern Aleutian arc. Its biggest historical eruption occurred in 1883 when the volcano’s dome collapsed. The volcano erupted again in 1986, producing an avalanche of ash, rock fragments, and gas. Augustine’s activity spans a longer time span than historical records cover, and its oldest dated volcanic rocks are more than 40,000 years old.

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained courtesy of the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

A Dust Cloud in NGC 281 April 20, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in APoD, Deep Space, European Space Agency, Hubble Telescope, NASA, Space, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI / AURA) and P. McCullough (STScI)

Explanation: Stars themselves can create huge and intricate dust sculptures from the dense and dark molecular clouds from which they are born. The tools the stars use to carve their detailed works are high energy light and fast stellar winds. The heat they generate evaporates the dark molecular dust as well as causing ambient hydrogen gas to disperse and glow red. Pictured above, a new open cluster of stars designated IC 1590 is nearing completion around the intricate interstellar mountain named NGC 281. The dust cloud NGC 281, dubbed the Pacman nebula because of its overall shape, is classified as a dense Bok Globule that lies about 10,000 light years distant.

Neptune on Triton’s Horizon April 20, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in NASA, Space, Space Fotos.
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Composite illustration of the planet Neptune as seen from its moon Triton

This composite illustration is of the planet Neptune, as seen from its moon Triton. Neptune’s south pole is to the left; clearly visible in the planets’ southern hemisphere is a Great Dark Spot, a large anti-cyclonic storm system. This three-dimensional view was created using images from the Voyager spacecraft.

Image Credit: NASA


+ Full Resolution

A Solar Prominence from SOHO April 18, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in APoD, European Space Agency, NASA, SOHO, Solar Flares, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit: SOHO-EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA

Explanation: How can gas float above the Sun? Twisted magnetic fields arching from the solar surface can trap ionized gas, suspending it in huge looping structures. These majestic plasma arches are seen as prominences above the solar limb. In September 1999, this dramatic and detailed image was recorded by the EIT experiment on board the space-based SOHO observatory in the light emitted by ionized Helium. It shows hot plasma escaping into space as a fiery prominence breaks free from magnetic confinement a hundred thousand kilometers above the Sun. These awesome events bear watching as they can affect communications and power systems over 100 million kilometers away on Planet Earth

Barnard’s Loop around the Horsehead Nebula April 18, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in APoD, Deep Space, Horsehead nebula, NASA, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright: Peter Erdman (Embry-Riddle U.)

Explanation: Why is the Horsehead Nebula surrounded by a bubble? Although glowing like an emission nebula, the origin of the bubble, known as Barnard's Loop, is currently unknown. Progenitor hypotheses include the winds from bright Orion stars and the supernovas of stars long gone. Barnard's Loop is too faint to be identified with the unaided eye. The nebula was discovered only in 1895 by E. E. Barnard on long duration film exposures. The above image was taken in a single specific color emitted by hydrogen to bring out detail. To the left of the Horsehead Nebula, visible as the small dark indentation near the image top, is the photogenic Flame Nebula.

NGC 246 and the Dying Star April 18, 2006

Posted by John Tintle (MtO deadbait) in APoD, Deep Space, Gemini Observatory, NASA, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit: Gemini South GMOS, Travis Rector (Univ. Alaska)

Explanation: Appropriately nicknamed "the Skull Nebula", planetary nebula NGC 246 really does surround a dying star some 1,600 light-years away in the constellation Cetus. Expelled over a period of thousands of years, the lovely, intricate nebula is the outer atmosphere of a once sun-like star. The expanding outer atmosphere is interacting with the gas and dust in the interstellar medium, while the star itself, the fainter member of the binary star system seen at the nebula's center, is entering its final phase of evolution, becoming a dense, hot white dwarf. Star and nebula are moving rapidly toward the top of the detailed view, as suggested by the nebula's brighter, upper, leading edge. The sharp image spans just over 2.5 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 246 and also reveals distant background galaxies, some visible right through the nebula along the bottom.

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