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Official Space Exploration Coolness Thread
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
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2009-08-13, 10:39

You know what's truly mind-boggling about this science is that each of these near-misses... every time an asteroid passes relatively close to the earth, it affects our orbit just a bit, and objects passing by other planets affects their orbits, and so on... so it's not just knowing where they are in the sky but making the taking all the gravitational variables into play when estimating a closest possible approach.

Also important to keep in mind that "close" is anywhere between the moon and the earth (distance wise), and that's about 239,000 miles ... and the "big objects" we're talking about are all well under a kilometer in size for the most part. So even "close" isn't close, technically speaking but it's kind of freaky to look over the tables, run the java simulations over a period of a few years, etc.

My official guess: all the Hollywood scenarios would never happen. If officials really feared a big-time impact, and they thought it was species-threatening, they wouldn't tell us IMO unless they had a great plan in place for deflecting it. IOW, the one that kills us, we'll never see coming (from our perspective). Governments will decide not to cause a panic / mass hysteria, try to squirrel away some important people and human knowledge in a cave somewhere and hope for the best. Deep Impact / Armageddon scenarios will never happen.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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@_@ Artman
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Philly
 
2009-08-13, 10:56

I recall (honestly I do) reading an 2004 AP release that Nasa gave a press conference to announce that there was an asteroid heading perilously to Earth.

Incredibly, this announcement coincided with the Indian Ocean earthquake which:

Quote:
The shift of mass and the massive release of energy very slightly altered the Earth's rotation. The exact amount is not yet known, but theoretical models suggest the earthquake shortened the length of a day by 2.68 microseconds, due to a decrease in the oblateness of the Earth.[26] It also caused the Earth to minutely "wobble" on its axis by up to 2.5 cm (1 in) in the direction of 145° east longitude,[27] or perhaps by up to 5 or 6 cm (2.0 to 2.4 in).[28] However, because of tidal effects of the Moon, the length of a day increases at an average of 15 µs per year, so any rotational change due to the earthquake will be lost quickly. Similarly, the natural Chandler wobble of the Earth, which in some cases can be up to 15 m (50 ft), will eventually offset the minor wobble produced by the earthquake.
Before the press conference Nasa recalculated the asteroid's path with this new data and realized that it was enough to alter their impact data.

So no killer asteroid.

I have searched high and low for this and nothing returns with that AP release or with Nasa announcing this revelation (including this Wikipedia link).

Was this all bullshit?

"I always question the received reality. The consensus reality is often intentionally misleading." - George Carlin
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Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
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Location: Minnesota
 
2009-08-13, 12:08

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
My official guess: all the Hollywood scenarios would never happen. If officials really feared a big-time impact, and they thought it was species-threatening, they wouldn't tell us IMO unless they had a great plan in place for deflecting it. IOW, the one that kills us, we'll never see coming (from our perspective). Governments will decide not to cause a panic / mass hysteria, try to squirrel away some important people and human knowledge in a cave somewhere and hope for the best. Deep Impact / Armageddon scenarios will never happen.
It wouldn't happen but not for the reasons you state. I for one think that most scientists are way too earnest people to hide something like that. I mean, they're not FBI agents.

But what I'm getting at is that it's really hard to accurately predict the path of one of these objects. If one is going to hit the earth, we probably wouldn't even know it until it's practically on top of us. Even then, there's always the chance of a near-miss scenario where it skims our atmosphere without actually hitting. It's not like the all-seeing government would know that we're destined for an impact in several months' time and would purposely hold back information. They might know that a particular object is going to have a close approach, but that's about the best they can do.

On top of that, there are thousands of amateur astronomers who look at the sky each night and would probably eventually figure out that there was an asteroid heading for earth.
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curiousuburb
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2009-08-13, 14:42

NEO searching is sometimes framed in Rumsfeldian terms:
  • Known knowns (NEOs we've found/tracked, plus asteroids and short period comets... tens of thousands of objects)
  • Known unknowns (NEOs we think exist but haven't found/tracked, plus asteroids, short and long period comets... hundreds of thousands of objects)
  • Unknown unknowns (Dark comets? Hypervelocity fragments? Rogue Star?... ???)

LINEAR and similar robotic surveys are logging new objects every night, but even if we had perfect observation, we still wouldn't account for everything.
Add to that the fact that as a dynamic system, things change and need recalculating of subsequent ripples and ricochet effects.

NASA maintains a Risk page with details of quite a variety of objects (sortable)

As for the impact calculators... Old school, Detailed, or Twins

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-08-13 at 15:01.
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curiousuburb
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2009-08-31, 16:13

The Earth at Night from Space is cool.


But if you're rather a bit more detail, check out Cities at Night as seen by ISS crews

Light pollution is teh suck for astronomers, but the pics from above are often purty. Click for sources in most cases.




The “Vegas Strip”
of casinos and hotels—reputed to be the brightest spot on Earth—stands out in the center of this image due to both its brightness and its diversity of light colors. Image ISS016-E-27168 was taken on February 4, 2008, using the 400 mm lens.





Chicago, Illinois
, is home to roughly three million people, but the wider metropolitan area includes nearly 10 million. By day (top), the cement-colored urban center of the city blends almost imperceptibly into the gray-green colors of suburbs and then farmland. By night (lower), the region’s ten million people cannot be missed. ISS007-E-16747 (top) was taken on October 8, 2003, with a 50 mm lens. ISS007-E-16525 (bottom) was taken on October 7, 2003, with a 50 mm lens.




UK + Ireland
Looking east from a location southwest of Ireland, an astronaut took this nighttime panorama of population centers in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Image ISS016-E-27034 was taken on February 1, 2008, using a 28 mm lens.




London





Hong Kong


Youtube version

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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thegelding
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2009-08-31, 17:29

nice...but dang....murbot is this you??




holy frozen foreskin batman, who the hell lives up there?

g
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curiousuburb
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2009-08-31, 17:48

Google suggests that might be Resolute, Nunavut.

That's not North... Alert is North

My Grandpa was posted to Alert at one point last century. Having also served on the Equator in the Congo, he has STFU stories about extremes of weather and Latitude.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Luca
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2009-09-01, 09:55

g, that picture looks like it must be simulated... there's no way a tiny settlement like Resolute would make enough light to be visible from space.
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jdcfsu
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2009-09-01, 10:53

Sent to me by a friend who works for a NASA contractor: Aries Rocket in the VAB
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Luca
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2009-09-01, 10:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcfsu View Post
Sent to me by a friend who works for a NASA contractor: Aries Rocket in the VAB
Do you have any alternate link that may show, you know, just a picture? I don't think there's anything in this world that I hate more than Java web apps.

EDIT: It finally started working but man. Java is awful.
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jdcfsu
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2009-09-01, 11:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca View Post
Do you have any alternate link that may show, you know, just a picture? I don't think there's anything in this world that I hate more than Java web apps.
That's all I got. But yeah, Java is pretty ridiculous but a normal picture wouldn't do the thing justice WRT the enormity of the rocket.
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curiousuburb
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2009-09-01, 13:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca View Post
g, that picture looks like it must be simulated... there's no way a tiny settlement like Resolute would make enough light to be visible from space.
Depends when the pic was taken in the lunar cycle and what the exposure was.

Resolute is above the Circle, so total darkness for 6 months of the year. Ergo, artificially lit up 24/7/6months in radical contrast to the nearest 1000 km.

To get the contrast of blue ice we see (presumably moonlit), it's possible the camera/lens/photoshop in that wide shot was stopped open/adjusted so far that a floodlit square mile anywhere totally dark would register. Under optimum* conditions I'd expect to see big diamond mines on better lenses, and by the look of the 400mm shots, even oil platforms. There are shots of 9/11 from ISS with big lenses, in addition to smoke plumes from regional fires and volcanoes, etc. but in addition to the custom rig built for the latest shots, the 'seeing' conditions vary and some subjects are only revealed under the right conditions.

*The Earth at Night shot is actually a composite of hundreds of images over quite a timespan in order to get cloud-free shots. Post-processing beyond stitching happens, too.

Still cool, though.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-09-01 at 14:11.
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Argento
I puked at work.
Because I'm a pussy.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Head in a trash can.
 
2009-09-09, 08:43

Ugh

Just so insanely stupid.

On Topic Rant:

Spoiler (click to toggle):

This is so stupid, you can't give 3 billion a year? We just gave over 700 billion dollars to jackasses who deserve kicks in the cock not 700 billion and we can't give 3 billion to the greatest scientific institution we have?? Ugh I want to line everybody who is in congress up and cock punch them as well. The short sightedness of how we deal with the space program is maddening.

And All That Could Have Been
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
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2009-09-09, 09:08

Tard blog material.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
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2009-09-09, 09:58

Not to mention, um, the trillions of dollars we and future generations will be paying for a certain...y'know, I'm not even going to go there. It just bugs the shit out of me how killing people is a valid expenditure of our national resources but advancing science and making the world a better place isn't.

OK, I sort of went there.

But seriously, what else are we here for?

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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curiousuburb
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2009-09-09, 10:24

Augustine's Full report will have more detail than the summary highlights skew for, but there were always a few foregone conclusions:
  • 1 in 5 Americans believes the Sun goes around the Earth.
    /facepalm

  • NASA budget equates roughly to the amount the US spends on Peanuts each year.
    (The nuts, not the comic strip).

  • NASA is underfunded for what it is asked to do. (And it's only the third best funded US Space Agency.)
    Have you seen how big Space is? Oh wait...

  • NASA's return-on-investment is beyond dollars, but only budgeted in dollars.
    What is a Giant Leap worth, or a Hubble Deep Field in terms of awe and inspiration as much as raw research & development?

  • Bush's 'Vision' of Constellation, retirement of Shuttle before Constellation comes online, deorbit of ISS 5 yrs later... none funded and all doomed policies set for rewrite
    Ares I seems archaic.* Shuttle gotta fly until its replacement is ready, ISS is permanent because partners won't consent to dumping it, duh.

  • A list of suggested options for new directions, almost all of which will cost more than is budgeted for NASA now.
    But more incentive for private/commercial Space business is good.

*

Best to delay the final approval until the next good SciFi flick to build public support.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
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2009-09-09, 10:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiousuburb View Post
Augustine's Full report will have more detail than the summary highlights skew for, but there were always a few foregone conclusions:

1 in 5 Americans believes the Sun goes around the Earth.
Coincidentally, a CNN.com poll showed that the other four out of five think that Pluto should be reinstated as a planet.

I'm so glad reality is not a democracy.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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2009-09-09, 11:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roboman View Post
Coincidentally, a CNN.com poll showed that the other four out of five think that Pluto should be reinstated as a planet.

I'm so glad reality is not a democracy.
I didn't know that lovable dog was ever considered a planet. Did Hollywood put him on a binge diet?
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Dave
Ninja Editor
 
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2009-09-09, 12:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtle2472 View Post
I didn't know that lovable dog was ever considered a planet. Did Hollywood put him on a binge diet?
Yeah. It's pretty tragic the way they force-fed that dog to bulk him up for that action role. When came down afterwards, he just wasn't the same. Didn't even get the part, either.
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curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
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2009-09-09, 12:53

Hubble improvements on show in latest images.

Sweet new images at multiple res via NASA link above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA



Stars Bursting to Life in Chaotic Carina Nebula

These two images of a huge pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and in infrared light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object.

The pictures demonstrate one example of the broad wavelength range of the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble telescope, extending from ultraviolet to visible to infrared light.

Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The pair of images shows that astronomers are given a much more complete view of the pillar and its contents when distinct details not seen at visible wavelengths are uncovered in near-infrared light.

The top image, taken in visible light, shows the top of the 3-light-year-long pillar, bathed in the glow of light from hot, massive stars off the top of the image. Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from these stars are sculpting the pillar and causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of gas and dust can be seen flowing off the top of the structure.

Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. They cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust. Although the stars themselves are invisible, one of them is providing evidence of its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star. Farther away, on the left, the jet is visible as a grouping of small, wispy clouds. A few small clouds are visible at a similar distance on the right side of the jet. Astronomers estimate that the jet is moving at speeds of up to 850,000 miles an hour. The jet's total length is more than 15 light-years.

In the image at bottom, taken in infrared light, the dense column and the surrounding greenish-colored gas all but disappear. Only a faint outline of the pillar remains. By penetrating the wall of gas and dust, the infrared vision of WFC3 reveals the infant star that is probably blasting the jet. Part of the jet nearest the star is more prominent in this view. These features can be seen because infrared light, unlike visible light, can pass through the dust.

Other infant stars inside the pillar also appear to emerge. Three examples are the bright star almost directly below the jet-producing star, a fainter one to its right, and a pair of stars at the top of the pillar. Winds and radiation from some of the stars are blowing away gas from their neighborhoods, carving out large cavities that appear as faint dark holes.

Surrounding the stellar nursery is a treasure chest full of stars, most of which cannot be seen in the visible-light image because dense gas clouds veil their light. Many of them are background stars.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the Carina Nebula July 24 through July 30, 2009. WFC3 was installed aboard Hubble in May 2009 during Servicing Mission 4. The composite image was made from filters that isolate emission from iron, magnesium, oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur.

These Hubble observations of the Carina Nebula are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations.

> Labeled version
See also the spectrographic improvements

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA



Probing the Last Gasps of Doomed Star Eta Carinae

The signature balloon-shaped clouds of gas blown from a pair of massive stars called Eta Carinae have tantalized astronomers for decades. Eta Carinae has a volatile temperament, prone to violent outbursts over the past 200 years.

Observations by the newly repaired Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal some of the chemical elements that were ejected in the eruption seen in the middle of the 19th century.



STIS analyzed the chemical information along a narrow section of one of the giant lobes of gas. In the resulting spectrum, iron and nitrogen define the outer boundary of the massive wind, a stream of charged particles, from Eta Car A, the primary star. The amount of mass being carried away by the wind is the equivalent one sun every thousand years. While this "mass loss" may not sound very large, in fact it is an enormous rate among stars of all types. A very faint structure, seen in argon, is evidence of an interaction between winds from Eta Car A and those of Eta Car B, the hotter, less massive, secondary star.

Eta Car A is one of the most massive and most visible stars in the sky. Because of the star’s extremely high mass, it is unstable and uses its fuel very quickly, compared to other stars. Such massive stars also have a short lifetime, and we expect that Eta Carinae will explode within a million years.

Eta Carinae was first catalogued by Edmund Halley in 1677. In 1843 Eta Carinae was one of the brightest stars in the sky. It then slowly faded until, in 1868, it became invisible in the sky. Eta Carinae started to brighten again in the 1990s and was again visible to the naked eye. Around 1998 and 1999 its brightness suddenly and unexpectedly doubled.

Eta Carinae is 7,500 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

The Hubble observations are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations. NASA astronauts repaired STIS during a servicing mission in May to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.
Destruction can be beautiful

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA




Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302

This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.

What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour -- fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes!

A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the center of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing a stream of ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope.

The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. WFC3 was installed by NASA astronauts in May 2009, during the servicing mission to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.

NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The glowing gas is the star’s outer layers, expelled over about 2,200 years. The "butterfly" stretches for more than two light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

The central star itself cannot be seen, because it is hidden within a doughnut-shaped ring of dust, which appears as a dark band pinching the nebula in the center. The thick dust belt constricts the star’s outflow, creating the classic "bipolar" or hourglass shape displayed by some planetary nebulae.

The star’s surface temperature is estimated to be about 400,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest known stars in our galaxy. Spectroscopic observations made with ground-based telescopes show that the gas is roughly 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is unusually hot compared to a typical planetary nebulae.

The WFC3 image reveals a complex history of ejections from the star. The star first evolved into a huge red-giant star, with a diameter of about 1,000 times that of our Sun. It then lost its extended outer layers. Some of this gas was cast off from its equator at a relatively slow speed, perhaps as low as 20,000 miles an hour, creating the doughnut-shaped ring. Other gas was ejected perpendicular to the ring at higher speeds, producing the elongated "wings" of the butterfly-shaped structure. Later, as the central star heated up, a much faster stellar wind, a stream of charged particles travelling at more than 2 million miles an hour, plowed through the existing wing-shaped structure, further modifying its shape.

The image also shows numerous finger-like projections pointing back to the star, which may mark denser blobs in the outflow that have resisted the pressure from the stellar wind.

The nebula's outer edges are largely due to light emitted by nitrogen, which marks the coolest gas visible in the picture. WFC3 is equipped with a wide variety of filters that isolate light emitted by various chemical elements, allowing astronomers to infer properties of the nebular gas, such as its temperature, density, and composition.

The white-colored regions are areas where light is emitted by sulfur. These are regions where fast-moving gas overtakes and collides with slow-moving gas that left the star at an earlier time, producing shock waves in the gas (the bright white edges on the sides facing the central star). The white blob with the crisp edge at upper right is an example of one of those shock waves.

NGC 6302 was imaged on July 27, 2009 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 in ultraviolet and visible light. Filters that isolate emissions from oxygen, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur from the planetary nebula were used to create this composite image.

These Hubble observations of the planetary nebula NGC 6302 are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations.

Labeled image

Or maybe you need a Quintet or MOAR

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA



Galactic Wreckage in Stephan's Quintet

A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars.

This portrait of Stephan’s Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Stephan’s Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group.

Three of the galaxies have distorted shapes, elongated spiral arms, and long, gaseous tidal tails containing myriad star clusters, proof of their close encounters. These interactions have sparked a frenzy of star birth in the central pair of galaxies. This drama is being played out against a rich backdrop of faraway galaxies.

The image, taken in visible and infrared light, showcases WFC3’s broad wavelength range. The colors trace the ages of the stellar populations, showing that star birth occurred at different epochs, stretching over hundreds of millions of years. The camera’s infrared vision also peers through curtains of dust to see groupings of stars that cannot be seen in visible light.

NGC 7319, at top right, is a barred spiral with distinct spiral arms that follow nearly 180 degrees back to the bar. The blue specks in the spiral arm at the top of NGC 7319 and the red dots just above and to the right of the core are clusters of many thousands of stars. Most of the quintet is too far away even for Hubble to resolve individual stars.

Continuing clockwise, the next galaxy appears to have two cores, but it is actually two galaxies, NGC 7318A and NGC 7318B. Encircling the galaxies are young, bright blue star clusters and pinkish clouds of glowing hydrogen where infant stars are being born. These stars are less than 10 million years old and have not yet blown away their natal cloud. Far away from the galaxies, at right, is a patch of intergalactic space where many star clusters are forming.

NGC 7317, at bottom left, is a normal-looking elliptical galaxy that is less affected by the interactions.

Sharply contrasting with these galaxies is the dwarf galaxy NGC 7320 at upper left. Bursts of star formation are occurring in the galaxy’s disk, as seen by the blue and pink dots. In this galaxy, Hubble can resolve individual stars, evidence that NGC 7320 is closer to Earth. NGC 7320 is 40 million light-years from Earth. The other members of the quintet reside 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus.

These farther members are markedly redder than the foreground galaxy, suggesting that older stars reside in their cores. The stars’ light also may be further reddened by dust stirred up in the encounters.

Spied by Edouard M. Stephan in 1877, Stephan’s Quintet is the first compact group ever discovered.

WFC3 observed the quintet in July and August 2009. The composite image was made by using filters that isolate light from the blue, green, and infrared portions of the spectrum, as well as emission from ionized hydrogen.

These Hubble observations are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations. NASA astronauts installed the camera during a servicing mission in May to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.

Labeled image
Astronaut repair team high fives! Hubble FTW!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-09-09 at 13:11.
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2009-09-09, 13:33

Freaking AWESOME. Hopefully publishers are lining up to make new editions of their Hubble books (or write up new books - even better).
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Maciej
M AH - ch ain saw
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2009-09-09, 14:11

I hope this isn't a repost, but Ars had a wonderful article talking about NASA's Great Observatories program. Also, it explained some of the challenges of the future, at least in terms of telescopes. I thought it was a good read, and your Hubble photos reminded me of it. Hope you guys enjoy it, if you haven't already.

User formally known as Sh0eWax
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
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2009-09-09, 14:21

Spaceflightnow has a more informative version of the Augustine Summary

FYI
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!Marc!
Member
 
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2009-09-14, 12:20

someones got an 800 million pixel panoramic image of the sky,

http://www.eso.org/gigagalaxyzoom/B.html

enjoy!
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Moogs
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2009-09-14, 13:08

The greatest "compositing project" ever completed.

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!Marc!
Member
 
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2009-09-14, 16:29

Indeed. Read all about it here

http://www.sergebrunier.com/gallerie...index-eng.html
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curiousuburb
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Join Date: May 2004
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2009-09-17, 05:09

ISS Dodecahedron Drum Reactor Creates New Materials with Sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by PopSci


Space-DRUMS: The Space-DRUMS chamber makes use of 20 sound beams to produce materials free of container contamination. Semiconductors are especially an area of interest for the souped-up pressure cooker. NASA

This dodecahedron-shaped device currently on board the International Space Station may resemble a landmine, but in fact it serves quite an opposite purpose: within, scientist Jacques Guigne hopes to use sound waves to cleanly manipulate a brew of ingredients into custom materials that can only be made in the unique conditions of space.

Dubbed Space-DRUMS (the Dynamically Responding Ultrasonic Matrix System), Guigne's ball is essentially a furnace filled with argon gas. It uses sound beams to precisely manipulate raw materials into things like porous glass ceramics (used in semiconductors) with molecular arrangements only possibly in weightless conditions.

The reactor is a collaborative project between Canadian scientist Jacques Guigne and NASA, and the module seen here was just delivered to the International Space Station.

View Photo Gallery

Previous attempts at manufacturing in microgravity have yielded tiny samples just millimeters in diameter, but Guigne's acoustic suspension system can cank out baseball-sized samples. Guigne plans to charge "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to manufacture a single sample in his space furnace, according to Discovery.
As long as they don't audition for Spinal Tap.
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
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2009-09-17, 08:05

I think that drum goes to 12.
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
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2009-09-20, 15:51

So uh... on 9-30, an asteroid about 150 feet in diameter is supposed to pass less than 700,000 miles from us. Not very far in astronomical terms.
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Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2009-09-20, 16:06

Just a few times the distance out as the moon. The moon's orbit is about 250,000 miles, right?
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