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curiousuburb
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2010-04-08, 08:57

And two new sets of images, from two scopes/methods, of two interstellar locations... which may demonstrate the same phenomenon at different scales...

From Hubble, a suspected 'mystery object'... perhaps an eclipsing brown dwarf and companion

Quote:
Originally Posted by WIRED


A mysterious object discovered near a brown dwarf doesn’t fit into any known astronomical category.

The newly discovered mystery companion forms a binary system with the brown dwarf, located 460 light-years away in the Taurus star-forming system. The object is too light to be another brown dwarf, but it’s too young to have formed by accretion, the way a typical planet does.

“Although this small companion appears to have a mass that is comparable to the mass of planets around stars, we don’t think it formed like a planet,” said astronomer Kevin Luhman of Penn State University, co-author of the study April 5 in The Astrophysical Journal. “This seems to indicate that there are two different ways for nature to make small companions.”

Luhman’s team made the discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory.



The new object and its companion brown dwarf are orbiting as a binary pair, 15 astronomical units from each other. If they were superimposed on our solar system, the companion would be orbiting midway between Saturn and Uranus. The oddball object’s mass is somewhere between five and 10 Jupiter masses, making it too small to fuse deuterium. The International Astronomical Union currently uses this fusion line, which occurs at about 13 Jupiter masses, as the defining characteristic of a brown dwarf.

But the object appears to be around the same age as its binary partner, which doesn’t fit conventional ideas about planet formation. Traditional theories describe planets forming from the gaseous disk that swirls around the equator of a newly formed star. Particles in the gas and dust cloud collide, and gradually accrete into larger objects, eventually becoming planets. These rocky planets can grow into sizes up to 10 Earth masses before they become gas giants.

And 1 million years is much shorter than the expected time for a planet to be born this way. Planets can form this quickly when there is a gravitational instability in the gaseous disk, but the brown dwarf’s disk probably didn’t have enough material to form a planet larger than a single Jupiter mass.

“It looks like this new system formed by the collapse and fragmentation process that forms binary star systems,” Alan Boss, president of the IAU Commission on Extrasolar Planets said in an e-mail to Wired.com. Boss theorized that these sorts of planet-sized objects exist in a paper published in 2001.

“While people like to use the ‘p-word’ to describe objects with masses below 13 Jupiter masses, given the attention given to exoplanets these days, they should more properly be called ’sub-brown dwarfs,’” Boss said.

Because this strange object seems more likely to have formed the same way as its binary partner, the brown dwarf, Luhman believes it is probably best classified as a very small brown dwarf.

“This object, because it formed like a star, its composition is probably the same throughout,” Luhman said. This homogenous composition is in stark contrast to the innards of gas giants, like Jupiter, which probably have a heavy-element rocky core surrounded by a gaseous shell composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.

The presence of another nearby binary system, of a red star and a brown dwarf, supports Luhman’s theory. It seems to have been formed around the same time as the mystery pair, indicating that all four may have formed the same way, as stars.

“This configuration — two tight pairs that are widely separated from each other — is called a hierarchical configuration and is commonly seen in quadruple star systems,” Luhman said.

Images: 1) NASA, ESA, K. Todorov, K. Luhman, Penn State University. 2) Artist’s rendering from Gemini Observatory/L. Cook.

Source
And via the magic of interferometry to combine images greater than the sum of component telescopes (no matter how big), what may be dust accreting from an orbiting companion back to the binary primary star

Eclipse of nearby star photographed for first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC

Scientists said the eclipse is caused by a thin disc of opaque dust
The first close-up image of an eclipse beyond the solar system has been captured by scientists.

Astronomers at the University of St Andrews worked on an international study of the star Epsilon Aurigae, from the Auriga constellation.

Every 27 years it becomes dimmer, a phenomenon which lasts for two years.

The physicists combined light from four telescopes to get the first image of the eclipse, which is 140 times sharper than images from the Hubble telescope.

The team described the discovery as a "terrifying image, like something from a Tolkein book".

'Kill the light'

The eclipse was first observed by the German astrologer Johann Fritsch in 1821.

Dr Ettore Pedretti and Dr Nathalie Thureau, from St Andrews, took part in the research, which was led by Brian Kloppenborg from the University of Denver.

Dr Pedretti said: "From the image, we can confirm that the eclipse of Epsilon Aurigae is caused by a thin disc of opaque dust trailed by a massive and unseen companion.

"Like David, tiny particles of dust are able to kill the light of this 'Goliath' star."

Dr Thureau designed some of the optics for the light-combining technique used to view the star, which is called optical interferometry.

'Astronomers puzzled'

"With this image we have solved a 180-year-old mystery," she said.

"Astronomers have been puzzled for more than a century about this star and we took two pictures that may finally solve the mystery.

"In fact we will continue to capture images since the eclipse lasts about two years."

The two academics intend to form the first group in Scotland to build instruments for optical and infrared interferometry.

"Our aim is to exploit existing interferometers around the world in order to take detailed pictures of distant and interesting astronomical objects that are not achievable even with the largest single telescopes," explained Dr Pedretti.

The research will be published in the journal, Nature.
Of course, both might be due to Death Star Space Bat Shadow puppetry other eclipsing phenomenon... but something occluded the light from those stars (on schedule in the 2nd case).

Which means that even if speculation about the theoretical 'causes' is incorrect, the modeling of predictable orbital mechanics from light years away (enough for 'photos') is pretty damn impressive.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2010-04-08 at 09:09.
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PKIDelirium
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2010-04-14, 19:59

http://twitpic.com/1fif7q
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addabox
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2010-04-14, 20:12

I wonder what the upper limit of photo-like multi-source imaging is? I mean, the things we're seeing now seem almost beyond belief-- to be able to image the interaction of objects hundreds of light years away, with sufficient precision to be able to say reasonable things about mass and relative proximity-- it just boggles my mind.

And these images seem to be getting better all the time. What are the limiting factors? Sensitivity of the instruments? Sophistication of the processing algorithms? Is there some kind of natural limit on how much information can be derived from a given distance, involving the dissipation of energy across space and the accumulation of noise in the signal, or are we one day going to be looking at topographical representations of planets 1000 light years out?

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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!Marc!
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2010-04-21, 13:54

A new HD look at the sun...

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...pr_firstlight/
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-04-22, 06:29

I will call you... Mini-Shuttle!



Air Force's semi-secret X-37B to launch today


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceflightnow

Its cost and mission are classified, but a first-of-a-kind reusable miniature military space shuttle is on the launch pad ready to soar into orbit on an Atlas 5 rocket Thursday evening.

Under the cover of the Atlas 5's payload shroud, the X-37B is scheduled for launch at 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 GMT) from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch window extends for 9 minutes.

The 196-foot-tall booster rolled to the launch pad Wednesday morning.

"Fundamentally, this is an updated version of the space shuttle," said Gary Payton, the U.S. Air Force's top civilian leader for military space programs. "The Air Force has a suite of military missions in space. This new vehicle could potentially help us do those missions better."

Although officials are openly discussing the X-37B platform itself, the Air Force is mum on exactly what payloads the unmanned ship carries inside its cargo hold, which is about the size of a pickup truck bed.

During several weeks or months in orbit, the X-37B will be a testbed for secret new technologies.

Future flights of the reusable spaceship could approach U.S. or foreign satellites, recover old spacecraft, or test out surveillance and repair techniques. The speculation leads some to voice concerns over the militarization of space.

During a teleconference with reporters Tuesday, Payton said none of those activities are part of the X-37B's first flight. The craft launching Thursday does not carry a robot arm like the shuttle, and there are no rendezvous objectives planned for the mission, according to Payton.

New heat shield technologies, advanced guidance and navigation, a solar power generation system, and new flight control systems are at the top of the list of public goals for the test flight.

"The primary objectives of the X-37 are to [prove] a new batch of vehicle technologies for America's future, plus readying and demonstratring the concept of operations for reusable experimental payloads," Payton said.

The X-37B will return to Earth only after it completes its top secret experiments in orbit.

... continues ...
More info (and hinted-at cutaway drawings) here

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Hassan i Sabbah
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2010-04-26, 13:57

Earth.



From Mars.

Quote:
This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. (March 8, 2004)

The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover's panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera's color filters.
It's actually a really old picture, but that doesn't make it any less assum.
  quote
Moogs
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2010-04-26, 18:05

I'll show you ah-sum.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8645511.stm



We are entering a new era of telescope asploration. Between the LBT, the NGT (2014) and this 42m mirror-having bad-ass (ELT - 2018)... we should see some amazing stuff in the next 10 years. Heck I'm jazzed just to see the new and improved claritah of Hubble images this year!

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-05-25, 13:04

Crowd-sourcing some lunar crater analysis...

Moon Zoo

NPR story here

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPR
...
We're seeing the most detailed images of the moon's surface ever captured from afar — thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The space probe carries a super-powerful camera, which photographs every bit of the moon's surface for scientists to examine.

Only one problem: The LRO is doing such a good job that the scientists can't keep up.

Enter Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott. He's asking amateur astronomers to help review, measure and classify tens of thousands of moon photos streaming to Earth. He has set up the website MoonZoo.org, where anyone can log on, get trained and become a space explorer.

"We need anybody and everybody," Lintott tells NPR's Guy Raz on Weekend All Things Considered.

For example, "we ask people to count the craters that they can see ... and that tells us all sorts of things about the history and the age of that bit of surface," Lintott explains.

Volunteers are also asked to identify boulders, measure the craters and generally classify what is found in the images. Bonus finds might include a bit of lost spacecraft or even remnants of Apollo landings.

... continues ...
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BuonRotto
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2010-05-25, 16:31

Yes, kids, there really is a Death Star out there. Not too far away really, in the big scheme of things.

  quote
drewprops
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2010-05-25, 16:38

Waitaminute... Yavin IV??

...
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Xaqtly
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2010-05-25, 17:07

I'm so glad I get to be the first one here to say this:

Oh look! It's the starship Heart of Gold!


Last edited by Xaqtly : 2010-05-25 at 17:08. Reason: I dorked it up.
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Maciej
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2010-06-04, 11:04

SpaceX is trying to do their first medium lift Falcon 9 launch today. Bit of a delay, but here's a link to the feed anyway.

http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php

User formally known as Sh0eWax
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curiousuburb
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2010-06-11, 11:11

Ikaros deploys Solar Sail.



1st stage


2nd stage



All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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jdcfsu
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2010-06-11, 11:48

Forgot to post this yesterday, but Saturn's rings are actually creating moons: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/...mini-moons.ars

This is freaking cool.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-06-14, 02:13

Hayabusa returns from asteroid Itokawa... immolates on reentry but drops recovery capsule potentially containing samples.


The reentry capsule is the small dot at lower right.

Australian recovery teams have located the capsule, and expect to retrieve it today.

Spaceflightnow story

BBC Story (with video clip if not blocked outside of UK)

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2010-06-22, 14:30

"Music of the Sun" recorded

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telegraph.co.uk

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have managed to record for the first time the eerie musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun.

They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument.

In other cases they behave more like soundwaves as they travel through a wind instrument.

Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.

... continues ...
Sounds a bit like the THX sound.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-07-06, 05:46

Planck returns the latest map of the Universe at Microwave level...


This multi-colour all-sky image of the microwave sky has been synthesized using data spanning the full frequency range of Planck, which covers the electromagnetic spectrum from 30 to 857 GHz. The sequence of images shows the all-sky map with, superimposed, the locations of previous Planck image releases, a selection of extragalactic sources, and a map of molecular clouds.

Some clever coders have added this latest info to a (downloadable) composite map at multiple wavelengths...

Behold the Chromoscope.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2010-07-21, 09:57

Step right up and get yer uber-mega-stars... step right up.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10707416
  quote
Moogs
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2010-08-18, 08:44

Mmmm. Magnetars and black hole debates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11011118
  quote
Moogs
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2010-08-19, 22:12

Hmm. Not sure I buy that we can conclusively say the universe will expand forever and turn into a giant void, based on the calculations from a single experiment.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11030889

Seems like there should be more to answering that question, especially since we don't understand Dark Matter very well / can't say for sure how it should factor into such an equation?

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2010-08-20, 06:35

The Universe may be expanding, but based on observed wrinkles in the crust, the Moon is shrinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA

Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. The results provide important clues to the moon's recent geologic and tectonic evolution.

The moon formed in a chaotic environment of intense bombardment by asteroids and meteors. These collisions, along with the decay of radioactive elements, made the moon hot. The moon cooled off as it aged, and scientists have long thought the moon shrank over time as it cooled, especially in its early history. The new research reveals relatively recent tectonic activity connected to the long-lived cooling and associated contraction of the lunar interior.


The mare basalts that fill the Taurus-Littrow valley were thrust up by contractional forces to form the Lee-Lincoln fault scarp, just west of the Apollo 17 landing site (arrow). It is the only extraterrestrial fault scarp to be explored by humans (astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt). The digital terrain model derived from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) stereo images shows the fault extending upslope into North Massif were highlands material are also thrust up. The fault cuts upslope and abruptly changes orientation and cuts along slope, forming a narrow bench. LROC images show boulders shed from North Massif that have rolled downhill and collected on the bench. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University/Smithsonian
"We estimate these cliffs, called lobate scarps, formed less than a billion years ago, and they could be as young as a hundred million years," said Dr. Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Washington. While ancient in human terms, it is less than 25 percent of the moon's current age of more than four billion years. "Based on the size of the scarps, we estimate the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by about 300 feet," said Watters, lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Science August 20.

... continues ...
I've actually touched some rock from Taurus Littrow that Cernan and Schmitt brought back.

Yay Science!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Kyros
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2010-08-21, 01:17

http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/

A group of people are building their own space rocket and have plans to send a manned rocket in the future. They've already built a fully functional submarine that will tow the sea-based launch platform, and are doing their first test launch in about a week. Makes everyone else's hobbies seem a bit wimpy :P.
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Moogs
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2010-08-21, 12:26

It's pretty clear these people have watched every episode of Look Around You, thereby mastering the arts and sciences. And math.
  quote
Moogs
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2010-08-22, 15:31

Aside from that group of Russians doing the "Mars isolation chamber study" (think it's Russians?)... we now have another group that in coming months might be able to tell of us of the extreme difficulties involved in living in cramped quarters with no outlets of any kind for months on end.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11054376

Freakin miracle they're all alive, but you have to wonder how all those people will hold out if it takes 3 or 4 months to get to them. I mean with each other. Even if they miraculously stay healthy with the food and hydration gels, there's the psychological aspects.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Moogs
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2010-08-23, 08:47

I'm on a roll. The Microbes... they can live in space a long time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11039206
  quote
Mugge
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2010-08-24, 01:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyros View Post
http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/

A group of people are building their own space rocket and have plans to send a manned rocket in the future. They've already built a fully functional submarine that will tow the sea-based launch platform, and are doing their first test launch in about a week. Makes everyone else's hobbies seem a bit wimpy :P.
Boing Boing has also noticed it now. I never realized that they where Goons to boot!

  quote
Moogs
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2010-08-24, 13:47

Mmmm. Exo-planetary systems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11070991
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-08-24, 19:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
There's an App for that... ExoPlanet.

It pinged me with notification of the 6± planet system, one likely in the "habitable zone".

Awesomely nerdy.
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Moogs
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2010-08-24, 22:11

Once we learn to travel at the speed of light it will only take us 120 years to get there!
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Brad
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2010-08-24, 22:55

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Once we learn to travel at the speed of light it will only take us 120 years to get there!
Well, 120 years to the people still on Earth, but a significantly shorter length of time for the people actually taking the ride, assuming we haven't worked a way around that whole special relativity time dilation thing.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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