Peter Gannon

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Dying stars' nebulae mysteriously aligned near galaxy's heart

Astronomers studying dying stars' colorful cast-offs have discovered a mysterious pattern: Some planetary nebulae in the Milky Way galaxy's central bulge are strangely aligned, according to a study to be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.<p>The findings by two University …

Coldest brown dwarfs blur lines between stars and planets

“If one of these objects was found orbiting a star, there is a good chance that it would be called a planet.”<p>Astronomers are constantly on the hunt …

Universe

3 Big Discoveries Made by the International Space Station

APOD: The Quiet Sagittarius A* (2013 Sep 06) Credit: X-ray - NASA/CXC/Q. Daniel Wang (UMass) et al., IR - NASA/STScI http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130906.html Explanation: Hot gas is hard to swallow. At least that seems to be true for the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Known as source Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way's black hole is centered in this infrared (red and yellow hues) and X-ray (blue) composite. Based on data from an extensive campaign of observations by the orbiting Chandra X-ray telescope, the diffuse emission surrounding the black hole is seen in the close-up inset, the inset field spanning about 1/2 light-year across the galactic center some 26,000 light-years away. Astronomers have found that the X-ray emission originates in hot gas drawn from the winds of massive young stars in the region. The Chandra data indicate that only about 1% or less of the gas within the black hole's gravitational influence ever reaches the event horizon, losing enough heat and angular momentum to fall into the black hole, while the rest of the gas escapes in an outflow. The result explains why the Milky Way's black hole is so quiet, much fainter than might be expected in energetic X-rays, The finding seems to be true for most supermassive black holes in galaxies in the nearby Universe. http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2013/sgra_gas/ http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/wang-international-team-discover-why-super http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1240755 http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.5845 Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=130906 #APOD

Why we might not be able to live on the Moon

The suggestion that regions of the Moon have ancient ice triggered much hope that we could colonise it. Sadly, it’s looking ever less likely that it’s possible.<p>The US space agency Nasa sells dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that – after all, space and its exploration have always been a source of …

A monster star in the making, a Martian volcano, Earth's 'selfie' and Curiosity's successor – in pictures

Our pick of the best space-related imagery includes the birth of a star that will one day be 100 times the mass of the sun, lava flows from the largest volcano in the solar system, a picture of Earth from 1.44bn kilometres away and plans for the next Mars rover Continue reading...

WIRED Space Photo of the Day 2013

PhysicsWhy Do You Feel Lighter at the Top of a Ferris Wheel?<p>Author: Rhett AllainRhett Allain<p>EcologyHow Plastic Straws Slip Through the Cracks of …

Spot Exoplanets With Your Home Telescope, Using Free NASA Software

The new software measures varying light phenomena, accounting for distortions from the Earth's atmosphere and any stray clouds.<p>Well, this is what you bought that new telescope camera for, right?<p>NASA is releasing, for free, a bit of software that allows those with telescopes to detect planets …

Did Life on Earth Come From Mars?

Two scientists present new data on great cosmic questions.<p><b>Did life begin on Mars and then travel to Earth for its blossoming?</b><p><b>A long-debated and often-dismissed theory known as "panspermia" got new life in the past week, as two scientists separately proposed that early Earth lacked some chemicals</b> …

APOD: Night in the Andes Ice Forest (2013 Sep 07) Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130907.html Explanation: This forest of snow and ice penitentes reflects moonlight shinning across the Chajnantor plateau. The region lies in the Chilean Andes at an altitude of 5,000 meters, not far from one of planet Earth's major astronomical observatories, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Up to several meters high, the flattened, sharp-edged shapes, and orientation of the penitentes tend to minimize their shadows at local noon. In the dry, cold, thin atmosphere, sublimation driven by sunlight is important for their formation. A direct transition from a solid to a gaseous state, sublimation is a process that also occurs on the icy surfaces of comets. Above the eerie landscape stretches the southern night sky. Their own forms rooted in myth, look for the constellations Pegasus, Andromeda, and Perseus near the panorama's left edge. Bright and colorful stars of Orion the Hunter are near center, with the Large Magellanic Cloud and the South Celestial Pole on the far right. http://twanight.org/tafreshi Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=130907 #APOD

LADEE Launches! On This Week @NASA

Best photos: September 6 launch of LADEE spacecraft to moon

Night launch on September 6 of NASA’s new LADEE spacecraft to the moon resulted in many fine photos posted to EarthSky’s Facebook page. Thanks to all!<p>…

Astronomy