Galactic Goulash

I love the title from NASA – “Chandra Samples Galactic Goulash” and it all makes sense:

NASA/Chandra — What would happen if you took two galaxies and mixed them together over millions of years? A new image including data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals the cosmic culinary outcome.

Arp 299 is a system located about 140 million light years from Earth. It contains two galaxies that are merging, creating a partially blended mix of stars from each galaxy in the process.

However, this stellar mix is not the only ingredient. New data from Chandra reveals 25 bright X-ray sources sprinkled throughout the Arp 299 concoction. Fourteen of these sources are such strong emitters of X-rays that astronomers categorize them as “ultra-luminous X-ray sources,” or ULXs.

These ULXs are found embedded in regions where stars are currently forming at a rapid rate. Most likely, the ULXs are binary systems where a neutron star or black hole is pulling matter away from a companion star that is much more massive than the Sun. These double star systems are called high-mass X-ray binaries.

Such a loaded buffet of high-mass X-ray binaries is rare, but Arp 299 is one of the most powerful star-forming galaxies in the nearby Universe. This is due at least in part to the merger of the two galaxies, which has triggered waves of star formation. The formation of high-mass X-ray binaries is a natural consequence of such blossoming star birth as some of the young massive stars, which often form in pairs, evolve into these systems.

This new composite image of Arp 299 contains X-ray data from Chandra (pink), higher-energy X-ray data from NuSTAR (purple), and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (white and faint brown). Arp 299 also emits copious amounts of infrared light that has been detected by observatories such as NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, but those data are not included in this composite.

The infrared and X-ray emission of the galaxy is remarkably similar to that of galaxies found in the very distant Universe, offering an opportunity to study a relatively nearby analog of these distant objects. A higher rate of galaxy collisions occurred when the universe was young, but these objects are difficult to study directly because they are located at colossal distances.

The Chandra data also reveal diffuse X-ray emission from hot gas distributed throughout Arp 299. Scientists think the high rate of supernovas, another common trait of star-forming galaxies, has expelled much of this hot gas out of the center of the system.

A paper describing these results appeared in the Aug. 21 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online. The lead author of the paper is Konstantina Anastasopoulou from the University of Crete in Greece. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Crete/K. Anastasopoulou et al, NASA/NuSTAR/GSFC/A. Ptak et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Saturn Dawn

NASA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft peers toward a sliver of Saturn’s sunlit atmosphere while the icy rings stretch across the foreground as a dark band.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 7 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 31, 2017.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 620,000 miles (1 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 38 miles (61 kilometers) per pixel.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A Nice Look at Jupiter

Take a look at this beautiful contribution on the JunoCam website. Very nice work!

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s bands of light and dark clouds was created by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Three of the white oval storms known as the “String of Pearls” are visible near the top of the image. Each of the alternating light and dark atmospheric bands in this image is wider than Earth, and each rages around Jupiter at hundreds of miles (kilometers) per hour. The lighter areas are regions where gas is rising, and the darker bands are regions where gas is sinking.

Juno acquired the image on May 19, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST) from an altitude of about 20,800 miles (33,400 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops.

JunoCam’s raw images are available at for the public to peruse and process into image products.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran

SpaceX Launch – Replay

If you miss the launch, I will have a replay up shortly.

WOW! Great landing on the drone ship in the Pacific, just about perfect. Imagine that, one company, two launches from two locations and even two successful first-stage landing on drone ships in two different oceans in what? Two days! (23 and 25 June).

The video as posted is actually still rendering so it might not be available straight-away.

Space X to Launch – Again

SpaceX will attempt another launch TODAY (25 June) at 20:25 UTC / 16:25 EDT / 13:25 PDT. This launch is an Iridium-2 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A backup launch date is tomorrow (26 June) at 20:19 UTC / 16:19 EDT / 13:19 PDT.

Come back for a live link to be up at 20:00 UTC / 16:00 EDT / 13:00 PDT.

Space X Replay – BulgariaSat 1

Fast forward to 16 minutes for the launch (16:25)
Good luck!

NOTE: Apparently the time listed here (and by Space X) do now match up with the the stated start of the live stream if you click on the video above.

Looks to be 19:10 UTC or 15:10 EDT. Ah, I just check the SpaceX site and it does say 19:10 UTC, must be the graphic and not updated.

Update 2: The one hour delay was for additional system checks.


YES! GREAT LANDING OF THE 1st stage, will they reuse it a second time?

I’ll put a replay here when it is available.

Space X to Launch

Space X will attempt to launch Bulgaria’s first geostationary satellite today.

The launch window opens at 19:10 UTC / 15:10 EDT and will feature the Falcon 9 rocket – recycled from the Iridium-1 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base this past January. The original launch window was on 19 June and then 20 June so maybe this time will be the charm.

The first-stage will attempt to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather looks pretty good. Temperatures around 32 C / 90 F and no rain forecast.

Check back shortly before 18:00 for a live link.


Finally the sounding rocket launched from the Wallops yesterday morning after many-many delays.

If you think I was getting impatient, imaging the undergrads who had experiments onboard. Ha! Well it got off and all is well – good luck you guys and hope you get more data then you can use!

NASA – The mission carried experiments built by undergraduate students from universities and community colleges across the country through the RockOn! and RockSat-C programs.

The experiments, launch on a 36-foot long Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket, flew to an altitude of 72 miles and landed, via parachute, in the Atlantic Ocean. The payload has been recovered and the students are expected to receive their experiments this afternoon to begin their data analysis.

RockOn! and RockSat-C are part of Rocket Week at Wallops. Nearly 130 students and instructors participated in the two programs this week conducted in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.