Hubble’s View of NGC 3455

Hubble used the Advance Camera for Surveys to get this look at NGC 3455.  Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

Hubble used the Advance Camera for Surveys to get this look at NGC 3455. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

Located at RA: 10 51 52/DEC: 17 33.1 in the constellation Leo. The photo caption at NASA and included below pegs the distance at 65 million light-years what it doesn’t say is the red-shift velocity is about 1102 km sec / 685 miles per second!

The companion galaxy mentioned in the press release NGC 3454 can be seen here. NGC 3455 is the galaxy just below center and above that you can see the bright star in the center and the cigar shaped NGC 3454 above that.  Image: Simbad

The companion galaxy mentioned in the press release NGC 3454 can be seen here. NGC 3455 is the galaxy at the  center and above that you can see the bright star (from the Hubble image) in the center and the cigar shaped NGC 3454 above that. Image: Simbad

A very nice image and you can get more sizes at the link below.

The NASA/Hubble press release:

Shown here is a spiral galaxy known as NGC 3455, which lies some 65 million light-years away from us in the constellation of Leo (the Lion).

Galaxies are classified into different types according to their structure and appearance. This classification system is known as the Hubble Sequence, named after its creator Edwin Hubble.
In this image released 14, April, 2014, NGC 3455 is known as a type SB galaxy — a barred spiral. Barred spiral galaxies account for approximately two thirds of all spirals. Galaxies of this type appear to have a bar of stars slicing through the bulge of stars at their center. The SB classification is further sub-divided by the appearance of a galaxy’s pinwheeling spiral arms; SBa types have more tightly wound arms, whereas SBc types have looser ones. SBb types, such as NGC 3455, lie in between.
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3,000 for MESSENGER

The peak-ring basin Scarlatti as seen from MESSENGER on 18 April 2014.  Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The peak-ring basin Scarlatti as seen from MESSENGER on 18 April 2014. Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

On 20 April 2014 the MESSENGER spacecraft completed 3,000 orbits of the planet Mercury and is about to get closer to the planet than ever before at an altitude of 199 km / 124 miles.

From the MESSENGER website:

“We are cutting through Mercury’s magnetic field in a different geometry, and that has shed new light on the energetic electron population,” said MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph McNutt, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. “In addition, we are now spending more time closer to the planet in general — and that has, in turn, increased the opportunities for all of the remote sensing instruments to make higher-resolution observations of the planet.”

 

MESSENGER has been completing three orbits of Mercury every day since April 2012, when two orbit-correction maneuvers reduced its orbital period about Mercury from 12 hours to 8 hours. The shorter orbit has allowed the science team to explore new questions about Mercury’s composition, geological evolution, and environment that were raised by discoveries made during the first year of orbital operations.

APL’s Carolyn Ernst, the deputy instrument scientist for the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), said the change from a 12- to an 8-hour orbit provided her team with 50% more altimetry tracks. “MLA coverage takes a long time to build up, and because of the small footprint of the laser, a lot of coverage is needed to obtain good spatial resolution. The more data we acquire, the better we resolve the topography of the planet,” she said. “The 8-hour orbit has also allowed us to make more MLA reflectivity measurements, which have provided critical clues for characterizing Mercury’s radar-bright deposits at high northern latitudes.”

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LADEE Interfaces with Moon

Artist concept of LADEE.  Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

Artist concept of LADEE. Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) interfaced with lunar surface, NASA speak for it hit the moon – hard.

The impact occurred between 21:30 and 22:22 PDT on 17 April. Not bad, my guess was 19:20 on 18 April.

I was kind of hoping to hear where it hit this weekend, apparently I was over-simplifying things. The spacecraft was moving about 5,800 kmh or 3,600 mph. Not likely to be anything recognizable on the surface except for small impact craters.

We might get a good look at the impact site from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera as soon as mission managers figure out where it ended up and a LRO pass will occur.

The LADEE mission end at NASA.

Launching a Dragon

In case you missed it, here’s yesterday’s Space X launch.

Part of the mission was to land the first stage successfully and according to Space X, the landing was good. A successful landing in this case is a vertical “soft” landing and telemetry indicated it looks like it did indeed transmitting for eight seconds after reaching the water and stopped transmitting when it tipped over horizontally — not all the data though. Last reports had ships heading to the location for the possible recovery of the first stage. The recovery effort is NOT expected to be successful, but who knows.

Nice look at the first stage separation and stage two engine starting up.

Video

Kepler-186f

Artist's concept of Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size exp-planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone.  Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s concept of Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size exp-planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NOTE There is a 40 percent chance of the Space X -3 mission today at 15:25 ET / 19:25 UTC.  

Big news! Kepler-186f is the FIRST rocky Earth-sized exo-planet found! I am hoping this is just the first of a new series of discovery.

Being in the habitable zone means there is a possibility first of an atmosphere. If there is an atmosphere the similar Earth size then it could be possible to have an atmosphere more like our own. At the very least Hydrogen and Helium should be lacking as it is here, because as you know both of those gases are made of small and light atoms; those atoms move fast and at Earth temperatures, that velocity exceeds Earth’s escape velocity. Planets like Jupiter and the other gas giants have more gravity and are colder so Hydrogen and Helium are retained.

Then of course that only after an atmosphere you have to have the rest of the pieces. Or Kepler-186f could be just a big rock.

We are a long way from knowing the details on Kepler-186f, but just finding a planet of Earth size and in the habitable zone is an excellent start!

Here’s the press release from NASA (great wallpaper too!):

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone—a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.
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The Tadpole

The Tadpole and the Wriggler. Click for larger. Copyright NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS

I want to see the Goldfish. Ok I spent five minutes looking for it until I re-read the press release and the bit about it being just out of view. Larger and full-res versions availble at the link below.

BTW, I LOVE the title from ESA for selfish reasons. LOL.

From ESA Spaceinimages (The Tadpole and the Wriggler):

A bright blue tadpole appears to swim through the inky blackness of space. Known as IRAS 20324+4057 but dubbed “the Tadpole”, this clump of gas and dust has given birth to a bright protostar, one of the earliest steps in building a star.

There are actually multiple protostars within this tadpole’s ‘head’, but the glowing yellow one in this image is the most luminous and massive. When this protostar has gathered together enough mass from its surroundings, it will eventually emerge as a fully-fledged young star.

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Name the Mission

The final journey of Cassini. Image: NASA

The final journey of Cassini. Image: NASA

As hard as it seems, the Cassini spacecraft soon enough enter the final phase of its mission.

The new and final mission will begin in 2016 and promises to be incredible.

During this final phase the spacecrafts orbit will take it well above the north pole of Saturn, it will then plunge between the inner ring and the planet itself.

You can get the details of the final months of Cassini  here.

In the mean time the Cassini team is looking for a name to call the mission and YOU can help.

You can:
Pick a name from a list.
or
Submit a name of your own.

Cassini and Peggy

A small icy object named Peggy in the rings of Saturn.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A small icy object named Peggy in the rings of Saturn. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

An “object”, dubbed Peggy located at the edge of the rings seen here at the bottom is being described as a “Small Icy Object”; might it be a new moon forming? Maybe, although it’s not expected to grow any larger, Peggy gives a good look at how a moon could form. It’s all new to everybody because this has never been seen before – a common theme with the Cassini mission. An epic mission for sure.

Here’s the story at NASA.

Lunar Eclipse (Watch Live)

Great animation but a little on the large size. Patience. Image: Tomruen / Creative Commons

Tomorrow morning 15 April 2014 at 07:46 UTC / 03:46 EDT the moon will be at total eclipse. This will be the first of a Tetrad, four total lunar eclipses.

All of the tetrad eclipses will be visible from North America. With this particular eclipse portions of Western Europe and Africa will get to see a little bit at the start, for example the British Isles should get to see the moon enter the penumbral shadow at 04:54 UTC, just barely before the moon sets. As one travels west say viewers in France, Spain and western Africa should be able to see it for a little longer. The same can be said for eastern Asia except their opportunity will come briefly at the end of the eclipse.

Can you see it? Check the map.

As for me, well it is clouding up now and we are expected to get up to 5 cm of rain so I bet not.

You can watch live below at about 04:54 UTC / 12:54 EDT.

The Space X launch I mentioned earlier was scrubbed due to a helium leak, rescheduled for Friday.

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