GPI First Light

The Gemimi Planet Imager first light photo of the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b.  Image credit: Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada

The Gemimi Planet Imager first light photo of the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b. Image credit: Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada

This is the Gemini Planet Imager’s first light image of the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b. The Gemini Planet Imager is the most powerful exoplanet camera to look at the sky so far.

Briefly Beta Pictoris b is a planet around the star Beta Pictoris which has been blocked out so its light doesn’t interfere with the light of the planet.

Beta Pictoris b is several times larger than Jupiter and is very young, around ten million years old. According to the Gemini website the planet is glowing in the infrared from heat released in its formation.

Beta Pictoris is relatively close by being 19.4 parsecs (63.4 light-years) away in the constellation Pictor. 1.75 times larger and 8.7 times as luminous as our Sun, it is already on the main sequence.

Visit the Gemini website for more pictures and a good deal of information about the camera – worth the visit!

Dark Sun Clouds

Dark "cloud" on the Sun.  Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA.

Dark “cloud” on the Sun. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA.

Well not really clouds, all the same, this is something to see.

Better yet check out the “best” version of the movie mentioned in the caption (below) from the SDO site (click to see other movie formats).

A dark clump of plasma rose up above the Sun, then twisted and spun about before it broke away and dissipated (Dec. 16-17, 2013). You can see the effect of magnetic forces pulling it this way and that over the 12-hour video clip before it is thrust into space by a coronal mass ejection. The large, bright loops emerging from the Sun north of the small mass trace magnetic field lines above several active regions. The images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that reveals ionized iron heated to a million degrees.

Juno’s Flyby

Watch this!

On 08 October 2013 the Juno spacecraft did a flyby of Earth in order to boost its speed by 7.3 km/sec (8,000 mph) in order to reach Jupiter in July 2016.

During the flyby the spacecraft took a series of images which were put together into the movie here.

Read more about the flyby and see a Juno / ham radio video at the source page. I wanted to take part in the ham radio part but my antennas are in “dis-array” — sorry.

Mt. Wilson 105 Years Old

A "Dark nebula" taken in 1910 at Mt.Wilson.  Credit: Hale via Bartleby.com

A “Dark nebula” taken in 1920 at Mt.Wilson. Credit: Hale via Bartleby.com

One of the worlds great observatories, Mt. Wilson is celebrating 105 years since “first-light” on December 8, 1908. The observatory was founded by George Hale, and was outfitted with the 60-inch Hale telescope first and followed in 1917 by the 100-in Hooker telescope which was the largest telescope in the world until 1948 when the 200-inch Hale telescope was built at the Palomar Observatory.

Happy Birthday Mt. Wilson!

Here’s the caption with the image at Bartleby.com:

Taken in 1920 with the aid of the largest telescope in the world. One of the first photographs taken by the Mount Wilson telescope. There are dark nebulæ and bright nebulæ. Prof. Henry Norris Russell, against the British theory, holds that the dark nebulæ preceded the bright nebulæ Photo: Prof. Hale

About Henry Norris Russell

Sizzle and Poof

First the sizzle:

ISON appears to have lost a lot of it’s “comet goodness” during its sizzling close-encounter with the Sun. There does seem to be a little bit of it left and a tail seems to be growing as you can see at the very end of this (SOHO) video at the ESA channel. How long will it last and is there really anything left that the solar wind won’t strip away? Too soon to tell.

I was watching television this morning and the program did one of those “cut-ins” with a “news” network, one that I never watch on its own, and they were declaring ISON dead. This is the same “news” network ridiculing SpaceX for aborting last afternoon’s launch attempt, the attempt being the second this week and how inept they were yada-yada.

I did see the launch attempt and no the launch didn’t happen, still, it was quite exciting. The abort came at the moment after the main engines lit off, then poof it was over. No word on the reason for this abort yet. You must know the coverage by Space X was excellent, the two hosts and non-PR Space X employees, Molly and John were awesome in their explanations of the events of the countdown and mission. They made the time spent watching worth it. Really a very-very good job.

Video

Mach 1000 Shock Wave

A photograph of the Tycho supernova remnant taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Low-energy X-rays (red) in the image show expanding debris from the supernova explosion and high energy X-rays (blue) show the blast wave, a shell of extremely energetic electrons. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K. Eriksen et al.; Optical (starry background): DSS

A photograph of the Tycho supernova remnant taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Low-energy X-rays (red) in the image show expanding debris from the supernova explosion and high energy X-rays (blue) show the blast wave, a shell of extremely energetic electrons.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K. Eriksen et al.; Optical (starry background): DSS

Mach 1000 shock wave but in reverse?

From Harvard-Smithsonian CFA

Cambridge, MA -
When a star explodes as a supernova, it shines brightly for a few weeks or months before fading away. Yet the material blasted outward from the explosion still glows hundreds or thousands of years later, forming a picturesque supernova remnant. What powers such long-lived brilliance?

 

In the case of Tycho’s supernova remnant, astronomers have discovered that a reverse shock wave racing inward at Mach 1000 (1000 times the speed of sound) is heating the remnant and causing it to emit X-ray light.

 

“We wouldn’t be able to study ancient supernova remnants without a reverse shock to light them up,” says Hiroya Yamaguchi, who conducted this research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
Continue reading

GOCE Comes Home

ESA’s GOCE satellite is on its way back to Earth. Where and when is somewhat speculative however it was said to be “pretty much in the orbital position it was predicted to be”.  There are parts of the satellite that are expected to survive re-entry it will be interesting to see how much lead time there ends up being.

The ESA Rocket Science Blog this morning is putting GOCE at about 160 km and it is showing a significant temperature increase in areas of the spacecraft indicating it is interfacing with an increasingly dense atmosphere.

GOCE is expected to fall by another 13 km today with final re-entry in less than two days.

UPDATE: The Sunday Morning Update from ESA has GOCE at about 147 km and dropping 1 km/hr and increasing. The atmospheric drag level is high and increasing.

The end is close.

RE-ENTRY PREDICTION: Predicted Reentry Time: 10 NOV 2013 23:33 UTC ± 4 hours

RE-ENTRY PREDICTION (by ESA Space Debris Coordination Committee): between 18:30 UTC – 24:00 UTC, Sunday, 10 November (19:30 CET – 01:00 CET, Sunday to Monday, 10/11 November); the most probable impact ground swath largely runs over ocean and polar regions.

Video Source

Amazing CubeSat Image

Moon shadow on Earth during eclipse.  Credit: Aero Corporation

Moon shadow on Earth during Sunday’s eclipse. Credit: Aerospace Corporation

Just look at that! During the Solar Eclipse last Sunday (03 Nov) the cubesat known as AeroCube-4 took this image of the moon’s shadow on Earth.

I was immediately struck by the great example of the umbral (darkest) and penumbral (shaded around the darkest area) areas.  Excellent.

According to the Aerospace Corporation:

AeroCube-4 was west of the moon shadow, flying in a northeasterly direction. The view in the photo is toward the southeast, with part of the West African mainland visible at the top of the image.

I really like these cubesats!  Read whole description at the Aerospace Corporation website.

Canyon of Fire

NASA’s full title: Canyon of Fire on the Sun seems appropriate.

I actually saw this on the news the other night and was thinking “I’m missing an aurora” went running outside and found the sky to be clouded over. I was lamenting that fact until I read the “About” section on the video (linked below) and found out this was in September. Whew! In my defense, the news only showed a portion of the video and that was about a minute in, when the the solar disk was rotated and made it look like the ejection was coming right at us.

According to the “About” section (linked below)on the original video, the filament was about 200,000 miles / 321,868 km long.

Color matters too:

Different wavelengths help capture different aspect of events in the corona. The red images shown in the movie help highlight plasma at temperatures of 90,000° F and are good for observing filaments as they form and erupt. The yellow images, showing temperatures at 1,000,000° F, are useful for observing material coursing along the sun’s magnetic field lines, seen in the movie as an arcade of loops across the area of the eruption. The browner images at the beginning of the movie show material at temperatures of 1,800,000° F, and it is here where the canyon of fire imagery is most obvious.

Video