Category Archives: ESA

Merging Galaxies

NGC3597

One day our Milky Way will be in the midst of a similar merger, ours with Andromeda.

The ESA description:
The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is known as NGC 3597. It is the product of a collision between two good-sized galaxies, and is slowly evolving to become a giant elliptical galaxy. This type of galaxy has grown more and more common as the Universe has evolved, with initially small galaxies merging and progressively building up into larger galactic structures over time.

NGC 3597 is located approximately 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Crater (The Cup). Astronomers study NGC 3597 to learn more about how elliptical galaxies form — many ellipticals began their lives far earlier in the history of the Universe. Older ellipticals are nicknamed “red and dead” by astronomers because these bloated galaxies are not anymore producing new, bluer, stars in ages, and are thus packed full of old and redder stellar populations.

Before infirmity sets in, some freshly formed elliptical galaxies experience a final flush of youth, as is the case with NGC 3597. Galaxies smashing together pool their available gas and dust, triggering new rounds of star birth. Some of this material ends up in dense pockets initially called proto-globular clusters, dozens of which festoon NGC 3597. These pockets will go on to collapse and form fully-fledged globular clusters, large spheres that orbit the centres of galaxies like satellites, packed tightly full of millions of stars.

Image and caption: ESA/Hubble & NASA

ExoMars

Interviews with Giancinto Gianfiglio, ESA ExoMars deputy Project Manager and Jorge Vago, ExoMars Project Scientist.

ESA is going to land on Mars this year!

Video

ExoMars 2016 At Launch Site

ExoMars2016

Exciting news from ESA!

On 14 March, the launch window opens for ExoMars 2016, ESA’s next mission to Mars, composed of the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli.

Last month, the two spacecraft left Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where they had been for the final few months of assembly and testing, and headed towards the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

With both now in Baikonur, preparations are under way for the launch on a Russian Proton rocket during a window that remains open until 25 March.

The 600 kg Schiaparelli – pictured here being unpacked in a cleanroom in the cosmodrome – will ride to Mars on the Trace Gas Orbiter. Three days before they reach the Red Planet, Schiaparelli will separate from the orbiter, which will then enter orbit for a five-year mission of studying atmospheric gases potentially linked to present-day biological or geological activity.

Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere at 21 000 km/h and slow by aerobraking in the upper layers, then deploying a parachute, followed by liquid-propellant thrusters that will brake it to less than 5 km/h about 2 m above the surface.

At that moment, the thrusters will be switched off and it will drop to the ground, where the impact will be cushioned by its crushable structure.

Less than eight minutes will have elapsed between hitting the atmosphere and touching down in a region known as Meridiani Planum.

Scientific sensors on Schiaparelli will collect data on the atmosphere during entry and descent, and others will makelocal measurements  at the landing site for a short period determined by its battery capacity.

Schiaparelli will remain a target for laser ranging from orbiters using its reflector.

The module is named in honour of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who mapped the Red Planet’s surface features in the 19th century.

Copyright TsENKI

Stephen’s Quintet

stephensquintetESA

Stephen’s Quintet even more amazing when Herschel and Newton combine with ground based observations. Thanks ESA!

Image: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); ESA/Herschel/PACS, SPIRE (infrared); SDSS (optical)

From ESA:
The Stephan’s Quintet of galaxies was discovered by astronomer Édouard Stephan in 1877. At the time, however, he reported the discovery of ‘new nebulae’, as the concept of other galaxies beyond our Milky Way was only formalised in the 1920s. 

This image combines observations performed at three different wavelengths, with ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories as well as with ground-based telescopes, to reveal the different components of the five galaxies.

Stephan’s Quintet is one of the most spectacular galactic groups known, but only four galaxies from the originally discovered quintet are physically linked – the other was later discovered to be much closer to us. NGC 7320, the galaxy in the lower part the image, lies about 40 million light-years from us, rather than the 300 million light-years of the others.

One of them is the bright source above NGC 7320 in this view, two are the intertwined galaxies immediately to the right of image centre, and the fourth is the round patch towards the lower-right corner.

Later, it was discovered that an additional galaxy, hidden beyond the left edge of this image, sits at a similar distance to these four galaxies, reinstating the group as a quintet.

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