How About Black Holes?

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From Chandra and NuStar:
The blue dots in this field of galaxies, known as the COSMOS field, show galaxies that contain supermassive black holes emitting high-energy X-rays. The black holes were detected by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Array, or NuSTAR, which spotted 32 such black holes in this field and has observed hundreds across the whole sky so far.

The other colored dots are galaxies that host black holes emitting lower-energy X-rays, and were spotted by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra data show X-rays with energies between 0.5 to 7 kiloelectron volts, while NuSTAR data show X-rays between 8 to 24 kiloelectron volts.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NuSTAR was developed in partnership with the Danish Technical University and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Virginia. NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at UC Berkeley, and the official data archive is at NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. ASI provides the mission’s ground station and a mirror archive. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

Image and caption: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Planet 9 Update

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We have some updated information on the planet the “numbers” say exists.  Mainly it helps explain why the Sun has an obliquity of six degrees.

Obliquity?  What is obliquity?  Easy, think of it is  just a fancy word for “tilt”.  Earth has an obliquity of a bit more than 23 degrees, it is that tilt that gives us our seasons.

Hat tip to SpaceRef for this synopsis of a paper submitted for publication (by Elizabeth Bailey, Konstantin Batygin, Michael E. Brown):

The six-degree obliquity of the sun suggests that either an asymmetry was present in the solar system’s formation environment, or an external torque has misaligned the angular momentum vectors of the sun and the planets.

However, the exact origin of this obliquity remains an open question. Batygin & Brown (2016) have recently shown that the physical alignment of distant Kuiper Belt orbits can be explained by a 5-20 Earth-mass planet on a distant, eccentric, and inclined orbit, with an approximate perihelion distance of ~250 AU.

Using an analytic model for secular interactions between Planet Nine and the remaining giant planets, here we show that a planet with similar parameters can naturally generate the observed obliquity as well as the specific pole position of the sun’s spin axis, from a nearly aligned initial state.

Thus, Planet Nine offers a testable explanation for the otherwise mysterious spin-orbit misalignment of the solar system.

Elizabeth Bailey, Konstantin Batygin, Michael E. Brown
(Submitted on 14 Jul 2016 (this version), latest version 20 Jul 2016 (v2))

Image: artist concept by NASA via SpaceRef

Going to Bennu

On 08 September 2016 NASA will launch the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu.  Arriving in 2018 and after thoroughly mapping the asteroid a 2.1 ounce / 59.5 gram sample will be collected and returned to Earth.

More about OSIRIS-REx

Video

 

Bending Light at Saturn

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Reflecting and refracting, click the image to see a larger version.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The original caption from NASA:
Saturn’s A and F rings appear bizarrely warped where they intersect the planet’s limb, whose atmosphere acts here like a very big lens.

In its upper regions, Saturn’s atmosphere absorbs some of the light reflected by the rings as it passes through. But absorption is not the only thing that happens to that light. As it passes from space to the atmosphere and back out into space towards Cassini’s cameras, its path is refracted, or bent. The result is that the ring’s image appears warped.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 18 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 9, 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the rings and at a Sun-rings-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 112 degrees. Image scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) per pixel.

Quasars Help Navigating to Mars

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How is ESA going to navigate to Mars?  By using quasars of course.

Very cool!!! The inset is explained below BTW.

Image and caption below: Copyright Estrack / ESA/D. Pazos – Quasar P1514-24 inset image: Rami Rekola, Univerity of Turku, 2001

From ESA:

  • In order to precisely deliver the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module to the martian surface and then insert ExoMars/TGO into orbit around the Red Planet, it’s necessary to pin down the spacecraft’s location to within just a few hundred metres at a distance of more than 150 million km.To achieve this amazing level of accuracy, ESA experts are making use of ‘quasars’ – the most luminous objects in the Universe – as ‘calibrators’ in a technique known as Delta-Differential One-Way Ranging, or delta-DOR.Until recently, quasars were only poorly understood. These objects can emit 1000 times the energy of our entire Milky Way galaxy from a volume that it not much bigger than our Solar System, making them fearfully powerful.
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