All posts by Tom

Bennu’s Southern Region

I really like the perspective of this image.

Bennu is only about 492 meters across and the surface gravity is reportedly in the order of 10 – micro-g (Spaceflight Now) these rocks/boulders really are barely held together.

NASA: This image shows a view across asteroid Bennu’s southern hemisphere and into space, and it demonstrates the number and distribution of boulders across Bennu’s surface. The image was obtained on Mar. 7 by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of about 3 miles (5 km). The large, light-colored boulder just below the center of the image is about 24 feet (7.4 meters) wide, which is roughly half the width of a basketball court.

Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

One More Black Hole Video

There are plenty of videos about the black hole image out there. One in particular predated the press release and I really never got a chance to watch it beforehand.

This morning as I was watching my usual fare, it turns out the video was recommended by Walter Lewin of MIT physic class fame. Check out his channel here. Well if he says it’s good who am I to argue and look over five-million views.

Chandra Looks at M 87 Black Hole

Here’s more on the supermassive black hole at the center of M-87 after that excellent announcement earlier this week. Thanks to NASA / Elizabeth Landau.

Image: NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen

NASA: A black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, but the hot disk of material that encircles it shines bright. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.   

The stunning new image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet. 

“This is an amazing accomplishment by the EHT team,” said Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Years ago, we thought we would have to build a very large space telescope to image a black hole. By getting radio telescopes around the world to work in concert like one instrument, the EHT team achieved this, decades ahead of time.”

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Beresheet Misses Landing

The Beresheet spacecraft lost communications just about 150 meters above the lunar surface and ended up apparently landing hard on the surface. “Landing hard” of course is a euphemism for crash.

A very difficult pill to swallow for the mission team to be sure. Hopefully the SpaceIL team will try again.

SpaceX Launch Today

SpaceX is planning to launch the Arabsat-6A into orbit later today. Today being 11 or 12 April. Launch time has been reset to 21:35 ET (11 Apr) / 01:35 UT (12 Apr).

This will be a fun launch to watch because the Arabsat-6A is sitting atop the Falcon Heavy at launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

My previous admonition still holds: keep in mind this launch is in Florida so weather will play a part in whether this gets off the ground on time.

Right now the US National Weather Service is predicting:

Today – Sunny, with a high near 83. East wind 5 to 10 mph.

Tonight – Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. East wind around 10 mph.

Event Horizon Telescope – Result

The first video comes to us from Harvard University and shows the black hole and the second is Avery Broderick explaining the image and that video comes to us from “Videos from Space”.

Both are from the press conference earlier today.

Earlier –

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project and the (US) National Science Foundation (NSF) press conference to announce this amazing feat.

The (US) National Science Foundation is providing this feed. If something should go awry, bear with me and I’ll have another source shortly.

M-87 info at SEDS

The Event Horizon Telescope

Today is the day!!

Yes, the Event Horizon Telescope will give is a look at the black hole at the center of our galaxy!

Come back at 13:00 UT / 09:00 for the big reveal during a live press conference.

Hubble’s Look at M2

Hubble’s look at the globular cluster first cataloged by Charles Messier in 1760.

Be SURE to visit the Charles Messier’s Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters at SEDS. Excellent site!

Hubble et. al: Star clusters are commonly featured in cosmic photoshoots, and are also well-loved by the keen eye of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. These large gatherings of celestial gems are striking sights — and Messier 2 is certainly no exception.

Messier 2 is located in the constellation of Aquarius (the Water Bearer), about 55,000 light-years away. It is a globular cluster, a spherical group of stars all tightly bound together by gravity. With a diameter of roughly 175 light-years, a population of 150,000 stars, and an age of 13 billion years, Messier 2 is one of the largest clusters of its kind and one of the oldest associated with the Milky Way.

This Hubble image of Messier 2’s core was created using visible and infrared light. Most of the cluster’s mass is concentrated at its center, with shimmering streams of stars extending outward into space. It is bright enough that it can even be seen with the naked eye when observing conditions are extremely good.

Messier 2 is featured in Hubble’s Messier catalog, which includes some of the most fascinating objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. See the NASA-processed image and other Messier objects at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-s-messier-catalog.

Text credit: ESA (European Space Agency)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al.

Jovian Cyclone

A very nice contribution to the JunoCam site.

NASA: A cyclonic storm in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere is captured in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Many bright white cloud tops can be seen popping up in and around the arms of the rotating storm.

The color-enhanced image was taken at 9:25 a.m. PST (12:25 p.m. EST) on Feb. 12, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 17th science flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops, above approximately 44 degrees north latitude.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager.

JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at https://missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing.

More information about Juno is online at http://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.